Therapy Thursday

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As of a week ago, I have stopped going for therapy sessions. The experience is both terrifying and freeing. Pre-therapy me was anxious, moody, disociative, troubled, procrastinating and deeply unhappy. I wasn’t quite certain what post-therapy me entailed, and the prospect scares me. I’m a Capricorn, so being the unknown is a little hard to swallow.

It took reading a book to realize that I was ready to let go. Titled ‘Bipolar, Not So Much: Understanding Your Mood Swings and Depression’. The book explains and clarifies the mood spectrum – a range that psychologists and psychiatrists use to determine what kind of mood disorder you have. I had done deep dives before, researching mood swings, depression, anxiety and stress, but had never gotten anywhere. I could have had dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder, because the only common trait during the past few years was a low mood, lack of motivation and sitting in one area for long hours until mental and physical implosion.

It helped that I was also practicing mindfulness and journaling on the side, but not by much. I felt both free and claustrophobic. A phantom hand gripping my shoulders, a noose loosely around my neck. I can sense the possibilities and the pitfalls. I was driving myself insane ( which is not uncommon in my life). Lots of things drive me insane – my passion for writing, my fear of failing, my off-kilter perspective on life, constantly thinking that I’m stupid because stuff happen that a ‘normal’ person would have anticipated and worked against but I fall straight in. In short, my entire being drives and drove me crazy.

The book, written by Chris Aiken and James Phelps (MD), revealed to me another mood state that I had never heard of before – mixed states. When I filled in the questionnaire ( not in the book, of course; the horror!), I ticked all the boxes for mixed states. It was revolutionary to me. Nothing else in the months of research had quite hit the button for me. It described my mood swings, the feeling I get of both high energy and low energy at the same. I could sleep for 4 hours and be bushy-tailed in the morning, and then slowly lose energy until I pass out at night. I could sleep for 12 hours and still feel like I had a boulder strapped to my neck. Because I didn’t fit into the standard bipolar, hypomanic, chronic depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. I was always a mixed of all of the.

It made sense of things that I had struggled with; the low-grade chronic anxiety, fatigue, depression and manic. It gave me peace and resolution because finally, finally I knew where I stood. I could control this; and I was on the road of it, as I found out.

Now I knew I’m not bipolar, I was able to figure out that I was most likely depressive with mixed states. I have very few actual manic episodes, and even then I had about 70% control of self as I ride through it. It was hard to pinpoint which were mania, and which were my natural exuberance. The process also revealed to me that I have had chronic, low-level anxiety for a very long time, which appeared when my depression and mixed states were triggered.

This mixed state feature was only recently introduced, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition, May 2013. It may not seem recent, but the DSM was first published in 1952. Bipolar, Not So Much stressed that anyone with mixed states would have difficulties controlling it with just anti-depressants, and explains that if you have difficulties controlling it with medication, it might just be better to simply do it naturally.

There is a list in the book, complied from patients who have mixed states, of all the things that can trigger or worsen a mixed state. One of them is long travelling hours. This particular ‘problem’ resonated with me – I had a previous job where I had to travel for an hour to and fro to reach the office. My mood was terrible, there were times where I would walk into a room to get something and be unable to recall, and struggling to understand social cues around me.

Here are two articles that I recommend people to read.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317975.php – studies show teens get as much physical activity as 60-year-olds

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317929.php – how doodling can trigger feelings of pleasure

Thank you for being here with me. I hope that you have learned something from this, and feel better about yourself.

 

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