A story about minor mood lability. Many of us have it on occasion. People with bipolar disorder even more often, usually.
I remember one day maybe five years ago sitting in my therapist’s office feeling like I was on the edge of my seat. I had been feeling a bit depressed for a while prior to that day, but my mood was improving very rapidly. I told her, “Renee, I’m going to set out on a pursuit of pleasure. I’m ready.” To that I believe she asked me what exactly I meant. In response, I told her I was going to trip the light fantastic and paint the town blue. She grimaced, but said nothing.
Those who have read some of my past posts know that sometimes I get a hunger for fun and sensational sensory stimulants. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Somehow stepping out with a huge smile on my face and open ears becomes extraordinarily attractive to people. Being ready and willing to carefully knock on people’s figurative “doors” often opens them up. A friendly compliment or observation, or just “Hello” to a stranger breaks down their barriers and interrupts their stress-laden or mundane rumination.
I have always been an advocate of simple pleasures. You’d better believe that I like big pleasures, too, but several simple pleasures added up can be as exhilarating and one big one. So later that day I went out and headed first to the café. Again, with a huge smile, my face full of color and brilliance, my hair curly and wild, and my body movements gracefully dance-like and magnetic. People started talking to me just out of curiosity about my apparent supercharged “happiness”. It was as if they wanted to get involved in some way, maybe in hopes that my glee might wear off on them a bit. “Hi, I’ve seen you here before. Are you a regular?” And with that question a conversation starts, and inevitably this stranger and I find things in common and chat for what seems like an hour.
Next place I go is my favorite pizzeria. “Hello, Cindy!” yelled at least three of the young guys, as if they worked at the TV bar “Cheers”. Yes, they’ve known me for years. Then “Nacho” comes and gives me a big kiss. To another cute guy I yell out “Corona!” Then Nacho delivers my salad (with extra bread) and says “Here beautiful” and I smile. Maybe even if I’m not stereotypically beautiful, I looked beautiful at that moment because I glowed. I felt I was beautiful. After that, I sashayed out the door and further wandered around town. I skipped to and sang little songs to myself.
Later that night I talked my husband’s ear off. He heard all of my stories of flirtation. Memories of the day and other crazy thoughts raced in my mind until 3 o’clock in the morning. I set out again the next day, on the train. Walking down memory lane. The experience lasted maybe a week before I seemed to finally tire out. My husband had been shaking his head. It wasn’t anything much to worry about, though. It wasn’t progressing too far.
A crash did indeed follow the high flight. Switch. I eventually slept over 10 hours one night. I woke up with no motivation to get the normal chores and errands going. I stayed in bed in my little bedroom. Then I pushed myself to get my hubby breakfast, on autopilot, with some groans and moans. Later I drove to the grocery store for a few things, but my eyes stayed on the line of the road. At the store I walked down the aisles half blinded, only seeing what I needed. In the cashier line I slowly unloaded my groceries, saying nothing. No one seemed to hear or see me. It was like walking down a pictureless hallway to just a single spot. Then I turned around and walked back down to my enclosed bedroom back to bed. Time passed. I thought about my pursuit of pleasure like it was a blip in my life time line. Now my time line is running flat, like a heart monitor of an almost dead person. When will the defibrillator come back?
So nothing really MAJOR happened above, but when your mood is elevated, things seem especially marvelous, even if they aren’t particularly so. And when they go low, things seem especially dull or horrible. The reality of the experiences may have been more balanced than how they perceived, but at the time I didn’t know it.