Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hypomanic Fallout

It's no secret in this blogland of ours that I have bipolar. Specifically I have bipolar II, which mostly means for me that instead of all out mania, I tend to have lower manic phases, called hypomania. Now this can mean all different things for all different people, so what I am about to describe is just my own experience. I cannot emphasize enough that everyone's phases manifest in different ways.

For me hypomania is a time of taking on the world. While in one moment that means I am determined to do every task and opportunity that comes my way, in another moment taking on the world means being angry and irritable with absolutely everything and everyone. The problem, as most bipolar people will tell you, what goes up must come down.

Normally, in a proper medicated state, the highs are not too high and the lows and not too low. However, in my current insufficiently medicated state, the highs are as high as the sun and the lows go so low that I find myself in hell. So given that pregnancy hormones already make for a somewhat unusual mental/emotional state, in me, that's compounded by the absence of mood regulating medications. I am taking Z010ft, which has been deemed safe for pregnancy, but really it's not your safest bet for people with bipolar. This drug is an antidepressant and tend to send bipolar people into extended states of mania. And mania can be enhanced by life altering events.

Finding out that I was pregnant served as the perfect trigger for mania. However with the exhaustion, I was rapidly cycling in and out of mania. Some people experience mania as a fabulous high that enables their creativity and productivity to beyond human levels and expectations. On my end, mania is not a time for happiness. In fact with my racing thoughts, rage, irritability, and general do-it-all attitude, there is no time for happiness, or reason, or logic. And there is definitely no time for mistakes, especially my own.

After the BFP, I was off and running. Someone finally offered me a place on their mock trial team and I picked it right up even after strong warnings from Husband and therapist not to take on additional stress right now. Then, I took on a legal aid volunteer project located 2 hours away, in a county that has 10 feet of accumulated snow. I told all my mentees (first year lah stoodents) that I could help them anytime, and made successive appointments with them to do so. This is all in addition to my part time job as a rese@rch consultant for the usd@, my four classes, and my hunt for a summer job.

The down came sooner than expected. Suddenly, I discovered that I couldn't do any of this. I was stressed, anxious, and exhausted. Now depressed, it was harder for me to get even my normal load of work done. So after I committed myself to all of these projects, how the hell was I going to get out of them all? Certainly, I can't run around outing myself to everyone as a bipolar crazy person who was in a fit of mania when she took on the world and then some. The insanity defense isn't really where I wanted to go. The fallout from that admission could be even worse from the fallout of the manic episode itself.

So how did I do it? I didn't, other people did. Thus, I did some serious leaning on those who already loved me and already knew about my illness. My husband helped organize my thoughts and prioritize, not to mention keep a perspective. My bloggie friends, yup all of you whether you know it or not, talked me off the ledge and also helped to put both a positive and realistic spin on things. And, one of my best friend's A, who in fact has her own challenge of being a l@w stoodent and blind, helped me get through the mock trial event. She essentially held my hand through the whole thing. And all I could do was return the favor in the most minimal of ways. I cut up her french toast at brunch the other day, and did the driving. Pales in comparison to the way she helped me, but it was all I had to offer at the time. If you are reading this, A...THANK YOU!!!


Not so little sister said...

Oh Nicole! I wish we lived in the same town. I think we'd do a lot for each other. Anyway, I hope things are on more of an even keel these days. Hugs!

Cibele said...

Isn't it great to have people that love us unconditionally? I am glad that you have a great support system!

Aurelia said...

Yayyy for asking for help! Definitely the best plan when you need it. Interesting what you wrote about hypomania...has me thinking about my mood swings. (No I'm not bipolar, but when my hormones dip and rise, or my ADD gets out of control, well, sounds a little familiar.)

Patience said...

Great post Nicole, I can actually relate to a lot of what you say... I, too, take on the world. Ask me to do something and I will. I load myself up with stuff so I don't have to think sometimes.

(and thanks for your comment! oh, i wish!)

BerryBird said...

Wow! You do take on lot. I think anyone would be terrified with all that on their plate. I am so glad you have a good support system. I feel lucky to be part of the blogland team... GO NICOLE!!

OK, I have revealed myself as never having been a cheerleader. How about a hug instead? That I can do.

Bumble said...

You have so much more to deal with than normal because of bi-polar. But you seem to be coping very well, and I'm glad you got the help you needed when you needed it. We're all here anytime for you okay!!! Just ask. We're here!

Adrienne said...

Wow - save the world much? You're already an incredibly generous person, and it sounds like your mania heightens that to the nth degree. It's good that you have such a strong support network around to help pull it back when you need to. Stay healthy!

Renee said...

your description is very similar to a friend that I know. She tends to take on way too much and then suddenly without warning dumps everything. Luckily we've come to realize this about her and are there to try to keep her from doing too much and pick up when she drops.
I'm glad you have an awesome support system too.

Erin said...

Thank goodness for a worthy support team. And I am thankful to have you in my bloggy life.


Dino aka Katy said...

isn't the cyber world awesome. ALl of us need someone every so often that helps up prioritze and keep our thoughts straight. We are happy to do that for you any time. I am glad you took up the courage to ask for help that is always the hardest step

Depressionista said...

I am so proud of you for letting others help you out and get you through! It's MUCH healthier than just allowing things to drop and then feeling even more depressed about it. Good job!

Sorry things have been so crazy, but you sound like you're keeping it together. Just think: every day is one day closer to proper medication!

Dream Writer said...

I was Hypomanic the other day myself..It truly did feel good though since I was in such a dark deep depression this past winter.

But it only lasts so long. I tend to take on the world, too. I do so much in such a short period of time and then the feeling is over. :(

You are not alone that is for sure:) Lots of (((HUGS)) to you!!

Ol' Lady said...

when things are going *too good* for me I try not to commit to anything right away, I try and wait a day or two to make any decision or else I let Ol Man make it for took me years to figure this out for myself...and I still fuck it up at times :)
you will survive don't worry :)

marlena rivers said...

hi again,
wow. sounds like you piled on the stress. glad to hear you had such great support. my advice as a fellow bipolar (bipolar 1 actually) pregnant buddy is, take advantage of being pregnant to take it real easy on yourself. the first 10 weeks i napped a lot during the day and found myself just doing the minimal i had to do and procrastinating all the rest. it's worth it. i found it great to have an excuse to focus mostly on sleeping and eating and getting used to all the changes and gyn/ob appointments, finding the new dr., trying to remember to have sex once in a while (i find when i do, it's actually really great, it's just hard to be in touch with wanting it...) now i'm getting insomnia and still get tired at end of day and put things off til tomorrow and tomorrow.
hang in there! great to keep up wiht you. it's inspiring me to post more often!

tipsymarie said...

You've already made the biggest step, which is starting this blog and explaining what's going on. Know that we are all pulling for you and supporting you. We may just be in the computer but hugs, dearest.

Barbara said...

Nicole - You're so lucky to have a support system. I'm glad you're friends are there when you need them.

marja said...

You sound so much like me. I'm very much a project person, and not only when I'm hypomanic (which is often). The danger is always when I crash and can then not follow through. I'm 60 and have been bipolar for at least 40 years. I've learned to control myself somewhat but will always be tempted by those colorful, juicy ideas that occur to me.

I agree with others here. Think of your baby-to-be as your main project right now, one that will need a lot of care. Allow yourself to rest. And when you're tempted to undertake stuff, let them be projects that you do for yourself, ones that won't affect others if you should fall.

I'm glad you have a good support system. That is key.

txandi said...

in this "blogland of ours," it is nice to read from another bipolar II

i will read more about Z010ft