Tag Archives: Hypomania

Curve balls

Photo credit: Terry Dye

It’s been a though week.  Life threw me some unexpected curve balls.  Oh wait,  maybe they are always unexpected?  I dunno a thing about baseball,  really…

Anyways.

The major one is that tomorrow night (early afternoon for USA peeps) I will be sharing about mental illness and bipolar disorder with my youth group.  That’s what a hypomanic episode might lead to…

To be honest,  I wanted to share about it either way.  For one,  to break the taboo of mental illness and two,  to disclose a little about my bipolar disorder.

It will sure be an interesting evening… truth be told I am even a little nervous,  really.

But then,  since I will share with them that Winston Churchill, Vincent van Gogh,  Mel Gibson, Jean-Claude vanDamme,  Brian Wilson,  Carrie Fisher,  Patty Duke,  Stephen Fry,  Robin Williams and some Dutch authors had or have it,  at least I can’t deny being in good company!

🙂

Update:
The evening went real well – I was composed and was able to calmly share the facts about mental illness and bipolar disorder.  Much to my relief I didn’t even remotely feel like crying,  even though it had been a very emotionally week for me.

The youth received it well.  They were respectful and understanding.  What more can one ask?  We will take it step by step,  but I belief it’s been good to have it out in the open!

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What do you mean, hypomanic?

Photo credit: cohdra

We are going to Ukraine with our youth group to work with street kids this Summer.  I am so excited!!  It’s just over the border with Hungary,  though,  so my Russian will be of little use.  In that part of the country the people speak exclusively Ukrainian.  This comes with the attitude of: Ukraine for the Ukrainians!  In other words,  all others have to clear out and return to wherever they (or their ancestors) came from.

So,  naturally,  I ordered a Ukrainian language course.  And I have started to learn Ukrainian – which is a lot of fun.  It is different from Russian,  yet I can read everything – even when I don’t understand a word of it :).

The sun has been out to play several days in a row.  This makes me ridiculously happy.  So I thought I needed a party.  And because I won’t be here when I do have my birthday in Summer,  why not celebrate it right about now?  I also owed my house a party to warm it up.  Two good reasons to party,  is it not?

So,  naturally,  I invited about 30 people to come to my party in a couple of weeks time.  I came across cheap and fun invitations,  wrote them out,  and handed them out or sent them by mail.  A couple of people I called.  Now the planning for food is going on.  A lot of fun!

My house needs some attention as well.  And of course a number of people I haven’t talked to in a while.  It’s fun to get in touch with them again.  During my time being sick I didn’t see too many people,  cuz that’s what happens when you aren’t well.  Hard to cope with others when you are struggling yourself.  So,  naturally,  now is the time to bug them :).

As I still have to catch up on my computer stuff and all,  I stay up late.  Or early,  it depends which way you look at it.  It’s not thát bad,  really,  I still get about 6 hours sleep at night.  Sometimes more,  sometimes less.  But overall not too bad.  I mean,  really!

When with other people I become virtually a chatterbox.  It’s hard for me to shut up.  Hm,  that one is not always too easy.

Do you think I might be a touch hypomanic?

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My bio: A personal history of my Bipolar Disorder – part 2

This is a continuation from part 1  

I had lived abroad since Summer 1994 being involved in two different social projects.  For most of that time I was hypomanic and consequently achieved very much.  Looking back I also see the down right mean side of that period,  hurting people in the process.  I had sudden anger outbursts that I didn’t understand.  I could make mean and hurtful comments,  not knowing myself why I was acting that way.

Many times I asked for forgiveness and just as many times I received it.  I am very blessed with the fact that during this period I did not lose any relationships,  opposite to my time in college when I did alienate and hurt friends and lost their friendship.

Even during those years I hit an all time low and was depressed for a good year.  Since I had also become seriously ill,  I used the illness as a cover up so people didn’t know I was depressed.  After a year I was able to return to the same project and pick up my work.

The last project involved working with youth in schools and girls on the street.  I was doing way too many things all at the same time.  Suddenly,  on top of that,  I received a letter from my parents in June 2005.  This was such a shock to my system that I literally fell ill.  I had tried several times to bridge the gap between us,  but every time it was made very clear that no contact was desired.  So this was like a bomb shell.


Together with some other circumstances it caused a severe burn-out.  A stay in America for 3 months in 2006 turned into more than three years.  I am very blessed,  however,  with my counselor who has been so willing to support me over all those years,  before and after my diagnosis.  Even now,  since my sudden return to my home country the Netherlands in Summer 2009,  we continue our sessions over Skype. 

Those years between 2005 and 2010 have been excruciatingly difficult and painful.  I have lived through many difficulties (including a nomadic lifestyle) during those years,  together with working through past trauma’s and trying to find ways to deal with my bipolar traits. 

I had been very suicidal for one and a half years,  even before my trip to the States.  I had concrete and detailed plans where I would not be found alive.  It was not so much that I wanted to die,  it was simply that I could not continue to live in such pain and despair. 

The only reason I am still alive and kicking today is because the Lord saved me from committing suicide.  I can not tell you how He did it,  because I don’t know,  just that He did.  And to tell you the truth,  I wasn’t even grateful in the first few years!!!

At some stage I started to understand that  ‘being suicidal’  is part and parcel of BD.  It is not part of  ‘me’  as such.  In the process I came to realise that I have a choice in how to respond and at some point  I decided not to entertain thoughts of suicide as a way out any longer.  This doesn’t mean that thoughts of suicide don’t pop up at times,  of course they do.  But I am able to handle it,  it doesn’t endanger me anymore. 

I am glad to say that by now I am overall glad to be alive.  For the first time in many years I am looking forward to the future.  I have plans and dreams and there is a live waiting for me to live.  I am committed to live that life,  with bipolar traits and all,  to the best of my ability!

Picture courtesy of StrangeCosmos

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My bio: A personal history of my Bipolar Disorder – part 1

Just to give you a little insight of my background,  I have decided to write a little bio about myself related to Bipolar Disorder.  This way I hope you understand better where I come from in my writings.


Photo credit:  BigFoto.com

Even though I was born with Bipolar Disorder,  I was only diagnosed early January 2007 with BD II,  which switched to BD I after a manic episode in May 2007.

The manic episode started with a situation that I couldn’t handle that caused me to run away and live in my car,  turning paranoid,  not talking to anyone as I thought everyone was after me.

Unfortunately the only person I had somewhat of a trust relationship with at the time,  my counselor,  was gone for several weeks. I still don’t know what made me call long-distance to a friend who was living in Ukraine at the time.  But I did and she,  after several days,  managed to convince me to go see my p-doc.

He just saw me and put me straight on antipsychotics.  It was just in time to save me a trip to the hospital…

During that time I was on at least 5 different meds and taking about 15 pills a day.  I thought that was how it would be in the future.  Thank God, I am only on 3 meds and a total of 6 pills today!  Even though taking meds is not an issue for me,  because my focus is my quality of life,  still the less meds the better 🙂 .

After my diagnosis I started to research and read everything I could find about Bipolar Disorder.  Looking back in hind sight I realised that my first deep depression hit me when I was 15 years old.  Even before that age there are now clear signs that I had bipolar traits.  However,  as most other people, I was misdiagnosed for years with Major Depressive Disorder.

You see,  my hypomania was not so visible,  so it really wasn’t so strange.  I have always been a very driven and passionate person.  People saw and experienced me as ‘intense’.  In the ‘good’ times – read:  hypomanic – I achieved a lot.  Since I never knew any different I always thought that others were not committed or even lazy to some extent.  It was only after my diagnosis that I realised that there was a good reason why they couldn’t keep up with me!

I felt always very ashamed about my depressions.  During my school and college years I could still handle / hide it as my hypomania would usually compensate for times I was hardly able to do something.  But once in the working world I had to perform on a consistent basis and that is where I stumbled and fell.

Because I worked for the Dutch government and in my country one can not so easily fire government workers,  I didn’t lose my job in the process.  In other circumstances and in other countries I would have lost my job several times.

I remember taking on a new job about which I was really excited,  only to dissolve into nothingness not even three months down the road.  I was supposed to create an archive but was caught between the policy makers not wanting to part with their documents and the archive department not supporting me.  Little did I know at that time that such a situation drives a Bipolar totally nuts.  I thought of myself as weak and unable.

In the end I was transferred to a job way below my ability.  This reinforced the thought that I was not able to function properly,  for whatever reason.

My childhood was filled with trauma’s of sexual abuse, within and outside of the family.  There was also enough of verbal abuse and to some extent physical as well.  Unfortunately,  I had to divorce myself from my family around the age of 20 to simply survive.  I continued in survival mode for about 20 years before the shit hit the fan,  as they say.

To be continued on Monday….

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Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms

Depressed 😦

We all feel a little blue or ‘depressed’ at times.  Having a major depressive episode,  though,  doesn’t even begin to compare.  The word ‘depressed’ and ‘depression’ are used so loosely nowadays that I feel they have lost their real meaning.

So what does ‘real’ depression look like?  Bad,  dark,  sad,  angry,  irritable,  sleepy,  weight loss,  weight gain,  hedonic (beautiful word meaning ‘having no pleasure in things you previously received pleasure from’ ),  listless,  time just passes,  isolation,  hermit,  dropping out of social life,  not taking care of yourself (i.e.  no cooking,  eating habits down the drain,  no showers,  no brushing teeth),  no housekeeping,  hopeless,  restless,  despair,  thinking about death and ultimately (trying to) commit suicide.

Phew.  And the list is probably not even complete,  depending on who you ask.

What can I say?  I have felt it all,  sometimes all at the same time.  Obviously I have never committed suicide.  But I have come oh so very close several times…
Here am I,  but by the grace of an awesome God!!    

(Hypo)Manic 🙂  Are you crazy? 
The official meaning of the word mania, which comes from Greek,  is: “to be mad, to rage, to be furious”.  Giving me one more reason to like the name BD instead of manic-depression.
Hypomania means “below mania”.  Let’s start with that one first.

What hypomania means is: being very intense (for other people,  that is),  having a flight of ideas,  talking a-mile-a-minute,  racing thoughts,  needing less sleep (4-6 hrs),  very active,  driven,  throwing caution in the wind,  higher sex drive (the fact that I am single doesn’t make me sexless,  even though I don’t have sex with someone,  you know.  However,  I do feel a bit blue in the face for sharing this.),  constantly interrupting people,  irritable,  easily distracted,  being impulsive, over-sensitive to sound, smell and light (or in other words: heightened senses).

Examples from real life (Yep,  mine. Who else?)
What I share here I realised in hind sight,  after my diagnosis.  A sort of aha-erlebnis.  Aha,  so THAT is what was going on.  It makes sense now.

Throwing caution in the wind / easily distracted for me it meant  simply crossing the road without looking at the traffic, for instance.  A good friend told me once that she can tell by my driving what mood I am in. Oops!

On being impulsive,  I once decided I was going to be a missionary in England and terminated my health care insurance.  BIG mistake!  My insurance broker had to move heaven and earth to get me back in.  Also,  while a friend had loaned (sp?) me money because I was short of it,  I suddenly decided that I simply needed to buy this beautiful ánd expensive book.  When she later confronted me,  I only could look at her sheepishly.

Irritable? – I have been known to erupt in anger outbursts.  Very uncomfortable, especially since at the time I didn’t know what was happening with me.  Had to ask forgiveness many a time and thankfully was extended it just as many times.

Talkative –  you can say that again!  I remember very well that as a child I became at occasion a virtual chatterbox.  Now I start talking to complete strangers.  Not only that,  I share with them personal stuff.  Boohoo… this hurts, peeps.  When it comes down to it,  I am a little shy by nature,  so baring my soul to a complete stranger is a big no-no.

Racing thoughts My thoughts never stopped.  Even during sleep I could ‘hear’ my thoughts.  I never knew that wasn’t normal (whatever ‘normal’ is,  is up for debate of course, but alla),  since continuing thoughts while sleeping were completely normal to me!  I was a light sleeper in any case.  Occasionally I would sleep as ‘normal’ people do and wake up totally knackered and broken.  To me, thàt was not normal!  Hence my love-hate relationship with sleeping aids.  Like ’em because they make me really sleep at night,  hate ’em because they can make me feel sleepy during the day.

On to the Manic
Everything that hypomanic is,  but more in the extreme.  Especially:  irritability,  needing very little sleep (about 3 hrs), risky behavior (i.e.  improbable business plans),  over indulgence (spending sprees,  promiscuity), expanded self-esteem.  Mania can also include hallucinations and delusions.

I am sorry,  but I don’t feel qualified to say more than this,  since I don’t speak from experience.  However,  I do suspect that my hypomanic has manic tendencies.

My one (and hopefully last) manic episode
Actually,  I have had one manic episode.  It was about 4 months after my diagnosis.  I became delusional.  Totally paranoid that people were after me.  Not trusting anyone.  And consequently not talking to anyone.  I slept in the church for several days and lived literally out of my car.  There was a beautiful “Presence Room” for people to pray and sit quietly.  Since I had my own sleeping gear,  I sneaked into church around midnight,  slept on the floor and got up early enough to get out.

Unfortunate for me,  my counselor was on holiday.  After a couple of days I called a dear friend who was in Ukraine at the time.  She finally, after several days, convinced me to go to my p-doc (BD talk for psychiatrist – sweet and short).  When he saw me,  he put me immediately on antipsychotics.  That intervention saved me from a total break down and possible hospitalization.  A ghastly experience!!

Other posts:

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Medical treatment

Peeps that are important

Why mood charting?

Mood charting revisited

How to help people with a mental illness

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Bipolar Disorder: What is it?

What is Bipolar Disorder?
A mood disorder.  How does that sound?  Yeah,  well.  If you think about it,  we are all bipolar.  We all experience moods and emotions that change from high to low and back.  So we are all happily swinging about.  Or not – and there is the crux.  When the mood swings become uncontrollable we speak of a mood disorder. 

How do you catch, eh get  it?
In essence,  BD is a chemical imbalance in the brain.  It’s got to do with neurotransmitters,  those little things that transport impulses between nerve cells.  As it runs in families,  researchers believe there is a genetic component to BD as well.  BUT,  the real cause of BD has not yet been found.

What’s in a name?
The old name for BD is manic-depression.  This probably rings a bell with many people.  In 1980 when the third version of the Big Book of descriptions of psychiatric illnesses was written (DSM-III to be exact),  the name officially changed to BD.  There were several reasons: the word manic-depression carried a huge stigma;  it was hoped that  the word BD would give more clarity;  it was recognized that there is a much wider variety of BD. Personally,  I like BD more.

Types of Biplor Disorder and complicating factors
BD is described as a spectrum,  because of the various types and complicating factors involved.  There is BD I, II and cyclothemia;  and complications such as mixed states, rapid cycling and bipolar psychosis .  Okay, if I have lost you,  please keep reading and it will get totally clear, I promise!

BD I involves generally speaking deep depression and mania which can include hallucinations and delusions.  One instance of mania is enough to qualify for this diagnosis.

BD II is a somewhat milder form in that the person does not reach full-blown mania, which is therefore called hypomania.  Deep depressions are part and parcel of it.  Hypomania is hard to spot.  People can go without a diagnosis for many years or get misdiagnosed with,  for example,  Major Depressive Disorder.

Cyclothemia is a mild form of BD with milder symptoms,  but still enough to be able to disrupt your life.  Not easy to diagnose either!

A mixed state is when a person experiences either both (hypo)mania and depression at the same time or have them follow one another rapidly.  As in minutes or hours,  rather than days.

Rapid cycling means that a person has more than 4 episodes of depression,  (hypo)mania or mixed state a year.

Bipolar Psychosis is a break with reality and a loss of reasoning,  which can occur both during (severe) depression or mania.

Related posts:

Symptoms 

Medical treatment

Peeps that are important

Why mood charting?

Mood charting revisited

How to help people with a mental illness

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Shifting moods

Oh bother,  I know that I am shifting moods…. but did I really have to leave the pan on the fire when I left to run errands???  Thankfully it was on very low fire,  there was some milk left in it and it had a thick bottom….  This is the stuff kitchen fires are made of.  Scary!

One of my sayings is:  I am glad my head is fastened to my body, otherwise I would lose it too.  Well, I don’t know where it was this morn’,  it sure was LOST y’all!

Even though I have been feeling blue and sad these last couple of days,  I have still been able to do some tasks.  Now thàt is a major accomplishment, peeps! 

I have been hypomanic for several weeks,  resulting in a very clean house :).  Also being much more social,  as I tend to be a recluse when depressed.  In fact,  I can become a total chatterbox when (hypo)manic,  including talking to strangers (people on the street,  in shops etc.).  Which is always quite unsettling for me as I am a little shy by nature.  It definitely doesn’t feel like ‘me’,  if you know what I mean. 

This time the hypomania hasn’t been so bad and I have actually enjoyed my episode.  For one, I started this blog and it turns out I am enjoying the bloggy thing immensely (not the technically challenging stuff though,  that drives me nuts!).  Second,  I enjoy a clean, clutter-free house!  Third, I have caught up on some relationships,  very important!

But the down side is that what goes up, will come down at some point.  Hence my feeling slightly depressed and sad.  Mind you, my dad passed away not that long ago,  so there probably is some grief involved as well.

That is probably one of the most challenging things:  how do I figure out if my mood comes from my brain or is appropriate to the circumstances?  Was there a trigger that set of an episode?  It is a real challenge, but I am known to take those head-on.

One thing is for sure:  with bipolar,  you have never a dull moment!

BTW the pan is totally ruined,  but I am gonna use it to plant some flowers come Spring to enjoy on my balcony 🙂

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