Saturday, June 2, 2007

Hypomanic Symptoms

I've been in a low-level hypomania for about ten days now. As I was thinking about it, I realized that I have a wide range of "unusual symptoms" that I've never read about in any book. So, I thought I'd tell you about them to see if anyone else has them as well.

1. I tend to talk more loudly than normal. I can't imagine why but I've noticed it for a number of years. When I know I'm doing this, I try to lower the volume of my voice. When I don't realize it, I assume that others must think I have a hearing loss.

2. I tend to use "swear words." Again, I don't know why. When I'm well, I rarely swear. I've always felt that "swear words" are common and that a person with an ample vocabulary should be able to be more creative. But I find myself saying the words "fu*k" and "sh*t" with some regularity and I have to consciously stop saying them.

3. During hypomanias, I need to eat more "red meat" than normal. I used to think it had to do with the medication I took but now I know it doesn't. I somehow feel that since I've got such an excess of energy, my body needs energy-producing food.

4. When a hypomania is over, I feel like I've "given" so much of myself to others that I'm exhausted. It's no wonder that this can lead to a depression.

5. I tend to talk more to strangers--not in a bad way but it's just different. Ordinarily, I enjoy talking to people I meet while I'm out and about. If I'm standing in a line at a bank or at the post office, I might chat with the people around me. But during a hypomania, I find myself talking to a wide range of different people.

Today, while I was shooting a photography assignment at UCLA, I volunteered to take photographs of people who were tourists. I had an extended conversation with two young men who were selling commencement flowers at the medical school graduation. I chatted with a woman who sold me a book in the bookstore.

I don't think this behavior is "over the top" but it's far more "outgoing" than my normal behavior.

6. I tend to get more irritable. I know this is a typical hypomanic symptom but I wonder how many people experience it. These days, I try to count to ten before expressing myself, or as I mentioned a few days ago, excuse myself if necessary, but I wonder how others solve this problem.

7. I want instant gratification of my needs (only some of them). Whether I am sending a friend an email, writing my blog and asking people to respond, or sending a business letter, I want an immediate answer. Again, since I know this is a problem, I tell myself to be realistic in terms of my expectations and I no longer expect an immediate response, but it's taken me years to understand this.

8. At the same time, if I receive an email from a friend, I tend to respond immediately, which can sometimes be a turn-off to them. While I don't see this as a problem, I believe that others do. I guess I could stop doing this but I don't really want to. In a way, I believe that one of the values of hypomania is that I'm more honest, more open, and more vulnerable. While it may be off-putting to some, I guess I consider it a strength.

Well, these are the things that I can think of. I'd be interested in hearing whether anyone feels similarly or what your hypomanic symptoms are.


Syd said...


Oh my gosh! I could have written this post myself (although not as well). I experience every single symptom on your list when I'm hypomanic, with the exception of #8 (as you know - I just remembered that I still owe you an e-mail). I think there are 1 or 2 more that I could add - one is totally non-linear thinking. It's more than just racing thoughts (which is also an issue). Like yesterday, I started thinking about what I needed to do for the day and within the first few minutes, I was thinking about designs for silverware sets. Then, on my way to work I was trying to pray about my challenges in finding a church I feel comfortable with, and before I knew (in less than a minute) it I was thinking about college alumni associations. How weird is that??? The worst part is that in retrospect, I can't remember how I progressed from one thought to the next, at the time, the progression probably seemed quite logical! LOL

marja said...

I totally share #5 with you - talking a lot to strangers. I find I'm interested in everyone and have lots to talk to them about.

#7 Requiring an immediate response is a problem I have whether I'm hypomanic or not. And I really like people like you, Susan, who responds so promptly when I email or comment on your posts. What really burns me is when I bare my soul in an email to a friend and she doesn't respond at all.

One problem I have is that I write a lot of emails to my friends, usually when I'm hypomanic, but often when I'm not as well. (Can hypomanic symptoms become habitual?) Sometimes I really have to watch the emails to my pastor. He's a very nice guy and very supportive. As a result I often pepper him with emails - some of them pretty long. Fortunately, he has assured me that he doesn't mind.

An interesting topic to pursue would be whether hypomanic symptoms can grow to become part of our personality - or habitual. A good topic for a post for you maybe?

Cindy said...

Talk and laugh louder--yes.

Talk to strangers more easily--yes.

Talk too much for my normally (comfortably) introverted self--oh, yes. Like you, it's probably not over the top, but for me, it's noticeably more than usual.

Irritablity--ouch, yes.

Compulsive internet writing, checking of email and message boards and blog comments--ouch, yes, again.

I also volunteer for things and overschedule when I'm on the hypomanic edge of things. Chronologically challenged at any time, during hypomanic phases, all sense of time goes right out the window, and I forget that I can't live out in the body everything that my mind can conceive of.

Huge, exhausted crashes afterward, often with atypical migraine symptoms if the hypomanic period lasted very long.