Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.
#mania #manicdepression #upswing
I’ve spent the last week or two wondering what a pale shade of life I would be living if the monotony of a truly balanced mind continued to oppress me. I’ve pondered on the unfairness in the fact that I have had the even-keel, peaceful tedium that everyone in the blogosphere yearns for and that I’ve rather ungratefully viewed it as something of a worst-case. My moods for a while now have felt like the result of environmental factors and an overall negative response to the emotional ‘flatness’ that I had attributed to my medication. I’ve been down, but rarely have I had prolonged bouts of the abstract, ridiculous, kamikaze pilot depression. Most of my worst moments have been sired by ruminations about a life of continuous emotional greyness. A self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one. Lesson learned (again and until next time).
In the ‘old days’ my antediluvian self would consider days of depression as times when I was ‘not on form’, ‘not my best self’ or ‘feeling flat’. Anything else (I.E mania though I didn’t know it) was my ‘norm’. If I wasn’t manic, I hibernated and drank profusely. Once I wasn’t depressed I would burst onto the scene (still drinking profusely) and be everyone’s best friend. You couldn’t keep me in the house. Being relatively well balanced for the past month and a half has given me an insight into what I assume my true resting emotional state would be. I’ve had lows and my mood suffers when I feel lonely or remember past sadnesses but I’ve not sunk to the crushing, Jules Verne depths for very long. I think when you view your highs as the benchmark for normality, it comes as a shock to feel a genuine calmness. The sensation has been alien enough to cause concern.
“Is something wrong?”
“Are these meds working too well? Is my dose wrong?”
“Will I ever be happy again?”
“Can I spend the rest of my life feeling like this?”
“What happened to automatic happiness?!”
The last two days I’ve spent wondering then if I will have to re-learn how to be happy or at the very least if I would have to employ techniques to consciously make myself so. If I have to maintain a level of stoicism about the endogenous elements of my mood, and accept what comes at me from [wherever it comes from] then it leaves me the other components of mood-construction to work with. I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that this is an issue best tackled organically. Just as I’ve decided to not pay for promotion of this blog, I’m not going to spend time trying to artificially enhance my mood with routines and prompts. Obsession over trying to coerce my emotions hasn’t helped me thusfar. In fact – throughout my entire history it has only ever provided a benefit once, and that is because it piggybacked onto the strongest manic episode in my entire life.
The aim this time has to be stopping short of fully blown insanity and the best strategy I can think of is to just assume that my meds are working, any happiness I feel has been well earnt and that I should just try to have a genuine laugh every day sans over-thinking everything. Tonight I laughed with my friend. I laughed until I cried, repeatedly.
The other day my friend and I had discussed the phrase “All things being equal…”. We agreed that it is an absolute absurdity, and a useless one at that. All things aren’t equal. Ever. How about instead – All things being stable. In my current state of mind – all things being stable – can I assume that I can provoke a state closer in it’s nuances to mania than depression just by avoiding stress, being glad and enjoying good humor? Are these the mechanics of happiness in a balanced mind, or am I just swinging in a more pleasant though significantly imbalanced direction?
I did some pressups and situps before bedding down for the night. What felt at first like endorphins rapidly became a desire to listen to music, then a face full of beaming smiles and tapping my leg to the beat, and in a matter of seconds I thought “ahhhhhhhhhh, yeah. here we go.”. Everything about this stinks of mania but I’m not going to look a gift-horse in the mouth. I’m going to milk it for all it is worth and enjoy myself. I have to live out the lows and the non-moods, I’m going to wring out my good times.
If this is the onset of a manic episode – then I’m at least going to learn about managing this mood in the present moment. I’m going to make every important decision twice. ‘Important’ involves criteria such as [Involving money], [involving significant life changes], [involving food intake] e.t.c. Short of that, I’m going to milk this mood for all it is worth and enjoy being extra productive, light and happy. Other than the important factors to my life I’m not going to ration much thought to miscellaneous and trivial details.
All the best,