Because of my medicine (which is awesome in every way) and how vigilant I am with sleep, I spend a lot of time in hypomania or just shy of that extreme.
What is hypomania?
Terri Cheney describes hypomania as three-quarters manic. Speaking from experience, I have boundless energy and ideas are fast when I’m hypomanic. One distinguishing factor between hypomania and full-blown mania is the ability to follow thoughts from their inception. With hypomania, I am always in control of my speech, actions, thoughts.
I’ve only been manic once, and I have no desire to repeat the experience; hypomania, on the other hand, is mostly pleasant and occurs frequently.
The only adverse result of hypomania for me is a persistent undercurrent of irritability. The longer I’m hypomanic, the worse the irritability becomes. I have stints of mild insomnia, where I go several nights in a row with less than six hours of sleep. The result is inevitably hypomania. From a productivity standpoint, I love these stretches of minimal sleep. It sure beats needing nine or ten hours of sleep to feel rested—an indication of a mild depression.
I tell people I’m the most easily annoyed person on the planet. I’m sure that’s partly due to the irritability factor of my illness. I have a list of pet peeves longer than a CVS receipt. It’s bad.
When I’m hypomanic, I can go from laughing and telling hilarious jokes straight to murderous in less time than it takes someone to sneeze. The domineering aspect of my irritability is in itself irritating.
Since I seem to spend so much time in hypomania, it’s nearly impossible for me to differentiate the goodness of my hypomanic self from my own inherent goodness.
It’s hard to explain.
For the most part, hypomania isn’t too bad. I can sometimes push through my annoyance, but it usually means exploding at something unrelated later.
There is another, rarer mood in my arsenal, and it is truly blissful.
It isn’t hypomania.
I have a firm grasp on when I’m hypomanic and how I get to that point. Conversely, I have no idea what causes my best mood, and I cannot reach it consciously. It’s so rare, I haven’t named it. It’s fleeting, and I haven’t been able to practice reflection or introspection in its midst. It is a mystery to me.
I am indubitably an introvert. I am also shy and somewhat asocial seventy to eighty percent of the time. My bliss mood (I guess I just named it) entails a need and want for people and social situations. Not only do I want to be around people in my bliss mood, I thrive when I’m around people. I’m more confident and funnier, and most importantly, I am devoid of that pesky irritability that seems to plague me most of the time.
When I’m in my bliss mood, would-be annoyances don’t phase me. I am always great for self-deprecating humor, but it usually has to be on my terms. I don’t care for people creating laughs at my expense; I have a hard time not resenting people who exploit my quirks for laughs. That changes in my bliss mood. I feed off of others’ humor. I am more playful and not nearly as sensitive.
My humor, whether directed at myself or others, isn’t mean or petty or derisive. When I’m hypomanic there’s sometimes animosity behind my jokes.
I am not a horrible person when I’m hypomanic. On the contrary, I would take hypomania over despondent or depressed or just mediocre any day. The irritability feature is annoying but not unconquerable. I’m not at my irritability’s mercy as much now as I used to be. I still have weak moments—as everyone does—but they are not as frequent or strong as they were before I started seeing a therapist.
My bliss mood is still the most desirable mood, but I am blessed to have such a close connection with hypomania. I try not to take it for granted.