Monday, July 23, 2007

Hypomania: Irritability and Annoyance (Part 2)

(The graphic on the left is from Ken Brown and is one of his stamps called, Fingers in Ears. If we all went around with our fingers in our ears, I guess we wouldn't know if someone was irritable and annoyed or not. It's something to consider.)

From yesterday's comments, I guess that some people go through the irritable and annoyed phase and others don't. In my case, hypomanias actually consist of three phases.

Phase 1: Increased energy. A extraordinary feeling of happiness with myself and the world. A very loving feeling towards the people I care about. An uncommon ability to get things done. A huge burst of energy from the moment I awaken until I go to bed. An expanded ability to multi-task. An organizational acuity that is second to none. A willingness to engage with people. A desire to spend more time with people I care about--and even those I don't. I've written about this in earlier posts so I won't dwell on it here.

Phase 2: Increased irritability and annoyance. During this phase, I start feeling burned out. While I still have a lot of energy, I don't have that "I love the world" feeling. If I've been playing my Autoharp at my mother's assisted living facility, and jumping up and down to help all the participants turn the pages and stay with me, I suddenly feel that the staff should be more helpful in doing this.

If I am going out of my way to help others pursue some area of interest in which I have an expertise, I suddenly feel that my focus is scattered and I need to be concentrating more on my own goals and objectives.

While I still enjoy spending time with people I like, I also prefer spending more time alone. This is a very good time for me to write but as was evident on Friday, I sometimes rethink the activities I'm engaging in. Do I really need to blog seven days a week on this blog? Why am I writing the John From Cincinnati blog? (Since I've already proven that "Yes, it's easier to build a far larger audience when I write about popular culture, do I still need to continue to prove this? What is to be gained from writing that blog?)

If I'm with people and they say something that annoys me, I'm genuinely annoyed. Unlike a few weeks earlier, things don't just slide off my back. While I try not to "snap" back at people, I am not always successful. I am certainly less willing to ignore things that days or weeks earlier wouldn't have bothered me at all.

I become far less happy, joyful, and kind. I dislike being criticized in any which way. When my dog was attacked and a friend emailed me and suggested that I take him to the vet, I was "pissed" that she assumed that I didn't take my dog to the vet.

Now, of course, that was compounded by the fact that I'd spent two hours the preceding night at the Veterinary Emergency Center and an hour that morning at my vets. But a week earlier, I would have ignored her comment rather than feeling the need to email back and say, "Of course, I took Spike to the vet."

I don't have the same level of patience. In phase 1, I'm patient with everyone. In phase 2, I'm less patient with almost everyone except my mother, husband, and son.

I guess the bottom line is that in phase 1, my behavior is so extraordinarily tolerant, exuberant, patient, happy, kind, accepting, and loving--that it's no wonder that I burn out.

Phase 3 is sliding into a depression. Again, I've discussed this in quite a lot of depth. So tomorrow, I'd like to explore ways to regulate the first two phases so that the third phase doesn't happen.


marja said...

Is it really possible to avoid this third phase though? To what extent can we control our roller coaster ride? Are we doomed to always HAVE to go through depressions? Unfortunately, I suspect we are.

...but we need to try.

Be easy on yourself, Susan. And no, you don't need to blog seven times a week - but you can if it's what you "enjoy" and if it helps YOU. Do it for yourself.

Your last post has inspired me to start an article entitled "Christian Support for those with Mental Illness."

Marie said...

I think I may be experincing a little bit of depression and hypomanaia at the same time. I know it is possible. According to some of the research I have done you can experience both mania and depression at the same time.

What a complex organ the brain is. I think it is time that I shift focus on the blog to tell of my experiences with bi-polar before and after my diagnosis (2005). I would appreciate any input that you may have.

Please take care of yourself.