The black dog came back to me this weekend.  After 36 years it still astounds me that i dont see it coming.  In hindsight, i can see the signs, but when im living life, i just dont notice.

Mania is amazing, see thats the problem.  Its like being ‘a little bit’ drunk, you dont realise you are, you just think your having a great time, later on when your pissed, you know youre pissed, but at the start of the night, when everything just seems to be going right? makeup perfect, pre drinks are going down so well, taxi arrives on time, sashay in the door in a cloud of perfume, well for me, thats the week before the black dog arrives.

Last week i was slaying life, i realise now i was getting far too much done and things were going too well.  I was supermam, clean wholesome meals on the table every day, kids happy lots of one on one time and breakthroughs with them, wife of the year i was a sex goddess, happy home for my husband to come home to i even had time to chip in and do some admin work for him something i can rarely stretch to, well last week i was all over that shit.  I was loving myself too, weight down, killing it in the gym, smashing pbs and not being a bitch to myself for having a piece of chocolate but being disciplined enough to get the results i want – balance.  i was vibing with my friends and family.  Things were good.  But if i think back, the subtle little things were there.

I have four kids and a husband who works 12 – 15 hour days.  My life is BUSY.  its never smooth like that, it shouldnt be.  I chose a busy life because i like to be productive.  But the stars never align like that.  It shouldnt ALL be working perfectly at the same time.  Thats not normal.  I now know, it is a clear sign that something is wrong in mammys head if the house is spotless all the time.  The house is usually the first thing to go.  If ive got that shit under control, floors hoovered, beds changed, wardrobes organised, fridge full – im either on drugs or somethings wrong.

I was sleeping less.  Thats a big red flag.  I need a solid 10 hours to function and im a napper – i will grab any opportunity to snooze because its my air.   Twice last week i had an opportunity to get some extra sleep in while the baby slept and both times i didnt, i kept going, used it as a chance to catch up on whatever, be productive while he slept.  Not normal.  One night that week hubby woke up beside me at 1am staring at the ceiling and said why are you not asleep? dunno, cant sleep, did you have a nap today? nope, didnt need one, ‘humph’ he said, and rolled back over.  i had 1000 tabs open on my brain browser.  no sleep for me.  i was on speed.  i just didnt realise.  i woke the next morning after oh maybe 4 hours sleep.  Fresh as a daisy.

interestingly, social media is starting to be a flag.  i notice i start to get further and further sucked into my phone.  i get hyper alert online, i begin to post and like and click and share alot more. i interact with all of my platforms where usually i might check in with fb a few times a day, i suddenly am working instagram, facebook, im lighting up all of my apps, i post these stupid cheesy motivational quotes and make loud political statements where i usually wouldnt and i am checking, checking CHECKING my phone all the time.  i seem to need the likes.  a few times last week i woke up and thought god i had alot of internet action yesterday, lay off today how embarrassing, people will think you live on that phone.  i do.  i put it down one of the days and said my god im sick of looking into that phone.  but i go back to it again and again.  i need to give this more thought, i dont know why this is a thing, it could be related to the addictive nature of my mania? i dont know, i just know it happens.

I get the horn like a man.  I asked for sex every time i saw him last week.  And i had sex with myself every time i was alone in the bed.  Its a laugh and a joke but really its not, its unhealthy, in the past its led to rows and resentment the big argument was me saying we only ever do it when you want to, it turns out i want to all the time or at least when im manic i do, i become insatiable, and if paddy comes across out of pity or duty or whatever its never nice, its not a loving sharing of intimacy, its me, using him to give me an endorphin rush and being annoyed when he doesnt do it quickly enough. then the black dog comes and i dont want to be touched.  or spoken to.  or even layed beside.  get away from me.

the beginning of the end starts when the anxious thoughts appear.  they are easy to identify.  i lay in bed thinking of all of the horrible ways my loved ones could die until my heart races, and then i sit upright and have a lightbulb moment – these are anxious thoughts! this is not normal, fuck.  the paranoia is harder to identify, as is the nature of paranoia.  paranoia is a sneaky bastard because it seeps in, its very convincing and subliminal, it gaslights you, and it has taken me years of experience and practice to have the mental strength to be able to say ‘no, he loves me, he would never do that, why would he do that? this is paranoia’ its such a freeing thing to stand up to your bully but as any bully victim will tell you, its hard.  these two are the first time im aware of the black dog hovering nearby.  its not there yet, and sometimes at this point i can hold it off, if i work hard and use the lifetime of resources i have built up.  but sometimes i cant, i dont have the strength im upset that this fight is around the corner and that i have to fight it alone again and sometimes i just dont see it coming.

this weekend i saw it coming but instead of using my tried and tested methods, i did something i also do regularly when im not up to the fight, i hid.  i hide behind drugs, i get out of my brain space so the dog cant find me, problem is neither can i.  uppers are great, cocaine, speed, i get a buzz from tramadol too – immediate high, mix in some alcohol, great fun, relief, a feeling of being untouchable.  i can open up, be myself, forget about it all for a while.  problem is, the black dog is right there when you wake up, and my god have i spent years waking up to it, ive got to a point now where i cant use alcohol anymore because i cant face whats waiting for me the next day.  so now because of its depressive nature I tend to stay away from alcohol and its like an old friend is gone, something i spent my whole life relying on to help me through anything, a literal crutch, now no longer available to me.

Now ive found opiates.  and opiates work like nothing else. oxycontin, fentanyl, tylex, tramadol – morphiene.  they numb everything.  nothing can get in.  but thats the problem, nothing can get in or out, no love, happiness, intimacy, babies giggles, funny movies, good food, books, friendship nothing can get in or out.  sometimes i have to sacrifice these things to stave off the black dog but its a dangerous option.  im not stupid, this is a tricky option you must tread very carefully with opiates and im not the world most disciplined drug user it must be stated.  but it works.  it helps until the black dog goes away, its just that once the black dog is gone im kind of left with a little dope sickness.  so im still figuring this one out.  but overall, its a relief to know ive got something in my arsenal.  for now. Manic me does not like opiates.  Manic me wants to FEEL EVERYTHING.

im not stuck between two places it must be stated, the majority of the time im in the middle ‘normal’ is there such a thing? once i check out from under the duvet that the black dog is definately gone, and i start to clear my head and check back in with the real world, i get a little sickness but in general im happy that im back and the weight is lifted.  i start to make plans, catch up on things, make the beds, clear out the tupperware in the fridge thats been spawning life, kiss the kids, love myself again and let my husband love me.  that is a wonderful feeling, its not overwhelmingly A-MAZING like mania.  Its just a good, nice, relieved, feeling.  Amy Winehouse once said ‘that silent sence of content, that everyone gets’.  that comes back and i live again.  i want to shake off the negativity, i want to eat well and exercise and read and make love and be a kind person and a good friend.

i started this piece thinking it would be theraputic to describe in words what the black dog is.  How it feels. what it does.  but i cant.  i dont want to, once it goes i dont want to dwell on it i just want it to go away and never come back, i dont want to relive the feelings and feel them again i dont want to give it any more of me.  but i will.  some time, when its been away a while and im strong enough to visit it from a safe place, when i can stand up at the top of a very high cliff and look down at it in safety, being bashed in the waves.  today it was enough to recognise the related behaviours.  recognition works and its a sign that the clouds are shifting just to think or feel anything at all.   i do feel better.  im not 100%, im still fuzzy but im going to try work my program – get some exercise, eat good, drink water, look at the kids and listen to them, visit my mam, kiss my husband and give him the ‘im back and im ok’ look, and most importanly, im going to put the dam phone down.