Monday, July 27, 2015


mood, n.: a temporary state of mind or feeling

We all experience moods, some more frequently and/or more intensely than others. They are yet another means of providing an overall balance to life. We often call them “mood swings,” though in most people, they’re like small ripples on a pond, and pass with relatively little notice. But there are times in every life where the difference between mood highs and lows become more intrusive—traumatic experiences which jolt the mind one way or the other—a new love affair, the loss of something very important to us. 

For most of us, mood swings vary from generalized happiness and contentment to generalized dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

But in certain people—manic depressives—these mood swings can be seriously disruptive, taking over and all but controlling the sufferer's life. The high end of the manic depressive’s mood swing is often a state of euphoria most of us rarely experience for more than a very short time, where everything is wonderful and positive. But the lows are bottomless chasms from which there appears to be no hope for escape. There are seldom if ever gentle slopes between them.

Some manic depressives become fairly adept at disguising their condition, giving the outward appearance of normalcy.

Clinical depression differs from manic depression and other lesser “moods” because it is ongoing, with no “upswings” and despite what many people may think, cannot really be considered a “mood.” Those who have never experienced it have no real idea of its impact on a the person suffering from it. I personally have come far too close to experiencing it only once in my life, and for a relatively short time, while recovering from my bout with tongue cancer in 2003. I’d been released from the hospital, the treatments were behind me, and I should have been elated. But I wasn’t. It was though I were plodding 24 hours a day through a dark, swampy forest where the sun never shown. I cried often, and for no good reason; I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere, see anyone. Finally I contacted my doctor, who prescribed an anti-depressant, advising me that it would probably take a couple of weeks to kick in, which was the case. 

Lately, I’ve just realized, I’ve been undergoing what is probably a mild form of depression. The onset of a number of serious oral problems, the inevitable long-term side effect of radiation therapy, and my concern with how to deal with them has made me generally unhappy and ill at easy. I’ve largely lost my interest in writing—which was a major warning sign.

Moods are something we learn to live with, and they take up very little of our overall lives. It is when they begin taking up an inordinate amount of time that we should try to learn how to deal with them. 

When I was originally diagnosed with tongue cancer, I determined that I would not allow it to be anything other than a disruption and inconvenience, and viewed my treatment as such. While “the power of positive thinking,” is pretty much considered a cliché, I firmly believe it—as should you. It may not be easy, but it is well worth it, and far better than the alternative.

So, while wishing you success in dealing with any mood swing that may be outside your normal range, for myself I simply have to concentrate on looking upon my new set of obstacles and problems as merely inconveniences, and i know I’ll get through this as well.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

I sometimes wonder if all authors are a little manic depressive. We soak up like like a sponge, then spit it out in words on a page. When things are going well, we're on top of the world. And when they aren't, we can't figure out why and sink to new lows.

Someone reminded me the other day how all over the place my mental state was the last three months while writing the new story. I was ecstatic one moment, obsessed the next, depressed after that, then okay, then right back to all of the above within hours of each other. I have a good life, but then there are days I sit here and realize I'm alone up to three months at a time, I don't have much of a social life, and taking care of a house by oneself is overwhelming.

It really does hit us all. And I typically fake it well when I'm going through it. Apparently just not the last three months.

Dorien Grey said...

We're all too close to our own lives to let objectivity influence our moods at times.

As for spending all that time housecleaning, remember Quentin Crisp's sage advice: "The dust doesn't get any thicker after three years."