Health: Being Manic Depressive Sucks …1

A painting I did represents how inside of my head feels during a bad bout.

I found out that I was a manic-depressive in my early 30’s.

Life sucks and then you die …but not soon enough. I was always broody and depressed.

Great, so now I had an actual reason for my annoying mood swings and suicidal tendencies.

It never took much to trigger a mood change. I could be feeling positive and good and then someone would say or do something which I would take as an insult or personal affront and boom, I was down again.

These mood swings would make working relationships extremely difficult, which explains why long-term, permanent work positions eluded me and I did much better at temp jobs, where I was in and out.

After lots of attempts to help me, my G.P. had finally sent me to see a shrink to try to find out why the mood swings. The guy he sent me to was a total A-hole, and as I discovered years later, from a letter he sent my GP, he hated me as much as I hated him. He said that I was suffering from Manic Depression and prescribed me a drug called Lithium Carbonate.

I took the drug as prescribed and was glad to find that the mood swings were greatly reduced. The major depressions were gone and the crazy happy times were gone. This was somewhat of a relief because the changes between depressed and suicidal to crazy happy and euphoric were disturbing.

Euphoric and madly happy
Depressed, angry and suicidal. Acrylic of mine from 2004.

So, yes it was nice to see a reduction in mood swings, but I was not glad to find that I became a very dull, boring person with no creativity. The drug basically ironed out the ups and downs, but apparently the creativity lived between those ups and downs.

I am a creative type, all over the map. I’m into music, art, photography, writing and garden design (just to mention a few).

Pursuing my musical side with my friend Tony Laviola, a bass player
Pursuing my artistic side with an acrylic I called “Who took my coffee”
Photography with a humble point and shoot and showing the garden side, working at a client garden.

Obviously the inability to be creative would be a major problem for me.

Could I find a way to keep the disease under control, but reduce or even stop taking the medication?

I began to read up on manic depression (bi-polar disease to the politically correct crowd). I do not recall everything that I found out, but a couple of things stood out: 1)remove yourself from stressful situations and 2)eat certain foods.

Number 1 was difficult for me. I have always waded in to difficult situations and arguments with gay abandon. Obviously this had to change, since I would get very hyper and moody.

So my first task was to at least reduce these instances. Not so easy for me, since I have been combative and moody all my life, since I was a very small child. I was always broody and ready to burst into tears for pretty much nothing. My first aggressive move came when I was 2 years old — a little boy who lived close by was the victim. He tried to kiss me and I clobbered him with his own toy train (and apparently refused to give it back). When I look back on this incident, I see a trend that would follow me through life.

I was a broody kid — photo by Ted Russell

Number 2 , however, was logical to me. Eat the right type of foods!

I found out about some of the foods that are supposed to help with moods and depression, and most of them were foods I enjoyed. Green Tea, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries just to mention a few things.

They talked about vitamin D — sometimes called the sunshine vitamin— which helps your brain produce mood-boosting chemicals. My Homoeopathic Dr. told me that spending time outside in the sun was a good way to absorb Vit. D. That is no problem for me since I am a professional gardener and spend hours outdoors everyday during the gardening season.

Spending time outdoors, weeding among other things. Photo by Kaeli
Sorting Tomatoes in the sun. Photo by Bruce M. Walker

They pointed out that eating regularly is a key factor in mood enhancement. Never letting oneself get too hungry. One should eat something healthy every four to five hours to keep the blood sugar stable. So right there, this worked for me. I am what is called a “nibbler”. Once breakfast is done, I am looking for a snack mid morning, lunch of course at noon, and another snack in the afternoon to tide me over until dinner.

Yum, this would be an ideal afternoon snack, no such luck! Photo by Louise Peacock.

Lack of food can definitely cause bad moods for me. (Once a co-worker hid my lunch, and I was pretty near homicidal.)

While I feel sure that the diet changes have helped, I think that a stable home environment (thank you Bruce) has been the most important factor in helping me to overcome mood swings.

What can upset the balance for me is stress. What is the most annoying thing for me is thinking that I am being reasonable, then looking back on the incident and finding that I was being completely unreasonable.

I am far from an easy person to live with, but my quiet and calm partner has been the mainstay in keeping me centered.

Lakeview Park Sunrise — Photo by Louise Peacock

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If you enjoyed this article, I would really love if you click on the green heart at the bottom left. It will make me very happy.

Working in the local park flowerbed. Photo by Brenda.