One of the things I most hate about having bipolar disorder is the way it robs me of my self-awareness.
Yes, I've known something was wrong. You people here knew something was wrong, because I share (nearly) everything with you. My family and friends knew something was wrong.
But it wasn't until my annual check-up at the GP surgery that I realised what it was.
"Hmmm," said the nurse. "I think you need to see the doctor. Can you come back this afternoon?"
No – I couldn't. "Then Monday morning?" This was Friday. Given that GP appointments are about as easy to get as an audience with the Queen, I began to realise she was serious about this.
Then things got even worse.
On Saturday I was sick and shaking before I led my workshop – my favourite workshop: one I've led dozens of times - and exhausted afterwards. On Sunday I had a panic attack in church and had to walk out. The disturbing dreams I'd been having every night got terrifying.
So, first thing on Monday, bright and early, I saw my delightful GP. She smiled at me with genuine warmth and asked how I was – and I burst into tears. Literally in tears on her shoulder – because she's that kind of GP.
And out it all came. At the end of twenty minutes she said, "Let's look at your medication, shall we? Because I don't think the current dose is quite doing the job."
There was a stunned silence from my chair.
You see, after two and a half years on my current medication; having become used to the wonderful effect of "normality", it had never occurred to me that the medication would need changing.
Then I started to do the maths.
Every person who has bipolar disorder has their own pattern. Moodscope is brilliant at enabling us to spot the patterns. And my pattern is to have several small episodes annually, a bigger one every two years and a massive one every four years. When the dose was set, I had just come out of a big one, and I was put on the minimum dose. For two years it has smoothed everything out beautifully. But – I now realise - that dose is not effective against the bigger swings.
When you are taking an effective medication; when you are following a regime that helps you manage your condition; when you take every bit of good advice and see the results; it is very easy to forget that you're still dealing with a dragon, and that the dragon can fight back.
It's not just bipolar disorder; we all deal with the monster of depression.
So, my message to all of you who find the medication works, who do all the right things to manage your condition; don't ever take your eyes off that monster - that dragon – because, believe me, it will never take its eyes off you.
In the words of Professor Moody, Constant Vigilance!
A Moodscope member.