I’ve been quieter about my mental health lately. I’ve certainly blogged less, and I think I’ve been less honest about my feelings on Twitter, reluctant to open up about what’s happening for me. Scared to jinx it, I suppose. Scared that if I say it “aloud” in print, things might change.
Scared to say that I am HAPPY.
2014 year started badly. First depression crept up on me, took me over. Then I went through weeks of unbearable rapid cycling (not helped by the fact that Home Treatment Team doctor refused to believe in my experience) only to settle back into deep despair. At the start of April I was starting to feel panicky and guilty about being unable to enjoy anything, unable to look forward to anything. I could not contemplate the planned day trip for my partner’s birthday with any anticipation. I could not imagine enjoying my our carefully arranged (and very expensive) celebratory mini break for my 40th birthday. And all the time I was thinking about taking my own life, what the best method might be, the best time.
But one day in mid-April I sat down next to Tom on a bench in the sunshine. I had grown used to this kind of experience leading to bitterness and frustration at being unable to enjoy what ought to be a simple pleasure. That day was different. As I sat, sun-warmed and eyes closed, something inside me dissolved. It happened in an instant. It was as if someone had surveyed the knot in my chest, found two loose ends and simply pulled, sending the whole mass tumbling free. The next day I awoke and remembered that my stepdaughter would be joining us for dinner, that I would be cooking something special, and caught myself in the act of looking forward to it. It felt like huge deal. It had been such a very long time since I had been able to look forward to anything.
That was five weeks ago. We went on the birthday trip and I enjoyed every moment. There were a couple of nights when my sleep was disrupted and I feared I might be becoming hypomanic, but after using diazepam once or twice things settled. And since that point I have, as far as I can discern, been completely asymptomatic.
What the past month has underlined for me is that when the HTT Consultant questioned my understanding of my own situation, I was completely right to trust my inner knowledge. He believed me to be mixing up brief glimpses of euthymia with short periods of hypomania. Yet what I am experiencing now has an entirely different quality to the sporadic bursts of elation I experienced during rapid cycling. Depressed, I am less “me”, less able to participate in life, less able to think, less able to experience pleasure. Even if mildly hypo, I am more “me”. Positive character traits such as optimism, extraversion, creativity are enhanced, but so are my less desirable qualities such as irritability, grandiosity, superciliousness. Now, euthymic, I am just me. The real me. A more relaxed me, that is not tugged about by emotions, not constantly on guard for my next mood fluctuation. A person who can just get on with the business of living without despondent, without being ecstatic, just uncomplicatedly happy most of the time.
It’s still very new, and it feels very delicate. I haven’t wanted to make a song and dance about it in case it doesn’t stick around. I shy away from using words like recovery or remission. But I can’t help comparing the person I am now with person I was earlier this year. Tom is currently in States; it’s his younger daughter’s graduation. Two months ago we were worrying how I would cope, whether we would have to find a friend to keep me safe while he was away. Two months ago I was terrified of the idea having to manage my son’s mental health difficulties alongside my own. Two months ago distressing news stories – kidnapped schoolgirls, the horrific, ironic arrest of a group young Iranians for dancing on video to Happy – would have fed into my belief that the world was a terrible place I could no longer bear to inhabit. I still care about things. I still cry at news stories. I still miss Tom. It still hurts when my son suffers. But I now have a far greater reserve of resilience. I can cope with stuff.
Maybe this is just a brief period of respite, a quick breather before my moods go haywire again. I’ve no way of knowing, particularly as I have no sense at all of why the change occurred when it did. But this is the longest period of normal mood I have had since around this time 2010, so I’m incredibly grateful for every happy day of it.
I’m so pleased for you, that’s brilliantly fantastic news!
That’s fantastic news. I am very pleased for you 🙂
I’m happy to hear this x
Great blog! I would encourage you to simply enjoy feeling good! I used to analyse, question and almost distrust the times when I felt happy. Feeling happy became something to be wary of, I think a lot of us with bipolar can feel that way as our moods are ever changing. When you mentioned “I still care about things. I still cry at news stories. I still miss Tom. It still hurts when my son suffers. But I now have a far reserve of resilience.” – it’s totally normal to cry at things, for things to affect us and make us sad. Reacting to the insanity of the word is not a mental illness.
I know! I meant all those things as proof of my normality, sorry if didn’t read that way?
Charlotte, I don’t think its your writing, I think it’s the way I read it. Anyway, I follow your blog as you know and it’s great to hear that you’re in such a good place 😊
Great to read this… Ps I’ve been trying to DM u on twitter about the MHFA course but couldn’t… Will try again now! X
Do! Or use the contact form on the “book Charlotte” page? https://purplepersuasion.wordpress.com/book-charlotte-for-your-event/
Great to read, Charlotte. I am also happy at the moment and strangely find it harder to write about that than about when I was at my worst with depression.
Long may the happiness continue!
It’s frustrating that someone who barely knew you could not accept that you knew what was happening. It’s such a pleasure to read this (and seeing the change via Twitter). Big hugs xx
It really was. I was in there about 20 minutes but he felt he could make that decision. I came away with a heavy heart because I just *knew* he didn’t believe my subjective understanding of events. And it took weeks then to undo the damage.
very pleased for you, what a relief to be able to take a deep breath and enjoy breathing it out!! am with you girl, and so sad that so many find your experience common with mh professionals that they are unbelieving/cold/distant etc to someones experience of their own symptoms, it shows to be that they are reacting to their own undealt with emotions! no healthy at all for people working in mental health, but the more we feel strong/supported enough to take responsibility for our own healing the less that impacts on us, but that difference is a scary gap, x
Great to hear this. I hope you enjoy it and even if it doesn’t it will give this periods memories as a new power source to tap into if you need one (which I pray you don’t of course!)
That’s fantastic news Mrs C! x
Charlotte my friend I cannot begin to express how pleased I am that you are feeling this way. It’s been a long hard slog for you and you deserve some happiness. I really hope it lasts a long time and that you and your famikly will have some great times together over the summer.
Thanks you so much, yes I really hope it lasts across school holidays, etc and the holiday my partner and I have booked. We can only watch and wait and see! Interestingly since I posted this a few Twitter friends have said they thought I seemed more balanced/stable of late. I thing it’s quite significant when it’s noticeable to others xx
I am so pleased to hear you sounding so positive and, in fact, your recent experience of depression is something I can identify with as, immediately after a happy, dressed up, celebratory new year, I sank into deep depression and spent 8 weeks struggling to free myself of it. No sooner did my mood lift but I succumbed to a virus which lasted all of four weeks. Our immune systems are compromised during depression so this is not surprising. From the beginning of April I have had a good positive mood. I have got things done, been creative, socialised and taken an interest in everything that, when depressed, I ignore. What a long time you have had waiting for this mood lift to arrive. Let’s hope this lasts and allows you to live life to the full.
What a fantastic post, I’m really really pleased that you are in this place…..These words really struck home, as they are so true of me: “I had grown used to this kind of experience leading to bitterness and frustration at being unable to enjoy what ought to be a simple pleasure.” I hope to be where you are now, at some point, and your words give hope that resilience and contentment (maybe even happiness!) is possible…. 🙂 thank you again…..
Wonderful news. I can understand your concern about writing about this – the fear of bursting the bubble. But hopefully the bubble will remain a while longer. X