Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder

The Enigmatic Hypo-Mania: When Motivation Equals Madness

I’ve trolled a bunch of different blogs on bipolar disorder, commented on a couple, and got a feeling that I was among friends. Announcing to the world that you have this mental illness is difficult, and it’s comforting to know that there is a community out there that can relate to some of my struggles.

Full-blown manic episodes get most of the attention. You steal a family member’s car, drive all night to Vegas, and blow ten grand the following day in the casinos after marrying a cocktail waitress and you know you’ve got a problem. Pretty high drama stuff usually. Shrinks love this because it helps them put you in those neat little DSM-5 boxes, and let’s ’em know how much Seroquel to blast you with. HYPO mania on the other hand is a sneaky little bastard. It manifests in more subtle ways, is harder for mental health professionals to detect, and this tends to delay diagnosis and proper treatment. Bipolar type II is probably misdiagnosed as major depression in many cases, as it was in mine. What the pill-jockeys do is jack you up on antidepressants, thinking it will knock you back to “normal”. In fact, all of those happy neurotransmitters go into overdrive and you begin to glimpse the world through the mind of a maniac. I felt like I was walking on clouds and could take on the world, no obstacle was too high to overcome. This was in stark contrast to my normal mood, which was much more somber. Without some kind of mood stabilizer, a bi-polar person is likely to go totally off the wall.

It’s helpful when they finally get your diagnosis right and begin to treat you accordingly. I remember feeling euphoric and hopeful for the first time  once I felt that I was on the right medication. That euphoria proved to be short-lived as always. Dealing with hypo mania is a bitch. On one hand, the therapists want you to get up out of bed and start trying to enjoy things. They want you to have a positive outlook, and quit being so down on yourself. But when you do get jazzed up about something, or have feelings of positive self-worth, those happy thoughts are quickly tempered by the realization that you might just be hypo-manic. Have a great business idea? Hypo-manic. Spend some money on yourself? Hypo-manic. Stay up late posting on your fledgling blog? Hypo-manic.

How do I fill out a mood chart when I can’t tell the difference between genuine happiness and mental illness? How do I work on controlling negative behaviors when any positive behaviors are suspect?

For me, having a good chunk of money instantly induces a hypo-manic state, I get all excited like Jo Jo the Indian circus boy with his pretty new pet*. Usually I have big plans about how I’m going to leverage the money into something that will create a huge income and allow me to fly around in a private plane. See how that might be a tip-off?

Another is staying up late; getting all obsessed with something whether it be bass fishing, or investing, or blogging and losing track of the time. They say one key to regulating mood in bipolar disorder is regular sleep cycles, so staying up way late just throws a wrench into the works and makes it more difficult the next day.

Right now I’m fairly broke, and tired, so I guess I’m in the clear. Welcome to the new normal.

*expect to see more “Tommy Boy” references. That movie changed my life in so many ways.






Filed under Bipolar Disorder