Friday, December 29, 2006

Mood Watch - 30

I was on the road for much of December and had neither the time nor inclination to post much on this blog. But I suppose I’m overdue for an update on the status of my biochemistry.

As far as I can tell, I’ve been on a pretty even keel since my last Mood Watch post, except that from December 10 through December 26 I tended to sleep more than usual and often had real trouble waking up, almost as if I were drugged (which, aside from the usual depakote and lamictal, I wasn’t). This was all the more surprising because for most of that time I was in the company of good friends and was doing work I enjoy. And besides that, as a general rule I have always tended to sleep less than usual when traveling. Yet at no point did I feel depressed.

The most I can say is that now and again I wished, as I often do, that I didn’t have to fool with this stuff. I mean, I’m appreciative of the fact that as mood disorders go, mine is comparatively mild; also that life holds far more severe challenges. But I mean, jeez, this has really gotten old. Bipolar disorder once had the virtue of at least being interesting. Not any more.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Mood Watch - 29

An inability to sleep more than two or three hours at a stretch has replaced that long spell of hypersomnia. Taking a nap here and there mitigates this a bit, but I’m still managing only about five hours’ sleep out of every twenty-four. The good news is that I’m energetic enough to catch up on a lot of things, and I have no trouble focusing on my work (distractibility is a symptom of hypomania and therefore one of the things I watch for). The bad news is, I’m managing only about five hours’ sleep out of every twenty-four.

Last week I had a routine consult with my psychiatrist. I briefly reviewed my mood and energy level over the past month. She wrote the usual prescription for my meds. A thought occurred to me, something I’d heard somewhere. I asked, “Is it true that this illness tends to subside with age, that I’ll ever get beyond it?”

She eyed me sympathetically. “No,” she said. “No. You never will.”

Friday, December 1, 2006

Mood Watch - 28

Sorry to have been away for so long. The month has pretty much been a blur of trips and conferences, which partly explains the dearth of posts. But I’d be less than candid if I omitted to say that I just haven’t felt much like blogging. Although I’ve never regretted taking up this blog, in the nature of the case I’m putting myself and my struggles out in public, and sometimes I don’t feel up to the task.

In fact, I briefly flirted with the idea of dropping this particular blog. God knows I’ve got so much going on that I’ve had to set aside my other blogs temporarily, and indeed, I suspect I will have to put one or more of them on hiatus. But a couple of days ago I received an email that reminded me of why this blog may be the most necessary of any I’ve undertaken.

It came from an undergraduate who had a course with me last year. Because I’ve been public about my bipolar disorder, he felt that he could approach me about his suspicions that he might have something similar. I don’t know whether or not that’s the case, but based on the symptoms he reported, I encouraged him to visit his family doctor and see if a referral to a psychiatrist was warranted.

It occurred to me that his emailing me, a relative stranger, suggested that he had no one else in his life he could approach on this matter, and that if I had kept silent about my illness, he might well have felt completely isolated. In the end, it always comes back to the same stark question: What kind of man do I have guts enough to be?

As for my mood, I can’t recall a time when I have been so busy and yet so easily exhausted. Excepting the brief period I recounted in my previous Mood Watch post, I’ve geared up to do the things I needed to do, and got them done, and then craved nothing but sleep. Except for a few days last week, it didn’t even feel like depression, just a general, unyielding fatigue.

Things got back to normal — or at least what I insist on regarding as normal — two days ago. And what impressed me is that whereas these shifts in mood often seem unrelated to my circumstances, with this one there was a clear connection, and I’m beginning to discern a pattern I’ve hitherto overlooked (or maybe disregarded) between a certain area of my life and these shifts in mood. I don’t mean to be mysterious, but at this point I see no need to get into specifics. It’s just that I’m reasonably sure that this area of my life has become complicit in my depressive spells, and that’s something I’ll have to address.

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