My “Problems” With Ultradian Cycling
I am an ultradian cycler. Now if you haven’t heard of this term in the Bipolar world, Wikipedia offers a good, concise explanation here.
I wasn’t always an ultradian cycler. I was “made” one. Or at least I like to think so. Some people might find that an odd statement–or at least an unproven or controversial one.
Initially, I was incredibly depressed as a child. I don’t remember any hallmark traits of Bipolar as it presents in children (but again, I don’t remember much) however, my sister has said that I was “moody.” I suppose that it is possible that I could have been Bipolar all along as a child? But depression and anxiety were my true hallmarks, fluctuations in sleep disturbances, some of which are normal for an adolescent but I was suicidal from a young age and exhibited self harming and injurious behaviours and tendencies from a young age as well.
In my 20s, things really got rolling. I remained in a (hypo)manic state for approximately…well, it’s hard to say but 6-7 years? It started off sort of small but grew to epic proportions when finally in my late 20s I crashed with a major depression that made me seek professional help. Yes, I had been “depressed” before but never clinically and to a degree that it impaired my functioning so badly.
I was briefly questioned about some symptoms of Bipolar but because I was used to functioning at a (hypo)manic level, it was considered the norm for me. I never even thought that I could be Bipolar! And because I was presenting as someone who clearly looked as Unipolarly Depressed, that was my diagnosis. Clearly that was not the case.
Fast forward many years later and I managed to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I learned that Antidepressants make me go completely out of control (some lower my seizure threshold but that’s another matter) and interestingly enough, I noticed that my cycling patterns began to change. This brings us back to the ultradian business.
So how exactly does one go from being in an extended (hypo)manic period lasting years to crashing and burning to then going back to cycling a few times a year (BPII–the diagnosis I was ultimately given and still carry) to now, cycling so damn fast I can’t keep up with what the hell is going on? Well, no one really knows.
The hypothesis of “kindling” has been suggested. This has been borrowed from Epilepsy or seizure patterning whereby progressive electrical discharges in the brain can lead to more and more spontaneous seizure activity. It has been proposed that this sort of thing can occur in Bipolar as well, especially if left untreated. I remained untreated for a long time. Kindling is still unproven and still debated today, however.
There is still the issue of my treatment with antidepressants and how they affected me so negatively. How did that impact me? Did that add insult to injury? Did that speed up the process and stir the pot of my already simmering neurochemical soup and bring it to a now roiling boil? According to Dr. Jim Phelps who I kind of like–maybe because we share similar views–if I believe this or worry about it, I am an “extremist?” It’s okay though. He has concerns about it as well.
You can read about some more about all of this on his site here.
Now what makes this all problematic and especially for me now is that when I cycle like this, it blows in like one hell of a storm and the moods are very hard to track. It’s not like they sort of stroll in the door and languish about. They change so rapidly and drastically. I’d have to completely redesign a mood chart and basically map things out by the hour–or less!
And at the moment, it’s not like it was before when I wasn’t suitably medicated. For I am partially medicated so things aren’t so wildly out of control. But I can still feel that something is wrong. And it doesn’t appear to be going away. And could I start another sentence with a conjunction?
This morning I seem to have gone from waking up immediately wanting to do a cutting (mixed state), to just blandness (depression,) to impulsively rushing a little too close to the public transit train (just try get a *feel* for what jumping underneath it would be like), to bizarre giddy laughing (not quite euphoria) to rage (dysphoric mania.) That was just this morning! Yesterday was a bit better of a day and I thought that things might be settling down but look what I woke up to today!
I have called my GP and left a message that yes, I believe I am cycling. At this point, I feel it would be rather irresponsible for me not to pass along the information. I have an appointment with her in a couple of weeks so I don’t know if I can see her earlier. I have left my work number should she wish to call me. Again, she is trying to find me a psychiatrist as she is unsure about monkeying with my meds but perhaps something needs to be done. At least she needs to be told.