Today we are publishing the first of a series of 5 blogs written by Mary:
It never fails to surprise me, how physical is this mental condition we have.
I awake, stomach cramping; churning, and barely make it to the bathroom in time.
I huddle over the toilet, retching miserably; a miserable wretch, my last few meals racing through my mind as I try to think what could have disagreed with me so?
Will the rest of the family be affected? What if it is a stomach bug? Will the children need time off school?
I crawl back to bed, head pounding, shivering with cold, and still nauseous.
It is only after three days of constant sickness and headaches that the penny drops: I am coming out of mania and into the depressive part of my cycle. These symptoms are effectively the withdrawal pains.
This is the third time it's happened. The first time the nausea worried me. I hadn't felt that ill since being pregnant with my children. I even took a pregnancy test – just to be sure: a late life baby was not something I wanted to deal with!
Now – well, it gives me time to prepare, to warn people what's coming. I can look at my diary and make sure I have scheduled only one thing a day for the next few weeks.
The next thing is the exhaustion.
I'm not aware of it first thing. I get out of bed and if I wobble on the way to the shower, then that's just because I haven't quite got my body into gear yet. It's only when my legs start to shake halfway through washing my hair that I realise that this is not going to be a good day.
I can make breakfast for the children, but walking them to the bus stop is an impossibility.
The day becomes punctuated with rest stops and naps. They call depression an invisible illness. Not for me. My face is pale and strained and I walk carefully as though drunk. "Go to bed, Mummy/Darling," is repeated like a mantra throughout the house at various points of the day.
"Do I really look that bad?" I ask. But I can see in the mirror that I do. Even photographs show a pale face without life or vitality.
Somehow I will perform the commitments I have scheduled. I know I can deliver a class, a lecture, that I can talk to a hundred people and they will suspect nothing – just so long as the adrenaline is there. When the clients have gone, when I step off stage, I can collapse. I do collapse.
Driving home is always a nightmare.
But you grit your teeth and get on with it, don't you? I love this job so much and want to stay professional.
And it will pass. I know that this will pass. It always has before; it will again.
Just hang on in there.
Just hang on.
A Moodscope member.