I promised you a few posts ago that I’d write one about mood episodes that come out of nowhere, and since I really don’t have a lot to talk about today, here it is.
I call them “sneaker waves”—mania or depression that has no identifiable trigger, but which slaps me flat and knocks the wind right out of me. This is one of the characteristics that distinguishes bipolar disorder from borderline personality disorder, which is a diagnosis I don’t have but have studied at some length because a lot of the symptoms overlap. In BPD, mood swings are almost always touched off by a trigger; in bipolar, they can certainly be triggered, but some of them come right out of the blue.
These are the episodes which frustrate me the most. It’s one thing when I can point to a cause or a contributing factor in the development of a depressive or manic mood; but when I’m going crazy without a reason, I feel betrayed by my own brain. It’s just not fair—when a person takes their medication regularly and does what they can to maintain a healthy lifestyle, they shouldn’t have to deal with unexpected mood swings. But it happens, and it really doesn’t have much to do with how well or how poorly one manages their disease.
I remember one manic episode I had a couple of years ago. It was summertime, yes, but I don’t spend entire summers in a manic state, and this was the middle of the season when I’m usually well. I was going about my business, nothing unusual was going on, and then WHAM! It didn’t even give me the customary few days of hypomania as a warning; I went from 0 to 120 in a matter of of hours. I also recall freaking out and calling the on-call psychiatrist at the clinic—Dr. Awesomesauce was out of town—which resulted in my being introduced to my first anti-psychotic. I also got sent home from work and told to “get that shit under control” before I came back.
I’ve also had depressive phases that had no obvious origin. One of them even happened in the early summer a few years back, which of course is when I’m normally hypo/manic. I analyzed that one to death and never figured out where it came from, but it was an angry, agitated depression which is memorable because it cost me my moderator position at another website and created a great deal of tension between my family and me. It also lasted throughout the entire summer…..in fact, I didn’t pull out of it until the early autumn.
Now, of course, my meds have not only decreased the frequency and severity of my mood episodes, but also the number of “sneaker waves”. I’ve also gotten better at sniffing out the subtler clues as to what might have contributed to a given mood shift. This is good, because the worst thing for me is being unable to explain something even to myself.
So that’s a bit about the mood changes that happen for no particular reason. Now it’s your turn to tell me about some of your experiences with “sneaker waves”. 🙂