In the early 1990’s I was diagnosed with borderline bipolar disorder previously known as manic depression. This was because the symptoms I presented were similar to those with bipolar and lithium was suggested as a possible drug solution. I was not convinced by this diagnosis, mainly because during my periods of high-energy and unfettered enthusiasm I always felt in control and purposeful and was always fully aware when things started to go downhill. Mania just did not seem the right word to describe it.
With the help of both psychiatrist and psychologist and detailed research into the history of my symptoms, we came to the conclusion that what I have is an extreme form of reactive clinical depression. After prolonged periods of excitement and stress (whether good or bad) my body and mind need a rest. This is when I get the huge swathes of depression descending and suffer with mental and physical exhaustion. Anti-depressants combined with CBT were seen as the way forward and I still work very hard at trying to maintain equilibrium.
Despite the continuing medication and daily use of CBT techniques my mood can be unpredictable and I am not very good at managing my triggers. I still think I am Superwoman and whilst I have a lot of energy I often overestimate the amount in the tank and as well as running on “empty” I frequently dip into my reserves with the inevitable consequence that my engine seizes up completely.
One on-line tool which I use to help me monitor my moods is Moodscope. Moodscope is very quick and simple to use and, after answering 20 questions each day, it highlights swings in mood and attitude often before you become aware of them. This then gives you a chance to think about why your mood has changed and do something about it before negativity takes hold. You can also nominate a friend to receive your results if this will help.
I find Moodscope particularly beneficial during the frantic run up to Christmas and you are given practical hints on how to cope on a daily basis, for instance;
“At this time of year ……it’s probably a good thing to over-estimate how long things will take. And leave a little room for the nicer things in life. After all it’s not likely on Christmas Day that you’ll look back and say, ‘You know what? I wish I’d been more frantic in December’ – are you?”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.