I feel like I’m walking on sunshine. I stride through dozens of people with my coffee. I love life. I walk faster and faster, listening to some music, singing along to the words. I get back to my house, looking at my tasks for the day. I’m so excited to do anything though.
Half an hour ago I was on top of the world. Now I look down at the floor, feeling a sense of hopelessness and emptiness in my life. I wish I could click a switch to go back to that other mood, but I can’t. Nothing has happened to change my mood, except my mind. It’s returned, I’m back in the darkness and I now have to work through it.
It’s been like this for three years. I guess it’s the mood swings, but I sometimes wonder if it’s a bit more than that. I wake up some days with a slow breath and a disappointed look, coming out of a dream and back into reality. Yet other days I wake up so excited and enthusiastic, ready to take on the world. I just try and pull myself together; it rarely stops me from carrying on through a complete day anyway.
My friends and family rarely say anything. I guess it looks like mood swings to the rest of them, just as I too, have tried to convince myself. After all it’s perfectly standard for people to have highs and lows. Sometimes I feel like I am in a pretty neutral mood but that doesn’t seem to last that long.
The problem now is that they are getting worse. A lot worse. Take last week for example:
I was excited, ready to get through the day at work. I was chatty, excited to see co-workers and really felt like a promotion was coming my way. People made comments such as:
‘You’re in a good mood today!’
‘Love the enthusiasm’
Then the switch went off in my mind…
I found it difficult to get excited about anything after that; I couldn’t see any kind of light. From that point on, I didn’t want any kind of promotion; I just wanted to be in my bed, accompanied by these feelings of unfulfillment and regret with my life. Things that had seemed simple, now seemed so much more difficult to tackle and all I could feel, was pain inside of my body. Pain that I just wanted to remove but couldn’t.
I’ve been putting this off for the last couple of years, but I’m at that point where I feel I need to do something about it. So, I research my symptoms. In today’s world, as the awareness has increased, I feel quite educated about mental health disorders, but I am still afraid that I am overreacting.
I look at bipolar disorder, but I don’t think that’s it. I don’t think my highs and lows are significant enough. Then I spot an article on cyclothymia. Could it be this? Again, I don’t want to talk to anyone about this as they might see me as just a dramatic older teenager.
I sit here with my doctor; she’s glad that I’ve come to her. It could have been on the verge of bipolar if I had continued without help but now she’s confirmed it. I’ve been diagnosed with cyclothymia. This is something that is so often ignored, and it is therefore undiagnosed.
‘The symptoms that you’ve got are very much associated with cyclothymia. There are two levels to it: hypomania and dysthymia. Your hypomania side is when you are feeling extremely optimistic, full of increased energy, increased self-esteem and many other areas. Dysthymia is when you’ve been feeling low, with a loss of energy and much sadness. Although your dysthymia is not as bad as severe depression, if this all were to continue untreated, you would run the risk of developing bipolar depression,’ she explains.
I sit there stunned, but at the same time, relieved.
‘Now let’s talk treatments’ suggests the doctor.
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If you or anyone you know, are experiencing any of the symptoms or issues experienced in the story today, please encourage yourself or the individual to talk, and to see a professional if necessary. In lots of cases, people hide or keep their mental health challenges to themselves and it gets worse. I know from experience when faced with difficulties, that when I’ve talked to people it has always significantly improved my well-being each time.
Speak to family and friends where possible but there are some other sources available if you wish to talk to someone independently. There are many but a couple of key ones for the UK: