Reverse Vulcan & Evaporation

I know there was a time a few months ago back when I started this blog where I was unsure of whether I was more likely to have bipolar type 1 or bipolar type 2.

To be fair, I don’t think any doctors were really comfortable pinning either one on me (because my symptoms are certainly outside the “norm” in regard to these two types), and my conclusion was that I am probably a type 2 with some extra fun things, cyclothymic cycling (several mood changes in a day) for example, sprinkled on top for good measure.

BUT, after the last few weeks I feel pretty darn comfortable saying that I probably actually fall into the category of type 1.

It can be extremely hard to judge when I spent almost a year in severe depression, and I don’t think my [current] psychiatrist knew quite what to make of it either. When you are working with someone who isn’t exhibiting any manic symptoms (apart from when he gave me an antidepressant very briefly), how would you know?

My hunch (though it is a little more than that now) is that if one of these three things doesn’t sweep me into the type one category, the inclusivity of all three of them certainly does.

1. psychosis
2. mixed episodes
3. the manic episode from a week or two ago, which was both severe and roughly 10 days long.

So there we have it, I guess. Ta da! 

Obviously I am not a doctor, and there can be subtle nuances to this sort of thing, but after the last few weeks I’ve had some time to really soak in the little trip I took to the land of mania and back.

And honestly, I have a lot of trouble looking backwards through time to recall certain feelings and events, so if I can document them as they’re happening I know that this has happened at least once. Namely, this time. There may have been others, but my memory is so foggy I really couldn’t say where or when or what happened.

It wasn’t quite like when the werewolf episode showed itself, because to some degree it felt like an old, familiar… friend, let’s say. My experience this time around dragged me through a whole spectrum of oddness, and though some portions were familiar… there were certainly places I don’t recall ever going before.

I’ve been encouraged to name them, to quantify these states and feelings -which I don’t mind because that’s what I enjoy doing anyway. I like getting to know them (for the most part), it can be a lot like opening doors at random in my brain and seeing what is hanging out behind them.

I find mania to be confusing, because when depression happens… it is depression. All of the symptoms (for me anyway) seem to stack on top of one another so it is pretty easy for me to discern how bad it is. Mania, on the other hand, seems so random. The symptoms I have don’t always seem to overlap from one moment to the next, and an episode can feel severe, be right next to another episode that seems equally as severe, but they are in two totally different ballparks.

My argument to my therapist was that if I just experienced the same thing over and over again, it would be a lot easier to pinpoint, a lot easier to quantify, and a lot easier to describe. Instead, mania is tricky. For me, it has a LOT of different faces and if I’m not careful, it can disguise itself well enough to slip past my radar.

The saving grace there is energy, because if my energy level is pretty high I usually know something is amiss. I know there is a shady character skulking around somewhere ready to clamp on to me at the first opportunity and wreak havoc.

Some of you may remember that I made a list of the sorts of qualities I’ve seen magnified in people who are experiencing manic symptoms (myself included) so I’ll jot down a couple of those for each of the states below.

  • I’ve talked to some extent about Werewolf which, thankfully, didn’t make an appearance this last week. These episodes usually involve psychosis for me, and I have the overwhelming urge to 1. be in nature, and 2. expel energy. If I can do both at the same time, brilliant. The werewolf brings something of the hippie/the bohemian to the table, because I have the overwhelming urge to shed my possessions and live in nature.
  • I’ve also spent some time talking at length about Crazy Girlfriend. These are the sorts of irritable, agitated, angry (to say the least) mixed/manic episodes I have. Somehow, the goal in this state becomes to destroy everything awesome, which is incredibly frustrating. I am typically a fan of awesomeness, so destroying it is not usually on the to-do list. I’d say this incorporates a little bit of the dictator and perhaps Joan of Arc a little bit? A strong female warrior type character with the brain of an evil villain, for sure.
  • I haven’t brought Reverse Vulcan to the table yet, but when this happened last week I was surprised because I seemed to make the same sort of series of bad decisions as the last time I recall feeling that way. A Reverse Vulcan episode happens when logic seems to only lead to the illogical. So if logic dictates something will be a bad idea, it will look like the most brilliant idea ever. For me, this phenomenon is centered primarily around social situations, and I feel so much more outgoing, bold, and optimistic than usual that for some reason it feels like nothing could possibly go wrong. I would say this is something akin to the thrill seeker and the comedian or social butterfly combined.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Reverse Vulcan doesn’t seem that bad, right? Confidence? Sociality? More like Awesome Vulcan! No. You’re forgetting the part where logic works backwards, and because of this, I have found myself in some really seriously awkward (and potentially dangerous) situations because they seemed like a good idea at the time. Example? Well last week I had to be escorted down from the top of the space needle when I suddenly realized I was having dinner at the top with 3 near strangers, one of which was an ex-con who just finished spending 16 years in prison. The reverse vulcan goggles came off, and I had a panic attack and was stumbling around a rotating restaurant (because my table wasn’t where I left it) trying to figure out where my purse was so I could get out.

I told you so.

  • As alarming as that last one was, this one was more-so because I don’t actively recall ever having this happen to me before. It was as if my sense of self Evaporated. My physical symptoms were pretty extreme, and it felt very much as if I was floating around. My attention span was minute and focused on the tiniest of things, all purpose and time had vanished. As I floated around, it was like being caught on the wind, a smell directed me one direction, a vague idea another, and I might as well have been a cloud.

Now, like I said, this is a new one for me… so unlike what I normally experience, I don’t think there were specific parts of my self that were magnified. It was more like they were simply gone, with the exception of one small string tied to a lamppost keeping me from floating away altogether.

Is this new territory? Something more extreme than what I have experienced before? Or is it simply a new kind of episode? A new mask mania was wearing that day? At this point, I genuinely don’t know.

What I do know is that I have an appointment with my psychiatrist this morning, and I am already certain my therapist has called him to express her concern. A whole new can of worms is opened now that I’ve been talking to two medical professionals who are now talking to each other, so all I can do at this point is show up and see what the verdict is.


5 responses to “Reverse Vulcan & Evaporation

  1. The Reverse Vulcan is the most common thing that happens to me. Thank god I have my husband to check it. He keeps it under control, for the most part.

    In (hypo)mania, I always have this feeling of extended self. Like, I’m going somewhere where I don’t usually wander. Of course, there is this miniscule part of my consciousness that remains as the centered “me”. But, it’s just the anchor, really. The rope can extend indefinitely, if it wants to.

    Now, there really is no clear cut (hypo)mania. I’ve had (hypo)manic episodes that lasted more than 14 days that had some psychotic features. Some of that, I blamed on a change in supplement. I guess I have to wait until my next episode to find out. I’ve also had what I thought were mixed episodes that turned out to be ultradian cycling.

    It could be the other way around. So, I would go with BP 1.5, personally. Don’t discredit something because it doesn’t fall into the scope. I still consider myself BP II, based only on the fact that I see a greater duration of depressive episodes than (hypo)manic ones. If I had to rate severity, I would call the depression more severe and pronounced than anything else. But who wouldn’t? When (hypo)mania is euphoric, who actually notices the severity?

    You’re right. Mania is not clear cut. It’s because we live in a culture that practically promotes that as the ideal state of living. If it were different, say more of a centered culture, then it would be recognized when someone steps out of those bounds. Mania might be a little more clear cut in terms of symptoms.

    But, depression for me is tricky too. My mind is tricky and slick. I have four alarms set in my room to get me up in the morning. One is a puzzle. If I complete the puzzle and still go back to sleep, I have to contend with the next alarm that goes off five minutes later, with a snooze duration of one minute. If that isn’t enough, there is a third alarm that goes off a half an hour later. And finally, as a last resort, there is an alarm that goes off across the room fifteen minutes after that. If I can get through all of those alarms, then I was meant to stay in bed.

    I have a dozen clocks in my house. None of them have the same time. One might be a minute fast, whereas another might be nine minutes fast. I don’t know which one is closest, and therefore, I don’t trust any of them. I have to assume that the middle one is correct (which it’s not, they’re all fast), and go with that.

    That’s the lengths I have to go to in order to trick my mind into something. Because it is always one step ahead of me.

    So, when depression comes on, it looks like a bad day. Or week. Or victim of circumstance. Until it’s undeniably embedded in there. The symptoms aren’t always the same, and it doesn’t always come on the same way. The last time, it felt like dysthymia. I treated it as such. But, it was pretty severe after all.

    So, I don’t really think the terminology is important. What is important are the symptoms and the treatments. If it takes a different terminology to get you that, then go with it. But, if you’re going to get the right treatment without having to pin a name on it, go with that.

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      I agree that terminology isn’t the really important thing here, and that’s why I’ve been exploring creating my own terminology for the types of episodes I seem to have. The only reason I even care about the 1 & 2 business is because of potentially applying for disability down the line, if it is ever something that really becomes necessary. Heck, none of the medications across the board have had any sort of impact on my moods, so really -“types” be damned.

      And when I was in college, the Reverse Vulcan was the most present episode I saw. An almost disgustingly perky, optimistic, “this is the greatest plan ever, nothing could possibly go wrong!” attitude. That would be about the highest I remember dealing with for the most part for a very long time, and I would call that an upper hypomania for me (a 3). Bad logic, indeed. I am pretty sure this was my head-space when I dropped out of college the first time around. Seemed like a great idea at the time!

      I also definitely have episodes that change several times in one day, and I can feel great one minute and terrible the next. For me, it is almost like hitting a brick wall, the change in energy is extremely noticeable and very off-putting. The mixed situations are considerably different for me though, and feel agonizing.

      Anyway, thanks for the insight!

  2. Hi there, Just started reading your blog. I was thinking about you having two professionals that consult with each other and I tell you it is working good for me. Some days I am so sick of subject I don’t want another appointment or to tell the story or update the psychiatrist so having my Nurse Therapist in the same office as him allows her to sit in on my appointments with the psychiatrist and she basically answers all the questions from our sessions. I hope you find it a positive experience too.

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      Interesting perspective, thanks for your take on that!

      I’m sure it might sound a little silly, but there was a moment where I was afraid they would end up conspiring against me (I know, I know, I have some real trust issues when it comes to mental health professionals).

      I do agree with you, though, that there are definitely times when it is more beneficial than not (especially for me in times of crisis) so I think my initial response with the situation was really just one of fear (and perhaps a small pinch of paranoia).


      • Hi there again. You know what the funny thing is my mind vascilates between being paranoid about them conspiring to being two people I want on speed-dial! I happened to comment on your blog when I was feeling trusting. Lol dontcha love being us. =)

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