I've been on Lamictal for some time now, and I've finally gotten up to a dose where I feel significantly better. Some days I feel giddy and wonderful, and some days I feel good, and then some are just sort of flat. I don't know how better to describe it--I'm not giddily happy, nor am I depressed. I'm just....flat.
So here's the big question--how do you know what's a normal mood for you? Like on the mood charts your docs and therapists have you fill out, where 1 is suicidal depression and 10 is full blown mania--what exactly is 5 supposed to be?
My moods have been on such a roller coaster for so long that I don't actually know what my normal mood would (or should) be. When I think back on it, my natural state seems to be one of extreme highs and lows, and very little in between.
When you get stabilized on BP meds, do you continue to have highs and lows, but less extreme, or is "stable" more of a condition of a flat, straight line?
I don't theink any us can really measure normal. If you take the argument that bipolar symptoms is "natural" for us then that is truly normal, as for the societal view of "normal" how on earth would any of us know? Most of us probably can't remember life before being diagnosed BP (that is if we were "normal" then). So I'd personally say that normal = functional while not feeling like crap and not feeling like you can fly. This probably represents a range of states, but any one of them is as close to normal as anybody can get I think
In haven't failed! I've accomplished much. I just found a lot ways that don't work . . . yet.
I guess it's just hard to know what to aim for with your meds. But functional seems like a good goal. Lord knows on the days I'm super down, there is no functioning besides my thumb on the remote control. And on the super ups (not pure mania, just hypomania), I jump around from project to project, feeling like I have energy practically coming out of my hair, but am unable to channel it long enough or capture the rush of ideas and thought long enough to make great use of it.
For me, "normal" is actually "stable," as in not jumping from extreme high to extreme low and back again, having a range of emotions somewhere in between.
Stable for me is that flat effect IMHO. That's as low as I personally want to go, but sometimes I go a tad lower than that. Still, that's within the bounds of what people typically refer to as "normal."
My ideal state is the cusp I reach just before hitting hypomania. That's where I'd like to stay, allowing me to experience joy, giddiness, high energy and productivity. My mind and conscience is clear, judgment is good, and I fully embrace the good fortune I have and minimize any petty obstacles in daily life. This state also allows me to dig deeper into my past to start the healing process of personal issues through therapy.
I'm not always in near-hypomania, but I currently hit it a lot more often now that I'm on a good med combo with excellent docs who listen, understand, and adjust their prescribed course of action accordingly.
It sounds like you're in a good place, Catie. If flat is the worst you experience, then your treatment must be successful. Now is just a matter of increasing the frequency of near-hypomania so you can feel the joy more often than not. I think the best way to reach this goal is through therapy so you can work on your personal "baggage" and equip yourself with good coping skills -- in addition to your current med combo.
Functional is great, don't get me wrong. I just like to be on that higher level where you're not just functioning but excelling, moving and grooving.
I agree--I'm not so crazy about flat--pre-hypomania would be infinitely preferable. I am doing therapy as well as meds, and I have high hopes that it will help. I just hope it helps empty my mind of emotional baggage before it empties my wallet.
What kind of med combo are you on, zbaby? Mood stabilizer alone, or with an AD? Right now I'm just on Lamictal, and I would love not to add another med--I already take so many (for other conditions). I feel like a walking pharmacy. But, what the heck, better living through chemistry, right?
Catie - I'm on Lamictal, too, and expressed the same dread of adding any more drugs to the regimen. I gave in to Celexa, but that AD wasn't completely effective. Then the p-doc talked me into Wellbutrin (my other option was to get off Celexa, scratch the Wellbutrin and get on Effexor, which would bring me up to 2 instead of 3 drugs).
Wellbutrin is my miracle drug. I don't know if it would work as well without the Celexa, and I'm too chicken to find out on my own, so I'm stuck with 3 drugs -- in addition to my vitamins, fish oil capsules and allergy medication.
But hey, why tinker with a good thing? The real kicker will be when I decide to have another child. Don't know what I'll be like without a mood stabilizer, and Lamictal is not exactly the safest drug in prenatal terms.