Cyclothymia Explained

I thought I’d give those who have been reading my story a little treat. I’ll have a quick run down and summary of the effects of my condition in both stages, the lows and the highs.

There are two stages of the illness Cyclothymia. The dysthymic stage (the bad) and the eurphoric stage (the not so bad).
Symptoms of the dysthymic phase include;

Difficulty making decisions,
Problems concentrating,
Poor memory recall,
Guilt,
Self-criticism,
Low self-esteem,
Pessimism,
Self-destructive thinking,
Continuously feeling sad,
Apathy,
Hopelessness,
Helplessness,
Irritability,
Quick temper,
Poor judgement,
Lack of motivation,
Social withdrawal,
Appetite change,
Lack of sexual desire,
Self-neglect,
Fatigue,
Insomnia

I have suffered from all of these symptoms during my low periods and more often that not, all at the same time. Having all of these running through your head at the same time starts to affect you physically aswell. Your blood pressure rises, heartbeat quickens or becomes irregular, muscles and joints start to weaken due to inactivity.

With depression, you know where you are, if that’s all you suffer from. It’s a constant low mood and doesn’t quite mess with your head as much. Not that I’m downplaying depression, it’s a horrible illness within itself.

What makes cyclothymia, and indeed bi-polar that little bit more difficult is that you have to suffer the rises and falls in your mood, which for the most part, aren’t controllable.

Symptoms of the euphoric phase include;

Unusually good mood or cheerfulness (euphoria),
Extreme optimism,
Inflated self-esteem,
Rapid speech,
Racing thoughts,
Aggressive or hostile behaviour,
Being inconsiderate of others,
Agitation,
Massively increased physical activity,
Risky behaviour,
Spending sprees,
Increased drive to perform or achieve goals,
Increased sexual drive,
Decreased need for sleep,
Tendency to be easily distracted,
Inability to concentrate

Again, I’ve had all of these symptoms and again, quite often all at the same time. I’d go from one extreme to the other. High to Low. There was no normal for me, I’d never be anywhere between the two. Always one or the other. It’s a vicious circle that when left untreated, like mine was for many years, can completely destroy you and may in fact, eventually kill you, even if indirectly.

Words cannot express how all of these feelings coming out together can make a person feel. As with most illnesses, only the sufferer can come close to comprehending how painful it is. Just like sick animals, we can’t tell you where it hurts.

If you have shown similar symptoms, don’t be afraid, don’t hide it, talk to someone. Ask your GP for help, but don’t give up until you get it. If one doctor says no, ask another one. If you’re sure there is an issue, make sure the professionals who are there to help you find out.

If it’s someone you know showing these symptoms….well, you have to tread carefully. But if you do care about them, you have to help them. Approach them with a list of symptoms they have been showing. Suggest they talk to a doctor about it, offer to go with them, offer to take them there, but don’t put undue pressure on them, that may make them turn and run. You will have to be patient, it’s not going to disappear overnight, even if they do get the help.

There is a fine line between offering them help, enough to actually get them to seek it and pressuring them to get it. You have to find the level ground and stick with it.

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