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Crazy With the Heat

July 20, 2013

Have I ever mentioned how much I love summer?

I mean really, REALLY love summer. Sun + warmth = one happy woman. I feel young and sassy again, I’m full of energy and fun, and it seems as though everything is possible. Sleep is a waste of time—who wants to be in bed when there’s a lovely summer night filled with falling stars to be enjoyed? I also become ambitious and start innumerable projects, including growing a huge garden, losing weight, rearranging the living room, and cleaning the house from top to bottom.

Oh, wait a minute—I just described mania as I experience it. Oops.

It’s not a coincidence that summertime is my favorite time of the year. It’s when I feel I’m my best self as the positive energy literally flows from me, brightening the world around me and making even the dullest situations wildly interesting. In fact, everything is better in summer: the weather (for this Southern California girl, sunlight is still the miracle cure for everything), the opportunities for physical activity (I love to swim, work in the yard, and I’ll even go for a walk if it’s warm and dry), the general feeling of being more casual and relaxed. Even the food available at this time of year is better—there’s nothing tastier than chilled watermelon. Unless it’s cantaloupe. Or plums. Or apricots. Or…….suffice it to say that ALL of it is delicious!

Unfortunately, along with all these delights come consequences: we have more family arguments than at any other time of year. I tend to become expansive and irresponsible with money, which irritates everyone around me and creates tension. I begin large projects with a great deal of enthusiasm and then lose interest, so when we’re stringing up the Christmas lights six months later, I still have roses that need to be pruned and long-dead annuals that haven’t been pulled, making the yard look like Tobacco Road. And of course, the higher I soar with the onset of summer, the farther I have to fall when the inevitable crash comes at the end of it.

The only person who knows this even better than I do is my psychiatrist, who’s seen me through two summers now and nods knowingly when I bounce into his office wearing bright colors and makeup and a big shit-eating grin on my face. This is when the antipsychotic dose goes up and the nagging starts about wearing my amber glasses in the evenings to reduce the available light (and thus trick my brain into thinking it’s actually time to go to sleep—what a concept).

Last summer, when we were first getting to know my patterns, we more or less played at bringing the seasonal craziness under control. This year, it’s serious business—he means to knock it out of me for real, even if it means delaying our mutual goal of getting off the AP, or at least reducing it to the minimum that will keep the mania at bay.

So it’s a good thing that I’m less freaked out about having to use one, even though I certainly was when I went on Zyprexa last summer. Even as a nurse, I thought APs were only for seriously mentally ill patients……not run-of-the-mill bipolar folks like me. But as with everything else that’s come with this illness, I have had to accept this medication as a part of my life; it doesn’t really matter if I like it or not, if it works—and it does—freaking out is a total waste of time.

With any luck—and my p-doc’s good sense in prescribing for this volatile season—I won’t get so crazy with the heat, at least not for the second half of this summer. No more reckless spending, no more picking fights, no more flying down the highway with wild abandon, screaming joyfully with my car stereo on full blast.

And as ridiculous as this sounds…….I miss it already.

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