Spreadsheet Mania. After finally receiving access to a full version of excel yesterday I got a glimpse of the past and one of the contributing factors to my inability to work long term.

I’ll say it again; Spreadsheet Mania.

I don’t know why a program like excel gets my heart racing like I’m in a prize fight and I can’t eat or rest until each of my little boxes has the proper border, shading, and numerical format.

Within 30 minutes I could feel it growing. The inner hum, the excruciatingly glorious sense of urgency that made each box wildly compelling, and all else melted away. No hunger, no pain, just spreadsheets.

The past few weeks I have progressively been sliding into alternating bouts of depression and mixed periods and I have upped my time with my therapist and psychiatrist because my lows have been getting increasingly lower.

The depression has not dipped into a state of constancy yet (which I am grateful for) but they are still taking up about half of the day.

I feel fine one minute, and the next I feel a bit odd, like all of the wind has spilled out of my sails. Then the fatigue sets in and the irritability follows, where I become certain I don’t care one bit about anything. After that, the crushing weight of intense anxiety that makes it hard to breathe and a sense of futility that blurs the edges of my awareness enough to convince me it is going to be endless. After that, all I can feel is a restless panic that something must be done to change the way I am feeling, with no grasp on how or what.

It must be the way I am cycling right now I guess, because I stay in that gray space a while (sometimes doing less than stellar things like force feeding myself a ‘family size’ bag of potato chips, convinced it might help me when actually it makes things quite worse) and then, without warning, my depressive symptoms will begin to lift in reverse order until they vanish.

Lately the whole process has been taking about 6-8 hours with the trough part in the middle of that time, typically in the afternoon. Onset, horror, reversal, with bookended feelings of mild normalcy on each end.

But… that excel was really like throwing gasoline on the fire. By the time I was high enough to be shaking and confused and standing in the shower with my mind elsewhere chanting, “water water water water water water,” There was no slow reversal into normalcy. Instead the change was more like someone popping a balloon, and instead of my depressive symptoms coming on over several hours I slid into them within 45 minutes.

I know I have said it before, but there is something about engaging with depression from a relatively normal state that isn’t fun, but it is at least tolerable enough to slide out the other side.

Engaging that same depression from a manic high though is a totally different story. Having to make the jump between elation and depression and in reverse is quite jarring.

Going on to spend the rest of the day alternating each hour between mania and depression wasn’t what I was hoping for, but since it has been a while since I’ve felt any true mania my apartment is looking better for it. There are areas that are definitely more clean than they have been in a year.

For a little perspective, this type of cycling isn’t unusual for me. In fact it is a little slow compared to other episodes I’ve had the last few years. Imagine the same shift occurring every ten minutes without any normalcy for a glimpse into how terrifying it has been in the past. Having said that, I feel pretty optimistic that I can handle myself, but taking on the extra time with my therapist and psychiatrist has been a precaution that seems like the obvious thing to do.

Spring is tricky, and while I am certain that spectacularly sunny weather may be partially to blame for this sudden onset of supper revved up cycling (a moodquake, really) I will be wary the next time I want to create a spreadsheet about recipes or anything else, really.

5 responses to “Moodquake

  1. I really love your blog, but as someone who is also bipolar I wonder if you are taking a mood stabilizer. I take to antipsychotics for mania, and a mood stabilizer, and a low dose antidepressant. I’m calm and peaceful most days, but in the past I was like you, cycling very rapidly. I think it may be time to talk to your psychiatrist about your medications since they don’t seem to be controlling your symptoms.

    • Thanks for the concern but I am treatment resistant, none of the current mood stabilizers on the market work for my symptoms. Just a matter of coping on my end at this point until something new comes out I can try!

  2. I’d give anything to be manic right now. The depression this week has been tough. Like you, I’m typically a rapid cycler, but not this week. I’m going to talk with my pdoc and see if he’ll change my meds a bit. The roller coaster for you this week doesn’t sound like fun. I hope it passes soon,

  3. I am like that with spreadsheet, but then I am rapid cycling and like you I seem to be treatment resistant, although still trying

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