The Dawkter's Wife - It's all champagne and caviar now … dahling

The Loony Bin

January 19, 2013


Last year was a hard year.

I don’t know where I’m at yet with this year.

I have struggled with significant bouts of depression since I was an adolescent.  This is a known factor to me and I’ve just tried to live with it.  When I’m not depressed, I can cook, garden, blog and generally socialize with others.  When I’m down?  I rarely get online (and when I do, I just feel like no one likes me) and my house falls into a state of chaos that is embarrassing and frustrating.  Still, I usually function and get the necessary things done.  I’m just not at the top of my game.

Last year was sort of different.

My depression persisted over longer periods of time and was much darker.  I spent many afternoons in bed when the kids were at school, and I trudged through the everyday stuff. I couldn’t read, because my thoughts felt like they were being dragged through molasses.  It was miserable.

More take-out.

More mess.

More feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.

It wasn’t always like that.  I had periods of feeling up and being more productive, but the highs were also higher than normal.  I have had some bouts with euphoria throughout my life, and hallelujah for them, because they are what have inspired me in the past to organize, cook, write, and overachieve.  Without the highs pulling me along, the lows surely would have gobbled me up by now.

This summer though, I had a particularly … awkward … high.  I hadn’t slept in days and I had to drive one of my children out of state to camp.  I did fine and even felt alert enough to drive back home without staying overnight….which is where the story takes a very bad turn.  I got lost by driving off of the highway somewhere.  I found a hotel and then watched a documentary where I took copious notes.  The next day, I headed home irritable and upset.  I actually called my doctor and blamed her for this.  Really, I did that!  It didn’t even seem unusual to me that I had had this experience for days ….

I had just started seeing a doctor to help me medically manage my moods (*whispers* psychiatrist) and the next time she saw me, she suggested gently, that she saw signs of bipolar disorder.

Right … Like I’m going to accept that pronouncement….I did agree to try a mood stabilizer though.

I somehow managed to pull it all together and start school in the Fall, and it went really well.  Sometimes, it went awesomely well …. like the time that I decided that I was going to revolutionize family therapy in our area and came up with the most awesome of plans (that I still like by the way … now I just feel much more like shaking  my head at myself) or when  I helped throw a party for one of our classes at the end of the year and went totally overboard … or … like how I donated money to the school I worked at as well as some holiday gifts in a fit of overwhelmingly good spirits that I later (a week later) regretted and felt foolish about.

It was all good until it started feeling bad again … which was the week or two before Christmas where I didn’t even make a soft landing.  Nope.  My brain felt like it was draped in grey,dark sheets of ice and I couldn’t function.  I just put one foot in front of the next to get through Christmas and New Years.  I did my best to create a holiday feeling for the kids, but I know I fell very short of this.  This year, I didn’t manage to put out singing Santa until the last minute.  Usually, I hang the decorations on the tree with the kids.  This year, I hung up about 10 on my own one night and left it at that.  I could. not. do more.

I saw my doctor on Dec. 24th and she got sort of an instant vibe even though I assured her it was all. good.

“No it’s not.”

And that was that.

So we tried an anti-depressant.

I started feeling better about a week after I had started taking it in sort of stops and starts … but some of the starts felt a little bit too high.

I didn’t really worry about it because … holy shit … I don’t even know what a normal, euthymic mood feels like.

When the holidays ended and I started working again, I could barely function to just read to the kids.  My co-workers, who usually see me acting upbeat and pleasant for the kids regardless of what’s going on, remarked that I didn’t look like myself.  I called and the doctor upped the dose of the anti-depressant.

Which is where the fun began.

I felt GREAT.  as in AWESOME.  Cleanthehouse,organizemyoffice,feelsohappythismustbewhatnormalpeoplefeellikeeerydayandwhydontI.

It was all good except I couldn’t focus or concentrate on anything.  I felt giddy.  So I went back down to the old dose…and thought I was back to a more normal mood.

I bought living room furniture.  I bought myself a new laptop even though I had one.

I did NOT feel like I was euphoric or out there.

My doctor saw me and felt I was revved up.  I got in trouble for not taking the mood stabilizer like I was supposed to.  I still felt happy.  I felt good … like my life was finally going to be ok.

My therapist told me later in the day that she was retiring. She is 70, her husband is 78 and they are both still working.  She wants to spend time enjoying her family/husband now.

I was good…it didn’t bother me … I went on about my day without thinking about it.  It was weird how not-affected that I was.

I went to class and during the middle of lecture, I started getting this weird, uncomfortable sad feeling … like where the hell is that coming from.

As I was driving home, I burst into tears and realized that … I clearly was affected by all of this.  I didn’t want to go down a low road again though.  I couldn’t stop crying though.

Here I had this bubble of happiness and light in the middle of my brain and I did not want to lose it.

When I woke up in the morning, it felt like someone had taken a red hot knife through the center of my brain …. splitting it in half, and destroying that coveted happy bubble.

I actually felt mad.

And that’s where my story leaves off.  I got a flu bug in the middle of it and I’ve been flat on my back.

I feel like I want to give up and not give up at the same time.  I have spent 48 hours thinking about every relationship that I have ruined with my moodiness and every failure in my life that I can attribute to me.  I wonder how someone who clearly has some sort of mood disorder can effectively function in the mental health field as a professional.

My doctor thinks so.  She is optimistic.  She actually talked to me last time about the great contributions to society that have been made by people with bipolar disorder.

For now, I’ll have to just borrow her optimism.





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