2010 has been kicking my ass. At the beginning of this year I found myself in a depression. I could tell something was up when I got a migraine attack. The migraine came after the Winter Olympics, and I’ve been having migraine attacks around the same time each year for the past few years. In fact, the first time I remember having a severe migraine was during the previous Olympics, and by severe I mean at least a couple of weeks of intense migraines. Other than blaming the Olympics for making me depressed, I started to see that there was a cycle to it. There is actually some basis for blaming something like the Olympics, at least for me, because of the days long, mania-inducing nature of the event. I get pulled in every time. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I found myself in a depression, and didn’t know why. I knew I had always been a little depressed, on and off, for years. The most severe episode had been around 2006. I thank God I was able to pull out of that one. This one had me perplexed, frustrated, and…depressed. Lack of money, stubbornness, and other personality factors led me to doing lots of self-help. I used books and the internet to learn as much as I could about depression. The rabbit trail finally led me to bipolar disorder, which I had glimpsed during my forays into the world of self-help, but I never gave it much thought. I can’t help but appreciate the irony, because it was, in fact, bipolar disorder which seemed to fit me to a T. Of course, this is all self-diagnosis, and I’m not trying to downplay the severity of the disorder or be so flippant (it’s how I deal with it). There have been many days and nights of suffering, and not just including myself. If I do have bipolar disorder, then it’s serious business. If I don’t, then I’ll have to keep looking for answers, but my gut tells me it’s a big part of my problems.
To add to the confounding nature of mental disorders, there is often more than one disorder happening. “Comorbidity”, I think they call it. Those doctors certainly know how to pick a name. Eventually I learned about “mania”. Dealing with depression was nothing new to me, but mania, that was different. It was like learning Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s dad. I couldn’t believe it, yet it made perfect sense (Darth Vader and manic depression). I learned about manic depressive cycles, how mania triggers depression and vice versa. I saw how my whole life could be mapped to cycles of manic depression. The term “mood swings” took on a whole new meaning.
I’m currently climbing out of a depressive episode, but I know that climb can turn into a manic episode.