shutterstock_153875291Some people used to think I was a jerk by the way I walked. If I were with a friend I would walk which, according to them, was speed walking. “Slow down” would often scream out of their mouths. I would have to stop in my tracks turn and wait, or sometimes walk back to them and continue on doing my best to stay with their stride. It was annoying, but I get it. I didn’t want to be rude. Then there were times I would walk down the street alone, or in a store. People would walk at their pace which was slow motion to my spinning legs. My irritability, also a symptom of hypomania, would take hold and I would get irate at the pace of most people walking in front of me.

Although now I have a mood stabilizer to help slow me down, I still struggle with walking. Today I was stuck in the back of an elevator at a grocery store and when the doors opened I had to wait patiently for everyone in front of me to walk out. I felt my blood start to boil which only got worse for I was stuck in the back of a line, and people were taking their time to enter the store and start their shopping. I found myself darting around people to avoid the slow pace and felt like freedom was mine when I finally made it to the front of the crowd. Then I was met with an escalator that only exasperated the situation as I stepped on and was blocked by other pedestrians.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me.” People looked at me like I was the jerk when really there are escalator manners which can curb such problems. Stand to the right of the narrow passageway and let those that want to pass you on the left go. By the time I got to the top I felt such relief to be free of slothful people, and thankfully could continue on my way. This behavior has been a part of my life since I can remember and, like I said, although a mood stabilizer slows my pace, it doesn’t cure a lifetime of walking at my pace.

Noticing how you walk compared to others might be a clue to potentially having a mental illness. As a woman with Bipolar II, I know that the speed of my stride was a red flag of a mood disorder. Walking is a clue. So is talking.

“I can’t understand a word of what you just said.” Again, the speed of my though process mirrored my speech. It wasn’t just that I spoke faster then most, by tangential thought process moved quickly from one idea to another which made it hard for people to follow me. It was frustrating and often times I would find myself recognizing that I needed to slow down so would take a breath and try again. This too would frustrate me cause I felt like I was losing ideas as they shot through my head cause I had to slow down to the point that sometimes the ideas were lost.

Racing thoughts, hyper verbal speech, and physical movements all point to experiences I have had with Bipolar II. They have been a constant struggle in my life, however, thankfully with my mood stabilizer I can temper it. Although it’s not a cure, it’s a start.

People walking image available from Shutterstock.