Saturday, August 4, 2012

Inside the Mind of a Hypomanic

Would be a good book title, no? Perhaps a little long. I'm kidding, but the title is 100 percent descriptive. This wasn't a planned blog. I simply woke up this morning feeling hypomanic, and since I'm taking on the challenge of blogging every day in August I figured it was a perfect opportunity to provide a "live" insight into the brain of a hypomanic episode.

Here's how it went down. I woke up after getting an astonishingly good amount of sleep (hours wise), despite bizarre and not so great dreams. I can't remember the last time I actually slept until 8 AM. As I got up, I felt a bit like super woman. Let me say this: feeling empowered for me is not at all limited to hypomanic episodes. I have been feeling that way more and more lately - it's usually related to feeling in control - and I attribute it to increasing confidence. Sometimes, however, it's not the overall feeling that leads me to realize I'm hypomanic, but the thoughts that creep through my brain. Here's the difference: when I feel like "yes, I can do this, I'm going to get over this fear/move on from this bad situation/get through this difficult activity/etc" that's feeling empowered normally. When I think I can do 200 tasks in the next hour, that's generally hypomanic.

Below are the thoughts that went through my head when I got up. Please keep in mind, this is not my normal writing style, as I'm sure you can tell. I'm literally writing it the manner that it was running through my brain, with the parentheses as a bit of commentary for both the reader and myself, as I look back at the thoughts now.

  • I need to fold my laundry and put it away (Ok, that's normal, it's been sitting out for a day or so.)
  • I should really go through my closet and sort through the things I want to donate (I do need to)
  • I have that "under the bed shoe organizer" that I could really make use of but haven't yet, I should do that when I got through my closet (now we're adding on tasks). 
  • My jeans really weren't fitting well last night - I think I'll commit to walking at least several miles a day plus get back to the gym. Maybe I'll get up and go now. Or maybe I'll walk to CVS because I need cold medicine. That'll be almost two miles round trip. (see how my thoughts are starting to race slightly). 
  • I also need to eat healthy to lose that weight that's preventing my jeans from fitting. I'll make a list of meals for the week and get to whole foods. Then I started going through all of the meal options in my head. 
  • I should do some abs. Maybe I'll get up and do them now (Another thing to do "right now"). 
  • I need to do my two blogs today. 
  • I need to write that article today as well. 
  • I need to deal with my finances. I pay myself on this date, then I can pay this bill on this date, this bill on this date, that bill on that date, and so on. 
  • (Back to the weight loss) If I can get up every day this week and do xyz workout, then I need to add in some abs and weights. I should make goals for each week and record daily.
  • I felt better when I was meditating and journaling every day. I wonder if meditation helps with weight loss? I was also more stressed when I dropped all that weight, but being stressed isn't a good way to lose weight - don't want that! 
  • I was going to go to the cafe for breakfast but I'm going to brunch tomorrow so maybe I should eat breakfast here, because it's healthier and saves money, but I could always just get coffee there and do some work from there. That's a good compromise.
  • Oh, Cinn's out of dog food, I have to go get that. 
  • I have to call the vet to schedule Cinn's booster shots and the doctor to schedule my annual exam. I'll put that on my "to do" reminder list right now. (I did put it on my list). 
  • I have to mail out those client documents. I wonder if that client got back to me about my email. I don't normally work on Saturday mornings but I bet I can get those details done for them if they replied. 
  • I have to call maintenance about that leak in the ceiling, it's still there and they've done nothing! 
So it was 8 AM. According to my hypomanic brain, my day includes: folding and putting away laundry, going through my closet to give stuff to good will, going through my shoes (and the stuff under my bed) to organize my under-the-bed shoe organizer, walk two miles, go to CVS, do abs, meditate, journal, get dog food, schedule multiple appointments, plan meals for the week, grocery shop, mail client documents, possibly catch up on client work, deal with my management company about a leak in my bathroom, and organize my finances. Makes you exhausted just reading that, doesn't it? And I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet. Not to mention I hadn't scheduled in actually showering, talking Cinn for a walk, or any of those normal day to day activities.  

Now, is it possible to do all of that. Sure. Some of the items - calling the vet and doctor for instance - shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes (emphasis on shouldn't). The point is, though, that before I even got up all those thoughts had raced through my head, and not in neat bullet pointed fashion. They careened in and out, randomly jumping up here and there, crashing into each other, all trying to vie for my attention as the most important. They cause me both excitement - oh look all that I can get done!, and anxiety - oh no I have so much to get done! It's a bit of a vicious cycle of trying to organize my brain, get some stuff done without overloading myself, and not feeling bad for the things I didn't get done, since the list really is a bit unrealistic. 

In reality, here's what I've done so far. I did fold the clothes and put them away.  I meditated for ten minutes because I thought it might help ground me a bit, which it did. Hence, being able to focus and write this blog. Then I got some cereal and coffee, which I know isn't great for a hypomanic state but it's my morning comfort and it was a light cup, and I sat down to check my email and Facebook. I did write my travel blog, though in honesty it was mostly already written and I copied and pasted it into WordPress, adjusted the grammar, and added pictures. Now I'm writing this blog. I do need to get the client documents out. I do need to get to CVS for some sinus medication and if it's not raining out I'll probably walk. For the rest, who knows. I'm guessing my shoe organizer may still be sitting in the box on my living room table tomorrow morning. 

While I can't portray the urgency with which these lists come to my mind, I hope you can get a sense. If you read that list of bullet points as one long run-on sentence, you'd probably have an even better idea, but I wanted to make it bearable for the reader. Everyone's hypomanic experiences are different. These are what mine are mostly like - a combination of anxiety, urgency, irritation, frustration, excitement, and a bit of super hero gusto. 

Have a wonderful, and hopefully less chaotic, Saturday! 


  1. I am so relieved that I am not the only one. I do this to myself to the point that I just get almost paralyzed by the anxiety of the long list. Instead of chipping away bit by bit, I stay in bed until I absolutely have to get ready to go somewhere. It's been kind of a nightmare.

  2. You are definitely not alone. While it's definitely something that happens to me personally in a hypomanic phase, it happens to people without this all the time as well. I think if you're a type A personality, and a planner especially. After all, we make a living planning so it's natural for us to plan out all we have to do. My trick is this - I start writing things down in order of importance. Unless something's really important, I put the quick things first. I can make two quick phone calls and cross off two items. I also look at "what will make me feel better". I knew that meditating might help, so I did that early on. If it wasn't helping, if I was too anxious, I would choose another time, but it did. I find that sometimes my mind just gets "on a roll" and by writing things out, I realize what I really do need to do, and what can wait. Also, it gets it out of my head - I can put it aside until I do it.