a journal of one person with manic-depressive illness

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Follicle's Foe

This summer was a productive one. I started writing music again-good music. I've even been recording with, and meeting great musicians. My mood has been a happy manic one, filled with ambition and creative drive. Amidst the excitement, the heat and humid green of middle-Tennessee had me yearning for a more adventurous season: crisp air and hot chocolate. After all, what could be more adventurous than putting on more layers! But looking for 'greener' grass in the red, orange and yellow fall sky is bound to disappoint the chemically-challenged.

The yearning is satisfied as 'that time of year' arrives with changing leaves...and moods. I am more anxious and less capable of dealing with everyday challenges. While everyone is suiting up for tailgating, I am wondering why football would want to make anyone sit around for hours eating barbecue. I become increasingly more introverted and annoyed with people and my surroundings.

Last year, when my moods sank like an unscrupulous anchor, I determined that medication was the cure. My nurse-practitioner prescribed an anti-depressant immediately, and it worked. It worked quite well, but with any medication there are side-effects. Some of these side-effects are tolerable, others are difficult to countenance. It may take months for these undesirable effects to attach themselves as unwanted companions. And when they do, the co-dependent relationship I had developed with my medication complicated the solution. I lost hair, lots of it. I divorced my anti-depressants; what woman can part with a prized feminine attribute?

The wintertime is a formidable opponent that cannot be taken for granted. I intend on pursuing all natural options available to me (until this season becomes too fierce a foe and other measures must be considered). Here is my plan thus far:

  1. Keep my moderate exercise regiment: cardio 3 times a week; weight training 2 times week; and occasional yoga classes (does wonders for the nervous system)
  2. Assemble a home-made light box

The most challenging of the two will be the assembly of the light box. I'm not much of a handy-woman, and my husband is neither handy or womanly-but history has conquered more onerous setbacks for much more honorable purposes than preserving hair follicles.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dear Sunshine,

In the summertime, a hard-day's work is effortlessly accepted as a dutiful endeavor that only lazy and selfish people shirk. Energy is provided in excess amounts, the leftovers are then funneled to other projects like sewing, blogging, church callings, and even grocery lists!! Eventually, we take your warm rays for granted and look forward to the invigorating colors, and brisk air of the Fall (a poetic term, to say the least).

Then we remember, 'oh yeah...the sunshine disappears, too...ugh.' Depression sets in...tick...

At first it is subtle, the house gets a little messier, the workouts are fewer and far between. The irritability starts sprouting like a noxious weed, and pretty soon, a bonafide time-waster emerges. For most normal people, the distress does not progress any further. For those of the bipolar variety, the 'fall' has just begun.

This holiday season was the first time we've spent away from my side of the family. I figured it would be a fun adventure to really settle into a family routine-starting our own unique traditions and realizing our identity as a smaller family unit. While some of what I had hoped for materialized in ginger-bread houses, my mother's divine English toffee, and even her Christmas Eve Danish pastry- my quality time was spent more in bed rather than with my family. But my all-time low of the season happened on Christmas day.

We had invited the Mormon missionaries over to our house for dinner Christmas evening. I had planned to make my mothers rolls to really add something special to the occasion. And a simple event set it off in a hurry. The dough didn't rise! Most normal people would make rice, or improvise in some other simple way, but for me-it was a catastrophe that ended up with me in the bedroom, pulling on my hair, and pinching my arms with a trouser hanger. The visual would certainly scare or anxiously amuse the onlooker-but to me, it was the ONLY way I could cope with the intensity. The only way to stay the intensity was to inflict mild pain on myself. In the moment, the release actually feels good, and helps me ignore or respond in like manner to what I am feeling.

The most challenging part is putting on my game face to protect others from your illness. But I get better at dealing with it on my own, rather than foisting it on the shoulders of my loved ones.

I have to accept that when you (sunshine) take a vacation, I must also take a vacation from my own expectations. The house may be a little messier, the sewing projects might gather dust, and we might make a few more pizza runs. And this is when I put a plug in for my husband who is so patient with my shortcomings. My mother says, as long as you love your family, and feed them---the laundry and vacuuming can wait till the Spring. I think she is very wise.

And so it goes...Sunshine, I miss you (and so does the messy house).