Daily Archives: April 14, 2014

The Switch

I’ve been flying high on a cloud made of hypomania the last couple weeks, so high I thought the wonderful feelings and extra energy might last forever.

Then, the switch happened.

A bipolar switch can easily be defined as the moment one mood or episode changes into another. The problem is that the way these switches happen is usually much less straight forward.

Realistically, there are times when folks (myself included) wake up one morning and things have changed. I would say this is the most polite way bipolar disorder can make a shift in mood, but for me that is very rarely the case.

There might also be times where the switch occurs sometime over the course of the day (or night). This seems to be the case most often when an episode is triggered by something, or when one has been holding everything back all day only to get home and have it all explode out in a flurry of emotion. To have your day thus interrupted is certainly inconvenient, and feeling your mood change from one extreme to the next can be uncomfortable, if not totally maddening.

The third (and my decidedly least favorite) option the switch can take is to playfully leap back and forth between moods for hours, days, even weeks before finally settling again on an opposing mood.

This was how my day went down Sunday (yesterday). It was as if my mood had been sent through some kind of cheese grater, switching six times between delightful hypomania and a horrible mixed state.

One minute I was intensely irritable, throwing things in the apartment, stomping around like a child and yelling at the dog, then I would be delightfully enjoying a burrito and moseying along in the Seattle sun. An hour or two later, more scowling, throwing, and stomping, followed by a casual, relaxed couple hours watching a movie.

Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely uncommon for me. There are times when it seems like my brain either wants to ease me into the next type of episode by giving me little hints of it at a time, or wants to “spice up” an episode by sprinkling in all kinds of unwanted turmoil. Either way, going from feeling elated to self-punishing and back to elated within a series of a few minutes can leave one feeling very confused at best, and certainly scared as to what might happen next.

I woke up this morning very alert. I had a dream last night about Las Vegas, which meant mostly waking up with a smile on my face (and you know, I’m not going to speculate why Las Vegas, in my dream, was populated solely by the Chinese) so I feel tentatively optimistic. The problem is that after a day like yesterday, I’m starting my week off very nervously.

After all, will today be a repeat of yesterday? Are my joyous recent days of hypomania over soon, or might I be lucky enough that yesterday’s mixed moments were a product of something fleeting like… hormones? Either way, I suppose being prepared at this point is half the battle, and after yesterday’s roller coaster I don’t expect to let the rest of this switch take me by surprise!