What goes up must come down. Damn!
"What does it feel like?" asked one Moodscope user. "What does it feel like when you're on the upside of the bi-polar?"
Well, it feels "normal." It feels as if there is really no other way to feel. Because, it's when I'm "up" I feel most like myself. The Mary I identify with most closely is this buzzing, energetic bundle of fun. I'm creative, I'm efficient, I'm proactive, I'm in control of everything. (Oh, and I'm humble too. Had you noticed that?)
But of course, I'm not in control. In fact, the better I feel the more out of control I am.
So, I've learned to recognise the warning signs.
First of all there is Moodscope. Now, my buddies won't pick up on this because my actual score doesn't change. On the plateau of wellness I regularly and consistently check in with scores in the mid-seventies. The red cards score a 2 and blue cards score a 0. When "up" however, the red cards are almost all 3 – but some of the blue cards, especially the hostile, jittery and anxious cards get marked with a one, or even a 2. The score remains the same, but the makeup is different. When I notice this, then it's my responsibility to alert my Moodscope buddies. My buddies are great at picking up on the times I epically crash, but the ups? Not so much.
The next symptom is sleep. Don't want it, don't need it. I find that, without noticing it, my normal seven hours a night has slimmed down to five. Then to four and a half, then to... And it's when I go to bed at 3am and still get up at 6am with bounding energy the warning bells start to ring.
Oh, and the buzz of ideas! I can't keep up with them. This week Caroline (our wonderful administrator) asked me to come up with some slogans for depressives. Well, that's easy, isn't it? I could think of at least ten just off the top of my head. And another ten today. The creative energy is amazing.
But there is the other side of all this, and that's the side that's dangerous. There's risk-taking behaviour. Oh and the fact that everyone around seems SO slow and stupid! Which means I get irritable and impatient. Not nice.
So I get my buddies, both Moodscope buddies and Facebook friends who know and understand, to watch out for me. I have friends who tell me to go to bed if they see I'm still up and on the computer after midnight, my husband and I have an agreement that we consult over any purchase over a certain amount. He'll stop me dashing over to Phoenix on a whim to have coffee with my new friend in that city.
Because the secret to minimizing the downs is to control the ups.
They feel wonderful but they're scary and they need riding on a very, very tight rein.
A Moodscope member.