Making peace with our ghosts

There is a question tends to haunt those of us who live with mood disorders, especially in the early months of adjusting to a diagnosis or in the aftermath of breakdown:

Who Am I?

There is this persistent fear that, if the highs and lows of this “disorder” should ever hit equilibrium, what will be left?

And will that stable “me” be the real me or a medicated artifact?

Copyright JM Schreiber 2013
Copyright JM Schreiber 2013

The theory is that mood disorders are typically associated with “normal” periods but as most of us know, mania and depression can simmer under the surface, felt rather than observed for a long time. When symptoms burst through resulting in “abnormal” thoughts, actions and behaviours, those around us rarely understand that these are beyond our control. And because insight is impaired, when we are at our most unstable we are often the last to know just how far off the rails we have run. All this is further complicated when a mood disorder exists in conjunction with addictions or trauma or other chronic conditions.

Having a mood disorder is like living with ghosts.

But we own those ghosts. They are us. Everyone has them.

Ours just like to try to steal the stage, set the agenda, write the script and direct the show.

Maybe that is why I am drawn to so much fantastic literature lately… allowing the ghosts of others to distract me from my own.