As spring has approached and the days have lengthened, I have had mild symptoms of hypomania, including insomnia, which I addressed with my psychiatrist by reducing my SSRI dose. We left my dosage of divalproex (Depakote) the same. Initially, we tried halving my dose of the SSRIescitalopram (Lexapro) to 2.5 mg for six days, with the intent of removing the SSRI altogether. But I found myself unable to stay awake during the daytime, so I remain on 2.5 mg.
To me, spring is a cacophony of noises accompanying the frenzy of renewed life. The days are longer. The birds build nests and make it known loudly and clearly with their calls that they are mating and starting anew. All that springtime bursting and bustling of new life, is stimulating, and for me, overstimulating.
Ten years ago, two weeks preceding and including Valentine’s Day, I was hospitalized. Twenty years ago, I experienced a psychotic break during the same season: this season – the season of Lent. Though I do not attend church, this season moves me deeply. I could write more about seasonal affective disorder and how those of us with bipolar disorder predictably cycle during different seasons. But, for today, Valentine’s Day and week three of NAMI Provider Education, I will quote past posts and enjoy the evening with my husband. Thank God I am not in the hospital this Valentine’s Day. Thank God I can enjoy the occasion at home with my husband and son.
Trying to balance work with motherhood, I failed miserably, and ended up hospitalized in a psychiatric unit with rapid cycling and mixed symptoms of bipolar disorder. After months of partial hospitalization, I became a reluctant stay-at-home mother on disability. What does an overeducated and reluctant stay-at-home mother with a recurring sense of religious calling (or a manic and delusional symptom of bipolar disorder, depending on one’s perspective) do with her mind? Why attend seminary, of course, which I did on two separate occasions and on two separate occasions had to quit.
Last March I wrote the following post about the Lenten season.
For many, spring is a time of celebration and remembrance.
– Deseret News, March 7, 2009
Two days ago was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Although I did not have my forehead smudged with ash, I do acknowledge my human mortality, I mourn and begin a period of atonement.
For dust you are and to dust you shall return
– Genesis 3:19
My practice of atonement is more cathartic than penitent. Instead of fasting, I feel my soul shaken, and I wonder, “What, God, do you want of me?”
The Lenten season has always been spiritually meaningful for me, moving me in powerful and unseen ways. Often I find myself psychiatrically unstable, somehow shaken, and find upon reflection that once again it is Lent, once again I begin a new cycle. This time of renewal, of death and rebirth, is for me a period of turmoil. Change is near. Springtime is upon us. Time to awake.