You Call it Bipolar-I Call it Mood Spectrum Disorder
Let’s not get manic about the whole thing. I have now completed ten visits to Dr. John Garratt, who maintains a little office in Mendocino, after having had it brought to my attention, that I was experiencing some technical difficulties. I have had just under eleven weeks to dig in and learn a little about what Annie first called “The Enemy.”
Having shared all of that good information, I have now formed the opinion, that I know very little indeed. Fortunately for me there are no tests to pass, nor pop quizzes to fear, just the every day highs and lows of a disorder that is fairly predictable, as far as patterns of behavior are concerned. It’s the timing that never lines up quite properly, not that one time is a better time than another, to encounter one of life’s speed bumps.
Having become aware of my disorder, having accepted the diagnosis (a biggee), and having begun psychiatric evaluation/therapy, I am now able to take advantage of this neutral (for me) period of time to focus on several elements, that up until now have been lost in the shuffle of everything else that has unfolded. My primary objective all along, has been to gain enough tools to allow me to be able to salvage my relationship with Annie. Now I am able to start hanging pieces of information, on the hooks I have fashioned in my brain, that allow me to make connections between past behaviors, and current courses of action.
I have mentioned in the past the mood chart, upon which I have been tracking information, and the results are not anything really to write home about. What needs to happen is more time needs to go by, so that I can look for patterns that will allow me to predict with any kind of accuracy, when I might expect a revisit from the “Enemy.” I am looking for either events, or developments, which create stress, and that I can learn to either avoid, or to modify my itinerary so as not to make matters worse.
For instance, when I went down to Santa Rosa on Monday, to renew my medical marijuana prescription, I automatically took one of my two-milligram Lorazepam pills, to try and head off anxiety. It worked according to plan, and I blasted down and back without incident. On the other hand, when I go over to Mendocino, I do not feel the anxiety that I did in the beginning, so I do not take the Lorazepam. It’s just a matter of figuring out what things are going to rock my world, and what things are not.
I asked Dr. Garratt yesterday, for the second time, if from what he had observed so far, he thought I had suffered from mood spectrum disorder my whole life, and for the second time, he pretty much let me draw my own conclusions. My conclusion is that I have, but that the characteristics that have emerged within the past year, indicate that the illness has been worsening.
The difference is that I have now become infinitely better able to determine my own frame of mind on any/every given day. What’s up with that, you may ask? Doesn’t everyone essentially do that every morning? I think everyone does, but it is done automatically. I have always had a busy agenda in my head, and have never been very good at assessing what may or may not be problematic, on any given day.
Therefore, being able to say, “My irritability level is off the [mood] chart today,” simply gives Annie a heads-up. My adding agitation to the chart recently, is very telling because I have never identified that characteristic in myself before. Agitation, for me, involves being fixated on one specific thing, and not being able to let go. The Internet provides ample opportunity for agitation, as I am certain many of you would agree. But for many, when the Net is down, they find another avenue to pursue until service is restored.
I, however, often find myself on a treadmill of repetitive actions, designed to get one more glimpse at FaceBook, or one more shot at editing my blog, even though it is patently obvious, that it isn’t going to happen.
Thus I try to analyze my mental outlook each morning, with the goal being able to give myself-and those around me-a prediction as far as my mood goes. Honestly, it is about as effective as the predictions the weather people make, because there is no instrumentation available to measure mood spectrum disorder.