Ok so I've been climbing up the slippery pole, bonded with the crisis team, been banned from driving for six months and generally been feeling pretty rough at this point. But miracle of miracles, 3 months down the line I start to feel reasonably ok. It's an odd sensation coming out of the Deep, dark wood. The mist began to lift. I could string a sentence together and spell words again. My ability to converse with people and maintain eye contact was much improved. Everything tired me out but hey, I was functioning again. The depression end of my condition is savage. It is rapacious and destructive. Once it begins to abate even slightly, you feel the grip of it around your throat begin to ease and you can literally start to breathe again. Holding on through that phase is all you can do. The mania is rampant, unforgiving and makes you terribly vulnerable to complete breakdown. Even though the mania begins with the fluttery stomach butterflies and a sense of well being and exhilaration, it becomes your worst enemy. Thankfully in my case, it doesn't last longer than three to four days. Depression can last for months and months. I was glad it had started to release me from it's grip so soon.
It's worth mentioning here that I had started to go to Church again after many years on sabbatical. My choice as I had found it hard to engage with Christians. I know - Church is full of them right. But actually Christians are a microcosm of the normal world so it still has quite a lot of nasty people knocking about and I had had my fair share of abuse and judgement. Anyway, these Christians knew that I had this condition and when I had my relapse they were the most amazing bunch of people around. They prayed for me constantly, made up a rota to ensure that someone came to see me every day and generally carried me when I couldn't carry myself. Sometimes they took me to psychiatric appointment, sometimes they played with the kids but most of all they showed me love and acceptance. I love those guys. I felt safe with them and they are precious people in my life.
So at the three month point I am slightly less mad, a little skittish but managing ok. Then I get a call from my GP. A GP calling me at home. At first I thought someone had died and they had been nominated to tell me as I was so fragile. Turns out no one had died at all. The anti depressant I was taking had been deemed to be dangerous for the heart and I would need to cut it down drastically without much notice or stop taking it all together. Brilliant. Just coming out of a major relapse and now having to toy with medication. The risks of me reducing the citalopram and becoming ill again were quite high. Basically when I got to see the GP I was told that the rhythm of the heart beat could be drastically affected and that permanent damage could occur if I continued to take the maximum dose. We decided together to drop from 60mg to 40mg and to stay off work for another 6 to 8 weeks to ensure my survival! It's bad enough taking medication that can make you fat, make you have twitching arms and legs, make you have a dry mouth, mess with your liver function.... I could go on. Having a permanent heart problem was not on my list of must haves. I had to have a heart trace done to make sure I was ok. Who would have thought that medication that is meant to be making you feel well can do such horrible things to you physically. I remember asking my shrink how long it would be before I could be medication free. His response was not a welcome one I can assure you. "If you stay stable for between 2 and 5 years I will consider it." Two to five years!!! That is ages.