Few things feel more like hypomania than the five-month old brindle pit that has taken over the house. She romps with joy over beds and couches and up and down the stairs. She has chewed a hole in the comforter, and we can’t get her to stop using the back patio as a bathroom.
At every moment, at any time, she could spin completely out of control. Hypomania is like that.
The puppy, Aria, is irresistible. There’s no way you can get mad at a puppy so filled with exuberance and charisma. But while the experience is exciting, it’s also frustrating and extremely limiting.
Aria doesn’t understand limits. Our ten-year old dog, Alma, sure does. Sometimes she wants to play, and sometimes she wants to bat the puppy down. Our eight-year old daughter has just started to realize that her spring may not be as free-wheeling as she would have liked with a free-wheeling puppy at home, needing near constant attention.
We can only stay out for a few short hours until we have to race home and walk the dog, and we’re going to miss a weekend away because Aria can’t come along.
But the wonder and giddiness of the puppy make up for all that.
The wonder and giddiness of hypomania are equally attractive to others. Just as everyone wants to stop and pet the puppy, everyone wants to be around someone buzzing with ideas and full of possibility.
I remember the potential I felt during hypomania, and the confidence that I could do anything. I miss it.
The problem was, the up time nearly always spun out of control. The boundless feeling of the best of me quickly turned into dangerous behavior and poor impulse control. When hypomanic I could do almost anything, but when I was fully manic my world came apart.
Hypomania, for me, was almost always followed by mania, or a terrible crash into depression. During the early low grade shift in mood life was wonderful, and if I could bottle the experience I’d be a billionaire. But it almost always ended bad.
So I gave it up.
Severe limits come with my recovery. When I feel my mood begin to take off, I intervene and work to keep it level. It’s not as fun, but life isn’t interrupted by disaster anymore, either. Within limits one can find incredible freedom. One can find a secure relationships and a dependable job situation as well.
It might not sound romantic, but there’s a lot to be said for being sane. Simple joy resonates well in a lifestyle that respects others and keeps one productive and independent.
Hypomania and its resultant moods, for me, showed little respect for others. If I was going to move forward and grow, I needed to figure out how to manage the moods that rocked my life. A combination of meds and therapy joined with meditation, movement, and meaningful work do that for me.
Just as the puppy needs discipline to learn how to behave, I needed to apply a lot of self-discipline to my behavior. The self-discipline continues, but the life I’ve discovered feels new and joyful and full of opportunity.
The lure of hypomania has nothing on the life I lead today. Hypomania still pops up from time to time, but I’ve figured out how to gently keep it down.
Just as a puppy grows into a loyal, dependable dog, a person with serious bipolar disorder can grow into an assured, level individual. Treated well, Aria will always stand by me. Without the magnetic pull of hypomania, I’ll always stand by my family, my friends, and my dogs.