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Hypomania: My Own Private Party An Aspect of Being Bi-Polar

Many of you have never heard of hypomania. I thought the best way to explain hypomania is with a drawing. [insert my roller coaster drawing]

Notice that hypomania is not quite manic. (hypo = under/below)

The Party of One and Others

I’ve mentioned in other blogs the concept of “others”. Basically others are those elements within us that rise up to protect us. For me, these others have distinct personalities and images. I have Dammit – my cute, 12-year-old dragon who likes purple hair, tattoos and silliness. I have The Protector of the Morgue – this is a tall, thin amorphous figure stalking around not letting me remember things. I have my Abominable Snowman (my eating disorder) helping me to avoid dangerous emotions with a bag of Oreos.

During a hypomania episode it’s like I’m at a party. Not a hell-raising party. More like getting together with a bunch of friends who just laugh and tease each other. Maybe a Sunday afternoon chick-flick marathon. We know each other well. And, for this period of time, we truly like each other and see the benefits of each piece. Me and my others sit around and laugh. It’s FUN. But because all my others are around, I struggle to settle. I feel the need to bounce and entertain. But …

This inability to settle– while having the high energy of a party – means that I can’t truly relax. I can’t dig through emotions and understand myself. I cannot make good decisions. I take on too much, I agree to things I shouldn’t, I overschedule, I spend, I eat, I try to force myself into relaxation through exercise (which leads to exhaustion not relaxation). But …

Because I over-do, over-commit, I can be hyper-productive. When I’m in a hypomania mode, I can churn out 30 pages of writing, clean the house, write a few blogs, prepare dinner, run errands, and come up with a bunch of new ideas – all in one day! But …

This productivity happens in a chaotic way. In hypomania mode, I multitask inattentively. Picture this (and this is very accurate picture of my environment right this second): On my left is my to-do list for this weekend and next week. Randomly, I stop mid-sentence and add something. I’ve got a half-finished email to my daughter started. I can tell you in detail the story GMA just presented. On my right is an assignment for a class I’m taking. I’ve read the assignment and have written the first sentence. My faucet is running to fill the sink and it will likely overfill. My coffee is made but still sitting on the coffee pot. Water is poured but too far away for me to access. I’ve answered three emails while writing this paragraph. Oh, and I just pulled up a video I want to watch. Inattentive multi-tasking. The good news: I will finish everything. The bad news: Not only is it inefficient, it’s likely not my best work. It’s also exhausting. But ….

Because I am able to get so much done, hypomania is reinforced. It feels good. I feel good about me. I’m enjoying my party and I’m enjoying flitting from task to task. I’m enjoying checking things off. I’m enjoying that people are pleased with me. But …

Sitting in the back corner of my party, sitting in the shadows is depression. She wears a grey industrial uniform. She’s drinking a cup of tea just watching us goof off. When I catch her eye, she raises her eyebrows reminding me this can’t last, that the up must come down. She’s sad for me – and for my other guests. And …

Because of this shadow of depression, I cannot fully enjoy/embrace this hypomania. I cannot ignore that hypomania is not good for me even though it feels so very good.

Hypomania Versus Anxiety

I mentioned to my therapist yesterday that maybe I need to refill my prescription of Xanax. “Nope,” she said. “This is hypomania not anxiety.” Anxiety, she explained, is painful, unsettling, frightening. Anxiety results in noticeable reactions within the body. Hypomania feels good. She’s so right – I’ve felt anxiety and I want to get away. This hypomania is more like an energetic five year old I’m chasing around the living room.

Hypomania Versus Mania

Mania/Manic, for most people, includes an element of irritability, anger. Hypomania does not. In a manic episode, the sufferer often acts in risky ways (driving too fast, incurring massive debt, irresponsible sexual encounters). Hypomania has some elements of impulsivity but not the high-risk components. A manic episode may feel good but it also feels out of control. Even though I’m inattentively multi-tasking I don’t have that “out-of-control” feeling. Mania feels more frightening – like a runaway train – thrilling and scary. Hypomania doesn’t have much of the scary.

And Now

A huge part of me wants to just live in this hypomania world. Thankfully, I have learned enough, suffered enough, to know I can’t. I know that if I’m not proactive to get this ride under control, I’ll drop into the abyss. So, today, I’ll be calling a psychiatrist for possible medication support. I’ll admit that this is not what I want to do – I’ve taken medication before and I fully believe in medical science. But, I worked really hard (diet, exercise, life choices) to be able to stop all medications. Going back on medication doesn’t feel like failure – that’s too strong a term – but, it does feel like I’m on a slippery slope. And …

The Rat Gets on the Wheel

I’ve allowed my excellent eating to slide over the last several months. Now (right this minute), I’m making the connection between this hypomania and my food choices. I expect that if I went back to virtually no processed foods, extremely limit desserts, eat more vegetables I could manage my mental health better too. UGH. We so often create our own problems, don’t we. But ….

This hypomania makes it hard to manage eating …. I need to manage eating to aid with hypomania management … this hypomania makes it hard to manage eating … I want a cookie …. I need to manage eating to aid with hypomania management … rat runs on the wheel!

PS – I’m not a therapist! I just live it and explain it the best way I know how!

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    In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....

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