The “Fun” Side of Being Bipolar, Hypomania…

Except it’s not fun. At least for me it isn’t. It sometimes start out that way, but end up very disastrous. It’s a very dizzying experience for me; I call it the massive sugar rush from Hell. If you can imagine eating five bags of sugar, after eating three full bags of candy, while drinking a whole pack of Red Bull, that’s probably the best way I can describe it; and still wouldn’t come close. It’s not a very good feeling, but it’s a wonderful rush at the same time.

I usually reference my episode in 2011, which lasted for the entire summer into the fall. This wasn’t my experience first with hypomania, but I just never knew that it was that until I did my research on it. During that episode, I was very active. I had that energy burst that I was mostly deprived of for a significant part of last couple of years prior. I loved it so much, because I felt so alive. Y’all…you have no idea. I can’t even fully describe it in detail, but just know it was such a wonderful feeling.

I saw my social worker at VA a month prior, and she told me that based off of her review and what I was displaying, she would diagnose me as suffering from major depression, just like every other professional I’d seen since 2007. But when I saw her the next month, that shit changed. I told her I was euphoric. I was feeling wonderful. Floaty as all hell, but wonderful. It was a vast contrast from before. I saw her facial expression changed, and I knew that she saw something wrong with my answers and my demeanor. After a few minutes of rambling, she told me I was hypomanic. Of course, I thought, bullshit. That’s was when I got my diagnosis from her of being bipolar.

The next few months were filled with almost no sleep, but I felt like I didn’t need it. I felt like I could push through anything, and I did; it included a cross-country drive with almost no break. I was on meds, but I rarely took them. I felt like I didn’t need them, plus I had a very nasty reaction to lithium and Prozac, and I didn’t want that again (I haven’t been on either since then, and I haven’t been on any antidepressants since late 2014, out of fear of them throwing me into a manic episode). I did some really dumb shit, made some really dumb ass decisions; personal and business; and everything else in between. I was highly irritable, and I’m already known to be irritable on a regular day (don’t know why). This was a different level of irritability, though. But I also felt very focused, even though it wasn’t really me being focused. It was more of me having what I call the Superman complex, where you think you can do everything and take on everything. My world came crashing later that fall. Boy, did it crash. Though I had some up moments, including more short bouts of hypomania, I spent several years in recovery, which I ultimately realized through my own observation that it was just a continuation of the depression I was suffering from since 2008.

I’ve had plenty of hypomanic episodes since then. I’m starting to realize them when they set in now, but usually I’m in full swing when I realize it. A good example is about a month ago, when I found myself in a situation where I felt the need to keep talking, for no reason. I normally don’t talk much unless we know each other, but this particular period I couldn’t shut it. It wasn’t about anything that made sense. My hypomanic episodes, along with my intense depressions, are the reasons why I must stay consistent with my medication as much as possible, as much as I hate them.

When people hear about hypomania, they probably wouldn’t know what the hell you’re talking about. If they do, since it’s not full-blown mania, it’s not a big deal to them. While hypomania doesn’t require hospitalization, I personally think it’s just as destructive. The symptoms are the same, just the only real difference is that there’s no psychosis.

Some people probably actually think it’s fun. I’ve actually heard that from people. It’s because of the perceived focus and energy. Indeed, a lot of my creativity in the past were rooted in hypomania. Does that mean that everything I create is because of hypomania? Definitely not. But it played a big part of it. But some people think it’s fun. Hell, when I’m going through it, it seems fun as first. But it’s not. It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because of the shit you could do when you’re going through it, which would only add fuel to the depression that is about as sure to come as the next bus. It might not always be on time (since when does mental illness episode follow a schedule), but you know it’s coming.

How would you know that someone is hypomanic? That’s where research comes in. Of course, the obvious sign with any episode is if things start happening that’s out of character of the person in question. However, hypomanic symptoms are no different from mania. They aren’t usually as intense, but are just as dangerous. They tend to last for a shorter period of time. In some cases, hypomania can eventually develop into full-blown mania. But with any person, that’s not the bible of the condition, as any bipolar symptoms and episodes affect them differently. Like I said, I had a hypomanic episode for months; about five months. Usually, most people don’t report hypomania within those constraints; it can be days long or years long. My hypomania tends to be less than a week. Nowadays, I’m lucky to have a very, very few number of people who knows when something is wrong, and express genuine concern. Not concern like I’m a two-year old. They provide a concern like I’m an adult who is going through something. When I say I’m fine, they still watch me, but respecting my boundaries. That’s because they know I’m not fine.

Strictly a diagnosis of hypomania, but not full-blown mania, is sufficient for a diagnosis of bipolar type two. Bipolar type one, the so-called classic diagnosis of bipolar disorder (I never really agreed with that, simply because in my opinion it further downgrades the significance of bipolar type two), requires a diagnosis of a full manic episode. As a reminder, I have to let everyone know that I’m not a mental health professional or expert in any capacity. What ever I post here should not be taken as medical advice. I’m simply a person who is relaying personal knowledge. If you have any concerns, do not use this as information as a substitution for professional help, or as an attempt to self-diagnose. Go see a mental health professional, and let them properly examine you.

I have included a link to an explanation of bipolar type two from WebMD here. From there, you can conduct your own research, as this is, by far, not the only source of information.

Even though it might feel good to the person going through it, it’s not a good thing. IT can be quite sickening, and when it’s over, you realize certain things. For example, one thing that I noticed, and irritated me to the core about when I am hypomanic, is the number of people who wanted to be around me. For them, it was okay because I was bringing life. It was especially fun if I was spending money. Same people weren’t around when the fun stopped. It’s either they knew something was wrong with me, but didn’t want to speak up, or was taking advantage of the situation. Of course with me, the public usually don’t know I’m in any kind of episode unless I disclose it or it’s obvious. Most close people don’t even know. That’s because of my immensely private nature. But there are people who can sense it, and they either want to partake and enable, or walk away.

In conclusion, I can’t drive this home enough. Hypomania isn’t as fun as it seems. In addition, it’s not a hidden condition. It has real consequences, and these consequences can be destructive. If you’re experiencing hypomania, you need help. Remember, what goes up, must come down. You don’t want that. Trust me.

The clip art in this post is probably something you will see pretty often, so get used to it.

Stay healthy, my friends. I’ll be back later.

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