Making Up for Lost Time

I think anyone who has experienced a euphoric low level (or “hypo”) manic state would have a difficult time labeling bipolar disorder as;

entirely dangerous,

entirely awful,

and entirely worth eradicating.

Though there are many people who may not recognize this state (or may not experience it at all), the energetic, positive attitude that comes with it is proof, many say, that bipolar disorder has positive benefits. 

I’ll admit, any time I go a long period of time without being in a hypomanic state I find myself wondering if it is really as great as everyone keeps reminding me.

On days when I experience severe depression or mixed episodes I feel more than willing to do whatever is suggested to me in an attempt to eradicate bipolar symptoms entirely. Even though I’ve seen hypomania as a benefit in the past, it also hasn’t seemed like a worthwhile trade-off. A couple weeks of euphoria for a couple weeks for sheer and utter despair?

Because, don’t forget, hypomania has its down-side too. Potential inflation into full-on mania, or the potential to switch into a mixed state at any moment, even the seeming inevitability of the crash to come are all reasons I could easily say,

it ain’t worth it. 

But then I have a euphoric mood shift, and (as with depression), it doesn’t take long before it has me in its grip. A really fun, pretty, warm, energetic, hilarious, comfortable grip.

I admit, I was very nervous when the Geodon I recently started sent me flying skyward, but after things began to taper off and settle into a place of euphoric hypomania I found myself knocking down the fort of blankets and pillows I had built up around myself because of the depression I was in last month and suddenly I was productive. Finishing projects with little to no effort, beginning new projects with little to no effort, and as the end of my leave of absence has been fast approaching, all of the anxiety I had previously had about it seems to have evaporated.

For me, the total alleviation of my anxiety has been one of the most surprising, and welcome changes. Severe anxiety is one of the major factors in my problems working (I was going to say lately, but actually for the last few years). Being without the burden it had put on me, even if just for a week or two, feels incredibly rejuvinating.

I find myself wandering back to a place of consideration, of wonder, and of easy acceptance. Was I wrong about hypomania? I never meant to rule it out, but I also never expected to find it again any time soon. It has been months since any real stretch of it, maybe the cynicism of the depression and anxiety had beaten all memory of euphoria from me.

Hypomania is the lynch-pin of bipolar disorder. It is what makes it so mysterious, both to those who are observers and those who have experienced it. Our minds want to wrap our mind around this thing, the symptoms as being a horrible and rotten thing that needs to be expelled from the population.

But it is hard to think that way when you feel so good. Free confidence boosters, relaxed muscles, enjoying physical exertion, is it a coincidence that I suddenly feel more similar to the general population than I have in two years? It feels like liquid hope, and it tastes like sour apple ring pops.

(Remember the return to denial I was talking about? I think I’ve met one of its catalysts!)

My particular favorite, out of all of this, is when the floodgates of the mind seem to open after having been shut for so long. Hundreds of ideas come pouring out, and I’ve been running around collecting them to last though the winter (when I am particularly bored, lonely, and out of good ideas).

Need a project? I have a whole list of interesting things to try. Are they interesting because I’ve been disinterested for so long, or are they interesting because they’re truly interesting?

Finally, this break has allowed me to move on to the next thing. I hardly know how to move on anymore without a swift change in mood. For the first time in ages I feel ready for whatever comes my way, and if that’s a fluke, I’ll still take it. 

8 responses to “Making Up for Lost Time

  1. You mention always being in a mood whether it’s depression, mixed or otherwise. Could this feeling just be you and not hypomania? Have you had any periods since diagnosis where you were just you?

    • That is an excellent question, and something I was thinking about this morning as well. I’ve been diagnosed for 10 years, and when I was much younger, this energetic & goofy state was my norm. As time has passed, however, I am guessing that my norm has become much more subdued (just as any other person, mental illness or not, mellowing out with age). I think that is part of the reason I was so surprised to find myself back here… I would certainly love it to be my norm, but I am apprehensive to get too attached to anything at this point (since this is the first medication I’ve tried that has had any positive reaction since 2004, and I frankly don’t now what to expect next).

      Thanks, good point though, and it is possible you are right!

  2. I think it also can be true that Bipolar Disorder can kind of stunt the growth of maturity a bit. Not saying we never grow up, but that our energetic and goofy ways can come along with growing up. We can be adults and childlike depending on the situation is what I think I mean. I understand your apprehension since you’ve not responded very well to medications since 2004.

    An official diagnosis was made for me only last year with probability that I’ve been misdiagnosed since the age of 15 (I’m now 27) and in my heart I don’t feel my age. I can look and act my age, but I still feel stunted and it may be due to childhood traumas or the fact I have this illness.

    But everyone is individual so everyone is effected by this disorder differently and it is a spectrum disorder so it makes it all the more interesting. I do hope that this drug will be the answer for you so you can leave the apprehension behind and if not I hope you find your answer very soon.

  3. Do you think ziprasidone actually made you high?… or just that it did nothing to STOP you going so high?

    yes hypomania is not a mental illness, merely a mental state ~ just as being pregnant or born with 6 fingers or 3 nipples are physical states

    it’s for that reason that the dsm diagnostic criteria insist that as well as hypomania a person must also have experienced major depression in order to “qualify” for the wondrousness that is Bipolar II

    for type 1 bipolar, by contrast, only a single isolated full manic episode is required… ditto with schizoaffective disorder

    and re schizoaffective, from what I could discern, hypomania on top of schizophrenia would just be considered schizophrenia with elevated or irritable mood; to be officially schizoaffective, severe mood symptoms must be present for the majority of an episode

    • Ah yes, and I forgot to mention that I do believe about 80% that it was the geodon that caused the elevated mood. It has toned down a little, but in the periods between pills (when I first started) my mood would plummet back into the depression I had been experiencing for the whole month prior to starting geodon.

      It seems like as I adjust to it, the elevated part has come down -and it has also helped significantly that I switched to a sleep aid that is doing the trick. It was a patchy first week though!

  4. oh can I ask you a question ~??~~ it would make a great idea for a post

    to be manic, it’s necessary to be in a predominantly “elevated, irritable or EXPANSIVE” mood for 4 days or a week… well have you ever been in an EXPANSIVE mood ~ without elevated and/or irritable mood being simultaneously present..? And more to the point what precisely IS an expansive mood?

    The crap I looked up seemed to be saying expansive means a Flamboyant, Expressive mood… but what precisely does that mean?

    And if the diagnostic criteria are to be taken literally, then it should be possible to be in an Expansive mood WITHOUT elevated or irritable mood ~~ I mean, how is that even possible? And what would it look or feel like..?

    • I’m making this comment over again… I think I may have been a little EXPANSIVE trying to write the last one, hehe.

      I found this, among my travels, for expansive mood: “Lack of restraint in expressing one’s feelings, frequently with an overvaluation of one’s significance or importance.”

      It seems that what I was thinking about before was more of an expansive mind, expansive mood being something like having emotions just hanging out at the surface, or telling people constantly how you’re feeling or how things around you are effecting your feelings. (Though annoying, I think there are much worse symptoms that can occur, that’s for sure!)

      With the description above, I could see how someone might call that flamboyant or expressive. I somehow picture a woman in a huge fur coat saying, “darling, I feel MARVELOUS, JUST MARVELOUS!”

      But have you ever been around someone who is constantly expressing their negative feelings? I know I have (and surely have done it) so I am not sure why that wouldn’t also be considered “expansive”.

      The definition at Psych-Central says, “Emotional expression unaffected by others’ reactions, much like elevated mood.”

      Since the expansive mood is dependent upon expressing one’s feelings (rather needlessly), I think the important thing to denote is that there have to be feelings occurring to be expressed. I would say for that reason, you can’t have an expansive mood without some kind of mood to be expressing yourself about. I don’t know that that necessarily means terribly elevated or irritable, but I expect it doesn’t take much.

  5. “It feels like liquid hope, and it tastes like sour apple ring pops.” What a great description – def feels like liquid hope….maybe even IV hope.

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