Firstly I just want to say a massive thank you to all you wonderful bloggers who offered so much support yesterday after I wrote of feeling depressed again. I’m blown away by how many lovely people are out there! (Funnily enough, those of you who are Bipolar often seem to think the exact opposite!) I think the well-wishing has lifted me a lot as I feel a bit better today. So thank you! I hope I can return the favour!
I’m writing this with the TV on as it is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee today- 60 years as the monarch. I’m not really a royalist (although last year’s Royal Wedding was wonderful), but I do feel I ought to make some sort of effort to find out what’s going on! (I did see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in our city about 10 years ago, opening our library, and it did surprise me how special it felt, even to someone who’s not usually bothered by these things!)
Depression & Medication
This is a fairly new addition to the mood stabiliser family, having previously been used for epilepsy (so interesting this connection between anticonvulsant drugs for epilepsy having success in treating Bipolar too). This mood stabiliser is known for success in prevention of depression, but has little effect on mania and hypomania (a good thing if you love your highs!).
Like most medication treatments, it doesn’t completely annihilate the symptoms, as demonstrated by my current mood dip. But I did want to outline the vast improvement I have noticed in my depressive episodes:
– Long depressive episodes, usually lasting months (longest episode was over a year when I was first diagnosed, so before helpful medication had been found).
– Really intense feelings of despair, hopelessness, severe guilt. A real feeling that nothing would ever get better, ever, ever.
– Nothing could lift my mood, even temporarily. Constant, constant, greyness, doom.
– Intense social anxiety about talking to people/answering the phone/door. I would panic if the doorbell or phone rang, and physically hide. Impossible to interact with others.
– Complete withdrawal and retreat from the world.
– Strong suicidal thoughts and impulses to self-harm. Near to acting on them/ did once.
– Strong, extremely uncomfortable agitation and restlessness.
– Very poor concentration, reading impossible.
– Much, much shorter episodes. My worst episode whilst on this drug was late last year, and lasted 5 weeks, with residual symptoms tapering out over the next week or two.
– The feelings of despair/hopelessness/guilt have been much more fleeting and less intense, don’t get me wrong, they’re still extremely unpleasant, but in no way as debilitating as before.
– My mood lifts much more often with good friends/family/dogs/films/music; not all the way, but I definitely get more relief than I ever did before.
– The social anxiety is much less severe and I am still able to interact with people, still anxious about this, but certainly not as intense and debilitating.
– Able to carry on with activities like choir/spiritual development group. I’m just usually a lot quieter, not my usual bubbly self.
– The suicidal thoughts are still present, but I don’t feel half as likely to act on them. (perhaps this is a bit of experience too, I know these thoughts will go away, I have better coping strategies).
– No agitation or restlessness experienced on this drug as yet. This is fantastic as it was so uncomfortable!
My most severe depressive symptom now seems to be psychomotor retardation/physical and mental slowness. This can sometimes be a blessing in disguise as it makes me rest!! I can certainly cope with this better than the intense, relentless despair and agitation before treatment. I still find reading difficult though 😦
Blogger Mountain Missy’s post: The Man With No Worries on Friday has reminded me about gratitude and how helpful it can be to “count our blessings” and focus our thoughts on the positive, rather than the negative. So here I go:
I have never expected to be 100% cured. I am currently satisfied with how things are going for me. I have been lucky to have success with Bach Flower Remedies which seem to help ease any residual symptoms- low self esteem/confidence/panic attacks/chronic anxiety/healing from past trauma etc. I feel the swings are better controlled.
I am also lucky in having a very laid-back partner who doesn’t react when my mood swings and doesn’t worry about me too much (unless I’m very depressed). Sometimes having people who over-react to mood swings and worry excessively can really be unhelpful because you then feel guilty for affecting them!
So despite my current mood dip, I am in a far better place than I have been in the past. I know I can challenge the negative thoughts where I couldn’t before, I know it will go away, I don’t feel suicidal and I trust that I can handle this. I’m also not working which is a complete blessing as I know I would be worse off otherwise!
Catherine of Life in Recovery also reminded me yesterday that I have my lovely dog to help lift my mood too! So easy to forget to be grateful for the smiles she can bring to my face.
(Dog below not mine, but very cute!)