Thursday, August 12, 2010


He is manic depressive.
You are bipolar.
I am cyclothymic.

This is how Wiki describes it.

'Dysthymic phase

Difficulty making decisions; problems concentrating; poor memory recall; guilt; self-criticism; low self-esteem; pessimism; self-destructive thinking; continuously feeling sad; apathy; hopelessness; helplessness; irritability; quick temper; lack of motivation; social withdrawal; appetite change; lack of sexual desire; self-neglect; fatigue or insomnia

Euphoric phase

Unusually good mood or cheerfulness (euphoria); Extreme optimism; Inflated self-esteem; Poor judgment; Rapid speech; Racing thoughts; Aggressive or hostile behavior; Being inconsiderate of others; Agitation; Increased physical activity; Risky behavior; Spending sprees; Increased drive to perform or achieve goals; Increased sexual drive; Decreased need for sleep; Tendency to be easily distracted; Inability to concentrate'

I confess to

Dysthymic phase

Difficulty making decisions; problems concentrating; poor memory recall; guilt feelings; self-criticism; low self-esteem; pessimism; self-destructive thinking; continuously feeling sad; apathy; hopelessness; helplessness; irritability; quick temper; lack of motivation; social withdrawal; ; self-neglect; fatigue and insomnia: anxiety.

Euphoric phase

Unusually good mood or cheerfulness (euphoria); optimism; good self-esteem; heightened judgment; loud speech; quick thought; confrontational behavior; danger of being inconsiderate of others; ; Increased activity; willing to spend; Increased drive to perform or achieve goals; Decreased need for sleep.

I first encountered depression aged 17 after my A level exams. I thought I had failed. In fact I had AAB plus an S distinction and S merit, the best marks in the school that year.

After a year out of academe working in pharmacy for my practical part of the degree I went up to London University and hit a terrible depression. I came out of it with a Christian faith which I had earlier doubted and a medics warning that I would always have problems. But there were no more for nine years. By that time I was a missionary in Borno, Nigeria, the married father of two boys. I doubted my ability to cope and was as low as one can get. I came out of it but from then, age 26, I believe the cylothymia set in. One alternated between depression and inactivity, then being very active.

Ups and downs continued and by the time I left missionary work age 36, I realised I really had a problem which would handicap me in any future full time pastoral type work. I would not have a structured work that forced me to be disciplined. i was free to let either mood take over.

In 1983 I returned to pharmacy work thinking I had failed in full time Christian ministry due to my personality. I had been out of pharmacy in England for 13 years. I managed various pharmacies, eight in ten years. I did not find it at all fulfilling. Work was a grind in which there was little delight. There was no intellectual challenge and I would have rather been doing something else to pay the bills. But pharmacy disciplined me to work when I did not feel like it. Job satisfaction was not there but in my church responsibilities as an elder and from 1986 to 1998 in local politics. I failed to climb the greasy pole and get to stand for parliament. I lost my seat on Ealing Council and then fell out with the Conservatives when they changed direction. By 1998 I had found my present pharmacy job which is as good as it gets in community pharmacy. I am this month completing my 12th year in post.

I have come to realise this is where God wants me to be for it disciplines me to keep going despite the downs and ups. This year i had five moths of my worst down ever. Now I have had a month up. I plan to write more about being cyclothymic.

I conclude by saying my treatment has all been self treatment until this year when I had a very short time on an antidepressant. Pharmacists tend to avoid drug taking. I have never been directed to a counsellor of any sort.

Years ago a Christian consultant physician friend who was not an elder said my personality rendered me unfit to be an elder. Fortunately another Christian consultant physician friend who was a fellow elder disagreed. I have been an elder for 33 years, 27 in our present church.

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. -Carl Jung

God deals us all differing hands of cards. What matters is not the hand, but how, by his grace, we play it.

The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well. H. T. Leslie

The measure of our future success and happiness will not be the quality of the cards we are dealt by unseen hands, but the poise and wisdom with which we play them.`` Choose to play each hand to the best of your ability without wasting the time or energy it takes to complain about either the cards or the dealer or the often unfair rules of the game.`` Play both the winning and the losing hands as best you can, then fold the cards and ante up for the next deal! - Joe Klock, Like Klockwork: The Whimsy, Wit, and (sometime)Wisdom of a Key Largo Curmudgeon by Joe Klock

I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.- John Milton aka Satan, in Devil's Advocate 1997

We are responsible for actions performed in response to circumstances for which we are not responsible.- Allan Massie, A Question of Loyalties

I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. James Rhinehart

Some days you're the dog, some days you're the hydrant.

Some days are diamonds
Some days are stones
Sometimes the hard times won't leave me alone
Sometimes the cold wind blows a chill in my soul
Some days are diamonds, some days are stone.
Neil Diamond

The black dog I hope always to resist, and in time to drive, though I am deprived of almost all those that used to help me. When I rise my breakfast is solitary, the black dog waits to share it, from breakfast to dinner he continues barking, except that Dr Brocklesby for a little keeps him at a distance. Night comes at last, and some hours of restlessness and confusion bring me again to a day of solitude. What shall exclude the black dog from a habitation like this?-Samuel Johnson, Letter to Mrs Thrale, 28 June 1783, in R. W. Chapman (ed.) Letters of Samuel Johnson (1952) vol. 3 (on his attacks of melancholia; more recently associated with Winston Churchill, who used the phrase black dog when alluding to his own periodic bouts of depression)

Our every defence against Satan rests upon the power of Jesus Christ. Drawing upon that power, the Protestant Reformation itself a a mighty fortress. Luther also used more direct means of defence, such as cheerfulness, laughter, boisterousness, bawdiness,scorn, insults and obscenity. Everything active, assertive, earthy and good humoured fends off the depression on which the prince of darkness thrives. One of Luther's best defences was to go to bed with Katie. -J Russell The Prince of Darkness p 173

We are responsible for the effort, not the outcome.

We set the sail; God makes the wind.

None of us are responsible for all the things that happen to us, but we are responsible for the way we act when they do happen.

We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them.
Samuel Adams (1722-1803)

We improve ourselves by victories over ourself. There must be contests, and we must win.-Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Your honour and glory. -. Augustine

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the most outstanding article I have ever read. I find it so helpful in understanding myself.

3:01 am  
Blogger Graham Weeks said...

It is a joy to know one has been a help. You encourage me to write more. Are you too struggling with being two people in one?

5:33 am  
Blogger Giles said...

As another with cyclothymia, and struggling with it just now, simply 'THANK YOU.'

10:30 pm  
Blogger Graham Weeks said...

Since I wrote this I had an 'up' until October which was 5 happy moths after five miserable ones. Next came an even worse down lasting over 8 months. Neither antidepressant nor CBT got me out of it. But now I have been diagnosed as clinically bipolar and await lithium therapy I am a happy man again. 'He drew me out of the miry pit'

8:00 am  
Blogger Jonathan Hunt said...

Thank you for this post, brother.

10:58 am  

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