Hypomania is a very elevated mood, the ‘up’ part of bipolar disorder although it is not just about being very happy. It’s a less severe form of mania and is part of bipolar type two which is my diagnosis.
It is often very disruptive to your life and very distressing
This elevated mood can last for varying amounts of time really depending on the person and even on the episode. People experience symptoms of hypomania in different ways; for some people, it may have a very euphoric factor wherein they feel very happy and on top of the world for short time before other symptoms take over more so.
For me, it’s hardly ever a pleasant or euphoric experience, although perhaps more so in my teenage years but now it tends to feel uncomfortable, anxiety-ridden and is followed by a massive crash into guilt from any actions I have taken during the hypomania that were out of character, and soul-crushing depression. I want to state here that whether or not people have the euphoric aspect of hypomania, it is still really disruptive to your life and very difficult to deal with, and is certainly not to be romanticized or looked upon as fun. Hypomania is part of a severe, life long mental illness and is not a celebrated experience.
Symptoms of hypomania
Some of the symptoms of hypomania are included below but not everyone will experience all of the symptoms mentioned or experience their symptoms all in the same episode, it can vary greatly:
- You tend to be full of energy when in a hypomanic episode; often it can feel like you are barely able to sit still or contain yourself. I sometimes describe it as having this feeling of bubbles in my stomach, bubbling up and popping, full of energy that just feels like I’m going to explode.
- Racing thoughts can often be a factor; thinking about so many things that are racing through your head, making big plans and often from this can come speaking much faster than usual. Other people can find it hard to keep up with you and this can be highly frustrating because you can’t express these great ideas you are having, and can’t understand why other people aren’t getting what you are trying to say. This can lead to anger and irritability.
- Often times it can lead to spontaneous plans and actions that seem wonderful at the time, but you may not actually follow them through; I will tend to think that I have the best idea in the world and make a huge plan, often starting it and doing lots of work on it, but then as soon as I come down to earth, it is set to the wayside and I can’t quite remember why I thought it was so genius.
- Very little sleep tends to happen because of this energetic state, which can perpetuate the episode because a lack of sleep and routine can be a trigger for hypomania; it’s not a fun cycle to be in.
- Acting out of character and potentially taking risks that you would not otherwise can be a big part of hypomania; this can often include hypersexuality meaning that your sexual urges are at a peak and you may express them in ways you would not usually, spending money recklessly; putting yourself in risky situations and more.
- It can often involve you feeling far more confident and being more outgoing, even if that is not your usual personality; feeling that you are able to do anything, being so sure of yourself and often being much more social.
- Senses can be heightened during this time so often colours seem brighter, things seem more exciting and louder which can either be wonderful or uncomfortable depending on the person and how they experience it; for me, it’s almost always uncomfortable and distressing.
The period after hypomania is tough to deal with
Once a hypomanic episode is over, it can be extremely distressing because you may not remember everything that has happened and the things that you do remember can make you feel extremely embarrassed, ashamed or guilty because you have acted completely out of character. You might find that you have taken on commitments that you now can’t keep up with, which can be so frustrating and scary. It’s often followed by a real crash in mood and energy levels; mine tend to end in a really deep depression and having no energy at all to function.