Recovering from hypomania and subsequent low energy which could be called depression. Honestly, I do not experience the fatigue following a hypomanic or mixed episode as depression. Now, rarely do I experience depressive thoughts during these recovery periods. I simply need to relax. I need to heal. The low energy, the fatigue, calls for me to slow down. My body can no longer sustain hypomania.
In January, I overdid it. I took on too much.
My Son Began College
My son began community college, which I drive him to and from.
My Freshman Experience
Yes, when I was his age (and younger), I could get myself to and from college, sometimes commuting by bus from Hermosa Beach to UCLA. Honestly, though, as my dad worked in Westwood, I’d usually catch a ride with him for summer school classes and hang out in a library or volunteer in the medical center for the rest of the day.
During the school year, I lived on the seventh floor of Dykstra Hall facing the fraternities lining Gayley Ave. I despised dorm life. Too much noise. Not enough privacy. I couldn’t sleep, went home most weekends, ended up suicidal, turned to cognitive psychotherapy, and quit UCLA.
My Son Isn’t Me
My son is not like me. Yes, we both have struggled with depression. But, ever since he was a toddler, he’s suffered severe debilitating migraines (involving headache, nausea, and vomiting). His migraines are much improved with medication, but he still gets them, just less often and less severely. He also gets motion sick and catches whatever virus is circulating. When he gets sick, it takes him down hard. So much for taking the bus to and from college.
Going to College is a Huge Achievement
Now, it’s a major achievement for him to attend class at all. For those not familiar with my son’s struggles, his migraines, getting sick often, depression, and social anxiety, prevented him from finishing high school. He decided to take the GED, instead.
Unfortunately, he was sick last week (all three of us were), throwing up, not eating, sleeping all day… I hope and pray that he pulls himself together and gets back on track this upcoming week.
Still Visiting My Mom
Remember, I still visit my mom about once a week. Doesn’t sound like all that much. I wish I had the energy to do so more often. Visiting her or taking her out for a meal is challenging. Draining. Emotionally exhausting.
Her stroke in 2015 severely damaged the left hemisphere and frontal cortex of her brain. She has global aphasia and can no longer communicate using language – verbal, written, drawn, or symbolic. She understands facial expressions and emotions. She communicates using face expressions and pointing. She lets me know if my driving makes her uncomfortable with a simple sound, clearly expressing disapproval and warning. (The syllable clearly translates to slow down or watch out.)
Still, I to speak to her, narrating our time together, gesturing and animating what I’m communicating (luckily, I’m a drama geek, very theatrical), and treating her as if she can understand. She’s still a highly intelligent woman who knows what’s going on.
We enjoy visiting diners with photographs on the menu. She chooses what she wants to eat with my help in navigating the written portions of the menu.
Same week my son began his classes, what did I do?
Creative Writing Course
Started taking a creative writing course through our local community college emeritus program. Great class, but I need time to relax, solitude, not more demands on my time.
For me, social stimulation and demands on my time trigger hypomanic symptoms. I get “energized” in a negative way. My mood cycling begins.
I prefer and need SOLITUDE!
As someone living with bipolar, I’ve experienced hypomania and mania with energetic, euphoric, spiritual symptoms. Enrolling in Qigong backfired.
The instructor had us visualize taking the energy of the universe (that’s a LOT of energy) in through the top of our heads, channel it through our bodies, and then into the ground.
Now this may be great for someone else, but I’m highly suggestive. I can imagine the energy of the universe, and it’s simply way too much for me to channel. Needless to say, the exercise triggered hypomania.
I experience hypomania energetically. I’ve had hypomanic and manic episodes where energy filled me up, pushed through my skin, and cleansed me, and I’ve experienced energy that was deceptive, tried to tell me that it was good for me, but felt scary, false, and threatened my sanity. Some of these experiences, I’ve framed as mystical. Some, dangerous. Because I cannot control which way the experience takes me, and because they come at a cost, I no longer seek them.
I MUST BE GROUNDED IN REALITY.
Personal Training Contract
In my hypomanic spree, I signed up for an expensive annual personal training contract with a gym. Gyms are not good places for me. Again, overstimulating.
Overspending, over-committing, over-zealous activity — all symptoms of hypomania and mania — all factored into my signing that expensive contract.
Now, I’m trying to cancel it…
Invested Too Much Money in a Venture
In my hypomanic state, I invested WAY too much money in my friend Sarah Fader‘s publishing house, Eliezer Tristan Publishing (ETP). I’m a HUGE supporter of Sarah and the work ETP does. Sarah did not solicit the money from me.
Riding the high of hypomania, I offered an angel investment that was ten times what she thought I was offering. Think of that. Someone thinks you are generous offering an investment of x. Then you say, “No, I meant x times 10.” For those not algebra inclined, move the decimal point over once to the right:
If x = $100, x times 10 = $1,000.
If x = $250, x times 10 = $2,500.
If x = $500, x times 10 = $5,000.
She was thrilled with an angel investment in the hundreds. I made an investment in the thousands! Yikes!
Honestly, though, Sarah and ETP need the money more than I do. The money is going to good use. It’s doing good things for the writers published and for the world.
ETP’s co-founders, Sarah Fader and Sarah Comerford, are mental health advocates. The publishing company specializes in publishing “nonfiction and fiction works largely focusing on survival, in its many iterations.”
Still… Didn’t think it out. Was impulsive.
Yes, I’m impulsive, especially when hypomanic.
Trying to Do the Right Thing
All these activities, in and of themselvs, seem to be good. I was trying to do the right thing. Writing. Relaxing, meditative exercise. Exercise to improve my health, my cholesterol and triglycerides, which are high in spite of taking medications for them. Still, none of these things were, in fact, good for me. Maybe, if I had taken just one on. Maybe, if I wasn’t exhausted by caretaking responsbilities.
But, as I age, I find more and more, that solitude suits me.
Solitude is Not Isolation
Solitude is not isolation. I am not lonely. I am not alone. I am very much a part of a family. I am very much a part of a community. You are part of my community.
I am loved.
There is always a cost involved. Either to your self (remember, with each episode, we damage our brains, our brains must then recuperate). Or, to those we love. No need to shake things up if you have loving family in your life, as you do. Will drop by your blog now and pay a visit.
I agree. Love is all that matters. God bless you. I send you my love and a big hug.
Thank you. You are love, too!
Thank you, Dr. Maples!
Thank you! Look forward to being healthy enough to visit her again. Matthew’s been REALLY sick. When he catches a bug, it takes him down. In bed all day and night. Unable to hold anything down.
Every year, I struggle with hypomania, rapid cycling and/or mixed states as the days get longer. Super sensitive.
Your honesty is, as always, refreshing. I tend to forget between hypo/manic episodes how harmful they can be; just when I was thinking I needed a little hypomania to shake things up and make me feel like living, this comes along and reminds me of why doing too much is bad for me. Thank you!
On the edge of normal – ambitious – loving and giving – yet crossing that line causes us so much trouble 🙁 I so relate to you. As I go through episodes be it depressive or hypomanic I have less and less money so that’s good (in a way) although I have a very generous stepmom who bails me out sometimes. She’s a very compassionate woman. So are you. Your motives are so good. I believe God rewards us for our hearts, not necessarily the results. xo
You are loved!
Great insight into the story behind the symptoms of a diagnosis. Thank you for sharing and the best of recovery for you and your son!
On a serious note, I am so grateful you shared so honestly about what has been going on with you and in such a clear way. This post will help many people who have hypomania or love someone who has it. The section about your mom was so moving and really affected me. She’s incredibly lucky to have you for her daughter.
Oh, Kitt, I’m so sorry that this horrible disease caught you up in its grip once again. I’m glad you’re on a path to recovery from your hypomanic episode. I hope that you can balance the demands of your life in a manner that is healthy for you and your family.
I love you too, Kitt!!! We’re going to Tahoe, dammit! It will happen!