What to expect when reading bi-polar wife

Thoughts and feelings of living with bi-polar as a wife, mother, and person in the world.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Is it a dip or is it a relapse

Being a person of obviously fluctuating mood, I'm trying to learn when to panic and when to just ride out a stormy day or two. I've recently been told that if you've had 3 major depressive episodes, you are 90% at risk of having a relapse. Somber reading for those of us who are in that category. I could be one of the 10%. I could also have carrots growing out of my bum.

It's terrifying to even contemplate being so deeply ill again, so people in my position have to work really hard at relapse prevention and using coping strategies for if or when things do go wrong. It can feel like you're walking around with a loaded gun in your pocket most days, and sometimes the smallest thing can trigger a negative thought, which leads to a period of rumination, which in turn leads to your mood crashing. The triggers too, are those things that you are exposed to on a daily basis. Aggression, disappointment, money worries, family problems, illness, fear, stress. I could go on. But I won't. I think you get the picture. Every day can be a battleground of shifting sands.

The word resilience means to be able to bounce back into shape after bending or stretching or being compressed. When your mood is contaminated or pressed down by a negative thought, this is exactly what happens. Your mind can feel like it is suffering physical pressure or you are being dragged against your will to a very dark place. You try to force it back into a happy shape, but you can't do it by just trying to think yourself out of it. That doesn't work. This is why CBT has been so good for my daily mood management. I'm learning to allow the mood to bend my emotions, but not to snap the back of them, so I can return to a more manageable state. But its tiring work. I'm unceasingly working to stay on top of the quicksand, and it can be very demoralising.

Recently my mood dipped in spite of my guerrilla tactics. I could feel myself in free fall and the terror was fueled by the unknown depths to which I might plunge. The panic felt like straw in my throat and snakes in my belly. I tried to do a Mood trigger chain, to see where the slide began and yet again it linked to stress at work and tiredness. My fear was amplified as I'd been trying very hard to do all of the right things to stop a slide. And it didn't work. I called the Duty Community psychiatric nurse (mine is on a secondment to older persons) and gabbled down the phone trying not to cry. She soothed me somewhat, and as if by magic, she got me an appointment to see my psychiatrist. He actually called me at home first to talk things through, then called me in to his office anyway. He increased my medication although he said it was a temporary measure for a few weeks, and then we'd see how we were. I think in his view I was not as well as I could be, but I wasn't banging on the hospital door. He was the one who said, "Stop panicking". How easy for someone to spit out a platitude to soothe my chaotic soul.

And because most of this is going on in my head, noone is aware of crisis.