Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mood Watch - 1

A couple of days ago I was talking with my therapist as I usually do most weeks. Since I have bipolar disorder my insurance is happy to pay for the visits. It's a lot cheaper to spend money paying for a therapist to supplement my psychiatrist and meds than it is to pay for a two-week hospitalization.

Anyway, I invariably begin the sessions by reporting on my mood. After that we typically move on to other subjects. Because my therapist -- a clinical psychologist -- is a standout in her profession and because I've been seeing her for a bit over eight years now, the experience has proven very helpful in coming to grips, not just with the bipolar disorder, but also with a lot of old wounds. Since I doubt I would ever have landed in her office except for the bipolar disorder, I suppose having this particular illness has not been entirely devoid of an upside.

On Friday we talked mainly about this blog and the direction I've decided to take it. I think she has seen this coming for a long time. She wasn't surprised. She thinks, more than I do, that I know what I'm doing. But at the same time when I mentioned the idea of using the blog as a place to keep regular track of my moods, she thought that was a good idea too. Hence the first in what I expect will be a series of posts published every day, or nearly so.

For the uninitiated, here's the basic symptomology, shamelessly cribbed from Harbor of Refuge.

Bipolar disorder involves cycles of mania and depression.

Signs and symptoms of mania include discrete periods of:
  • increased racing and rapid talking
  • Excessive "high" or euphoric feelings
  • Extreme irritability and distractability
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
  • Uncharacteristically poor judgment
  • A sustained period of behavior that is different from usual
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
  • Denial that anything is wrong
Signs and symptoms of depression include discrete periods of:
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain
  • Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical disease
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Got all that?

My mood for the past two weeks has been good. I have been able to focus and enjoy my work and I have not experienced any racing thoughts, euphoric feelings, or increased distractability. The one thing I have noticed is a decreased need for sleep. I get maybe five or six hours in any twenty-four hour period, and usually not all at one time. For instance, in the day just past I slept a total of six hours but in three two-hour increments. That's the one element right now that bears watching.

I'm up early this morning because I'm about to leave for a week or ten days of vacation. I travel first to Abingdon, Virginia, to see some old friends, and then on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where I've been invited by an Army lieutenant colonel to spend a few days with his family at their seaside condo in Duck, just north of Nags Head. As far as I know, I'll have regular Internet access, so at the moment I see no reason I won't be able to compose these daily posts. But if I miss a day or two, consider it no big deal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.