Monday, May 5, 2008

Bipolar Behavior (Part 1)

I have learned it's not healthy to "ruminate" about the past, but I do wish that years ago I had known about certain bipolar symptoms, and the unseemly behavioral byproducts it causes. Because if I had, I would have changed my behavior before it embarrassed me.

One of the values of writing a bipolar blog is reading about other people's symptoms and seeing how they deal with them, or watching how they play them out. Before I continue, I must admit I'm not perfect either and certainly have lapses and make mistakes. Having said that, I wonder why people who know they're exhibiting unseemly bipolar behavior don't try and change it?

Hopefully, we all know by now that excessive communication is a hypomanic (or manic) symptom. I'd mentioned a few weeks ago that when I'm hypomanic and with my husband at social gatherings, I have him give me signs to let me know when I'm talking too much (and it's up to me to decide to stop). But when I'm by myself I find it's sometimes difficult to stop talking on the telephone or in person. And in hypomanias past, I am embarrassed to admit that I sent way too many emails to friends and business associates. I also wrote excessively lengthly responses to their emails.

I wonder why I wasn't aware of this behavior when it's so obvious. Now that I know about it, I try my hardest to prevent it. However, I have recently wondered how I should alert my friends to let them know it's okay to tell me when I'm monopolizing a conversation, or to alert me when I seem "over the top." I'm not sure how I could have them do that without hurting my feelings, and yet I need to be sensitive to their feelings as well.

You see, I believe that bipolar behavior that's out of control isn't okay. Why? Because it can be intrusive, frightening, and disturbing. What I find interesting from reading other bipolar blogs is that some people know their behavior is "way out there" and don't seem to care. Worse, they're almost proud of it.

This is a point of view that I neither agree with nor understand. If we know what we're doing is making others feel uncomfortable, why persist in doing it? If we know we're emailing people (not our best friends who have said it's alright) multiple times a day, what persist in doing it? If we're writing too many daily comments in someone's blog (or comments that have nothing to do with their posts), why don't we exercise more self-control? If we know we're calling people on the telephone too often, or talking too much when they call us, why not just stop?

If we can't self-regulate, how do we want others to handle it? If we don't help them help us, chances are they're going to drop us as friends and acquaintances. Given that, should we suggest they email us and politely tell us our behavior is making them feel uncomfortable? Should they remind us that excessive communication is a hypomanic byproduct?

Lately, I've been getting a lot of keyword activity on "bipolar anger and rage." I'm not sure if it's from BIPs or their friends and relatives. To BIPs, I would ask: If we know we're inappropriately angry, why don't we seek help? Actually, I had a lapse myself a few weeks ago, but for the most part I've greatly improved on diminishing my anger and irritability.

Tomorrow, I'll write more about bipolar anger and rage. In the meantime, what unseemly bipolar behavior bothers you the most, and how do you deal with it?

17 comments:

Meredith said...

Hm. I've become good enough at self-reflection that I almost immediately "catch" myself and try to stop whatever it is, though my close friends and family certainly have no problem telling me to stop! :) My worst offender is either excessive whining/lack of motivation when depressed, or ridiculous ragefits over nothing of consequence when manic/hypomanic.

Nancie said...

Susan,

Thanks for this great post. I needed to read this today. I noticed that recently I have been talking too much to some friends. Sometimes I also talked about things that are inappropriate. I usually realized these only after the conversations ended.

I am beginning to be more aware now. This post is a reminder to me to work harder in self regulating.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It is really hepful.

Take care. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead.

Nancie

Duane Sherry said...

Susan,

I like the way you think about these things - always seem to show your conscience - your effort to do the right thing as it pertains to yourself and others....

I don't have all the answers. As mentioned in an earlier email, I think it helps to have a spouse who loves us the way we are....

I do think it's important to do our best, and am a bit outraged when I read others say that they simply don't care about their own behavior....it gives those who are doing their best a bad name.

The excessive talking - I don't see this as any kind of moral thing....In fact, I just see it as a way of making up for lost time....that's how it feels to me when the depression finally lifts, and I have some things that are suddenly on my mind....

I don't know, the other thing is that some of this seems to be personality - I tend to think that excessive talking can be a good thing.....it depends where it is....an advertising company with free spirits who think fast, and work fast - with new ideas, and new strategies and concepts....a pretty good place to put some rapid thoughts and talking into action....

The other part though - the disregard for having hurt someone in a moment of anger or rage - with what was said or done....I think we have to make amends in this area, and have to continue to do better....this is just common decency....and there are no real excuses here....sure, it's tougher when the condition of where we're at lends itself to having less control....but, having less control does not mean having no control....there is a difference....it's more challenging, sure - but we cannot use our mood as an excuse for any behavior under the sun.

For myself, the need to want to be perfect somehow plays into this....ironically, the anger from not being perfect makes me less than I could otherwise be, if I were able to fully embrace the fact that I'm far from it....and that there is no getting to this place called 'perfection' - if we did, we'd be all-alone on an island....with no company, and a disdain for our own company....

A final note about anger - I really think nutrition plays a huge role.....I take a lot of niacin (flush-free) and niacinamide (both forms of B-3, along with lots of b-vitamins, and avoid sugar, caffeine, and processed foods.....this along with moving (sometimes, just taking a walk - I think we have to move).....it really helps.

Great post (as always),
Duane

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Duane,
Thanks for your take on this. I don't thinking that talking too much is a "moral" issue either. It's just unpleasant to be around--no matter how clever we feel we are during a hypomania.

Susan

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Nancie,
Glad it helps! Hope you have a good week too.

Susan

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Meredith,
I believe the optimum is to "catch" ourselves, but it's not easy. So what do you do about the whining and ragefits? Can you "catch" it and stop it?

Susan

Dirk said...

Meredith referred to "ridiculous ragefits over nothing of consequence when manic/hypomanic". Bingo! That's me. I did not know that could be deemed hypomanic behaivor.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dirk,
That's interesting. I'm not sure how you or Meredith define "regefits," but maybe one of you will explain it.

Susan

P.J. said...

Seeing as I don't get manic, and not really hypomanic, I don't have much to say about that side of the coin. I do tend to speak quickly and have a lot of energy, but just enough to make me really fun to be around. I can't sit still and I have a perma-smile.

The depression side of things strikes me the hardest. I am SO easily irritated and thrown into anger that I feel like I have no control. I remember in December, just before my diagnosis we had our Christmas dinner at our church. I had told my friend that I wanted to get our picture taken together (it was semi-formal, so we were dressed up)and after the meal when I went to look for her, she was getting her picture taken with another friend. Not just A picture, but fun pictures. I got SO mad SO quickly that I was completely full of rage and anger. That triggered the worst depression I'd ever had, and a visit to the Doctor.

When low, I look at everyone with a hidden glare, trying to figure out why they don't like me. (I know, not logical.) I know my friends and family love me, but I can't grasp it. I write vague emails to some friends hoping they'd initiate a "talk" instead of just asking for the help I need. I went through a time of bombarding one friend so much that she said, "Seeing you any more than I already do would become unmanageable."

I guess what I hate the most is the ZERO tolerance - with friends, with family, and with my kids. Now that I know I am bipolar, I see differently those behaviors that I KNOW are related to the disorder and are not really me. I think we've got to learn to seperate our actions from our feelings - and that is tough.

(I kinda got long-winded there, didn't I??!!)

Gianna said...

Susan,
I don't know how you manage to answer every single person's comments...I just don't have it in me..it's quite an impressive feat...

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear P.J.,
I believe that once we recognize bipolar symptoms and the behavior it causes, it is our responsibility to try and control them. Whether or not we are "ill," our behavior still affects other people, and it's very difficult for them to separate our symptoms from our behavior.

Susan

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Gianna,
You obviously get more comments than I do (smiling face). Hope you're feeling better!

Susan

Gianna said...

well, I hadn't thought of that, but I still blatantly ignore people...and I don't like that I do either...of course some people demand response and I see to it that I answer people who are truly seeking a response...but I know I always love commenting here because I can count on a thoughtful comment in return. You're a lovely hostess!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Gianna,
Thank you! I'm smiling at the hostess comment. Actually, the truth is that for years I talked to so many alleged healers who were so unresponsive when I was severely depressed, and desperately needed help, that I figure if someone cares enough about what I'm writing to comment, than the least I can do is respond.

But I don't provide my email address--which I know you do--because I know my limitations. So we each do what we can!

Susan

Meredith said...

By ragefits, I mean basically tantrums of the worst sort. I'll become paranoid about nothing, or latch onto something small someone said, and proceed to either cry or yell or get irrationally passive/aggressive. The anger fit P.J. describes sounds about accurate. It was one of the earliest manifesting symptoms--I've done this since I was a small child. My mom said it was the eeriest thing; as a youngster, I'd be smiling and happy, then over literally nothing be screaming and yelling and hitting my younger sister, and then I'd be back to smiles. They just thought I was "high-strung" or something. Personally, I think I'd have my child examined, even if I weren't bipolar, because that is absolutely not normal.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Meredith,
I agree these ragefits certainly aren't "normal" behavior, but it would be interesting to know how common they are, or what might have caused them.

It's only 8:00 a.m. here now, I slept badly, and I have a ton of stuff to do this morning. But, later this afternoon, I'll check a few of my books to see if I can find out anything about this--and try to respond.

Susan

JayPeeFreely said...

I can definitely remember my hypomanic urge to communicate...