Euthymia- A Fancy Word For A Normal Mood
Recently, I was researching moods disorders, as this is an issue that perplexes me. I was searching for information about how hormonal fluctuations affect women and how such fluctuations can be differentiated from other mood disorders. Lo and behold, I discovered a new medical term- euthymic. Euthymic essentially means your “normal” mood, neither manic nor depressed. On a scale of 1-10, “euthymic” mood would be somewhere between 4-6. Do you have certain days where you are on the plain of Euthymia, only to plummet to the deep pit of depression? Does your mind become so tangled, triggered and overwhelmed that you eventually happily succumb to manic episodes?
I am riding the wave of euthymia at this juncture. This is the truest, most harmonious version of me that can be expected.
PMS, PMDD or Bipolar? Read Without Judgement-
Last week, I experienced anxiety, tension and everything miserable associated with PMS. I can’t leave it at that- I know I experienced immense emotional fluctuations as well. Maybe a week before last, I experienced interpersonal conflict with my co-worker. A negligent road/utility worker upset and confused me and I drove up over the berm to avoid his wrath (the state trooper stalked me the following day as I exited work, or so I was convinced). This was also a time I had an ax to grind with anybody that had recently offended me. I did my research and wrote letters regarding those poor individuals! Needless to say, it has been suspected by myself and some family members, that I have a more severe form of PMS called “PMDD” (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). My family has also called me “bipolar” as I was growing up. These words became used interchangeably. Now that I think of it- I was called many names at different times in my youth and during my relationship with my ex-husband, but those are stories for another day!
With PMDD, not only does one experience more significant physical symptoms, but they experience more intense psychological symptoms. Over the years, the intensity of such things for me has decreased. I can remember a few years ago being very easily offended by people in public spaces (diagnosed with Agoraphobia and GAD in the past). One woman, who was behaving rudely in a store I was shopping, walked by me and burped obnoxiously loud. I waited a few moments, then I found myself purposely walking by her, colliding my shoulder into her shoulder. I had done this to another lady that seemed to not be interested “sharing the space”. As she approached me, she made no effort to give me any of the space, so she met my shoulder too. I have been called a “psycho” by some in my past. There are only specific, short times that I feel such distress. I am not a combative person by nature and I get very depressed by these episodes of anger. My darker moods have made me feel guilty and worthless. Other times, the depression just manifests for no other reason.
I have tried SSRI’s such as Paxil, Prozac and the like. I have tried progesterone, only to experience more anger issues. I have tried Buspar, only to feel like my face was a solemn mask. My mania diminished and I was left only with the dullness that came from the antidepressant
After 4 years of trying to manage with my local clinic, I told them I wasn’t interested in taking medications anymore. I had been on that rollercoaster since I was in my late teens/early twenties. My teens and early-twenties were the most difficult years with my mood disorders. I had increased my alcohol consumption for about a decade until I was 27 years old. Then marriage, family, alcoholism/domestic violence, and divorce.
Life Cycles and Moods
In my teens, I recall feeling depressed often. I had lost my beloved grandparents. People and scenarios that I made me feel comfortable and safe suddenly changed. I believe people who are bipolar have greater sensitivity towards external and internal factors. This may be why I feel overwhelmed and triggered by events. The events are cyclic, thus it would make sense that my mind would respond similarly to the cyclic events. As a woman, my hormonal changes are cyclic. Can a woman be bipolar and also experience hormonal issues like PMS or PMDD? Or should I just scratch that notion of comorbidity simply because hormonal issues could mimic other mood disorders? That would mean that a bipolar diagnosis should be administered only to those who do not have anything else going on in body or mind that could be confused with the disorder. Quite possibly, I am trying to overthink the issues and I am stuffing my ideas in a proverbial box to avoid being overwhelmed.
As Good As It Gets?
I am now feeling the most balanced I can expect to feel in the next few weeks. If I am lucky, I will feel manic soon, have more chats with my friends, and perhaps devise lofty goals, once again. Then, I will become more introspective, then eventually, depressed and hopeless. I had one visit to my most recent mental-health clinic (there have been others who I have seen over the past ten years for counseling). I expected to get my psychiatric evaluation that day but was told I had to wait 3 months. I did, however, speak to the doctor for an hour. He seemed to talk to me a great deal about my family of origin, and the alcoholism within our family. I hadn’t thought much about how an external thing, such as how I was “nurtured” as a child, could affect me so many years later. I had only seen my own “chemical imbalance” as the primary factor for my disorders. I have been told by friends and co-workers that I am level-headed and they can trust me with an issue because of my “cool-headed” nature. I feel I am not always the balanced person others may see. Am I feeling normal, balanced or euthymic? It seems the more I seek to understand, the more I become perplexed.