Friday, June 12, 2015

Doubting Happiness

This morning I feel great. It may be partly due to the fact that I was scheduled to be in work at 6:30 AM, but when I woke up I saw a text from my manager saying not to come in until 7:30 AM, and then proceeded to get some extra sleep. It may also be due to the 20z salted caramel coffee I got on the way into work. Perhaps it's because it's Wednesday and I have yoga this afternoon, which is one of the best parts of my week. Or the fact that I look super cute in this dress that I forgot was in my closet until this week.

But in reality, I know it may be none of these. It may well be the start of a hypomanic cycle. My cycling, see, doesn't charge at me. I don't suddenly turn anxious or giddy or bounce off the walls. I've used the coffee analogy before, about how a cup or two is fine, but as you continue drink the whole pot you realize that the positive effects you were feeling are slowly taking a turn for the worse. And so it goes with hypomania. Sometimes, I can tell immediately. My brain races. I can't concentrate. I want to duck tape my mouth because I want to stop talking but can't manage to do so. And I'm not feeling any of those... yet.

With mood cycling, there's always a "yet". This depression phase isn't too bad... yet. I'm not feeling hypomanic... yet. I haven't had a meds reaction... yet. I haven't freaked out or burst into tears or done something else that will surely embarrass me... yet. This gets frustrating, as you may imagine, because it becomes tough to trust yourself. Most people, when they feel happy or sad or scared or anxious or afraid have a reason for it that they can count on. If they're afraid, it's because of xyz and when xyz is over, they won't be afraid anymore. There's a cause and effect. With mood cyclers, the cycling IS the cause, and the effect.

I've had people ask me time and again why I'm sad or crying or exhausted. My answer is virtually always one of two things: Depression, or I don't know. Because in actuality, they mean the same thing. I'm feeling (fill in the blank) because of depression, which messes with my emotions regardless of any external or otherwise identifiable reason. It's the same with hypomania. If I'm happy, I'd like to be able to just enjoy feeling good. But I can't, because it could go south very quickly. I'm rapid cycling, which means that I could start out feeling great, by noon could feel agitated and jumpy or overly excitable and talkative, and by nightfall be feeling someway entirely different.

So how do you trust your emotions, and yourself, in this situation? The sad truth is, you can't. But you can enjoy them. Just don't over-exert yourself. If it were a physical illness, say, cancer, and you felt better one day, it still probably wouldn't be advisable to suddenly go for a ten mile run. The same is true with mood cycling. It's tempting, when feeling great, to start making tons of plans, start lots of new projects, do all of these things you had not had the energy or will to do during the depressive cycle. But reign it in, no matter how tempting it may be. Try to be realistic, as best as possible. Leave room for flexibility in plans. Because, as is the nature of cycling, you will not feel this good forever. It's unfortunate, but it's true.

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