Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Three Things I Dislike Most About Hypomania

While there are some aspects of hypomania I enjoy--the boundless energy, great enthusiasm, joi di vivre, and a interest in talking to a wide range of people--there are other qualities I despise. The following are three things I dislike most about hypomania.

1. A lack of patience. While I'm ordinarily patient with people--and have gotten increasingly so since my illness, when I'm hypomanic I have very little patience. I try to overcome it by recognizing it's a problem and consciously trying to count to 10 before I speak.

2. Talking too much. I used to feel that talking too much during a hypomania wasn't so problematic because, after all, I went through long periods of depression when I didn't talk at all. So, it kind of evened itself out.

I have since realized that excessive talking is unappealing to others, and I work hard to control this. If I'm with my husband, we have a sign when I seem to be dominating the conversation with others. He kind of nods at me, although it's my decision whether to quit talking or not. I wish I had figured this out years ago. I'm still not great at dealing with this when I'm alone, although my mantra is "Less (talk) is more."

3. Increased irritability. I wish I could say that I've got this under control, but I don't. I recently had a fight with a dear friend. I can't seem to truly apologize or empathize with her position, because I can't get beyond my own hurt feelings (which came out as anger) at something she emailed me. (Please no more lectures on forgiveness, but if you've got other advice, I'm willing to listen.)

On the positive side, over the years I have reduced or eliminated the following hypomanic symptoms:

Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity. I try to listen to myself and stop behaving this way. I realized that I used to talk about "big plans" because I felt so bad that I wasn't achieving anything positive during my depressive episodes. But these days I try to focus more on who I am than on what I achieve.

Decreased need for sleep. This was always a medication-induced problem for me. Still, since my doctors made it very clear that a lack of sleep fuels a hypomania, I'm careful to get eight to nine hours of sleep a night. If I can't do it naturally, I take sleeping pills (which I stop taking the moment I'm no longer hypomanic.) Getting off the pills is always a problem, but staying on them is far worse because I know they contribute to depressive episodes during low energy periods or during the fall and winter months.

Flight of ideas. This still creeps up on occasion, but I've gotten much better about refusing to pursue ideas during a hypomania that don't interest me when I'm normal.

Increase in goal-directed activity. Again, I try to watch my behavior and identify problems before they occur. While I consider it okay to garden for long periods, or do home improvement chores, I only start one project at a time, and I finish it before I move on to the next one.

In years past, I would spend months working on book proposals that didn't interest me when I was well (This can still be a problem although I try to disengage myself more quickly.). I try to stay off the computer (which was a problem when I spent years researching this illness and downloading reams of materials that I diligently filed).

When this symptom seems like it's rearing its ugly head, I get out my Day-Timer and start accounting for my time in 30 minute segments so I can record how I'm spending my days--and make appropriate adjustments.

So, what hypomanic symptoms do you dislike the most? What tips do you have for diminishing their impact on your life?


Tony C. said...

Hi Susan,

Im ok. Just going through a bit of a bad time at present.

Thanks for your concern.


Duane Sherry said...


My best advice here is to find someone who takes you as you are.

I was fortunate in this area - my wife seems to understand me better than I do.

And for some reason, she decided many years ago to love me just as I am....

I do my best to make up for these times when I'm feeling better.

Have a long way to go in this area sometimes, although your comment about counting to ten (another subject area) applies to this one for me....

Although, sometimes ten isn't long enough. There are times when getting away from something entirely is the best strategy for me - completely remove myself from the person or situation - for as long as it takes to calm down.

Once I give myself permission to completely remove myself, I find that I come back to it when I've made the decision to do so - without forcing myself to fix things when I'm not in the right frame of mind to fix anything.


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tony,
So sorry to hear it. If it would help for you to email me offline, I can give you my email address. I don't know what I can say, but I'm willing to try!

All my best!


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Duane,
Aren't we lucky? I,too, have a spouse who loves me as I am. It's the rest of the world I sometimes find it difficult to deal with, and only on occasion). I also try to make up for things once I'm better. But I'm increasingly looking for ways to self-regulate my behavior so I can stop apologizing after the fact.

Do you meditate? Have you ever tried self-hypnosis or biofeedback?

Removing yourself sounds like a really good strategy. And I wouldn't have a problem doing that.

Thanks for the advice!


K said...

Hello, I've been recently diagnosed Bipolar after many years being medicated for Depression. I think the birth of my last child somehow triggered bipolar symptoms. I'm on Lamictal and Effexor, although I do believe the latter is going by the way side after my latest depressive episode is over.

Right about now some hypomania sounds delightful to me. However. 'What I Dislike Most' would have to be the minimizing I seem to do of my illness when I am in that state. I seem to think that everything is now going to be ok. I don't take any precautions or 'count on' these good feelings ending. Which of course makes the crash even more painful.

Thanks so much for your blog :)


Duane Sherry said...


Yes - I do meditate - throughout the day - for brief periods, and espcially at night.

I also like to drive to a nearby airport and watch the planes land - it's a quiet place not far from where we live.

I bring my favorite music, and sometimes I write - other times, I just watch the planes land - look at the blue lights on the landing strip.

I think there are lots of 'therapies' - I do my best to incorporate the ones that work for me.

I've heard a great deal lately from an Integrative Psychiatry group about the benefits of epsom salts - two cups in bath water....as much as 4 lbs in the water (once per week) according to a LMFT in California.....

It helps release toxins from the body, and works well with essential oils - in the form of candles.....anything that helps alleviate stress - taking time to nurture is good - whatever it is.....

Also, I've come to believe that those of us who are sensitive emotionally are many times sensitive physically - to processed foods, and some of the chemicals we are exposed to - ie, cleaners, degreaser, solvents of various kinds.

I met a woman this past weekend who started a business of scented candles - no petroleum in them - stricly soy-based with essential oils, and all-cotton wicks.....

Will post on my blog as soon as she gives me a brief bio and info that she would like to share....I think all of these things are helpful - the challenge is finding the right combinations....

I too have been doing my best to self-manage before these events that cause irritation, but I would not be honest if I said I don't have occassional times where I mess up.....

A work in progress,


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear K,
You're welcome. I'm don't how many years you've been treated for depression, but I had untreated depressive episodes for 25 years. And while I may have had "tiny" bipolar symptoms, they weren't problematic. Within three years of taking antidepressants, I suddenly had my first and only manic episode that was medication-induced.

I now believe that I could have resolved the depressive issues if I'd talked to anyone with insight on the illness...but that's just me.

Anyway, I know what it's like to feel so grateful you're not depressed that hypmania feels like an amazing gift. The problem--at least as far as I've been told by a number of different psychiatrists--
is that the higher the hypomania, the deeper the depression.

Just thought I'd pass it on.


Meredith said...

Those are my top three too. Ugh. Thankfully, my family and close friends "get it" now.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Duane,
Thanks for all the suggestions. I live fairly close to a small airport, and I think that's an interesting idea. I take a lot of bubble baths but I will try the epsom salts. Also, I intend to mention Roanne's exercise article--which I think is very important.

We are are works in progress, aren't we? I've often thought that this constant vigilance with occasional mess-ups is a true lesson in humility!

P.S. I've got to finish up for now and go offline--I need sun every morning.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Meredith,
It's a drag, isn't it?


Nancie said...


I have all the hypomanic symptoms you described. I am so glad you share how you cope. I found that I keep running into problems with them and I haven't learn how to cope. Now I hope to learn from you and hopefully my hypomanic will be more manageable.

Thank you very much for sharing with us. I have many things to learn from you. I am so glad you are continuing with your writing.

Take care and have a wonderful week!


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Nancie,
As Duane said, "It's a work in progress." I try to do my best, but it sure bothers me when I don't. Still, I've seen progress over the years. However, just when I think I'm "getting it," and doing better, I mess up. It's the nature of the beast!


Annie said...

Susan, I like the way you organized this post. It took me back to earlier times when I had some of these symptoms. My major concern has been impaired judgment, which is between hyomania and mania for me. Thanks for the thoughtful post. Annie

lily12 said...

I think I experience hypomania differently. When I was in my teens and twenties, I would talk too much, spend too much, etc. But somehow I learned to keep those things under control. I am by nature deliberate and careful. (Sometimes too much!) Those traits must still be there even in mania. As a result, I really enjoy hypomania. And even though I have regular and prolonged depressive episodes, they don't always come right after being "up", as they seem to do for others. My only worry is the rare but scary "mini-crash" (I don't know what else to call it) I sometimes get during a hypomania. It is sudden, intense, and lasts only a few minutes. Have you heard of anyone else having these episodes? Oh, I am classed as a rapid cycler, that may have something to do with it.
Thanks. Your blog has been a good reference for me.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Annie,
I'd be interested in what you mean by "impaired judgment," if you'd like to share anything about it. I wonder if we all experience it but call it something else.


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Lily,
Glad my blog has helped. I, too, was classified as a rapid cycler although since I've been working so hard to control my hypomanias, and since I've reduced the amount of medication I take, I don't cycle nearly as much.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by a "mini-crash." Perhaps if you explain more what it feels like, I can tell if I've experienced it or perhaps someone else who reads this blog will relate.


Meredith said...

My best friend is bipolar NOS (for the record, I'm supposedly bipolar II but have had hallucinations that the diagnosing doctors didn't know about, so I guess technically I'm bipolar I?) and she has those "mini-crashes." She cycles between depression and hypomania, and at the peak of her hypomania she has these intense episodes, generally involving panic attacks, of just... I guess severe despair, maybe? I don't know, because I don't get those either. Is that what you're talking about, Lily?

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Meredith,
Thanks for your comment. I'm hoping that Lily will respond.


Annie said...

Susan, I think for me an example of impaired judgment had to do with being overwhelmed by working full time when I knew that I was not sleeping, had racing thoughts and working was not the thing I needed to do to feel better. I finally was forced to stop working because of rapid cycling symptoms. If my judge met had been clear I could have been proactive and perhaps avoided hospitalization.Annie

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Annie,
Thanks for explaining it. Because I've only had one mania--which was medication-induced--I think it must have been different than a "real" mania. I understood that "not sleeping" was a problem, and that my behavior was "off." Within two days, I called my doctor.

So, I guess what you're saying is that you (and I'm assuming others as well) don't see the symptoms. Is that it?