Recovering from Hypomania

Cut Back Taking it Easy

Recovering from hypomania and subsequent low energy which could be called depression. Honestly, I do not experience the fatigue following a hypomanic or mixed episode as depression. Now, rarely do I experience depressive thoughts during these recovery periods. I simply need to relax. I need to heal. The low energy, the fatigue, calls for me to slow down. My body can no longer sustain hypomania.

In January, I overdid it. I took on too much.

My Son Began College

My son began community college, which I drive him to and from.

My Freshman Experience

Yes, when I was his age (and younger), I could get myself to and from college, sometimes commuting by bus from Hermosa Beach to UCLA. Honestly, though, as my dad worked in Westwood, I’d usually catch a ride with him for summer school classes and hang out in a library or volunteer in the medical center for the rest of the day.

During the school year, I lived on the seventh floor of Dykstra Hall facing the fraternities lining Gayley Ave. I despised dorm life. Too much noise. Not enough privacy. I couldn’t sleep, went home most weekends, ended up suicidal, turned to cognitive psychotherapy, and quit UCLA.

My Son Isn’t Me

My son is not like me. Yes, we both have struggled with depression. But, ever since he was a toddler, he’s suffered severe debilitating migraines (involving headache, nausea, and vomiting). His migraines are much improved with medication, but he still gets them, just less often and less severely.  He also gets motion sick and catches whatever virus is circulating. When he gets sick, it takes him down hard. So much for taking the bus to and from college.

Going to College is a Huge Achievement

Now, it’s a major achievement for him to attend class at all. For those not familiar with my son’s struggles, his migraines, getting sick often, depression, and social anxiety, prevented him from finishing high school. He decided to take the GED, instead.

Unfortunately, he was sick last week (all three of us were), throwing up, not eating, sleeping all day… I hope and pray that he pulls himself together and gets back on track this upcoming week.

Still Visiting My Mom

Remember, I still visit my mom about once a week. Doesn’t sound like all that much. I wish I had the energy to do so more often. Visiting her or taking her out for a meal is challenging. Draining. Emotionally exhausting.

Her stroke in 2015 severely damaged the left hemisphere and frontal cortex of her brain. She has global aphasia and can no longer communicate using language – verbal, written, drawn, or symbolic. She understands facial expressions and emotions. She communicates using face expressions and pointing. She lets me know if my driving makes her uncomfortable with a simple sound, clearly expressing disapproval and warning. (The syllable clearly translates to slow down or watch out.)

Still, I to speak to her, narrating our time together, gesturing and animating what I’m communicating (luckily, I’m a drama geek, very theatrical), and treating her as if she can understand. She’s still a highly intelligent woman who knows what’s going on.

We enjoy visiting diners with photographs on the menu. She chooses what she wants to eat with my help in navigating the written portions of the menu.

Over-Enrolled, Over-Extended

Same week my son began his classes, what did I do?

Creative Writing Course

Started taking a creative writing course through our local community college emeritus program. Great class, but I need time to relax, solitude, not more demands on my time.

For me, social stimulation and demands on my time trigger hypomanic symptoms. I get “energized” in a negative way. My mood cycling begins.

I prefer and need SOLITUDE!

Qigong

As someone living with bipolar, I’ve experienced hypomania and mania with energetic, euphoric, spiritual symptoms. Enrolling in Qigong backfired.

The instructor had us visualize taking the energy of the universe (that’s a LOT of energy) in through the top of our heads, channel it through our bodies, and then into the ground.

Now this may be great for someone else, but I’m highly suggestive. I can imagine the energy of the universe, and it’s simply way too much for me to channel. Needless to say, the exercise triggered hypomania.

I experience hypomania energetically. I’ve had hypomanic and manic episodes where energy filled me up, pushed through my skin, and cleansed me, and I’ve experienced energy that was deceptive, tried to tell me that it was good for me, but felt scary, false, and threatened my sanity. Some of these experiences, I’ve framed as mystical. Some, dangerous. Because I cannot control which way the experience takes me, and because they come at a cost, I no longer seek them.

I MUST BE GROUNDED IN REALITY.

Personal Training Contract

In my hypomanic spree, I signed up for an expensive annual personal training contract with a gym. Gyms are not good places for me. Again, overstimulating.

Overspending, over-committing, over-zealous activity — all symptoms of hypomania and mania — all factored into my signing that expensive contract.

Now, I’m trying to cancel it…

Invested Too Much Money in a Venture

In my hypomanic state, I invested WAY too much money in my friend Sarah Fader‘s publishing house, Eliezer Tristan Publishing (ETP). I’m a HUGE supporter of Sarah and the work ETP does. Sarah did not solicit the money from me.

Riding the high of hypomania, I offered an angel investment that was ten times what she thought I was offering. Think of that. Someone thinks you are generous offering an investment of x. Then you say, “No, I meant x times 10.” For those not algebra inclined, move the decimal point over once to the right:

If x = $100, x times 10 = $1,000.
If x = $250, x times 10 = $2,500.
If x = $500, x times 10 = $5,000.

She was thrilled with an angel investment in the hundreds. I made an investment in the thousands! Yikes!

Honestly, though, Sarah and ETP need the money more than I do. The money is going to good use. It’s doing good things for the writers published and for the world.

ETP’s co-founders, Sarah Fader and Sarah Comerford, are mental health advocates. The publishing company specializes in publishing “nonfiction and fiction works largely focusing on survival, in its many iterations.

Still… Didn’t think it out. Was impulsive.

Yes, I’m impulsive, especially when hypomanic.

Oh, well.

Trying to Do the Right Thing

All these activities, in and of themselvs, seem to be good. I was trying to do the right thing. Writing. Relaxing, meditative exercise. Exercise to improve my health, my cholesterol and triglycerides, which are high in spite of taking medications for them. Still, none of these things were, in fact, good for me. Maybe, if I had taken just one on. Maybe, if I wasn’t exhausted by caretaking responsbilities.

But, as I age, I find more and more, that solitude suits me.

Solitude is Not Isolation

Solitude is not isolation. I am not lonely. I am not alone. I am very much a part of a family. I am very much a part of a community. You are part of my community.

I am loved.

I love.

Hypomanic: Something Had to Break

Something Had to Break

Hypomanic

Irritable

On verge of tears

Over-stimulated

Over-scheduled

Too many demands

Too many changes

Too soon

Must scale back

Spoke to psychologist

Contacted psychiatrist

In bed

Resting

Now

 

Creative Writing Prompt: Rainstorm

Irainstorm

Prompt for first creative writing class: RAINSTORM

Rainstorm

The torrential rain kept her awake. She couldn’t sleep. Wasn’t rain supposed to be relaxing? What was it that disturbed her? Why could she not sleep? The rain didn’t lull her, it irritated her. Reminded her that all was not well. The hills may slide. The mud carrying all away. But she was safe. Wasn’t she?

Was it anxiety? Was it caffeine? Was it simply the din amplified by hypomania? Yes, when in this state any noise irritated her. What the hell did she think she was doing this week? Starting to rewrite her book, take a creative writing class, and work out with a personal trainer on the same week her son began college.

He wasn’t away for college. Oh, no. He was attending the local community college and didn’t yet drive. So, on top of everything else, she remained his chauffeur. Fuck. He was getting better. He was more independent than before, but he still relied on her to drive him to classes and to doctors’ appointments. He still didn’t prepare his own breakfast and lunch. He’d just eat a protein bar and banana. At six feet tall and 125 pounds, he needed to eat more.

Caring for him, worrying about him, wore on her. She had hoped that he’d be eating more by now, that he’d make a sandwich or eat a bowl of cereal. She had hoped that he’d feel ready to take his DMV written test, so he could learn to drive.

Though, really, the time that they spent in the car was their special time. Often he wore his headset and cut her off from him. But, there were times when they talked, when they laughed, when he shared his thoughts with her

Back to the storm. Crap transition, but the rainstorm felt like her life. Stormy, but cleansing.

2019 Goals

2019 Goals: Revise book, Writing class, Exercise
White Christmas with snow-dusted ponderosa pines

Christmas 2018

Christmas was both beautiful and bittersweet. We spent the holiday among snow covered ponderosa pines with close family, dearly missing our recently departed father.

2019 Goals

Time for me to get up out of bed, take better care of myself, and accomplish some goals.

Revising My Book

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Eliezer Tristan Publishing is publishing my previously self-published collection of blog posts. When I self-published the content in book form, I simply cut and paste my posts in chronological order. Now, I’ve hired book coach Aaron J. Smith to help me organize the content into themes.

Wish me well. I must be sure not to overdo it and trigger hypomania.

Creative Writing Class

Starting Wednesday, I’m taking an Introduction to Creative Writing emeritus class (for older adults like me) at our local community college. I will learn basic elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: audience, structure, voice, description, setting, and manuscript development. Learning these basics elements will help me develop my skills as a writer.

Homework, deadlines, and social stimulation are all potential triggers to hypomania for me. So, I’m both excited and more than a little anxious.

Exercise

Research shows what many have observed — exercise improves mood. I knew that, yet remained sedentary. At my psychologist’s urging, I’ve made a commitment to exercising.

First, I signed up for a class in Qi Gong at my city’s community center. According to the class description:

Qigong is a safe practice that focuses on improving the overall
health and wellness of your mind-body-spirit. It is a sequence of
gentle movements synchronized with the breath to open the body’s
pathways.

This week, I joined a local gym and signed up for personal training. Friday I underwent my initial fitness assessment. I was dying just doing the ten minute warm up. My thighs kill me. I can’t even get up from a sitting position without using my arms to assist me. Obviously, I’m out of shape.