Hypomania: Fliss' Perspective and Experience
In contrast to depression, I am suddenly able to do all the 'normal' things I've struggled with, like organizing, doing things, making things, walking, driving and having ideas. My body is filled with energy, which means I have to be on the go and I am usually highly productive.
It's hard to want to stop yourself when you are like this, but I am always mindful of this behavior. I try to combine using my energy with routine, relaxation and being calm.
I make sure I eat balanced, regular meals and always stick to my sleep routine, even if it takes a while to fall to sleep. Calming activities include practicing mindfulness, reading a book, listening to chilled music before bed, or something simple like painting my nails, which forces me to sit still.
Wanting to Be Sociable and an Increase in Talking
I want to be around people, and I really look forward to getting ready and going out. I will call, email, and message individuals or organize group trips so I can absorb the atmosphere of going out and have fun.
It's actually good for me to go out, especially if I have been struggling with depression. However, if being sociable includes reckless behavior and spending too much money, it is time for damage control.
In the past, I have told my friends beforehand that I am a bit high and to be patient with me. It has worked.
I am a natural talker anyway and love discussion. However, while hypomanic I am definitely more forceful with my views and often interrupt. If anyone doesn’t agree with my views, I can get very frustrated.
I can also say inappropriate things — I remember telling my friends who were with their boyfriends about a sexual experience I had. This was completely abnormal for me.
I think my forceful discussion is a symptom most people pick up and probably recognize before me. I think the only way to manage it is to ask people to be patient because you can't help it.
Once you are aware it is happening you can do your best to stay calm or remove yourself from a situation you may be getting irate over.
When I was single and high, I used to go online and chat to any man I was attracted to. I would quickly move on to meeting someone and was interested only in sex. It is the only behavior I have kept from friends to avoid judgment.
I am not single anymore, and I have not been hypomanic while in my relationship. However, if I were still single, I would try and limit myself to chatting online only or if I wanted to meet someone keep it to a public place telling a friend where I was at all times.
One option is to organize someone to potentially pick you up to avoid going back to anyone's house. Alternatively, I would take myself offline while high and if not, always practice safe sex.
Influx of Creativity
Hypomania has generated some of the best ideas I have ever had. However, they don't always materialize as it depends on how long I am feeling high for!
In the past I have planned trips, decided on a new career, contacted strangers for help on realizing my ideas, writing articles, creative projects — I have a whirlwind of thoughts.
This is a productive part of hypomania, and it's all about managing your ideas. I write lots down, and some become instrumental to my life. At the same time it is about checking yourself — are your ideas rational and achievable?
My need to do things creative can be overwhelming. I have made beautiful photographic memory books for friends and family, cards and made beaded jewelry to keep. And my focus is incredible and my hands don't stop working. This state can be enjoyable, but at the same time has made me irritable if people interrupt me.
I remind myself to take a break, don't miss meals and don't work late at night. The end results of creative projects can be beautiful to keep.
Mood charts are a great strategy, and I now have over eight months of daily recorded moods. It gives me empowerment to see whether my mood is going high or low because I can see a pattern emerging.
I am then able to approach my doctor, nurse or psychiatrist for discussion. If the chart shows an elevated mood for more than two weeks, it could indicate hypomania.
Life Tips To Avoid Slipping Into A Hypomanic Episode
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It is much easier to avoid a hypomanic episode than it is to try and navigate it once it comes on. Here are just a few of the things I recommend incorporating into your daily life to avoid hypomania:
- Get healthy sleep and get on a regular routine. Don’t stay up late even if you want to. Healthy sleep is especially important for people who have bipolar disorder.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week. You don’t have to become a body-builder! You can just walk around the neighborhood at a pace that works for you.
- Stay connected to your support circle. Having positive people in your life who care about you is essential. They can be your eyes and ears and tell you if they spot something “off” with you.
- Keep a mood journal.
- Take your medication at the same time every day and don’t miss a dose.
- Drink lots of water and maintain a healthy protein-rich diet. This helps keep your body chemistry in check.
You may have heard these suggestions before - and, you may be tired of hearing them! But, they really do help to stabilize mood.
Report Your Symptoms
It is always recommended, no matter how good hypomania feels, to report your symptoms. It can indicate a mood transition which could lead to further danger including psychosis, invincibility or risk of suicide.
I always remind myself that a mood change indicates instability and to always keep focus on staying within the ‘normal’ range. I don’t want my life interrupted by bipolar any more than it needs to be!