Depression? Mania? Does it matter?

happysadLast week, when I was strugging with depression, I had to ask myself “Are you really depressed or do you just have the blues?” When I’m having a day that I feel especially good I have to ask myself “Are you really feeling extra good or are you manic?” On the one hand I’d like to say it doesn’t matter, but when I think about it I remember it is a big deal.

Over a month ago I was feeling especially good. I was kicking my heels and singing happy tunes. There was a part of me that loved how great of a mood I was in, but there was another part of me that knew my happy spell was a little too good. The last thing I wanted to do was come down off the cloud I was on, so I chose to ignore the possibility I may be manic. It’s easy to fool myself, however, it’s not always so easy to fool my pdoc. When I walked into his office he asked me how I was doing. I nearly jumped out of my seat and exclaimed I was feeling “Outstanding!” I knew immediately I was in trouble.

My pdoc and I discussed what was going on. As good as a manic state can feel wonderful, they can be a bit harmful or even dangerous. On the dangerous side is that I can go on a very unhealthy low amount of sleep. Sometimes as low as three or four hours nightly. Second, it is extremely difficult to do mundane tasks such as reading or homework. Third, and likely the worst, is the excruciating pain that comes from having a casual conversation. Talking with someone is painful. Sometimes very painful because of the slllooooowwww waaaaaaay theyyyyyyy taaaaallllk. They just can’t talk fast enough for a brain that is running at 500 miles per hour. After our discussion and determining that this was more than just a spike of happiness we agreed I probably needed an adjustment to my meds. I admitted to him that I didn’t like the idea because the mania felt so good, but I agreed an adjustment was necessary.

Moving on to depression. Depression hits nearly everyone. The death of a loved one, a layoff, poor finances are all examples of something that can lead to depression. These are situational. Sometimes a person can just wait them out, other times the depression may require medication temporarily. Either way the depression is likely to decrease and allow the individual to move on with their life. Chronic depression is an entirely different issue. With chronic depression I become depressed for no damn reason. I cry easily, I may feel hopeless. Chronic depression is not something that just goes away. Being bipolar, it may go away for awhile, especially if I go through a manic period, but it will come back. Chronic depression is sadness on steroids.

So, getting back where I started, it does matter whether I am feeing happy or sad, compared to being manic or depressed. I’m grateful that I have a pdoc who listens and discusses with me so we can decide together whether I should adjust my medication or not. I should have gotten in touch with my pdoc regarding my depression last week, but I didn’t. That was a mistake, but I am lucky enough that I got through it unscathed.

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