I’ve been having a….time.
After a really dreadful summer last year, I was pretty much on an even keel. Had a hard November/December but that was mostly just work induced exhaustion which was resolved with a well timed holiday. Went into the new year – and new term at work with a lot of energy and optimism. But I’ve felt like my bucket of joy has a hole in the bottom for a few months now. As soon as I fill it up it seems to be half empty again.
After a wretched few weeks of the most acute anxiety I have ever experienced for such a prolonged period I managed to arrange an appointment to speak to my GP (a challenge in itself when you are struggling to process the most simple of task and panic at any unexpected occurance). We agreed that I should try some medication again so I am going on a low dose of Trazodone, something I haven’t tried before. I’ve been putting off starting for a month because of my worries about the side effects. And then I felt ok at the beginning of this week but today I realised that, yes, I need to commit to trying it. If that doesn’t work the GP suggests he will review the waiting list to see a psychiatrist and we can decide whether it’s worth waiting, or if he can write to psychiatrist for advice and prescribe to me in primary care what would normally only be allowed in secondary care.
One thing he sort of threw out there was the suggestion that the diagnosis of cyclothymia may not be the right one – or at least not the one which actually opens options to me to get what I need. He, rightly, pointed out that there is so much overlap between criteria for different diagnoses that it’s not really a science so much as a fitting – does this diagnosis provide a way to treat and help this person? No. What else?
I’m open to revisiting the diagnosis, but it did remind me how hard I find it to speak out loud about the most troubling symptoms. I have written about some of them here, and I often report them to friends when I am experiencing them. But cold, in an office? It’s difficult to lose face in that way – here is a load of undignified, nonsensical stuff that happens in my head sometimes. I am afraid of being laughed at. I am afraid of being dismissed, or talked down to, or not believed. I am afraid of being feared or a source of disgust.
And in all of it, I can never turn off the voice that’s saying “you’re making it all up. You’re doing it for attention. Just pull yourself together and stop being so self indulgent”. I can hardly report symptoms I could get rid of if only I gave myself a good talking to, now can I?
Either way, the 8 year med-free cyclothymia experiment is over.