Something weird is happening that hasn’t happened for a while: I’ve been having mood swings. You may recall the perfectly clean sink, the transformed apartment, the three jiffy-knit L.L. Greene sweaters, alternating with days in a row of sleepiness I didn’t tell you about. Sometimes the amount we sleep is an indication of mood. But it’s more than that.
“Normals,” that is, people who don’t have mental illnesses (oh, “those people”), have mood swings, too. The difference is that they don’t have mood swings that are as extreme as ours. A few hard days at work might find them out of sorts, and hassles with the wife or kids might bring on stress, but these won’t derail a “normal.” In fact, very little will derail a “normal.” Remember Job? People are very durable.
People who suffer mood disorders go to either, or both, or shall I say all, extremes of mood. It’s more than a “good” mood and a “bad” mood, or “happy” and “sad.” In fact, there is nothing “good” or “happy” about mania at all (so I found out) except that in a lesser form the heightened energy level can make one feel creative and productive. Depression isn’t necessarily sad; sometimes “frustrated,” “stuck,” or “embarrassed” can describe depression.
While I was doing all that cleaning and sweater making, and at other times while I was sleeping half the day away, I had no idea I was experiencing mood swings. It is only in hindsight that I realized that this was happening.
Perhaps the saying should go, “Hindsight was 20-20.”
What was the mania like? Think: when you’re depressed because your car broke down, it’s different from being depressed for no reason. If you’re depressed about something, it’s different from being in a depressed state. What I’m saying is that the word “depressed” can be used to describe a mood or a clinical state.
Translating that, mania, for me, was like a horrible excitement. You can be excited about something and you can be clinically excited, and the latter is not pleasant. I kept telling myself to relax, that I was only excited about Puzzle, that everything would be okay, that my senses were heightened because of Puzzle, that colors seemed bright because of Puzzle, that I could hear my heartbeat because of Puzzle, that everything swirled around me because of Puzzle, that I was sweating and was having visions because of Puzzle, the sky was opening up because of Puzzle, and I was rising, rising–
I paced around in my living room for hours because of a tiny puppy I didn’t even own yet. I stumbled into a chair and tried to catch my breath, but the swirling lasted much longer.