H is for Hypomania

This post is originally from The Pandora Box Gift Company, the gift giving service with a focus on mental wellbeing.

  Cyclothymia, like bipolar, has both the “ups” and the “downs”. The only difference being that the “ups” are less severe than those of someone with bipolar. So, instead of mania you suffer from hypomania. When a hypomanic state takes hold they can leave the person in a reckless and sometimes dangerous state of mind. Every action is without consequence and a strong belief that everything you’re doing is right for you, and everyone else, takes hold. Since being on quetiapine, I have reduced the rate of hypomanic episodes to pretty much zero.

  Even though I know that it’s good to reduce the number of hypomanic episodes, I’m sat here missing them. Every now and again I wish that I could just reach the edge of hypomania. The stage where I’m just starting to enter it but not too far gone for it to be self destructive. The stage where I feel like I’m 100% there. Everything I do and say is great. Work is done in a split second. The energy only ever runs out when I take nightly medication. I miss the feeling of being the best that I can be.

  It’s particularly tempting when I find my mood moving towards the low side of things. At the times when I’m anxious or socialising is difficult I think back to the times that I felt like I really shined. I miss the creativity when writing blogposts or deciding where to go with my business. If I focus on it for too long, I feel like I’m only a shadow of the person I could be.

  It hurts and it can be confusing as it makes me wonder which of these is my true personality? Am I meant to be the social butterfly that gets everything done or am I meant to be this timid anxious person that just gets on with things quietly. That’s the crux of the illness really. You’ve been given something that knocks you down but can lift you up higher than you thought possible. You get a taste of feeling so good and yet to succumb to it is only detrimental in the end.

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G is for Gratitude

This is an original post from The Pandora Box Gift Company

Last week, I had the fortunate opportunity to listen to a talk by Stephen Doran, founder of Live Daily. One of the biggest things I took away with me was the habit of waking up and instantly asking myself what I’m grateful for. I decided to try it every so often and see how I felt. I wouldn’t necessarily do it in the morning when I’d just woken up as I take quetiapine at night and waking up in the morning is a whole new struggle without having to remember things as well.

I found that if my mood wasn’t great, or I had intrusive thoughts, I could slightly alter my state of mind, almost drown out the thoughts, by thinking of things that I was grateful for. They didn’t have to be anything big or impressive and ranged from being grateful for a comfy bed, nice weather that day or the fact that I’d just made myself a cup of tea. Sometimes one of the only things I was grateful for was the very fact that I’d remembered to think of something.

The more I did it, the more I found myself getting into the habit of automatically thinking of something to be grateful for when an intrusive thought randomly popped up in my head, regardless of the time of day. I’m still amazed that this is happening as this is something I’ve only been practising and working on for just over a week now. Like all self-help techniques and therapy’s, some will have a more profound effect on you than others. For me, being grateful has definitely had a big impact.

Why do I think it’s so effective? Dr Martin Luther King, Jr said it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

To be grateful is to love and to find the light even when things feel dark. It’s definitely something I recommend trying. I find it helps to drive away the horrible venomous feelings our mental state can leave us in, one day at a time.