What is Cyclothymia?

A lot of people will use this blog as a little spot of readable content for their morning commute into the office. Meanwhile, a few of those people will also be looking for self help and content that reminds them they’re not alone in their struggles.

Today’s post is about mine.

We’re all familiar with Anxiety and Depression now, and I’ve spoken about these two things frequently on the blog, and shared my own CBT experience with everyone who may not be able to receive their own treatments.

Up until a few years ago, I was known to suffer from severe Depression and Generalised Anxiety. But I always knew there was something more to that story.

One minute I was as high as a bird, and the next in such a rage I would want to die. There were weeks of depression, followed with weeks/days of elation – feeling amazing and confident and happy.

It wasn’t till my mum and I were seen for my psychiatric assessment (the second time, the first was ridiculous), that things fell into place about what’s really going on, and what was going to treat it.

It was a breath of fresh air for both of us to revive information on a new diagnosis as we’d fought for so long to get across the fact that I wasn’t Depressed.

I’d already researched into possible conclusions, but with no medical experience, I couldn’t just walk in and decide on my own what was going on. So to receive confirmation of a mood swing disorder, it was a weight lifted off our shoulders.

We may have even let out a few tears on the way back to the car…

W H A T   I S   C Y C L O T H Y M I A ?

Cyclothymia is a mood disorder similar to bi-polar. Often called bi-polar 2, it is a milder version of the illness. However, at times in my opinion, it can be much worse. Rather than extreme mood swings in which a person may experience a week or month in one mindset, Cyclothymic swings can all happen within the day.
The symptoms therefore totally contradict themselves day to day. Which makes it a hard diagnose: The irrationality of cyclothymia sufferers is much milder than those of bi-polar patients, too, which differentiates the two.

Sometimes I want to throw my phone at the wall, punch people, or run away. The feeling is so overwhelming and I can’t do anything with the excess adrenaline. But I’m also in a position where I’m still aware enough to know that none of those things would help me, or the things playing in my mind. So everything is trapped.

IT   T E M P O R A R I L Y   C H A N G E S   Y O U

I’m the same old Abi but my outlook on life, my confidence, my reactions, etc change dramatically – which can make it pretty difficult to understand myself, and for those around me to understand as well. Most people have cracked it now though, and we can tell what’s going on and why.

S Y M P T O M S   A R E   E A S Y   T O   M I S S

Like I mentioned in my previous post about changing the mental health system, we all tend to visit our doctors for negative reasons; illness, infection, low moods.

So when diagnosing and recognising a mood disorder in someone, it’s easy to only be shown one side; naturally this side is Depression.
After fighting off my Depression after leaving Uni, and regaining parts of my life back, I wasn’t satisfied with the doctors constantly telling me that I still didn’t seem right, or I needed to still take the same tablets. My mood swings were getting worse. Sure, my depression wasn’t as bad, but the drop from my happy mind frame to the low was still a dramatic, cliff kind of drop into the sea and beyond. It was too much and it was unpredictable.
I started going to the doctors to tell them my concerns for being too happy. Which sounds ridiculous,  right? But sometimes I can’t use the correct emotions depending on how I’ve been. I broke the screen on my iPod and I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t be sad. Meanwhile when exciting things were happening, I couldn’t feel any elation. I needed to tell the doctors because I wanted absolutely anything that would help me control them and have the right emotions.

I T   C A N   L E A D   T O   B I – P O L A R

With so many people being wrongly diagnosed, it’s very easy for things to spiral out of control. If untreated, Cyclothymia can become a much bigger problem – causing full blown bi-polar.

M E D I C A T I O N   C A N   O N L Y   H E L P   S O   F A R

My medication trials have ended up with a decent amount of months successful on one medication – changing dosages as and when – and I’m now on entirely different medications. They help the rationality, but not necessarily the change in moods themselves.

Anxiety can also cause mood swings when you’re feeling uneasy or things like that, so there’s two forces fighting at that, which isn’t helpful.

What I would advise, is for people to only take tablets if they want to. And only take what they’re comfortable taking. It’s better to not become dependent on these things because withdrawal can be a life threatening situation when or if the time comes to reduce dosages. And with anti-depressants, I found that not only did they take away the ability to be way down under, they took away my ability to be super happy, which made me feel nothing.

I T’ S   A    L E A R N I N G   P R O C E S S

I’m quite good at knowing when I can be productive and when I need to just mope around in my onesie, and that works for me. I guess for me, and everyone around me, it’s a learning process. It’s something I struggle with, so people have to accept that and learn along the way.
There’s a limited few that I actually burden with the inner workings of my mind, and more often than not, it’s people that I know who have also been there.

I’ M    S T I L L    L O W    M A I N T E N A N C E

I don’t tend to ask for help or advice when I’m feeling particular ways because a huge part of it makes you feel like such a burden. I’d like to think I’m still very independent and capable of handling myself when times are hard.

T H E R E   A R E   P O S I T I V E S

With such an extreme emotional threshold, the bad is bad and the good is great. Which means I get to experience a whole world of joy sometimes – more so than others would be able to feel.

And, whilst the low times can be a real struggle, it also gives me a great understanding of the way others might feel in particular situations; what they need and how I can help them.

I tend to care a lot and read people very well, which I think is a definite bonus for my character.

I’d like to say that it’s easy and things run super smoothly; that moods are easy to notice every time and I’ve got it under control. But unfortunately, the whole premise of this illness lacks consistency, which makes it incredibly unpredictable. It’s lost me friends, hurt relationships and made me hate myself.
But it’s also made me unique, caring and selfless with the desperate urge to help others with absolutely anything they’re going through.

So this is just part of my story. And I wanted to share this information to clear things up. Whilst Cyclothymia doesn’t define me, it is important for people to understand that there’s a lot more out there than Anxiety and Depression, and that these two mental health partners in crime are often symptoms or larger issues.

If you’re not feeling completely satisfied with the care and help you’re receiving, talk to your GP about further assessment, or discuss with your parents the family’s medical history – to make sure that there’s nothing else going on behind the scenes.

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