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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An introduction

   It’s always the deeply personal subjects that most of us are too afraid to talk about, which is a shame because once you put it out there I guarantee you’ll find people who are going through the exact same thing. If not, you’ll just end up teaching someone about your situation meaning they’re no longer ignorant to it. Result! So when it came to my newly diagnosed mental health issue, I wanted everyone to know. Not in a weird way where I’m grabbing people off the street, forcing them to listen and then making them answer a quiz about it at the end, I just  wouldn’t be afraid to drop it into conversation. But when it came down to it, I found myself missing out some of the harsh, upsetting, or just plain outrageous, details. At the end of the day, they still got some understanding but without those little chunks of info that I kept missing out, they’d never fully get it. That is when I decided to write a blog. A blog where I can just write about all the different aspects of my life which have been effected by my mental health. I’ve actually “decided” to write this about 4 times now…. Here goes nothing!

  For the past six years, I had always found myself switching from extremely low moods to extremely high, sometimes in the space of just an hour. When I was at school I had the excuse of being a teenager and having to deal with the stress of school work. At university, I had the excuse of being in a new environment, having lots of things happen around me and of course, uni work. But when I finished university and had a brief spell of unemployment, I ran out of excuses. In a week where I would do nothing at all, my mood would fluctuate rapidly. It scared me. I would be so low that I couldn’t get out of bed and then suddenly so high, all I wanted to do was go out, drink loads and find as many guys as I could to sleep with. Finally, in October, I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat in my room feeling the worst I have ever felt in my life and surrounded myself with paracetamol pills in the vain hope that, if I took them, I would get a break. I wouldn’t say I necessarily wanted to kill myself but I did want to be hospitalised. Taken away from real life and given the freedom to be considered too ill to function normally. Thankfully, I was stopped. My secret was now out there. I couldn’t hide these mood swings from anyone anymore. That is when I finally got some help.  

  7 months later and I’m writing this. I’m on 75mg of Quetiapine a day, with a diagnosis of Cyclothymia. The drugs haven’t completely stopped the mood swings (In fact I’ve just come down after a week of hypomania) but they do help take the edge off of them. They give me a slightly clearer head so I can identify when my mood is changing and think of ways to help improve the situation. I will be starting CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) soon with the aim to be weaned off the drugs when the time is right. This could take up to a year to happen which is annoying but nothing is an instant fix when it comes to mental health. I’m also using the internet to try and help keep a visual graph of my mood that I can refer to, www.moodscope.com, and a safe space where I can talk to others in a similar situation, www.elefriends.org.uk. (check it out if you feel like you need somewhere to talk!)

  Well, there you go! A little introduction for you. I have no idea how often I’ll be blogging so I guess all I can say is watch this space and thanks for reading. For anyone that wants more information on Cyclothymia or other mental health issues, here’s the Mind website: http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z