Hypomania is the higher mood for Bipolar 2. It is a less severe version of mania and doesn’t always require hospital intervention. It is possible to remain in touch with reality for the most part during a hypomanic episode – it is also possible to let go of reality enough to cause concern. It’s almost like teetering on the edge of madness, with one foot in either camp of reality and madness; like dipping your toes into what your mind is capable of in the least productive and highest revved up state possible for your own mind whilst remaining firmly seated in the real world. Dancing with the devil you could say.
The first phase happens often. It even happens when there is no hypomania – it is the always questioning yourself stance. A quite uncomfortable stance for sure, it is the curse of constant self-reflection that happens after many therapies and years spent running around the corridors of the looped up tangled system known as the NHS Mental Health system.
The questioning phase: am I just happy? Too happy? An episode? Or is it just a day of it?
We all have good days and for most people I suppose you just ride them and take them as they come with little thought to what your very good day actually means. Some good days are better than other good days. On some of those days I find myself asking, “am I just having a good day? Am I just really happy/excitable/hyper today? Or is this the start of an episode?”. Most times, it is 1-2 days of hyperactivity and happiness – the I’m at a festival and let’s all let loose kind of excitement, and the, the weather is brilliant lets drink beer and cremate chicken over coals and have a blast doing it kind of excitement. Maybe something went well, something happened to prompt some extra happiness in the days: you passed your exams, got a well-earned promotion of quite simply, the weather changed for the better.
Every time I ask myself I convince myself it is just a few days. I convince myself that there is no need to raise any alarm, or essentially ‘grass’ on my good mood, and I revert to simply enjoying the good days that come my way often quite recklessly drinking, smoking, spending and dancing for hours on end with no care in the world for any consequences. I only think it may be an episode under few circumstances:
- Someone else points it out to me who knows me well, e.g. wifey.
- I struggle to relax and the energy becomes no longer enjoyable
- I stop sleeping and start living track of my mind
- It lasts longer than a few days and edges into the 4+ day category; however, if I’m having a nice time, I still won’t raise the alarm.
I suppose the best way of explaining why I hold back on raising the alarm is because I feel like the enjoyable aspect, the excessive productivity and the more fun than anyone can handle is the pay off I get in return for the shitty long depressive episodes I experience. These high episodes come far and few between by comparison, and before they become out of control I have great fun.
I have great fun getting a fuck ton done. I have great fun cracking jokes and being hilarious. My self-esteem becomes greater than great, in fact, I’m a fucking genius and don’t you dare question it. I’m smarter than anyone you know, and it feels really great to really believe that. Any dream I have, of becoming an artist, a singer and a scientist all feels well within reach. Dreaming isn’t real magic, there is no magic in dreaming without believing, and I believe I can do anything: which makes this phase really magical, completely untouched and untainted by reality.
However, for as magical as indefinite dreaming and self belief are – in the very early stages, or even when no stages are even developing, every very hyper day is tainted by the questioning: am I really just happy? Is this an episode? For me though, I tend to stop questioning as soon as I realise that I am because this is my pay off, this is the bargain. I feel shit for a really long time, then for periods of time I feel more alive than you can ever imagine and it’s marvellous until it isn’t. It doesn’t scare me at the time as I get wrapped up in thinking I’m the king of the world because anything is possible, yes I meant to say King. We all have good days – but sometimes it is too good. Unfortunately that actually exists.