Day 24: How much of your life has been stable/euthymic, depressed and hypo/manic?
Over the years it has become noticeable that my baseline mood state is depression, but that doesn’t mean my life is always spent in this most painful and debilitating of states. After all, according to several psychiatrists, I am bipolar, so my moods are going to deviate from time to time.
The only period of true mania that I’ve experienced came in June/July 2007, when I went psychotic in Adelaide. From what little I can actually remember, I spent my days trawling bars and clubs for beautiful women, whilst imbibing vast quantities of alcohol and eating very little. I streaked down Rundle Mall on the promise of playful spanking, I talked incessantly to whomever would listen to me, slapped multiple backsides to announce my presence and generally spent my days (and nights) convinced I was an immortal God. Even hurling myself in front of a moving train wouldn’t have damaged me, such was the extent of my delusional thinking. It was exhausting, it was exhilarating, it was painful, it was pleasurable. It was, without question, one of the most fucked up periods of my life. And if it weren’t for the fact I was raped – which I’ve long believed to be the trigger that ended my mania – God knows how long it would have lasted and what would have become of me. By the time it ended I had barely slept for several weeks and felt both dehydrated and malnourished. In fact, the depressive episode I collapsed into was comforting in its monotony and familiarity.
As for hypomania, I have experienced this state on several occasions, and have long considered it my preference. When I’m hypomanic I am everything that I’ve ever wanted to be. I am charming. I am debonair. I am talkative. I am creative. I am driven. I am committed. I am motivated. When this state is surging through me there is nothing I can’t achieve, and everything I set my mind to is tackled with such panache and energy that it will often result in my best work. I wrote my novel, The Ghosts that Haunt Me, when I was hypomanic. I edited said novel when I was in this state. When my mood turned to hypomania in mid-2008, I was able to find work in a matter of weeks and performed said work to such a high standard that I received praise from every manager above me. When I was hypomanic in 2009, between May and July, I had my written work published twice; once in a national magazine and once in a local newspaper. A feat I’ve never been able to match during my euthymic or depressed, baseline, states.
All in all, my main periods of hypomania (that I’ve been able to identify) have been: September 1997, September – November 1999, April-June 2000, late 2003, August-November 2006, January 2008 (although this could have been more rapid cycling), June-October 2008, May-July 2009 and the last couple of months of 2012. All of which back up my belief I’m at my best when I’m hypomanic, as each of these periods coincides with periods of tremendous productivity and achievement, whether it be traveling to combat my anxiety (1999) or engaging with social activity and building relationships (2006).
Personally I feel I’m due another bout of hypomania soon, although, the same could be said for euthymia, which I haven’t felt since 2005! Back then I was working full-time, committed to my relationship with Louise, developing plans for the future and generally living what many people would consider “a life”. I had no major financial issues, stressors in my life were few and far between, and I was engaging in social activity whenever time allowed. I was even making new friends and forging stronger relationships with people in my life.
In fact, things have been so bad for so long, I can barely remember what being in this state actually felt like. I remember it through a haze of memory, as if looking back on that period with rose-tinted glasses. Things were probably not as good as I remember them being, but because things were so normal, so safe, I remember it with tremendous fondness and exaggerated comfort. I was stable, I was “normal”; I was everything I dream of being now.
But alas, things are no longer like that. My life, as with much of it, has become consumed with feelings of hopelessness, pointlessness and depression. Everything is difficult. Everything isn’t awesome. It is a state that I should be used to by now; a state that I should know intimately given how much time we have spent in each others company over the last twenty years. Our dalliance in 2000 brought on feelings of worthlessness and despair. Our tryst in 2006 cemented these feelings. Whilst our flirtation in 2011 brought on multiple suicide attempts in a matter of months. Depression has been such a part of my life that I no longer live in fear of it; we are one, depression and I, a civil union that will see me till death us do part.