Signs of Bipolar Hypomania
Hypomania is one area of bipolar that can sometimes be perceived as the ‘less serious’ side of mania.
I have to admit when I first started learning about my illness I didn’t fully understand the symptoms. I knew depression inside and out, with its dark and somber moods and on the flip side I had encountered the wonderful inexplicable heights of mania with my secret relationship with God.
Hypomania Can Indicate Change
However, as I have lived by the hands of bipolar for the last eight years, I can say hypomania is a dangerous state to live in, indicating instability and potentially a transition towards mania or depression.
At times we have insight and are able to spot our hypomanic symptoms, but if they are making us feel good they are a guilty pleasure. The main difference between hypomania and full-blown mania is the link to feeling invincible and experiencing psychosis, which is an altered perception of reality.
If I am experiencing the vulgar irritability side of hypomania, the frustration, snapping, shouting, anger blackouts, and tearing atmospheres to pieces is horrendous. After angry bursts, hypomania can generate so much guilt as you can hurt others and put relationships at risk.
I remember being on day release from hospital and walking home feeling on edge. I walked into the house and my mum was doing the washing — I immediately felt irritated by her lack of attention on my special day.
I snapped and asked why she had nothing planned for me and she turned around, looked at me and said it wasn’t all about me. I launched myself at her, grabbing the washing and throwing it before my brother ran down the stairs and pulled me away.
I had aggressively launched myself at my own mother, who was clearly shaken up. I walked back to the hospital, cried for hours and was eventually sedated. The guilt was too much.
I suddenly want to do things out of the ordinary that feel risky in comparison to my normal behavior. I suddenly decided one day to take my young niece on a long drive to a horrendously busy shopping center to browse and buy.
It was peak time traffic and we were gone for hours. While this sounds nice, I hadn’t asked my sister, who I always speak to first.
It’s difficult to control these moments. I simply have to check myself and have an internal conversation where I ask whether it’s a ‘normal’ thing I would do and if not, what the consequences are.
I force myself to consult a friend or family member who will always tell me the truth and this makes me consider my actions.
Spending More Money
This is one of the first things I notice. Whatever I have in my bank account is at risk as I love to shop for clothes, accessories, and presents for other people.
I’ve become quite good at managing myself when I feel hypomanic, and only buy cheaper clothing so when I have my random shopping trips I don’t do my bank account too much damage.
I also have a plan to give my credit cards to my mum for damage limitation so I only have limited funds to spend. In the past I have forced myself to look at my bills or passed them to someone else to help ensure they get paid.
Drugs and Alcohol
I suddenly love the thought of going out and drinking alcohol. I will visit the pub more and buy more drinks to consume at home. I wonder whether I subconsciously do this to bring my mood down.
I’ve recognized myself doing this now so I manage myself by limiting the number of times I go out and not buying alcohol for the house. On bad nights where I’ve drunk a lot and feel irritable/upset, I’ve called The Samaritans, a U.K. helpline where I can talk to someone non-judgmental.
In my late teens and early 20s I used to go out and recklessly take drugs. I loved music and I loved dancing so the two went hand-in-hand. In later years I used drugs to try and control my moods, particularly while I was in depression.
When I am hypomanic I dream of big nights and taking drugs, but thankfully I don’t act on those thoughts. I force myself not to listen to them. I have a social circle where buying drugs is not possible for me. I am glad of this as it protects me from my desires while my mood is a bit high.
Next page: increased energy, creativity, and more signs of bipolar hypomania.