18 Nov 2001 jtjm   » (Journeyer)

Grateful goodbye to a temperamental old friend, and "hello again" to a friendly poison

Interesting week. At times far too much like, variously, a play by Alan Ayckbourne, a novel by Trollope, or bits of an autiobiography of a certain well known professor of psychiatry.

Suffice it to say for now that I decided to take the week off work, and also to keep myself away from a keyboard as much as possible, to get some sleep and to ponder the general direction of life. All this made somewhat easier by going back on the lithium, and slowly coming down off a manic high which a mere two days after my previous diary entry had me convinced that sleep was an entirely optional luxury. Fortunately various friends noticed in time (it's often difficult to get a word in when I'm talking - if it's entirely impossible, ask me whether I've been taking the pills ;-)).

So, the experiment (conducted with knowledge and support of my GP, and initiated a few weeks ago) with coming off lithium after four years on it, is brought to a close, and I add it again to my list of vices. I shall miss the highs (there's some pleasant irony in an illness which allows you to go and dance amongst the stars anytime you want purely by /not/ taking any drugs). Not that I'd recommend it - this time I was fortunate to catch it early, thanks to those alert friends - if I'd carried on climbing for only a few days longer it might have taken weeks to recover. Whether there will be a price to pay (depression often follows episodes of mania) over the next few weeks remains to be seen - at the moment, I'm comfortable that there won't.

For now then, if you've emailed me, and I've not got back to you yet, I will be doing so over the next week.

Natalie Imbruglia CD

God clearly has a sense of humour. On Friday last week, whilst quite pleasantly high, waiting to pick up the lithium from Tesco's pharmacy, I bought a copy of Natalie Imbruglia's new CD "White Lilies Island", partially out of professional interest (it's the first copy-protected CD from a mainstream artist to be released in the UK), and partially because I'd enjoyed her last album. Drove down to London with it playing on the car CD player (at least one device on which it works), only to discover that Natalie seems to be 'one of us' - at least half the songs on the album describe aspects of both mania and depression too well to be accidental. "Beauty on the Fire", "Goodbye", "Hurricane", "Sunlight", "Butterflies" and "Come September" stand out in particular, though the threads of MD find their way into the other songs too.

So, if you want to know what this strange illness is like, buy "White Lilies Island", and stick it on your CD player while reading Kay Redfield Jamison's "Unquiet Mind". Fortunately, the experience won't be anywhere near as intense as the real thing, but if you're blessed not to be blessed with manic depression, it might make understanding those of us who are just that little bit easier.

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