I’ve only had one, full manic episode in my life. That is, until now. Whenever I have what’s called a “heightened mood” it’s usually hypomania. In hypomania, symptoms are still there, but they do not significantly interfere with daily function. Hypomanic episodes don’t usually last for for more than a few days either. Right now I’m looking at three weeks. Who knows how long it will continue. I wish I could say I’m coping as well as I did last time, but I don’t think I coped particularly well last time and I’m certainly not coping well this time.
There’s a bit of a glamour around the typical depiction of mania. It’s often portrayed with fast driving, heavy drinking, spending, drugs and sex. That’s not just Hollywood for some people and is actually how they experience mania; except in the real world all of those actions may not come with elation and they also have consequences. I’m not one of the people that experiences elation and euphoria with mania. It’s all negative, most of the time.
Here is how I’m currently experiencing mania:
There is a scale called the Young Mania Rating Scale used to rate levels of mood and possibly predict mania. Professionals use this for both research and diagnosis. You get rated on everything from mood and energy to verbosity and cleanliness. The higher the rating the more likely you are experiencing a manic episode. Any score over 21 is very likely. Right now I score a 27.
I’m irritable. We’re talking short fuse-angry. I get angry with the dog for barking. I get angry at the postal worker for putting my neighbor’s mail in my slot. I get irritable with my husband for both his presence and his absence. None of these are fair and I remind myself of that, but then I just get triggered by something else.
This is coupled with agitation. I’m restless. I have a hard time just sitting still and I talk a lot more and a lot more quickly. It’s the opposite of how I feel in depression when I’d just as soon not move a muscle or speak. I have projects lined up but none of them are getting accomplished because I’m unable to focus. We’re not just talking fun activities, it’s also housekeeping and adult responsibilities.
As far as items from the list, I have gone shopping and turned to other drugs. Granted, I’m not the proud owner of a new boat and I haven’t booked a spontaneous vacation. I got my hair dyed red, orange and yellow. I bought seven new plants, new makeup and all of the supplies for my new projects. As far as the drugs, they’re prescription and intended for panic attacks, but I’ve had to use them regularly just to calm me down so I can function.
One of the worst problems with this particular episode is the re-emergence of my binge eating disorder. I try to satisfy my irritability and agitation with food. It doesn’t work so I keep doing it and it keeps not working. Disorders are not rational. Normally this would not cause more than weight gain, but I have a disorder that makes me unable to process food normally, so I just spend a lot of time vomiting and nauseated on top of everything else I’m experiencing.
I have seen my doctor, and she agreed I’m in a bad state. She changed my medication and said she has more ideas up her sleeve if this move doesn’t work. In the meantime, I just have to continue coping, relying on my support system and hoping for the best.
Image credit: Melissa O’Donohue