* a play on the title of a Dan Fogelberg/Tim Wiesberg album Twin Sons of Different Mothers
Caveat: I’ve said a lot of this before, I know. I’ve had a lot of trouble adjusting since coming out of my most recent hypomanic episode, and I’ve been doing a lot of writing to reassure myself. As I don’t have a counselor, I have to be my own shrink! I don’t want to go hypomanic again, and there is enough on-going stress, with additional stresses added since Monday on, to make it quite possible that I’ll go hypomanic again. This is to say to anyone out there, bipolar 2 does exist and it does/can affect your life. Chronic depression (chronic depression doesn’t have to be due to bipolar 2) doesn’t necessarily go away with a wave of the hand; wishing it were so; or a “good” day or week or month. It can’t forever be dispelled by the sun shining; a butterfly landing on your hand; a cruise to Antarctica, Alaska, or the Islands. While a minute, an hour, a day without pain helps, a Zoloft, Paxil, Cymbalta, or Viibryd won’t necessarily.
Mostly, my writing about bipolar 2, chronic depression and such remains part of my daily personal therapeutic writings and not always part of my blog. Due to distance from/difficulties getting to on public transit; disinterest on the part of institutions/facilities/programs I’ve contacted; lack of money; people/places not taking our health insurance, the kind of one-on-one or group counseling so desperately needed by me is not available. I have my writings (and some very screwed up medication and a very bad medicating shrink as I have recently discovered) to try and hold it together. I’m my own Bob Newhart (before he may or may not have owned an inn in Vermont, lol).
Every now and then, I publish an entry pulled together from things I’ve written to myself. I make them “public”, because I wonder if there is someone else out in the cyberverse is going through some of what I went through. Struggling to understand why antidepressants don’t help with their depression. Why their depression seems to run deeper and stronger than the “literature” or situational depression suggests it should. Personal research seems to suggest bipolarism, yet, there are none of the moments of bliss, self-convinced extreme ability/infallibility and intense happiness; no sense of power and self-confidence described with bipolar 1. There are the racy thoughts and anger, but depression still seems to be beneath so much that happens. Perhaps they’ve been given a diagnosis of bipolar 2 without much discussion of what that means. Maybe they’ve been told they’re “lucky” it’s 2 because 2 doesn’t affect your life, and drugs make it so easy to live with bipolar 2 anyway. So, I thought I’d talk a bit about my experiences; I’m NOT a mental health professional (nor as much of a mental health consumer as I need/woulld like to be ), so please, please don’t take my word as being anything but anecdotal and not in any ways prescriptive!
Coming into hypomania, before any or all of my “bad” stuff hits – the binging, the obsessing, the out of character behavior(u)r, the not needing sleep, the irritability, the touchiness, and the anger – is a rather “incredible” period of intense energy. Not yet into the phase where sleep seems to be something I don’t need; it’s more like what I’ve written about previously (before I had the diagnosis of bipolar 2): my off switch gets switched on. Suddenly, I have the strength to sweep AND mop one set of floors (the kitchen, or the bathroom, or the living room, or the bedroom – remember, I live in a house of less than 400 square feet, lol and I won’t even talk about tackling our tiny closed in front porch!). Less time doing sometime = more ability to remain focused = less apt to start more than one task at a time. This is one clue that a hypomanic episode might be on its way. Sometimes, the on switch does just come on – there are other clues I now know to pay attention to.
The racy, all over the place thought pattern remains with me whether I’m hypomanic or not, but is more like a level 5 or 6; full hypomanic it can shoot off the scale of 10. This adds to tendencies to be all over the place with my mind (and mouth) always moving faster than any other part of me! I’ve always been a fast talker (nervousness makes it worse); teaching did help me learn to slow down, especially with public speaking and in business. But, as I get faster and faster, and talk more and more (coming up for air less often, and staying quiet for shorter periods of time), I know that a firestorm is probably getting ready to if not already starting.
I think my blog entries, emails, chats, and writing reflects this speed up. I’ve always thought faster than my fingers could type (and I’m a trained typist who doesn’t look at the keyboard, no less!), and there are certain words I always misspell. But the misspellings due to speed increase, (especially when I’m having cognitive troubles like I’ve been having recently!), and I use much less punctuation, giving my writing the same staccato, breathless feel as my talking. I’ve at least 3 or 4 words (sometimes a sentence or 2 ahead) of my fingers (still can’t get Dragon to work properly in some circumstances – must be me or Vista – I hate Vista as an operating system! wish we could afford Windows 7 or I hear there is an 8 coming out – see that’s the kind of getting ahead of myself and digressing a hypomania/coming into hypomania might cause, though some folks would say – how can you tell the difference?, lol!) My self-editor also acts as if she’s “hepped up on goof-balls” (Chef Wiggum to Ned Flanders, The Simpsons) and misses obvious mistakes everywhere.
I can tell I’m starting to come out of my hypomanic episodes: not just because I’ve stopped destroying the house (good thing it is only 400 square feet and we don’t have much (throwable furniture — too bad we didn’t have less throwable ”stuff”!); ease up on the binging; slowdown the raciness getting closer to a 6; or start needing some sleep. The deep depression that underlies everything but doesn’t, say, cause the moments of anger springs back like a saber-toothed tiger – bigger, stronger, and deeper than ever before. The chronic depression that antidepressants don’t help (0r only help for a short period of time) is one of the characteristics of bipolar 2; a chronic depression that just doesn’t “go away.”
I’ve always been depressed – I honestly can’t remember a time (even if my memory is very flawed) that I wasn’t at least sad. My childhood and tween years weren’t great; there were a lot of tears. Not to say I was bipolar 2 back then, just that depression is a familiar feeling. I got my first cycle the summer “mankind made a giant leap” and I was 11. From the first, I had all the horrible things that go with “becoming a woman” as they said in those days. I had a few what my mother called “temper tantrums,” when I was a child but those were at home and got me NO WHERE! If uncontrollable and irrational anger, constant depression, and bipolar 2 can come together in the teen years, then I can date it to the first time I “exploded;” that time, strangely enough, the outcome was entirely in my favo(u)r. However, angry outbursts, fueled by bipolar 2 (or otherwise), since then haven’t had quite the same positive impact on my life!
Those within and outside the mental health profession are still debating the existence of bipolar 2 and other what they call other “milder” forms of bipolar 1. While I agree that bipolar 2 hypomanic episodes aren’t necessarily as life destroying and generally destructive as bipolar 1 manic episodes are, nonetheless, looking back on my life now with a diagnosis of bipolar 2, so much more makes sense. Bipolar 2 hypomania episodes, whether recognized as such or not, do have an impact on your life, just not to the same degree as bipolar 1 manic episodes do.
I understand better my past behavior(u)r, and can forgive myself for what I thought were character flaws; manifestations of the “evil gene” that runs in my father’s family; “simple” feelings of envy/jealousy/greed. It helps to see why it is harder for me to “let go” and to let past hurts be just that – past hurts. Why certain jobs and promotions may not have happened – office politics and my refusal to “play the game” aside. Why, on occasion, especially when feeling really down, hurt, or angry (not the outburst sort — more the unfairly/unjustly treated version), I could justify spending over our limited budget — not the shopping sprees of a manic shopping spree, but still enough to feel guilty about and might hide what I’ve bought or say cost less and lost the receipt. (Luckily of late most sprees have been at dollar stores for craft projects I’ll never get around to doing.) Bipolar 2 with its hypomanic episodes and chronic depression have made me who I am, and who I am not.
It’s something I deal with everyday. It doesn’t mean I can’t smile, appreciate a lovely sunset, a friend’s good news, laugh at something silly, enjoy just window shopping. It does mean that I have bad days when the depression is stronger than I am, I do have hypomanic episodes – episodes that try as I might, I can’t control. I don’t know if they will lead to anger; a shopping spree; consuming a pint of Hagen Daas; completely loosing it in a meltdown (mini or maxi); crying uncontrollably and inconsolably; staying up for days at a time; sometimes feeling a bit of creativity, other times not. But being bipolar 2 doesn’t make me any less of a person.
Today, I’m not feeling all that strong, but the sun is shining, a Carolina wren is singing outside my kitchen window, and without any bursts of energy, I already swept the living room and bedroom floors (around the boxes, desks, bed, and shelving units might you, but swept!)
- bipolar 2, hypomania/mania, mixed, rapid cycling: am i one, all or none of the above? (phylor.wordpress.com)