Daily Archives: June 21, 2012

A Pain in the Energy Drain

First, I’d like to note that today’s post will be my 200th, which feels somewhat exciting (though it is nothing more than an imaginary milestone). Still, 200 posts feels like a lot, and even though the concept of this blog has sometimes fluctuated in my head I feel a bit proud to have stuck with writing here for 200 posts.

Aside from that, I would really like to address the energy drain. 

There are times when I am walking around, minding my own business, when suddenly it feels like the energy in my body liquifies and gushes out through my sneakers onto the asphalt and evaporates. Suddenly I’m stuck feeling like I am trying to walk through the ocean. My limbs are heavy and not quite as responsive (as if met with resistance), and it is as if every part of my body is sinking.

Maybe someone turned up the gravity intensity knob?

I was pretty happy to hear about the addition of fluctuating energy symptoms being propsed for the new version of the DSM (if you’re just joining us, that is the book that contains all of the criteria for psychiatric diagnoses in the USA), because originally bipolar disorder was just thought to be about mood. 

I’ve been getting increasingly upset about these energy drains, sometimes they last for a few minutes, other times for a couple hours. I can easily recognize that this awkward sluggish feeling is one that I’ve experienced in the throes of depression, but I also know there are times where the energy drain happens without any sort of mood fluctuation.

Are these pockets of physical depressive symptoms occurring on their own? Are they a sign of impending depression? Are they unrelated and simply created when my blood sugar crashes or when the caffeine wears off?

Many questions.

I just started tracking this phenomenon in an attempt to learn more about it. I am charting it on the same graph as my mood (and a handful of other things, pain, anxiety, etc.) so I can watch the full range of energy -both increases and decreases.

What I’ve found so far is that some days, my energy level remains level. Other days, I have fluctuations that don’t coincide with mood changes. And on other days, I see the fluctuations lining up with mood changes. When my mood changes, the energy change has (so far) changed within a 5-60 minute window (before or after) the mood change occurs.

So now I’m just looking at other factors, I am particularly interested in the energy shifts that are happening independent of mood changes. Of course, tracking this means paying attention to many other factors, when I’m eating, if I have caffeine, rigorous physical activity, etc.

I spoke to someone who also has bipolar disorder about it yesterday and they said they also experience energy shifts that appear independent of mood changes. At least, in the draining department.

Honestly, any increase in energy (even without an elevated mood) is something I’ve attributed to hypomania. Would it be safe to conclude that a decrease in energy may be related to depression, even when the mood doesn’t appear changed?

Curious.

I am very interested in knowing if anyone else has these sorts of symptoms (energy fluctuation independent of mood change) or if mood changes are always present in the event of an energy fluctuation.

For me, these symptoms go beyond,

“I’m feeling sort of tired,”

or

“I’d like to sit down and rest a minute,”

The shifts are almost always very extreme, requiring something of a struggle to continue to my destination or prompting laying down with immediate sleep necessary after having been active (normally) only minutes earlier.

Sound familiar? Leave a comment, or shoot an email to host@thebipolarcuriousblog.com