I’m accustomed to a predictable cycle of moods: depression, elation, rage, then depression again. Looking back at my journals, this is how it’s been since at least college (I haven’t had the courage to look at my journals from high school or earlier). I might not like it, but it’s how I roll.
Lately, however, things have changed. Maybe it’s because of the medication I’m on, although it’s supposed to be a mood stabilizer, not a mood muddler, which is how I’m feeling now. I’ve been logging my moods each day, and for a couple of weeks now, I can’t even figure out what to log.
These weeks have been a time of mood swings of a rather more stochastic nature than that to which I’m accustomed. One morning, I’m anxious and speak tersely to someone I don’t know well but see regularly, something that’s uncharacteristic for me as I usually keep my pissy moods at home and keep at least a neutral demeanor in public. Then in the afternoon, I’ll feel depressed, then do three hours of frantic yard work and feel elated until bedtime. Another morning, I wake up depressed and spend most of the day feeling disconnected, then at dusk I go out and garden until it’s too dark to see and then stay up past midnight playing games on the Merriam Webster website.
Today I started the day with three and a half hours of frantic weeding, edging, and planting, took a break for lunch, then had an hour-long phone call with my mom during which I talked incessantly, even though she was the one who called me. Then I went to a class, got frustrated when I felt confused about the lesson, and quietly but rudely refused to complete the assigned task. As a life-long apple-polisher, this, too, was uncharacteristic.
By the time class was over and I’d gone back out to the car, I was deeply depressed but in a way that’s almost giddy, which I know makes little sense at all, but that’s how it feels. My thoughts are tired and dark, but my body is filled with energy. I’m baffled.
My husband keeps saying the phrase “mixed states,” but neither of us really knows what that means. All I know is that I feel unpredictable. My reactions to people are so automatic, there is no time for counting to ten or pausing to breathe, and this feels strange and a little scary to me. I feel tender and in need of the armor of my home and family, but I need to buy groceries and take my kids places and meet social commitments and above all try not to seem crazy, especially to people who know that I have bipolar disorder because people who don’t know will likely just think I’m a bitch, which I don’t like but which I can handle better than the possibility of being judged—and perhaps being dismissed—as crazy by people I care about. The thought that I might be seen as merely a product of BPD leaves me feeling almost as vulnerable as the thought that I might actually be merely a product of BPD. Because even if my moods and personality really are dictated completely by chemical changes in my brain (something I can’t completely accept although there’s not much evidence for another way of looking at it), I still experience them, I still struggle with them, and I still long to have support as I’m going through them.
I don’t know what to do with this feeling, but maybe it doesn’t matter much because chances are by the time a wake up tomorrow, I’ll feel different again. Change, I suppose, is the only constant. I just wish it would slow down a little so maybe I could keep up.