“Old Faithful”- the cycles of cyclothymia

I can feel the tides shifting, turning. Not in an abrupt way, but when you’ve gone through bipolar as long as I have you start to recognize the landmarks. Right now, it’s just a little twinge where I can feel things beginning to slip. My mood isn’t quite so light, my energy isn’t quite so high, my anxiety and irritability are cranked up. I am finding myself irked with small things, and damn near having a brain bleed over the big things.

Over and over again, cyclothymia revisits like old faithful, constantly present. One thing about it. Even in its inconsistency it is consistent, as far as the cycles go. Spring, summer, mood up. Nearing fall, mood slipping. Fall. mood starts rapid descent. Winter, face down in the gutter. No matter the personal circumstance, no matter the “Hear me roar” mindset, it comes, without fail. I can feel  it stealthily sneaking up on me. By the time it strikes, I won’t see it coming and then I will have to dig myself out of an even deeper hole.

My old shrink understood this aspect of my disorder and would prescribe a prophylactic med for the seasonal affect, usually a secondary mood stabilizer. And while it didn’t have me bouncing off walls, it did get me through winter without a suicide attempt. I have talked to the current doctor about it but again, it’s like we’re speaking two different languages. I am actually going full lobbyist this year. I am going to assert myself and demand something, even a dose increase. Last winter sucked, from a mental perspective. I was functional, but it was without joy, enveloped in darkness, sleep my only solace. That’s not living, it is existing, and anyone who doesn’t know there is a difference is ignorant.

Another difference many are ignorant about, including mental health care professionals, is that functionality is not recovery. Just because you are out of bed and going through the motions of life does not mean you’re condition is improved or cured. Lots of fully functional people are also suicidally depressed.

And I am starting to think THE ENTIRE WORLD is ignorant when it comes to cyclothymia, the red headed bastard stepchild of mental illness. It is an illusion that just because I have 4 or 5 months a year where I am high functioning and in my right mind it doesn’t negate the 7 or 8 months of the ascent and descent of my disorder.

And I. amazingly, hope this current downslide is just the ebb and flow of cyclothymia. Because it it’s the Cymbalta failing, it’s going to add to the depression. I hate when meds just stop working, it has happened so many times to me. And the doctors don’t believe you. And the cheerleading society just wants you to “snap out of it”.

It’s too bad that when I try to tell the professionals I can “feel” myself slipping they mistake it with pessimism or unfounded fear. Much like a woman can sense pms coming on, bipolar patients learn to recognize road markers over the years and try to be proactive before things go too far askew.

Unfortunately, the people there to help us aren’t listening.



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