Having Moodscope Buddies can be a double edged sword. Especially when they do their job well.
So you Moodscopers know I'm bumping along the floor at the moment instead of flying high. It happens. It happens with predictable and embarrassing regularity. It comes. It goes. It will lift – eventually. I just have to wait it out. And we all, family and friends, deal with it.
And, with utter predictability my Moodscope Buddies deal with it in their own way. I get daily messages of support and encouragement from one. I get a salutary "I've got my eye on you. Make sure you do your Moodscope every day. If it drops below 10% you're going to that doctor whether you like it or not," from another. And from my third lovely Buddy I get the phone call anxiously asking me if I'm having bad thoughts?
So for a moment my mind irresistibly creates the thought of a leather-jacketed figure leaning against a graffiti covered wall, cigarette dangling between his lips, over-long hair dropping into his eyes as he casually tosses his flick-knife into the air and catches it again over and over... (Hey - I'm a writer: it's what we do!)
Then I realise. It's a code. She wants to know if I'm thinking about killing myself.
So, how do I deal with this question honestly but without frightening her?
Honestly? Well, yes. But not seriously. I haven't been serious about it for twenty years now.
At one point I was fairly sure I wouldn't reach fifty: the depression would have taken me out, one way or another. I'd made plans.
But the diagnosis of "bi-polar" changed everything. It means that all the dark thoughts are just another symptom. They don't have meaning or validity and they certainly don't have power to control my actions.
The last time I had a suicidal thought, just last week, I was driving along the A14 to attend a concert. And that thought is now, if not an old friend, at least a familiar enemy. It drops into the passenger seat with no warning and starts whispering.
But these days I know I don't have to listen. These days the whispers no longer get loud enough to be a conversation, they never become the insistent shouted commands of agony the way they were when I was seventeen, twenty five, thirty three.
So I can laugh at the thoughts now. Say "thanks for sharing," and dismiss them.
Would I rather they didn't turn up? Oh yeah!
But am I scared of them? No.
Tell you what though – that earlier "bad thought" image? Ridiculously clichéd. Now, that's what does scare me as a writer. I'm going to have to work on that one!
A Moodscope member.