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

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3 thoughts on “Cyclo what??

  1. ColonialPunk

    Aha! I’ll be very interested to read what you have to say on the subject, as cyclothymia is something I’ve recently had a medical professional or two bring up as a possible diagnosis to me as well.

    From what I gleaned at a recent bipolar disorder conference, cyclothymic symptoms can happen on their own, but they can also happen in addition to the larger episodes associated with bipolar disorder (which can make things quite tricky!). Again, from what I was told, the main difference is that cyclothymic episodes can happen several times a day or for two or three days at a time, whereas bipolar episodes must last a week or longer in order to qualify them for that category.

    In any case, good luck!

    • Well, that’s helpful to know – as I sometimes feel as if the “cyclothymia” label is not viewed as a serious condition. If, indeed, it is the correct term for what is going on with me, then what is happening is not a “mild” problem – but the changes do happen very quickly, in the way that you mention in your post, to the point where I can’t guarantee what mood I’ll be in from one day to the next. Luckily, I seem to be in a bit of a “remission” at the moment, and it is such a relief!

      I had my appointment to discuss treatment yesterday – both medicines and therapy – and to be honest, whatever they call it, as long as the treatment works I’ll be content.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Michelle

    Great post, I felt like I was reading about myself! I have just had a psychiatrist tell me he thinks I have Cyclothymia. I have been misdiagnosed for ten years with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Recurrent Depressive Disorder and been on and off anti-depressants (which at higher doses have made me hypomanic).

    We are considering starting Lithium…would love to know how you are going now since I realise this post was sometime ago.

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