You Call it Bipolar-I Call it MSD
Good Twin-Bad Twin
Annie and I went down to Ukiah yesterday to take care of logistics associated with the upcoming jaunt(s) over to the Central Valley. Never in the history of the universe has so much individual attention been given to one three-day period of time. It’s a CAF situation because considering all factors is one way to avoid possible disaster. Mind you, there are infinitely more ways for me to not only encounter disaster, but to embrace it warmly as a long-lost friend, even though it may have only been “lost” for an hour. I didn’t invite this friend in the first place, so all I can do is hope that he is not feeling especially lively on any given morning. Leave the potato chips and the party behind, puh-lease.
So yesterday served the purpose of warming me up to tomorrow’s trip to Ione, to see that nice Lito graduate from the Cal Fire Academy. We were determined not to have a time element attached to our busy schedule. I get agitated if I feel I am not adhering to an established time frame. Therefore, I pushed that concept aside, as I carefully listed all the stops that had to be made in Ukiah, Willits and the Ville itself. Down in Ukiah I scored slacks and a couple of shirts, and got a hair cut for the grand occasion. In fact I got them all cut, except the ones on my chin.
All week I had been communicating with my first cousin, Kati, who was out in Cali from Virginia, and in our neck of the woods. Of course we wanted to connect. She had never been up here on the ridge and I hadn’t seen her since I was 17 and she was a sophomore in high school. I knew one thing about her though; she flew jets in the military. I have never met anyone who flew a jet and was not going to miss this opportunity. She had a similar bent as far as time frame was concerned, so we left it open and figured we would communicate via cell phone.
It actually worked to perfection, as we had completed all of our tasks in both Ukiah and Willits, and were leaving for Laytonville, when Kati called from Eureka. Perfect timing, as it would take us an hour and a half to complete our journey home, including several stops in the “Ville, while it would take her fifteen minutes longer to get to our place from the North. That gave us fifteen minutes to try and pick up the house. Not feeling particularly up for that challenge, we shrugged our shoulders and figured that the house would have to pick itself up. It proved to be a good decision, because Kati did not seem the kind of person who attached much importance to anything but visiting.
We had rendezvoused at Happy Days Farm, just up our driveway, and shown her around Casey and Amber’s organic farm. It is always so impressive with its six greenhouses sprinkled around, providing the venue for fresh produce all through this past winter. We proceeded down to our place, and sat out on the deck catching up, drinking ice-water from our spring. It was the perfect way to complete a hectic afternoon.
When Kati had departed, heading down to Willits to stop in at Pauline’s, whom we had seen earlier in the day, Annie and I took time to assess the day. I have been in this mild hypomanic phase this whole week, with my sleep limited to about 2/3 my normal rate. I had acknowledged to Annie on the way down that I was definitely amping, but in what I considered to be a positive way. We had been aware of this mild development in my illness, after my having had ten days of relative harmony.
Whether to attribute it to the upcoming weekend, or to place it under the heading of the “normal” spectrum of mood shifts, is unclear, but as long as it is all positive, and Annie is comfortable with my conduct, the rest is gravy. It’s one of the perks of the illness, that boundless enthusiastic energy. After dealing with the leaden lethargy in my legs all winter, I am thrilled.
And here I am at this morning’s literary destination: hypomania is the good side of the good twin/bad twin concept, if we can distinguish between the mild version I displayed yesterday, and the volatile brand promenading around this establishment last winter. Yesterday: good; last winter: bad. Nothing more to say on that. But here comes the truly fascinating part, as opposed to all the rest of this scintillating narrative: In an “average” mood spectrum patient, the manic side of the illness presents itself only a fraction of the time, compared to its evil twin, depression. Excuse me?
Research indicates that the average MSD patient suffers slightly more than half of the calendar year with his illness. However, characteristics of depression dominate time period, an astounding 93 percent of the time. Whether that figure is 93, or 87, or whatever, depression still remains the dominant element of mood spectrum disorder. Do you realize the significance of this imbalance?
It means that many people are routinely diagnosed incorrectly, because their depressive symptoms are so overwhelming, that they are subsequently given the wrong medication. While in the hypomanic phase, often the sufferer is fabulously productive and upbeat (like me yesterday) and everybody is happy. But in the depressive state, it’s all bad.
The net result is that the medication these patients ingest, may or may not help. It may “take the edges off” either end of the mood spectrum, but if there are too many times when the patient plunges down into depression, then it must be possible that the meds are incorrectly prescribed. Meds don’t solve all problems, and indeed create some new ones, but demonstrating continuous symptoms of depression, while on meds, is not right.
As you may remember, I have grappled with the notion of medication, and accepted the possibility that it is an option, if stabilizing the three elements of sleep, diet and exercise, does not provide the desired results. We have the meds all picked out, and waiting on the display floor for special delivery to me, via the “Ville pharmacy, in the event they are needed. They’re not my first choice, and they’re not even in the top ten, but at least it’s nice to have a choice, that does not involve the pysch-ward at the neighborhood mental hospital. I’ve always been a fan of choice, especially when we’re talking “One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest.”