Secret Life of the Manic Depressive

I just finished watching the first half of the Stephen Fry documentary on manic depression. That was incredibly enlightening and one of the rare pieces of film-making (yes, I class decent telly as film-making) to make me exclaim out loud – seeing the legs of the guy who tried to kill himself by walking in front of a lorry… let that be a lesson kids, it is extremely hard to kill yourself. Anyway, it made very interesting viewing for me. One of the things my doctors told me is that ‘normal’ mood swings vary within certain parameters, ‘normal’ swings will very rarely go above or below certain points. (Some?) depressives get swings that peak outside those ‘normal’ parameters; often with depression it’s not constant blackness, there are these fantastic highs that accompany corresponding lows.

But with bipolar disorder… phew-ee. I watched it thinking, and I thought I was hard done by! Everything they said about depression was very familiar, but the uncontrollable mania was nothing I’ve ever experienced. I could identify with all the people who said "no" to the option of pressing the little button and making it all go away, though. The highs are marvellous things – belief and joy and heightened experience at the sheer bloody marvellousness of living like I don’t really get when I’m not having episodes or whatever you want to call them – and if bipolar is like that but infinitely magnified I can imagine it could make up for the lows. Obviously not when you’re teetering on the edge of sanity like Carrie Fisher is, but take it down a notch and I can understand. It’s a slightly different context, but I’ve always loved this bit from Anne of Avonlea:

"When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part IS glorious as long as it lasts… it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud."

(And tellingly, Marilla answers:  "Well, maybe it does. I’d rather walk calmly along and do without both flying and thud." Not me and Anne. We’ll take the thud!)

Incidentally, I’m in the up phase right now 🙂 I actually have a theory that if you took a post from this blog at random, it would probably be possible to tell by the tone, language and frequency of other posts around it what state I’m in. It’s a theory I can’t be arsed to test at the moment, but if anyone gets bored…


2 responses to “Secret Life of the Manic Depressive

  1. kate September 20, 2006 at 9:28 am

    that would make me marilla then …. 😉

  2. Rachel September 20, 2006 at 9:35 am

    I think that’s rather harsh!!

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