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The Slow Creep of Mania and Depression

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My husband pointed out to me last night that my mood right now is the worst it’s been in a while, and he was concerned. I was shocked. I didn’t notice it had gotten that bad.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Also, yesterday, my doctor asked me if I would go to the hospital. This shocked me, too. I said no, not until my disability and everything was sorted out. I had no idea it was that bad.

It’s the creeping.

The creeping. The slow rise in mood or the slow descent into misery. I never notice it when it creeps. I can notice it in hindsight but never until someone tells me. The creep into mania is gradual. Sleep is usually the first to go, the increasingly high moods rising to euphoria. Starting new hobbies and giving them up just as fast. Creeping mania is heightened anxiety, reckless spending and the constant need to move around.

Creeping depression. Slow, creeping depression is the gradual increase and sometimes decrease in sleep, the desire to sleep just so I can forget I’m alive for a while. It’s heightened anxiety. Everything becomes overwhelming. I withdraw from things and people. It’s the needing to do something but not wanting to do anything at all. Then, there’s the passive (sometimes not so passive) suicidal thoughts.

The creeping doesn’t happen all at once, which is why I don’t notice it. Other people do though, like my husband, my doctor and my caseworker. I didn’t know how bad it was until I was told. On the other hand though, if the flip happens quickly I can notice it usually straight away.

Just last week my mood went from depressed to manic in an instant. I was slow and sad but then all of a sudden I was up. I was so up. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t sit down. My mind was racing, and I felt like running, like running for miles. Then, I went to my room and cried. I cried violently because that’s the only way to do it when you’re manic.

So noticing episodes and mood switches can me be hard to do by myself. I need that extra support, someone to notice it for me. My husband does a good job of this. For instance, when I enrolled in Technical and Further Education (TAFE), he told me I was manic. I argued that I wasn’t. A month later, I dropped out of the course and finally admitted I did it because I was manic and didn’t think it through.

This was not a solitary occurrence either. I do many silly things when I’m manic, like arguing with the Red Cross nurse because they wouldn’t let me donate blood for good reasons: a) I was on too much medication, b) If they took my blood, then it could alter my blood levels and cause a switch in mood.

We all need that bit of extra support, whether we admit it or not. My moods are so erratic. I don’t know whether I’m up or down some days. Sometimes, I just need someone there to hold my hand through all of the bullsh*t. My husband’s gotten pretty good at it by now.

Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared on Always Unstable.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: October 17, 2016
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