When I first started my career of mental illness, my mood swings would come in neat little packages of about 3 months each. I would do a season of hypo-mania; barely sleeping, staying out until dawn with the other delinquent kids. I would be the life of the party; always the chatterbox. I probably acted like a normal hyperactive kid. Then I would slip into a season of depression. I would get home from school, chow down as much food as possible, then sleep for about 14 hours. I would hit the snooze button on my alarm clock until the last possible minute. It seemed I could never get enough sleep. I would stop hanging out with my friends to the point of alienating everyone I knew just so I could be alone. Then the switch would be flipped and I would be on my way up again.
Back then my highs were never too high and my lows were never too low. I don’t remember ever being suicidal even though I listened to Black Sabbath which was about the most overtly depressing music around back then. I had ideation but I never had a real plan to hurt myself. I think my mood would swing the other way before I became completely mired in my depression.
As I got older I got higher and lower. After being brought to the psyche ward by the cops during a manic episode, I finally came around to the idea I might need to be medicated. They tried different medications and when I got to lithium I discovered a new seasonal mood. “Normal”, that was one I hadn’t experienced in some time.
I entered a new cycle of life. After I got out of the hospital, they would send me out into the world freshly medicated. I would feel normal for about 3 months and then I would do what many people with bipolar disorder would do. I would stop my medications because I felt fine. That would lead to a 3 month bout of either mania or depression; a hospitalization and back on the meds. It took me forever to learn to stay on my meds. I was still against living my life with them and kept stopping. So I stayed on that wheel for years. 3 months on, 3 months off. I don’t know how many stints in the “Pavilion.” That was the name of the local psyche ward. I guess they wanted it to sound upscale. (It wasn’t)
In 2012 I was put on Latuda and everything changed. Now I have 2 year stretches of hypo-mania/mania, a brief respite where I have just my psychotic symptoms in the background and then long, deep depressions. I am writing this after coming out of a 2 year depression and I feel relatively normal. The only reason I have stayed on this particular cocktail of medications is because I hope for the excitement of a long stretch of hypomania/mania. Even with the risks coming with it. I’m not sure if I will get it because I recently started another anti-psychotic/mood stabilizer.
Now I feel like a long stretch of hypo-mania would be my reward for such an extended depression. I’m waiting for the rush but who knows if it will arrive. It’s been so long.
I’m still not sure if my cycles have changed as a result of new medications or if it is just something that happened because I got older. I would be interested in hearing if other people have had similar experiences. It seems so drastic to go from periods of months to now years long episodes. The good/bad? news is my mania isn’t as pronounced but my depressions are still so deep.
At the moment my metaphorical pendulum is at the point of equilibrium. I wonder how long it will stay before it starts an upswing. With this new medication I worry they have eliminated my mania and left me with depression. That would be unfortunate because I can’t take any anti-depressants. I have tried a lot of them and they either do nothing or send me to the hospital.
Sometimes I sit around hoping for that magic pill that will just make everything normal. But I’m also afraid of missing the “magic.”