Thursday, 28 June 2012

Insight 04: My mood swings don't make me a swinger

All bipolar sufferers go through mood swings which are extreme and irrational. Some of us experience these mood swings daily, weekly or monthly. My manic and depressive phases can last for years.
About two and half years ago, I started seeing another psychiatrist and I found that I could get along with him and I’ve been seeing him to this day. He prescribed me with lithium to contain my mood swings, Zoloft to pick up my mood as I was depressed when I first saw him, and Rivotril to help me sleep at night.  
Very soon after that my mood started to change but it’s mainly because I managed to sell off my condo for a nice profit. I was flushed with cash that I never had before. I was so happy that I spent a lot of it by buying photographic equipment that I didn’t need and it went as far as setting up a complete photography studio in my house.
I also got obsessed with running. I’ve always liked to run because when I’m running I don’t think about anything. So I got myself a brand new pair of Nike shoes. The shoes had this “Nike+” sign on it and I was curious to find out more. Turns out I could actually track the progress of my run by using the Nike+ app on my iPod. All I needed to do was to dial in my distance goal, say 8k and as I ran a voice would tell me “One kilometer completed.” At the push of a button it ‘d tell me “7 kilometers to go. Pace 6 mins/km. Calories 103.” But the best thing was that at the end of the run Lance Armstrong appeared on my headphones and said “Hi. This is Lance Armstrong. Congratulations, this is your longest workout yet.” How cool was that?
So every day I‘d get up early in the morning and I looked forward to running faster and longer so that I could hear Lance Armstrong congratulating me. One of my best friends was into running so she invited me to run with her friends who are veterans and have been running marathons for decades. For six days a week I‘d run in the morning with these people or I‘d run alone. Within six months I was as fit as a fiddle. I could run 10km in 50 minutes, I completed a half-marathon race in less than two hours and I could run up to three hours without stopping.
Things got even crazier when I picked up cycling. I was so obsessed with Lance Armstrong that I bought a Trek bike which is a brand endorsed by him. I also had his helmet, sunglasses, jersey and even his wristband. I‘d start cycling at 5 a.m. and my route was 40km long. That included a 10km hill climb and I‘d always challenge myself to complete the climb within 30 minutes. After weeks of trying I still couldn’t achieve the time goal and I‘d go home frustrated.
Here’s the insane fact – After running or cycling, I’d smoke a joint. Yes, it’s one of my demons that I’ve talked about in my post “Fear and Loathing”. Throughout the day I’d smoke 5 more joints. Most people feel relaxed when they smoke weed but I’ve the opposite reaction as it makes me hyperactive and it fuels my mania. I didn’t tell my psychiatrist that I’m always stoned when I see him and he had never took notice.
I was in this manic phase for nine months and all of a sudden I feel depressed. I couldn’t find any reason for feeling low as I still had enough money to sustain my lifestyle, I was physically fit and I was closer to my friends than ever before. It was as if I woke up one morning and the light bulb in my head just went off. I felt lethargic and I was upset because I’ve signed up to run a full marathon and I needed to train but I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I stayed home, slept most of the time and I ignored my friends’ phone calls and messages.
My mood was so foul that I sought comfort in alcohol. I hated myself for that because I didn’t drink a drop of anything alcoholic for the nine months prior. But I decided to drown in my sorrows and very soon I turned to the bastard son of my Lucifer – mixing a strong sleeping pill with beer. Whenever I had that concoction, I‘d completely lose my memory and my inhabitations. I‘d call my friends and talk absolute crap with them and when I wake up the next day I couldn’t remember what I did and where I was.
I missed a few appointments with my doctor and when he called me on the phone I was off my head and I was screaming at him. He told me that he was going for work-related trip but he wanted to see me immediately when he returns.
I did finally tell him everything when I saw him. He wasn’t completely surprised, in fact he was sympathetic. I asked him why did I fall into depression again and he told me that is the very nature of being bipolar and I could feel down without any rhyme or reason. He also told me that I will have this condition for life.
I was depressed for about a year and all I did was sleep, eat and watched TV. The thing is that I never had the habit of watching TV but during that period I watched everything from American Idol to American Choppers. I was so bored I even watched Dinner Party Wars.
My doctor was trying hard to turn my mood around so he stopped the lithium, put me on Pristiq and Lexapro (both anti-depressants) and Quetiapine to help me relax. I discovered that Quetiapine made me feel very drowsy and I could sleep for 12 to sometimes 16 hours a day. It also gave me a hangover effect when I get out of bed. Within this depressive phase I put on 16kgs. I’m no longer in any shape or form to run like before.
It was only three weeks ago that I started feeling some sense of positivity. That’s why I’m able to write this blog. I’ve also started looking for a 9-5 job mainly because I don’t want to be stuck at home feeling lonely and depressed.
My mood swings certainly don’t make me a swinger!

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