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Jo Maynard sat in the garden, looking out along it, but not seeing anything there. She wanted to get on with things, wanted to get back to the energy she normally had.

But something inside her was making her freeze. She couldn't get herself moving. It had been hard work to make herself get up this morning, to even get downstairs, let alone to deal with the many squabbles and demands of her youngest children.

Her head felt as though it was full of fluff, as if she were trying to access thoughts within her mind, but every thought disturbed a pile of dust and fluff, so she couldn't see where to go next.

So it was simpler to just sit there for a bit, to let the thoughts settle. Matey had given her a technique for dealing with this, long ago. She would let the thoughts settle, then lift one up at a time, try not to connect them all and end up stirring the thoughts even more.

She didn't want to let the depression side win. She wasn't going to, she was going to fight. If she could just get through this down phase, an up phase would come, and she would be full of life, full of enthusiasm and plans and activities.

She loved those times, though Jack seemed almost more worried about those high and happy periods than the down times. Which upset her, though she understood why.

Those were the times that her judgement went, where she bounced through life and dragged everyone along for the ride. Didn't pay attention to her own safety, after all she was invincible in those times. Jack worried, as he knew she wasn't thinking clearly, was washed along in a wave of the chemicals disturbed within her body. He, as Jo herself knew when she was in rational mode, knew the effect of those lapses in judgement on her heading to a down phase.

She wanted to be somewhere in the middle. Somewhere where the happiness didn't also come with a different form of brain fog, and the down phases this inability to get moving at all.

Where she could just get on with things, instead of having to be watched over slightly, of having Jack, Matey and Hilda keeping an eye on her, taking her previous children away from her to board.

She hadn't wanted to give them up so soon, to make them full boarders before they were even teenagers, but she understood why Jack and Hilda had suggested it.

The cycles were becoming more frequent as she got older, the down phases were deeper, the highs more manic. She was beginning to rely too much on the Triplets, especially Len, to help keep order when she had to "shut herself away to write".

She did write. When on a high point she wrote and wrote, and the stories were obviously reasonable, as her publishers kept asking for more. She had so much energy then that she could do that and still also be fully involved with all of the children, with the household taskd and with school affairs. But then when the down phase hit, the only thing she wanted to do was write and sleep, sleep and write.

You can't do that with a family, with responsibilities. She didn't want Jack exhausted with trying to cope with everything for her, nor did she want to miss her children growing up. She would push the characters and plots away, promising herself that she would get back to them later.

Mostly it worked. She coped, she balanced things and she tried to keep everyone happy, to fight her desire to shut herself away. She became involved in school activities, because at least then she was helping, she had a purpose to hold onto.

She knew that her high phases caused her to have a zany, mad reputation, that people laughed sometimes with her, but other times at her, that people even took her well meaning attempts to help in bad part sometimes.

That was one part of being held to ransom by her mind, by her body chemistry. She did her best to keep from the highs becoming too high, but it was just such a blessed relief after the feeling of being trapped from the lows. It was tempting to let the highs roll, to enjoy the contrast.

She needed a break more often now. Jack covered it up for her as "female problems" and sometimes he dosed her, other times he arranged for her to visit understanding friends and family. She could sit, as she was doing now, and just let the thoughts whirl, without the stimulus of the children or school around.

Even as she thought this, the babes tumbled out with their coajudator, to play in the garden. She closed her eyes. She hated that niggling feeling that made her just want to tell them all to just go away, that feeling that she would be better off alone.

She went inside and laid down on the bed. Some sleep if it would come, would be good. She wished that Jack or Gwyneth were there to give her something to help her sleep. It just pushed her through the bad times, either the hyper overexcitability, or the complete apathy of the depression.

She hated that she needed the medication at all, hated that sometimes days, even weeks might be lost to sleep. But over the many years she had come to realise that it was necessary. It was who she was, and her chemistry wasn't going to change anytime soon.

She wished they were there, to judge whether a dose would be appropriate. But she had already had a dose the night before, and she didn't want to risk over doing it.

She remembered Hilda's advice, and searched her bedside table for paper and a pen. She would write it all down. Make a story out of it maybe. Get the thoughts out of her brain and away from her. She scribbled away until tiredness overtook her. She would probably look at the text later and wonder what she had been so worried about, she usually did. But right now, in the depths of the down phase, it helped to write.

The pen dropped out of her hand as she dozed, finally reaching a more natural sleep.



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