Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mood Swings

My joys are fleeting. Sooner or later, as though by magic, joy and calm suddenly deserts me; all fat plump illusions, all my self-satisfaction and self-importance, and idle peace of mind falls away. Something plunges me into solitude and brooding, makes me contemplate suffering and death, the vanity of all undertaking, as I stare into the abyss.

At other times a sudden joy blossoms from the hopeless depth of uselessness and horror, a violent surge of optimism, the desire to listen to music, to write. I have only to dwell on a lovely sight or read a poem, and my childlike agreement with life comes back to me. Tomorrow or the day after, the world will be good again, it will be wonderful. At least it is so until the sadness returns, the brooding, the remorse for suffering humanity and the vanity of hope, the horror of insensitive, piglike, staring-but-not-seeing human existence.

It is at such moments that thoughts about my career in the law always come to mind. With torturing curiosity and deep anguish, I think of the career I destroyed, the career I never had. And I wonder what had become of my desire to be a lawyer. Had I lost that desire completely, does anything remain of it? The bare essentials of legal knowledge, and perhaps a few concepts remain. And what would become of that knowledge? How long was it, decades or just years, until all my legal knowledge lost any meaning and crumbled into ignorance?


Evydense said...

Knowing that you can't generalize from a single case, but this is such a familiar story. Have you ever been tested for bipolarism? It wasn't until I actually had a hospitalizing manic attack three years ago, and I was subsequently diagnosed as a rapid-cycling bipolar, that my lifetime of sudden and extreme mood swings made sense to me or those around me. I'm now on a program of meds that make a world of difference to me. I'm not a philosopher, I'm not a lawyer, and now I can add "I'm not a doctor" to my list. Just a thought I had as I read this.


Gary Freedman said...


All my psychiatrists are certain that I don't suffer from bi-polar disorder. In 1992 a psychiatry resident diagnosed me with bipolar, and I took a course of lithium therapy. It didn't do anything for me. And subsequently, no psychiatrist has been willing to prescribe meds for bi-polar. My creative piece was just that. It was a nonclinical description of mild mood changes I have that I dramatized for effect. I have ups and downs, but they fall within a normal range. But I didn't think that would make an interesting blog post. So I sort of beefed things up so that I seemed like a romantic artist bounding from depression to eurphoria. In fact that's not what happens to me.

There's another reason why my docs don't think I suffer from mania. I take a fairly high dose of antidepressant medication (300 mg/day effexor), which is contraindicated in cases of mania. What happens is that if you give a high dose of anti-depressant to someone who tends to have mania, it will send the person off into a really serious manic episode. I've been taking fairly high doses of anti-depressants since 1999, and I have never had a serious manic episode. I've never had a psych hospitalization.

(Though a year and a half ago, I had an emergency forensic psych exam at a state hospital because of a dramatic letter that I wrote. I was acting out. The examining forensic pyschiatrist asked me questions to determine if I suffered from mania, and she concluded that I did not. Again, I was just acting out. I have a tendency to get dramatic, which makes for interesting blog posts, but is attributable, I guess, to a histrionic trend in my personality rather than mania.)

Maybe that's too much information. But you asked a serious question that I thought deserved a full answer.

Thanks for your interest and concern.

Evydense said...

Explanation understood. It just sounded familiar, so I thought I'd ask.