From Depression to Mania and Back

It's so hard to describe what's going on in my mind and body.  I met with my therapist today and he echoed back to me some of the fears I've been experiencing recently.  It feels like I've just woken up from a very long, slightly boring, bad dream.  I've been severely depressed for about a year, the worst of it occurring over the past few months.  I had basically cut myself off from the world. 

I've been working with a psychiatrist for over a year, trying to find a mood stabilizer that would not only provide benefit, but also not have unmanageable side effects.  Unfortunately the process was considerably trying, and every time I saw my doctor, we ended up changing something in the medication cocktail, so I don't think I ever got to a point of any medication reaching a therapeutic result. Most gave me side effects that were too much for me to handle.  

Just over 8 weeks ago, I switched to Tegretol for a mood stabilizer.  It has similarities to Lamictal, but unlike Lamictal, it didn't give me constant hives and itching.  As this is the longest I've consistently been on any med, I can only assume that it is this that is lifting the black, heavy quilt of depression.  As the depression lifts, I'm brought face to face with new fears. 

Any feeling of being alive or interested in the world bears a resemblance to being manic.  I have found myself acting somewhat impulsively lately and in discussing it with my therapist, he seems to think that I'm experiencing some symptoms of hypo-mania or mania.  It is so hard to trust my own perceptions that I feel I don't have a choice but to accept the feedback of others.  My fear was that I was cycling back into mania, and to have that echoed back by my therapist is a little unnerving, but also validating. 

The hypo-mania or mania hasn't been anything major so far, just things like obsessively refreshing Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr feeds.  There's been bits of impulsivity, but hopefully now that I know what to look for, I'll catch anything before it turns catastrophic.  I haven't had any major feelings of grandiosity yet, so we'll see what happens. 

The place I actually think that I'm in is rapid cycling, where you swing from mania to depression and back fairly quickly.  Having felt some relief from the depression off and on lately, it now feels like when the depression hits, it's taking me to even deeper places. It's not lasting for long, thankfully, but the process of hitting highs and lows in rapid succession is exhausting mentally and physically.