Monday, December 22, 2008

"Best of," cont'd: Managing a Mood Upswing

From 5/13/07:

At two or three kilobunnies hypomania begins to appear. I chatter; Kathleen says, “You’re moving too quickly.” I multitask, I stay up until 4 AM reading, I charm strangers (who naturally pour out their life stories to me), I think about punching out anyone who disrespects Kathleen, particularly all the idiots who have no idea of how to treat lip readers.

Money worries vanish. I exercise with gusto. My body is in less pain. I pump out submissions like a Saudi king. The world is my oyster again. (Where does that phrase come from, anyway? Oysters are rich, yes, but rather unsightly and very difficult to open, with dangerously sharp edges. Then if the world is truly your oyster you no doubt have underlings to open the oyster for you.)


One great thing about feeling good—a little above euthymia, almost hypomanic—is that one’s quandaries tend to become Seinfeld-like in their triviality.

Take yesterday. I was swimming at the gym. A Latino man entered the lane next to me and began to jog slowly up and down the pool. Each time I passed him I got a schnauze-full of treacly-sweet menthol lime deodorant. Ecch.

(Here’s today’s diversity comment: I’ve noticed an overuse of cologne in this order: Arabs, Blacks, Latinos. My worst experience was being stuck with a rich young Arab in an elevator. Afterwards I searched for turbans in the shape of an atomizer bulbs.)

Back to the gym. I remembered a notice on the locker room door pleading with clients not to use cologne or essential oils or other strong scents, as there had been complaints. So while swimming my requisite mile I was in a quandary as to whether, like a good Communist citizen, I should turn in this reeking pendejo; or whether, as a Libertarian, I should confront him directly if I was sufficiently bothered; or whether, as a Christian, I should turn the other cheek and fuhgedaboutit.

When I finished my laps and entered the locker room I re-read the notice. It only applied to the saunas, which I don’t use! I was off the hook! Oh Happy Day! I didn’t have to make a decision.


It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy on a euthymic day. I am, truly, a different person. Kathleen says: “I’m so glad to have my husband back.” My older brother repeats, “Good to have you back!” All I can say is, “Good to be back!”

But it’s not all good. In my free flowing, equal opportunity, people-bashing humor (though to be fair I am fondest of bashing myself), I’m more liable to hurt Kathleen’s feelings—though I am also quicker to apologize and make up. I’m also tempted to drink or abuse drugs, because I’m feeling so good already what possible difference could it make? It’s as if the increase in mood is so intoxicating I want to speed up the process to get maximum enjoyment out of it. Sly Stone knows I can get even higher. The world is my oyster indeed.

My point? In manic-depression intervention is needed at both arcs of the mood pendulum. Last night I finally dosed myself with antipsychotic medicine after a double dose of my sleep meds failed and I was still going strong on a Michael Crichton novel at 4 AM. Naturally I woke up this morning fuzzier than a sheep’s navel (just short of “the thorazine shuffle”).

Clearly, I don’t want to risk getting too high or I’ll eventually flame out and get too low.

I’m not saying that if you have this disorder you have to micromanage your mood, only that if it accelerates in one direction or the other, you need to pay attention, and fast.

At two kilobunnies,


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