A View into Hypomania

Hi Universe,

I know you are reading.  I know you have insight.  I know you want to be supportive.  I know you love Christi, and would do anything for her.  You’ve been lurking, watching, trying to understand where this is coming from, where it leads.

Now we need your feedback.  If you love Christi, if you want to to support her, tell her what you see.  Tell her the beauty of what she is writing.  Tell her she won’t lose that inspiration, that beauty, if she seeks help, but if she doesn’t seek it she’s certain to lose that inspiration in time.  Tell her you see what I see.

Tell her you’ll be there for her no matter what.  Tell her she needs help.

 

Causes

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors seem to be involved in causing and triggering bipolar episodes:

  • Biological differences. People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
  • Neurotransmitters. An imbalance in naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters seems to play a significant role in bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
  • Hormones. Imbalanced hormones may be involved in causing or triggering bipolar disorder.
  • Inherited traits. Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a blood relative (such as a sibling or parent) with the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing bipolar disorder.
  • Environment. Stress, abuse, significant loss or other traumatic experiences may play a role in bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by up-and-down episodes of mania and depression. During a manic phase, some patients can have a total break from reality.

But hypomania, which is also a symptom of the disorder, is a high-energy state in which a person feels exuberant but hasn’t lost his or her grip on reality. 

“Hypomania can be a pretty enjoyable state, really,” Dr. Bearden says. A person’s mood can be elevated, they may have a lot of energy and creativity, and they may experience euphoria. This is the “up” side of bipolar disorder that some people with the condition actually enjoy—while it lasts.

When they are in a manic phase, people with bipolar disorder can have an inflated self-esteem.

“They feel grandiose and don’t consider consequences; everything sounds good to them,” Dr. Malone says.

Two of the most common types of behavior that can result from this are spending sprees and unusual sexual behavior. “I have had a number of patients who have had affairs who never would have done that if they weren’t in a manic episode…during this episode they exhibited behavior that is not consistent with what they would do normally,” he says.

During a manic phase, they may not sleep enough—but still never feel tired.

Even with just a few hours of sleep each night, they may feel great and have lots of energy.

Dr. Bearden says staying on a regular sleep schedule is one of the first things she recommends for bipolar patients.

Manic phase of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Euphoria [This has been a roller coast of excitement]
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid or pressured speech [Feeling the need to explain everything so others can understand you, not allowing others to interject]
  • Racing thoughts [Jumping between ideas, reading between the lines, connecting any dots]
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation [Anger at the suggestion that you need to talk to someone]
  • Increased physical activity [Exercise]
  • Risky behavior [Facing all your fears, willingness to open our private lives]
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals [To write, to paint, to draw, to create]
  • Increased sex drive 
  • Decreased need for sleep [<5 hours most nights]
  • Easily distracted [Not remembering something we discussed at lunch, not hearing my responses at times]
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis) – Symptoms of psychosis may include false but strongly held beliefs [What is N’s motive?  N is Ken.  In reality often there aren’t lines to read between]
  • Poor performance at work or school

When to see a doctor
If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, see your doctor or mental health provider. Bipolar disorder doesn’t get better on its own. Getting treatment from a mental health provider with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control.

Many people with bipolar disorder don’t get the treatment they need. Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And if you’re like some people with bipolar disorder, you may enjoy the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that can leave you depressed, worn out — and perhaps in financial, legal or relationship trouble.

References:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20436786,00.html

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/DS00356

 

 

9 thoughts on “A View into Hypomania

  1. 1. Um, who is Ken?

    2. Resistance to suggestions from those who know you best that you get help is a symptom of sickness, not health.

    3. I work with people who have bipolar disorder. I’m not a diagnostician. But whether this is mania or hypomania, it’s definitely a break from normal.

    4. I want the best for you.

    Good luck.

  2. Christi, I have always been envious of your creativity. You will never lose it.

    I also admire the way you shape yourself and your own life. Just like you wrote, you take those parts of others that you like, and reject those you don’t. You use your mind, your heart, and your instinct to become the person you want to be.

    But sometimes taking control of our own lives isn’t just a matter of will. Sometimes it involves having the courage to do what many others could not: accepting help.

    You feel good now, but I am scared about where you will be in a week or a month or a year, if you do not accept help. There is no shame in doing so.

    And Geoff is right: I will be here for you no matter what. <3

  3. Sarah, thanks so much for all of your thoughtful comments. I really appreciate it. You have always been a great friend, and you know I do respect your opinion. You are absolutely right about asking for help. One thing that I have noticed through all of this process of my mind opening up, is that I am much more willing to ask for help — from Geoff, the kids, friends, even total strangers. But the thing is, I know my limits. I also know my mind and myself. I am not crazy. If I cave in and go see a psychiatrist, I will be compromising on my personal values. You have known me for a long time, Sarah, and I think you can understand where the roots of that come from. Now, I am a danger to no one right now. I am happy, although I want positive support, not a diagnosis. I want to be listened to and believed. If my feelings were to change to the dark side, I would ask for help, I would. I do not want to be crazy. Ever.

  4. Christi, please read this part again. Please print it out and tape it to your desk.

    Bipolar disorder doesn’t get better on its own…Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And if you’re like some people with bipolar disorder, you may enjoy the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that can leave you depressed, worn out — and perhaps in financial, legal or relationship trouble.

    Christi, you are not crazy. Try to understand that WHEN you crash, your feelings WILL become dark, and they WILL hurt your children, your husband, your friends, yourself.

    WHEN you crash, the road to recovery will be long and difficult. Think of your mom in her 30s, and realize that you don’t get hospitalized until it’s too late. Right now, it’s not too late. It’s a conversation with someone who understands this better than anyone. It might be some medication just to level you out, but it might not be anything but talking.

    But WHEN you crash, you will lose this new found inspiration.

    1. Just stop talking about me like this. I need you to support me. Nothing in all of my mood changes so far has affected our family. I can handle my dark moods even better than my bright ones. I’ve experienced those before. Geoff, nothing ever really gets me down. Haven’t you ever noticed that?

      1. Your friends are there to support you. I am here to help you.

        Just like when Anna was born, when you had to trust me to help you get through labor, when you had to trust me to choose what was best for you, trust me now to do the same.

  5. Dear Christi,

    I want you to know that no matter what, we will always love you. We are worried about you, about some of the behaviors we’ve seen and feel it would help for you to see someone. There’s no harm in asking for help or in asking for support. I know it’s scary to seek help and sometimes when you most need it, you may not even realize it. Believe me, I know. I want you to know, there is nothing you can do or say that would change the way we as a family feel for you. We love you. We will be there for you and for your family.

    I know you fear losing inspiration. Your writing is absolutely beautiful but you will always have it inside of you to write. That beauty won’t go away if you seek help. It might however go away if you don’t. These euphoric feelings, the emotion and drive – the inspiration you call it – can all go tumbling downhill. We don’t want that for you.
    We love you. We will always love you. We’re writing this, telling you this because we love you and we are concerned about you. All your friends and family are telling you this because they love you and are concerned about you.

    Please don’t be afraid to seek help. I know everything feels fine, but it’s not.

    Love,

    Mom, Dad and R.

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