When I was about 39 years old my doctor sent me to a psychiatrist as I had to change my anti depressant medication and the doctor was the sort who preferred a psych to assess a patient before making any medication changes.

I had never been to a pysch before. I am not the sort who can open up easily and I was very resistant to it. But I went. We did not hit it off at all. He was rigid and I was in denial I suppose. After a number of intensely uncomfortable visits I decided not to go. I was not ready for anything like this.

After the first three visits he said to me that he believed I was bipolar and he wanted me to not take anti depressants, he wanted me to go on Lithium. I said he was wrong and there was no way I was going on that, ever. He brought it up a few more times and then I stopped going. I ended up changing GP’s and got a script for Lexapro which did me well enough until I came off all medication in 2005.

Since then I have managed my depression with exercise, behavioural changes, diet, sleep and all those things. It takes a lot of effort and I have to confess that I am often concerned about what happens when my strict routine is not able to be followed (holiday, illness or other things). It has happened and it sends me off the edge and I have to start all over again.

However, despite all my efforts, I do still have constant mood swings. And depression. I do weird food things when I am struggling. This year I have had a couple of things happen that triggered scary mood changes and I thought I was going almost mad. But because I am aware of the symptoms I can generally cope well enough and unless you really knew me well you would never know I was having an episode. My husband is very, very supportive but he does worry when I say “I am struggling” because if I say that he knows it is just the tip of the iceberg.

This year my younger sister was diagnosed with bipolar 2 which I guess you could say is a less extreme version of bipolar. She is on a mood stabiliser and goes to a psychiatrist. It took years to get diagnosed and she feels so much better.

This weekend I had a very bad weekend. I was totally fucked in the head and had a mood that changed almost every two hours. It was very tiring. This is not the first time and I am very good at functioning through these moods but I must admit this one was worse than usual.

I rang my sister and spoke to her today about it. Today I was okay and was talking at a million miles an hour. Racing words falling out of my head. Lots of what my sister and I call “white noise” in my head.

“I’ve told you this before. You need to see a professional Linda. I believe you have bipolar 2,” she told me.

I told her I might one day but am not ready to.

I explained that my plate is a bit full at the moment with work, exercise and the Oxfam walk I have committed myself to. I needed to adjust and make allowances to reduce the risk of having a trigger episode. She told me to be open minded.

On the weekend when I was talking to my husband about it I said “I wish I was a more open person” and he said “So do I”.

Now, on a normal day I would just hear the words “So do I” and take them exactly for what they mean. But on the weekend with the inside of my head I read those three innocent words as “I wish you were different too. I don’t like the way you are. I want you to be another person. You are not open enough and I don’t like you. You are never good enough”. Blah, blah and blah.

I know enough to know this is very fucked thinking and I told my husband how I interpreted those words and he just shook his head. It is very hard for him when I am like this. But he thinks it is harder for me when I am like this.

The reason I am careful what I say during an episode is that I can say things that are really strange and I can talk myself into believing things that, in two hours, I am shocked I even said or thought. So I have taught myself to take time to speak or just talk trivia to bring myself down.

So today after my bad weekend (which had been preceded by a week of poor sleep, feeling unwell, intrusive negative thoughts and some other things) I was on a high and got loads done. But I talked non stop. I talked to my sister for an hour over the phone. I talked non stop to my book keeping client for over an hour and I also talked non stop through exercise class.

My husband thinks that if I can manage it and cope then that might be okay. My sister says that I have to be open minded to the fact I may have to see a psych one day as she thinks the episodes are getting closer. She may be right.

There is a lot more to it which is too long and boring to go into but you get the drift.

I am just going to take it day by day. It feels the right thing to do.

I really do not want to take medication. I don’t feel I need it. I am managing the anxiety. Very aware of the ups and downs and feeling I am in control. But maybe that is part of the thing about mental health problems. You think you are in control but may well not be.

It’s a difficult path to navigate sometimes.


15 thoughts on “Stuff

  1. sorry you are feeling this way. it's so, so difficult when it's so, so difficult just living in your own skin.

    i respect whatever choice you make; however, why not give meds a chance again, and stop if you don't like it? it's possible you could live a life without SUCH hard work. what you go through regularly is exhausting. or even go for a consult and make your own decision after.

    i refused anti-depressants for 43 years (meanwhile, self-medicating in every single other way.) since i started lexapro, my life is SO MUCH BETTER. i was miserable and constantly in tears before.

    i'm not saying take lexapro, specifically.

    of course, you have to choose what feels right to you.


  2. I have just sent you a FB message, L. Read, inwardly digest and we can mull it over in our Saturday chat, eh?!

    You take care of yourself, and remember that you are one heck of a gal…or as we say in Blighty, 'a jolly decent sort, what?!'


  3. RJ: It is like that. Thanks. 😉

    IHTW: I have to really be convinced to got back on medication. I don't have good memories of it all. No matter what I went on it just flatlined me. Perhaps I am just not ready yet. Or perhaps I am just dragging my feet for as long as I can.

    Annie T: Yes, a bit of the old “stiff upper lip” sort of gal. I got your message and will send an email to you. x


  4. I refuse to go on meds as well. I was on them for about 8 years or so. I don't think you aren't an open person – you are talking to your sister and your husband about your suffering. No one in my life, and I mean not one single person, knows anything about my mental issues. Compared to me you are an open book.


  5. Harriet: I guess what I am saying is that I never tell anyone the real stuff that is going on in my head. Emotionally controlling. I can talk an awful lot about all sorts of things, but I cannot talk about what is at the core of me.

    I could not hide my episodes from those close to me. I need their support to prevent me infecting the household with bad behaviour.


  6. A family member who was diagnosed with schizophrenia absolutely loathed how lithium made her feel and is determined never to be on it again. When she was on it, it looked to be very debilitating. I wish you ease, a quieter mind and a very successful Oxfam walk, Linda.


  7. I wonder if this is all just a manifestation of moods stemming from a hostile society and how society tends to force everyone to act and think the same way.

    I find myself having the same moods you've described, and get tired of hiding them because society doesn't accept that which is even the tiniest bit different.

    Emotions are SO unacceptable in society today, and that is such an unnatural thing. I think what brings us such extreme discomfort is that everyone has moods and thoughts like this, but no one will admit it and no one will tolerate it, even though many are struggling with the exact same things. Blogging helps, but I feel that I don't have that anymore either. I'm alone much of the time, and have kind of a farce of a life. But being alone sort of helps. At least I'm not constantly frustrated anymore, and I rarely yell anymore. But the deep grief is always there, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

    I hope you get a handle on this… The holidays are always so stressful and definitely exacerbate things. Such a happy time has turned to stress. Nothing but stress.


  8. Linda, I am so sorry for what you are going through. My daughter goes through the much of the same thing. We tried the psychiatrist thing and all the meds but she said it made her feel like zombie.

    She was diagnosed bipolar when she was 16 yrs old. It was my understanding that a “child” could not be diagnosed as bipolar. I now have a background in mental health as a therapist. However, it is a very helpless feeling because my daughter won't seek help.

    Like you, she works through her day and most of the time we have no idea she is having an episode. She does talk to me more about her feelings, which I totally appreciate, but I still feel helpless to help her. I do a lot of praying for her. No one wants their loved one going through such struggles.

    I, myself, struggle with depression. My mom and sisters as well. One of my sisters is on disability due to depression. My other sister is doing pretty well, no meds.


  9. I totally agree with Karen's comments. I think many people have these same feelings and don't want to admit them.

    I am alone a lot of the time and I “feel” lonely as well. However, the world and people can be so cruel that I think I have subconsiously taken myself out of the “mix”. I have chosen a small number of people to mingle with, but they don't know the half of what I go through….i.e. more loneliness.

    I spend a great deal of time feeling irritable and angry. I think the day care helps with this because I can't be that way with children. They force me to control my moods. Yes, it is a constant struggle. I did not like being in the work force when I was out there. I felt controlled by it. Being at home with the day care allows me a bit more freedom in that regard.

    Blogging helps tremendously! Not sure what it is about blogging that helps, but it really does!

    Thanks Karen for your comments.


  10. Karen: Totally agree with you. I am just at a point where I think I need to be a bit more into myself and not trying to hide the way I am. Because you know, if you are different people treat you like a leper (here they do).

    I think going to a psychologist with help greatly to help me unlearn some negative thought process. I am open to changing the way I approach things.

    I am thankful for work and exercise because it forces me to engage with people – otherwise I would stay in bed all day and eat pikelets with jam.

    Presious: I always feel less alone when I read that other people are in the same boat. People just fumble through their stuff and society ignores them if they do not fit the “normal criteria”. The world is jam packed with people struggling – why is this being ignored? Depression is always going to have a stigma unless you have been in that place yourself. People cannot understand it unless they have been there.

    I really hope your daughter manages things successfully. The good thing is that she was diagnosed early and is aware. It will help her understand herself more.

    Yes, blogging is one of the crucial things that keeps me grounded. I think people who blog are often in tune with the world on another level and can connect with each other via blogging.


  11. I finished reading this 'Stuff' and had a lump in my throat, my chest felt tight and I totally identified. I read once that if you think you are 'going mad' you are most definitely not because 'if you are mad, you don't realise'.
    I don't know you at all but something drew me to look at your blog and when I did I thought 'wow, what a cool lady'. You look great, you write beautifully and seem to have a great outlook. I think if you are creative, you are more receptive to mood changes. I am gonna write a post re hormones soon, because I blame my rises and falls on them. I think sometimes it is genetic as well. Mum's a bit 'wired to the stars'. I have thought that it'd be easier to be small minded and materialistic but I'm just not made that way. Just wanted to give you a 'virtual high five' really.


  12. Invisible Woman: You've said some really nice things about me and I want to say thanks. I am in a better place right now and a lot of that has to do with therapy and being able to harness my emotions a bit more usefully. But I have to confess that I am a bit dependent on my therapist to maintain my head space.

    I did have other stuff happening in my life, but that was more the effect and not the cause of where I was at. And that has resolved itself.

    It's interesting to note that people who blog seem to be “wired to the stars” if you know what I mean. Blogging has been a great outlet for me for a few years now. Sort of makes room for those never ending thoughts to tumble in.

    Hormones – love 'em and hate 'em.


  13. Pingback: 29th May, 2017 | Beyond Linda

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