Here I Start Again…again

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To fight aloud, is very brave –

But gallanter, I know

Who charge within the bosom

The Calvary of Woe –

Who win, and nations do not see –

Who fall – and none observe –

Whose dying eyes, no Country

Regards with patriotic love –

— Emily Dickinson

29 August 1999 – Diary

I spent the night by my friend. I didn’t go partying because everybody else cancelled out, including myself. I was relieved because I had had visions of collapsing of exhaustion on the dance floor. So I and my friend chatted until about midnight and then went to bed.

This morning I feel better. Rested and more calm. I stick my tongue into the darker parts of my mind, probing to see if there are any are any sore spots and twinges of pain. So far, so good.

I’m not exactly calm. I can’t be because I’ve been drinking coffee at an admirable rate all day and night since Friday morning and I have the typical coffee jumpiness. But that has a qualitatively different feel from being hypomanic.

Coffee aside, I feel calm. The unspecific pressure to do something that comes with mania is mostly gone. I’m don’t feel like doing five things at once. I have regained fine motor control of my hands and no longer have difficulty in picking up or manoeuvring things. My hands and feet remain where I rest them (this is so surprising that I noticed it almost immediately after I woke up). I can cast forward and make some plans for the day, although I don’t plan to do much except sit at the computer and drink coffee and catch up with my-email. And possibly go swimming.

I think the medication is starting to kick in after just thirty six hours. This is not supposed to be happening, but then it reflects my pattern of being hypersensitive to drugs.

Of course I could be cycling down into depression, but that is the purpose of the coffee. I am using the coffee as a drug to try to keep myself hypomanic. The coffee is not very good at this, but I am overloading – I haven’t drunk so much coffee since I was nineteen. I am hoping that I can stay on the hypomanic side of normal until the medication kicks in properly, perhaps in ten day’s time, and then phase off the coffee so I no longer have coffee jitters.

If I cycle into depression I am going to stop taking the medication and I’ll have to start over from scratch. I’m aiming for being hypomanic, unpredictable and functional rather than depressed and unable to help myself. Of course it means expending tremendous amounts of energy controlling myself, but nobody ever said that good things come cheap.

Note: I do not recommend the above strategy to anyone. It works for me because of my non-standard sensitivity to drugs and my very fast cycle pattern. It probably will not work under other conditions.

31 August 1999 – Diary

I’m not exactly stable, but I am substantially more stable than, say, last week. The medication has kicked in as expected to pull me down from being hypomanic, but I’m still oscillating around stability. It may actually take me another two weeks to get back to actually being stable. We’ll see.

I really hope that I’ll stay from dropping into a depression that causes me to come off the medication.

In a stroke of good luck I stabilised just before month end and was able to pay my credit card bill before being penalised. Luckily, I had funds in my chequing account to cover my mortgage payment, so the automatic payment went through without putting my account into overdraft. And I’m still not quite late on car payment yet. I’ll have to pay it first thing tomorrow morning, as well as for my psych’s visit on last Friday. I showed up in her office without any money in my wallet.

I still don’t want to think about the laundry I have to do. And the ironing. I hate ironing!

I’ve also being going through what I call phase shifting. I don’t know how else to explain it, but usually, after coming down off the hypomanic part of my cycle, I find myself with a slightly different set of priorities than when I entered the cycle.

It isn’t a big change and the essential sense of who I am doesn’t change, but it is sufficient to affect my actions. I may stop hanging out with a friend and start hanging out with another, or a project I was working on intensely previously is now only of moderate importance, and something else is now high priority.

If I didn’t have rapid cycles, this would all even out over time. But each two week cycle phase shifts me in a slightly different manner and the net effect is to cause confusion to the people around me who think I blow hot and cold to them or to projects I am working on. It confuses me too.

It’s as if I am back on track, but instead of taking the right fork as I would have done, I am taking the left fork. I’ll get to the city, but I certainly won’t see the same sights.

Something else to compensate for when I am stabilising.

I got a lift from a small conversation just now. While typing this I remembered I left my book at my favourite coffeehouse. When I went to pick up the book, called “Transforming Madness,” the waitress asked me if I was studying or if I was a doctor. I told her I was manic / depressive, that I was the patient, and she said that she didn’t believe me.

I felt good for two reasons. That she didn’t believe me. But also because I didn’t feel as if I had to make a polite lie. I could tell it as it is and I feel better for doing so.

3 September 1999 – Diary

Still trying to recover my life. Bits and pieces are being put back in place but it is such a slow process. I don’t remember it being like this before. Usually I have a very quick rebound back into my life. But generally I go hypomanic, which provides the impetus I need. However, my medication is preventing me from cycling high.

To all of you who are depressed, or who don’t have a rapid cycle into hypomania, I feel for you. I never realised how awful this gradual ascent back to normality could be.

We don’t often understand each other. How can others understand us.

Right now I’m just surviving and hoping my medication will bring me up to normality soon. Based on experience in May and June, I may not actually normalise until three weeks from now.

If this sounds like a contradiction of my regular sensitivity to medication, it isn’t. The medication has been damping my cycling and my mania. And my depression. I’m just stuck at the moment on the down part of my cycle waiting to become centred.

Meanwhile, my phase shifting continues apace. My relationship with C. (who is currently in England) is fading into thin air. It feels like an intellectual abstraction rather than a real and substantial partnership. It is unfortunate because I know that what we have together is solid and valuable.

At the moment, all I can do is exert absolute trust that how I used to feel is true and soldier on with this belief.

It’s like walking on brittle ice on a lake. Skip the traditional idea of strength. Try doing what I am doing and see if it doesn’t take absolute bravery.

I’m not sure what is going on at work. Part of it is because I really don’t know, but part of it is because I am unable to conceptualise the work. I have a feeling that this is one of the times in my life in which I will have to scrap it all and start over again.

Let’s see. This will be the seventh time I will be starting over since I was twenty. No wonder I am beginning to feel tired of starting over.