There was an article about me in the New York Times yesterday. It’s on the front page of the Business section: Just Manic Enough: Seeking the Perfect Entrepreneur.
I am not actually mentioned in the article. It’s about a brilliant young entrepreneur named Seth Priesbatsch. But it might as well be about me and my hypomania.
” “Elevated” hardly describes this guy. To keep the pace of his thoughts and conversations at manageable levels, he runs on a track every morning until he literally collapses. He can work 96 hours in a row. He plans to live in his office…He does not socialize. He no longer reads books, nor does he watch TV or movies. He works from 8 am until 10 pm, seven days a week.”
Seth, I love you, man!
I am not quite as bad as Seth, today. He is 21-years-old and I am 51 (which is the new 31.) But I am not far behind. Yes, I exercise just about everyday until I foam at the mouth. I am at my computer, writing, by 6:30 am every morning – sometimes much earlier. One of the best things about my daughter going away to college is that I can stay at the office as late as I want – especially on Friday nights. Most of my socializing is done at 12-Step meetings. I belong to a book club but don’t read books – just shorter newspaper and magazine articles.
I try to watch television, I really do. I have had Netflix for months and have watched three movies – one about newsman Edward R. Murrow, another about author Truman Capote and finally, a flick about covert U.S. funding of the mujahidin in the late 1970’s. Sometime in the next few weeks I will make time to watch a documentary about Al Jazeera! Not exactly the Lifetime channel.
Like Seth, I am all work – mine is journalism – all the time. My mind races. Sometimes I have really good ideas and I cannot stop thinking or talking about them. I go to extremes to make sure I learn and investigate as much as I can. When I am on a story, I mean really “on” a story, I am on it like a bad rash.
Last week during confrontational interview with a high ranking official at a public agency I turned to look at others in the room – one woman had pushed herself deep into her chair and was looking at me with raised eyebrows. Another guy looked at me as though studying the proposed trajectories of a hurricane on The Weather Channel.
That’s hypomania. It’s frog’s hair from flat out bipolar disorder I. Here is the difference from an expert quoted in the article:
“It’s about degrees,” says John D. Gartner, a psychologist and author of “The Hypomanic Edge.” “If you’re manic you think you are Jesus. If you’re hypomanic, you think you are God’s gift to technology investing (Seth’s obsession.)”
I am in good company. Teddy Roosevelt, George Patton, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. For me, I did not know I had hypomania. Most folks with bipolar disorder, either I or II, don’t recognize it in themselves because that is our normal. Thankfully, I had a therapist and nurse-practitioner who recognized it. I now take a mood stabilizer, which was really weird at first because I felt level – that’s the only way I can describe it.
I worried when I began the medication that I would not be as creative or productive. That has not been my experience. Actually, I can do more. It is easier for me to focus and organize my thoughts. I recognize my hypomania now. I still love being manic but I know it is not healthy or safe. Life is good.
My brain now obeys the laws of gravity.