Rapid Cycling Throwback Thursday

rapid cycling

I’m Rapid Cycling, But I Don’t Own a Bike

Today’s Throwback Thursday on rapid cycling was first published in April, 2008. I’m still riding rapid

I’m special. Not only that, I’m special amongst the special. To top that I’m actually special amongst those who are special amongst the special.

What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about percentages.

Statistics and percentages are a tricky thing when referring to the mentally ill. Considering the vast number of homeless who are mentally ill, and those who fear to speak openly about their mental illness because of the stigma involved, it’s hard to get good, firm data. After doing a lot of research I’m going to use the most prevalent numbers I’ve found out there.

I have bipolar disorder. The percent of the general population diagnosed with bipolar disorder is only 4%. This makes me special

The percent of of those with bipolar disorder who are rapid cyclers (which I am) is only 15%. That makes me special amongst the special. I’ll explain rapid cycling in a moment.

Finally, I am a man. Women are three times more likely to be rapid cyclers than men. That is why I’m special amongst the special who are special

What is Rapid Cycling? The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance provides the definition from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. They state that rapid cycling occurs when a person experiences four or more mood swings or episodes in a twelve-month period. However This definition is not well received amongst many psychiatrists. Personally, I think it’s a load of crap. I don’t know of anyone who has bipolar disorder who doesn’t have four or more episodes within a year. Not one. If we go by this definition then everyone is a rapid cycler.

Definitions state that rapid cyclers can have mood swings as much as each month, or each week or even within one day. Most of my cycles were within days. A couple of episodes each week. However, it was not uncommon for my cycles to be all within one day. Depressed in the morning and manic in the afternoon. Or vice versa.

You never knew what kind of mood I was going to be in each day. That didn’t make things easy on Maurice, that’s for sure. Maurice, on the other hand, is excellent at determining my mental state. Looking at me , and especially in my eyes, he always knows what kind of space I’m in and what kind of space I’m transitioning to. Usually way before I do.

I was diagnosed as a rapid cycler long ago, but I learned a new word today. Ultradian. Ultradian mood cycling is characterized by cycles shorter than 24 hours. Before we found the right meds for me, this happened all the time as I said above. I just didn’t know there was a word for it.

So now I know I’m a rapid cycler who is ultradian. I guess that makes me special amongst the special who are special amongst special amongst the special who are amongst the special. Like most people I usually enjoy being special. I like my individuality, but for Gods sakes, even I have my limits. This is ridiculous.

18 comments on Rapid Cycling Throwback Thursday

  1. Ultradian. That’s the new word for the day. 🙂 In the progression of my bi-polar which “blossomed” when i was around 28 (a typical age), i began rapid cycling when i was my late thirties and by 40 i was, like you, bouncing back and forth within a 24 hour period. On really bad days i could cycle through 5 or 6 phases – one moment all i wanted to do is crawl back into bed, and then a half hour later i was so revved up and flying out the door, and so on and so on. I actually stopped rapid cycling and just got stuck in manic mode (fueled by my Anxiety disorder), and when the depression hit, i kept being manic…thus the term dysphoric mania. Until i got the right meds, i basically lived it 24/7. One just never knows how this progressive disorder will unfold over time.

    1. That’s the scary part. You can’t possibly know. I got in an argument with a woman in a support group because she demanded I tell her which drugs did and did not work for me. She was trying to get help for her son and wanted to be sure he didn’t get a med that might have bad side effects. I kept telling her I wouldn’t say because everyone is different. Eventually she calmed down, but the rest of the meeting she was glaring at me.

      BTW, I challenge you to use Ultradian in one of your poems. 🙂

      1. the pharmaceutical companies through their commercials have done a great job of convincing people that no matter what ails you, all you need to do is “ask your doctor” for the right pill. All of which feeds into the general cultural mindset of instant gratification.

        Challenge accepted. When I first saw the word “ultradian” in the corner of my eye, given the context of what I was reading, I thought it was some variation of or mixing of nocturnal and diurnal. Which in some ways i suppose it is, all being related to time and the course of a day. well, there’s a start on the poem… 😉

    1. I like being special, but would prefer if it was for things other than having mental illness. lol

  2. That last paragraph is golden, but I’m not making light of what you endure – it makes me respect you all the more!

    1. Make light all you want. Sometimes I think we treat our serious disease too seriously

      1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Bradley. Also, the more I stabilized with the bipolar crap, the more I was able to write humorous pieces in my blog, so to me humor represents healing and good stuff even more than it did before my Dx. ?

  3. Love your headline lol !! I’m also a rapid cycler, and now reading your post, I think I’m also ultradarium! My moods waver throughout the day. Better bring that to my doc’s attention. Thanks Bradley 🙂

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