Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cyclo what??

“What’s the name of that thing you said you think I have again?”

“Cyclothymia,” he repeated.

I asked him to write it down on a piece of paper so I could look it up when I got home.

After 25 years of being diagnosed with a mixture of allsorts only Bassetts could be proud of, it would appear that the proverbial nail may have been hit on the head! One assessment interview and less than an hour’s discussion with a consultant psychiatrist may have finally resulted in an answer to the questions I have been asking for years:

  • Why, despite being on the maximum dosage of Prozac for two years, do I still plunge into the abyss of depression, without any apparent trigger, on regular occasions?
  • Why is it that when I get an idea for a new project, I have to go to the shops to buy the materials right now, even if it’s the middle of the night?
  • Why do I have a house full of unopened knitting wool and ceramic tiles and glass baubles and camera equipment and studio lighting and portrait background sheets and “how to” books and picture frames and mosaic tesserae and reams of fabric and glitter glue?
  • Why haven’t I had a decent night’s sleep in years?
  • Why do I have 46 tester tins of coloured paint in my cellar and magnolia walls in my kitchen?
  • Why do I have two new sewing machines when I don’t know how to sew?
  • And why does the noise in my head gets so loud at times that I feel the only way to silence it is to sit on the floor?

When I arrived home, I looked for “Cyclothymia” on the internet , and I was greeted with very little information. Many sites that discuss the bipolar spectrum give little more than a token nod to its existence. And others summarily dismiss it as a “mild” form of bipolar disorder, or “Bipolar Lite,” as Stephen Fry calls it.  However,  a Wikipedia article offers a reasonable, comprehensive overview, and McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Web gives a refreshingly non-dismissive and rather sympathetic description of the illness.

For what it’s worth, Stephen Fry states that his own diagnosis is one of Cyclothymia, and if you ever watch his documentary, “The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive” you will see that this so-called “mild” cousin of bipolar has some rather devastating symptoms. If, as suggested, I do indeed suffer from this disorder, then my heart goes out to those who suffer the full-fat version! This blasted Cyclothymia thing disrupts my home-life, my sleep patterns, my concentration, my memory, my emotions, my bank balance, my ability to work, my relationships, and – most importantly – my ability to be a consistently stable mother to my son.

I am due to begin treatment next week, having spent the last few weeks weaning myself of the high doses of Prozac (fluoxetine) I’ve been taking for the last decade or so. But hopefully, this time the doc got it right, and I can look forward to a decent night’s sleep.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Cyclothymia | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

To propose or not …

Ooooh .… It’s one of those rare, once-every-four-years days, when I can ask a man to marry me!

So who shall I ask? George Clooney? The postman? Idris Elba? (“if only!” she says, swooning a little swoon inside).

The idea of marriage has entered my worldspace on three occasions in my life:

  • When I was 21, an American soldier asked me to marry him after six days of knowing him. I’d never had a real boyfriend before, and the attention overwhelmed me. I told him I wasn’t sure, but I would think about it over the Christmas break. When I returned two weeks later, he was engaged to someone else! Apparently his mother had said she’d give a six-bedroom house in Queens as a wedding present and he wanted to make sure he sealed the deal!
  • In 1989, I was in Germany, staying up until the wee hours of the morning each night to watch the Detroit Pistons eventually win the NBA Championships. While others drooled over Isiah Thomas or little cutey-pie Joe Dumars, yours truly was dreaming of the hulking, hard-hitting bad-boy, Rick Mahorn. I wrote and posted him a poem called “Bleary Eyes and Daydreams” to win his heart. One of the verses went a bit like this:

If I might offer a subtle suggestion,

Would marrying me tomorrow be out of the question?

But seriously though, I do hold the belief

That the sexiest men have a gap in their teeth.

              Strangely, I never did receive a reply.

  • The third example was in 1997,when I asked someone to marry me – but he said no, and I said OK.  Six months later, he asked me to marry him. I said no, and he cried.

Nope.    Marriage is never something that has ever really cropped up as a serious topic of conversation in my 40-something years on the planet. My lifestyle/attitude/demeanour/unique approach to romance has never really lent itself to attracting a man, let alone keeping one interested in me long enough to desire my company for the rest of eternity. I’m rarely in one place for longer than six months, I’m flighty, and I have an absurdly short attention span. I was (am?) the type of person who gets a kick out of the chase – the less available the better, because then it’s never my fault when it “doesn’t work out.”  I have little interest in someone who’s actually interested in me.  And if the “chasee” eventually gives in and shows me some attention, then poof! – the fun is gone, and I drift off to challenges new.

Given my psychiatrist’s recent suggestion that I exist somewhere on the Bipolar Spectrum, I should perhaps assume that this rather disparaging view towards relationships is connected to my illness in some way. Admittedly, when I’m plummetting into the depths of a depressive phase, I berate myself for being a useless failure in life because I’m “obviously” unloveable and irrelevant to society without a partner…

But on days such as today, I like being on my own.

I like the fact that I have a whole bed to myself.   I like the fact that I can watch Judge Judy every day on TV, that I can go where I please just for the hell of it, I can write, I can read in silence, I can listen to classical music and Gil Scott-Heron, I can burn the dinner, I can play my saxophone in the bathroom, I can pull bits of wallpaper off the wall, I can leave wellies in the sink, I can eat a carrier bag full of sweets and chocolate, I can jump in muddy puddles, I can fart and pick my toenails in the living room, and I can have hairy legs.

I like being single.

So, women of today, use this once-in-four-years opportunity to woo the man of the hour if you like….

But I think I’ll give it a miss this year, and go paint a parrot on my bedroom ceiling.

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Cyclothymia” (sung to the tune of “Record Breakers”) …

Ever since the psych suggested I have Cyclothymia (which he pronounced CY-CLO-THEE-MIA, as opposed the posh, pretentious version I’ve been hearing ever since),  I keep singing the tune to  “Record Breakers” in my head!

As a result, and in a desperate attempt to find closure, I have been forced to compose the rest of the lyrics to the “cyclothymia song.”

I offer no apologies for the rubbishness of the lyrics, as I am no poet and certainly no songwriter. But it feels quite cathartic to finally get it out of my head and onto paper!

Disclaimer:   I do recognise there are those (probably MANY for a multitude of reasons!) of you who do not remember the theme tune to Roy Castle’s “Record Breakers” – epic kids’ show from the eighties.

To you, I say …….   oh well.

The Cyclothymia Song

If you have thoughts that are racing, if you feel displaced,

If you are ranting and raving, if you misbehave,

If you have up days and down days, if you wear a frown,

You might have Cyclothymia!

Yes, that’s right, Cyclothymia!

They call it Cyclothymia!

If you spend money like water when you shouldn’t ought,

You’re being edgy and risky, maybe over-frisky?

See your doctor for healing, tell them how you feel,

You might have Cyclothymia!

It could be Cyclothymia!

They call it Cyclothymia!

Ahhh …. that feels SO much better!

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Cyclothymia, Poems | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earlier attempt at writing …

Just to give you an example of how difficult writing can be when your brain doesn’t want to play, here is an attempt I made to start a Journal this past New Year’s Eve. It’s the 427-word entry I mentioned in my first post. It was going to be my New Year’s resolution to write every day – but as you see I gave that up pretty quickly!

Not sure if I was down or up at this time. In fact, I still can’t tell the difference. Hopefully, in the next few weeks of “treatment” someone will let me know.   I was evidently very antsy, and my thoughts wouldn’t sit still – but I wasn’t exactly happy happy. That’s kind of the way it is for me much of the time. Brain goes twenty to the dozen, but confusion reigns – and little gets done.

Saturday 31st December

What a load of old bollocks life is sometimes!

How on earth that managed to be the first thing that made its way into this journal I couldn’t say, but it’s taken me three days to get round to actually writing anything, and that’s the best, it seems, that I could come up with … 

But the first hurdle, believe it or not, is leapt and cleared, because I wrote something. 

Nothing comes easily these days though. My mind has taken to playing games with me and I struggle with the smallest task. Even this short prose has taken over an hour, merely because my mind calls me away from it so often; watching lame TV, running to the Chinese Takeaway even though I’m not hungry, playing with the font style and sizes. Currently on comic sans – but that will change, because it doesn’t feel right. Can’t decide on a decent radio station, none of them suit my needs right now. The classical station is unusually quick-paced and upbeat for this time of night, with Sousa marches and a xylophone rendition of Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, disallowing my mind to relax and slow down. And the soul station causes me to listen to the lyrics and lose concentration. 

Another seven or eight changes of font style. Either too swirly, or too busy, or too hard on the eyes. And God help me with the background wallpaper style! Worst part of that is, the more natural the picture seems to be – grass or water or earth – the quicker my eyes are drawn to the bits of the picture that are exactly the same. A smaller picture made larger through Photoshop or some editing tool by duplicating areas and blending them into one larger image …. but I can see the parts that are duplicated, and it bothers me – so I settle for a pattern that is supposed to repeat itself just to stop me stressing over it. 

It is the last day of 2011, and the time is plodding towards midnight and the magical freshness of 2012.

Such is my life at this moment. An uncomfortable, surreal existence. I feel totally displaced, almost floating in some sordid limbo, an extension of my nightly, vivid, restless, dreamful state – I don’t belong here right now, I should be somewhere else doing something else, but no idea what that something or somewhere else is. And in the absence of discovering my true place, I just want to sleep.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

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Into the rabbit-hole

Well … here goes ….

My first leap into the world of super-cyberdom.

I’ve dallied with the idea of starting a blog for a long time, but like many of my other aspirations of writing in some form or another, I have never managed to follow it through to fruition. I don’t even know how long this current enthusiasm will last or how far I will get, but the fact that I have now published this post is an immense  first step for me.

It was recently suggested by a psychiatric consultant that I have Cyclothymia – a much over-looked and summarily dismissed stepchild of Bipolar Disorder.  I use the term “suggested”  for two reasons: Firstly, the discussion with the consultant lasted approximately fifty-five minutes, hardly time to offer a full synopsis of my adventure-filled life, let alone put it in a labelled nutshell. And secondly, I’m now 47 years old, and for the last twenty-five years I have been “diagnosed” with a variety of ailments including, but not limited to:  Depression,  Anxiety,  Panic Attacks,  Nervous Asthma,  OCD,  Obsessional Slowness (that’s always an interesting one to try and explain to people),  Bulimia,  Atypical Migraines (sometimes, so “a-typical”, I don’t even get a headache!),  Labyrinthitis,  and for a brief minute, I was having MRI scans to rule out the possibility of MS.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with the consultant’s suggestion. In fact, the more I read about the bipolar spectrum, the more it makes sense that I should be inducted into it. I have been keeping a daily mood diary since October last year, and it’s quite scary how obvious my mood swings are. Until now, I had never really observed the emotional roller coaster in such a holistic way.

Instead, I would only seek medical help if any one of the problems became too difficult to deal with in isolation. If I found myself crying a lot and considering which vehicle I could walk in front of without making too much mess, I would run to the doctor, and they would diagnose me with Depression and put me on Prozac, or Sertraline, or whatever the anti-depressant of the day happened to be. If I was unable to sleep and freaking out at minor issues, I would run to the doctor and they would diagnose me with Anxiety and give me sedatives to help me calm down. And there would be similar routines when the continual stonking headaches just wouldn’t let up, or when I started sticking my fingers down my throat to purge the evil garden salad.

In fairness to the medical professionals, it would have been almost impossible to recognise the individual symptoms as pieces of a larger picture unless I had made the connections myself.  I was bouncing around the world for most of my 20s and 30s, and rarely stayed in one place long enough to see any doctor more than once.

The bottom line is that it now has been recognised, and I am finally embarking on a journey to address the problem as a whole. I have an appointment next week to begin “treatment” in whatever form that may be, and for the last few weeks I have been detoxing off the 60mg daily doses of Fluoxetine (Prozac) I had been taking religiously for the last two or three years.

I had heard that writing a journal could be a therapeutic exercise, and for weeks I have been determined to start writing. But I have one of those brains that refuses to allow me to just go for it. Everything has to be correct, and perfect, and feel just right for me to actually accomplish anything. I looked around my house this past weekend and found no less than fourteen notebooks and journals in various places, all with the beginnings of what could have become masterpieces in their own right (and in my own head). But not one of them made it past the second page of writing!  Similarly, on my laptop I found eleven saved files with the title “Journal” or “My Story” or something close to that. The longest, according to the word count button has 427 words; the shortest has 2… (well, one and a half actually, because I didn’t get past the second letter of the second word).  Darn technology! If only there hadn’t been so many fonts to choose from, and so many sizes, and so many gadgets to play with, I might have stood a chance of actually typing something!

Anyway, maybe it’s the reduction in Prozac (I’m down to 20mg), or the fact that I’ve been forcing myself to exercise, or possibly the break I’m taking from work at the moment, or maybe I’m just a little hypomanic …. but my brain is allowing me to write this blog!  And while it does, I’ve great aspirations of looking into the Wonderland that has been my life so far, and as it moves forward from here … and I might even add some pictures while I’m at it.

How many words is that?  Good grief … 828!!

Welcome to the ride …

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

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