Mood Transitions

Image: Wives of Faith
I was manic in March and April, and then I was hospitalized. When I got out of the hospital, I had been stabilized enough to travel from Connecticut, where I was visiting my sister, to Kentucky, the state I call home.

Now it's early July and, looking back, I realize that I was hypomanic until a few weeks ago even though I was no longer in a crisis situation. I really don't enjoy being manic because my increasingly erratic behavior eventually becomes frightening to myself and others. I also don't like hypomania because it is a step toward both mania and depression for me, but sometimes it's hard to identify. In our society, we are rewarded for high energy and productivity, so sometimes what may seem positive can really be negative.

I was very active after I got out of the hospital, which seemed good since I'm trying to lose weight. It didn't take much to motivate myself to exercise and the things that usually seem hard, like waking up early in the morning, seemed effortless. I broke up with my boyfriend when I was manic, for good reasons, but it didn't really phase me until a few weeks ago, when I closed the storage unit I had opened when we moved in together, and brought everything back home. I felt a sadness and a loss of control as I unpacked and tried to decide where to put everything. I knew that I shouldn't miss him, but I did. At least I missed his companionship.

It struck me that I'm single and may possibly be for the rest of my life. I began to worry about living independently and taking care of myself. Ever since my diagnosis at the age of nineteen, organization, especially of my living space, has proven to be challenging for me. I'm trying to solve this problem by paring down my possessions to the bare minimum. The process of sorting through everything stirs up many memories and mixed feelings and living in a mess, although it is temporary, is disconcerting.

Anxiety had nearly immobilized me for the past few weeks. A couple of good friends helped me realize that my world wasn't ending, I was just overwhelmed. They assured me that I could take care of myself and helped to distract me from my fears by encouraging me to have fun and think about other things. I'm very fortunate to have supportive friends. They have both been through trying times, but have not experienced mental illness. Their insight helped me to understand how a "normal" person would think and pull themselves out of my situation. I quit the negative thinking and started to feel much better.

A few days after I started to feel better, I had an appointment with my therapist and told her about all of the mood changes and the anxiety I had experienced. She helped me to realize that I always feel uncomfortable when I go through mood transitions. Sometimes recognizing a problem is the first step toward overcoming it. Although I don't want it to happen, I can pretty much guarantee, based on my history, that I will become manic sometime in the future. Next time I come down from a mania, I can reflect on the fact that mood transitions are hard for me, and maybe that will help me to push through negative emotions and anxiety more quickly.

10 comments:

  1. Sometimes it takes someone outside of our situations to tell us that we are responding to an event appropriately. You most definitely are overwhelmed with everything going on and any "normal" person would feel the same...ok not exactly...of course we feel it 10 fold...
    Mood transitions are terribly frightening and uncomfortable. We don't know what's waiting for us on the other side of a high or a low or an in between. But you can push through this. You definitely can. You've been through some hard times and kicked ass this far and you'll continue to do so. Much love and strength your way.

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  2. Thanks for your comment and your support. Everything you have written is true. It's a relief to share with people who have been through similar situations. I am coming out of it. I really didn't want to write about it until I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Take care.

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  3. Thank you for sharing something so personal. I'm sure others will find comfort in knowing that you have been able to find a light at the end of the tunnel.

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  4. You're welcome. I'm just doing the best that I can and trying to learn and improve along the way.

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  5. "In our society, we are rewarded for high energy and productivity, so sometimes what may seem positive can really be negative."

    Exactly! My therapist and I were talking about that yesterday. When I have high energy days I have learned to ask myself if everything else is "normal" especially sleep. Higher energy days + good sleep = good high energy days. Although I know I have to be careful because I know I could easily start slipping into hypomania then the resulting depression. Plus, my therapist asks me questions to make sure I'm not assessing the situation wrong.

    I have the same issues as you do with unpacking and disorganization. It's just the way our brains work. I had some testing done back in February and the report said I had "cognitive inefficiencies" which basically means my brain has to go through some long detours in order to make decisions about where to put something. That process takes up so much physical, mental and emotional energy. I wonder if you're experiencing some of this too. I'm lucky that my insurance pays for someone to come in 2-4 hours a week to help me with cleaning and organizing. Or, like we did this past week, get a symptom list together so I can refer to it when I see my new pdoc next week.

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  6. Your comment is very interesting. I've never heard of someone's insurance paying for help with cleaning and organizing. I am very careful about asking myself questions to assess my state of mind, but I still make mistakes at times. It's easy to see it after the fact.

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  7. Hey Andrea, Thanks for your openness! It's very encouraging for people to see how others work through "mood transitions" and depression. We all deal with this at some point in time.

    I live in Seattle where we get a lot of overcast, so to help energize myself, I sometimes use light therapy. I have seen others use simple exercise peddlers for added activity indoors.

    Just a suggestion!

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  8. Good to hear from you! Anything that helps you to stay active in the fall and winter really helps.

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  9. Thank you for sharing with us like you would have done with your friends. It feels good to know that you have found something good :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading my blog and thank you for your positive thoughts. :)

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