When I was a teenager I remember a school trip where I felt really happy and confident. I was joking around, really enjoying myself. Maybe I was a bit too loud, but no more than lots of other kids. At the end of this most wonderful day (did I mention the hot summer sun, the lazy insects), the teacher pulled me to one side and told me he had seen a ‘different side’ of me today. Yes, I thought, grinning to myself, she was brill and bright and bubbly.
‘I really didn’t like it. It really isn’t like you and I don’t want to see this behaviour again’.
My new-found fantastic self curled up in shame. I had not become some sort of witty extrovert. I had merely been playing the fool like all the ‘stupid’ kids did. That was me and my new found confidence stomped on, once and for all.
In retrospect, it was so out of character that I often wonder if this was my first ‘manic’ episode.
But god, I love manic me. She is so much fun.She is the one who got single me out of the house and procured me so many one-night-stands. She got me a job, took me to work and made me feel like I could take on the world (or just the senior staff).
Yet every time she came out to play, there was a ‘friend’ tutting about how ‘this is so unlike you’. But, actually if you think about it, it WAS like me. Just a part of me who didn’t appear very often. Or was really discouraged from making appearances whether I could control it or not. I spent years worrying if I had said or done the wrong thing when I was out with company, just in case she had made an appearance without me noticing. My husband could never understand my anxiety AFTER a parents evening when I asked over and over if I had embarrassed him or the children
Like many cyclothymics, I am dysthymia dominated. So more likely to be depressed than manic.
Not clinically, dramatically depressed.
Not big fancy depressive episodes.
Which is maybe why my ‘ups’ are so obvious.
Recently, we were in the car and a dog in the neighbouring car started barking at us. Well whats a manic cyclothymic to do?
I barked right back.
Joyful high-pitched yapping.
Without any thought of where I was or who I was with.
My husband and daughter froze. Husband slightly more used to dealing with the unexpected but still finding this a new one, even for me.
Daughter, slightly more protected from some of my behaviours, but still obviously perturbed: ‘Muuum….?’
And there I was back at school, feeling embarrassed and ashamed and back to hiding fun me. Manic me, having just come up for air, quickly pushed back below. Taking a really conscious effort, but subdued never the less.
God I miss her sometimes. I wish I could be her all the time. She stays for such a short time.
But … dysthymia