I never enjoyed rollercoasters as a kid… and I still don’t. That feeling of your stomach being in your throat is not pleasant for me. I am starting to have a similar feeling at the moment, as I ride with my wife’s mood changes. After a relatively short 2-3 weeks depression crash, with daily functioning virtually zero, my wife has gradually crawled back over 1-2 weeks, probably assisted by the lamictal / venlafaxine combination that she restarted. I am very thankful for the improvement, but I am naturally monitoring that the she doesn’t fly too high, especially with the antidepressant effects. I find this such a difficult situation – if I express concerns for potential hypomania signs, it seems like I’m complaining. Last year, she expressed this frustration like this: “You’re worried when I’m depressed and you complain when I’m happy, you’re never satisfied!”
As I sat down to write this post, I noticed recent discussions on PsychCentral forums about ‘normal periods’ and ‘hypomania after depression’ – HOW APPROPRIATE! As my wife comes out of the recent depression, she seems to be tending towards the creative, but irritable hypomanic mood that I noticed few a few weeks before this crash. Daily functioning has improved significantly, but she tends to become highly focussed on one thing, while neglecting other important things in her life, such as kids, physical exercise or household chores. This has been a long standing challenge for her, which she struggles with even more when the hypomanic mood creeps up.
Interestingly, when I thought about the question of whether it’s possible to find a ‘normal’ mood state, the idea of a rollercoaster came to mind. Is a rollercoaster ever truly travelling on an even (normal) level, not going up or down? Maybe at beginning of the ride and at the end of the ride. Similarly, I think, it could be the same with life: babies and extreme elderly at end of life don’t seem to have huge mood fluctuations, but every stage in between seems to involve fluctuating moods. Obviously, in bipolar disorder, it’s usually the intensity (and occasionally the frequency), of these mood swings that cause such difficulty.