When coming into a hypomanic or manic episode it is not always easy to realize it within ourselves. It is not like a warning bell goes off inside us or a red light begins flashing to let us know of the danger ahead. There have been times when I have been in the episode for quite some time before I realize how bad it has gotten or before someone finally has the nerve to tell me that I am in an episode. Unfortunately I do not always see the signs as they begin to appear.
For anyone who has been hypomanic or manic they probably understand that completely, you are probably sitting there nodding your heads because it is so familiar. While I am sure there are others who have not experienced hypomania or mania and are sitting there reading this shaking their heads wondering how we did not see the warning signs.
But since my diagnosis and several pointed obvious hypomanic episodes I have tried to look back on the episodes and pin point any early warning signs. Anything that should be a red flag so to speak that something may be happening.
Sometimes I feel like the signs were more obvious and that I should have known that things were beginning to go down hill, and this frustrates me.
So I have tried to see what my early signs are, and these are the ones I have come up with. Just because I can see them now in retrospect does not necessarily mean that I will see them when they come my way again.
These things all tend to get worst the longer I am in an episode.
1. Lack of sleep. This is one of my biggest and most prominent signs. Every episode that I can think of begins with not getting proper sleep. Okay so first thoughts on this is that I should be able to tell when I am not getting enough sleep.
But first let me explain sleep for me. I don’t sleep well anyway. 6 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period is a good night/day. And I explain it as night/day because my sleep is broken. There are nights I do not fall asleep until 5 am, only to wake at 7:30 get my kids off to school and try to force myself into more sleep. 4-6 is what I mostly get. Now that is not to say that there is never a night where I get more. In the past 14 days/nights my sleep hours went something like this…… 1.5 hours, 1.5 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes, 6 hours, 5 hours, 9 hours, 5 hours, 6 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours, 20 minutes, 3 hours and 8 hours. In case you are wondering I do mood tracking now and keeping track of the hours is one of the categories in the one I have chosen to use.
2. Tingling. Yes tingling….like my spidey sense is going off. It feels like my skin is crawling, especially my arms. Everything is jittery.
3. Ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. Writing down ideas, researching ideas, new projects. A passion for it. I get so fixated on something.
I get an idea and I research the heck out of it, bookmarking websites, writing down jot notes, making plans to do this, or read that, or build this, or paint that.
A few years ago I was fixated with gardening, green houses, composting, and chickens. Yes chickens. I had website on top of website saved in my bookmarks with information on all of these topics. I built square foot gardening areas in my garden, I planted carrot, spinach, green peas and I don’t even know what else. I wanted a green house, but above all else I wanted chickens. If my husband had given in we would have had them too. But alas he did not. In retrospect I am so glad that he didn’t.
I remember seeing my doctor as we were trying to balance out the episode and the last two things he said to me before I left his office that day were:
“Do not make any big decisions while you are like this, don’t sell your house or anything.” AND “Do not get chickens.”
4. Too many thoughts in my head. Like 10 things floating around all at once. And by all at once, I really do mean all at once. There is so much going on, I could be mid sentence with a thought only to have another thought invade the sentence.
5. Lack of concentration. This one is weird. Because I just told you I can get fixated on something and research the heck out of it. But other stuff I cannot concentrate on. I am an avid reader. But then when hypomanic I cannot read a book. I have tried believe me. I end up reading the first paragraph over and over and still not knowing what I read.
6. Not being able to sit still. I shake my legs, I squeeze my hands, I get up do something, sit back down, get up do something else. Over and over. When I am thinking or contemplating something I cluck my tongue. I had a friend who told me this the first time about 3 years ago. I had no idea I was even doing it. I would be on the phone with her for hours at a time and when I was thinking about something or talking about it and I would click/cluck my tongue. The topic at that time was frugal living, couponing, contesting. In one way or another I am constantly moving. Even if it is just wiggling my toes.
7. Heightened senses and irritability. Hearing things louder, seeing things brighter, feeling things differently. Sometimes even my own thoughts inside my head sound like they are extremely loud. Sometimes the agitation is so bad that just to have someone touch my hand or sit near me makes my skin crawl and makes me want to jump up and run. I get jumpy, quick temper, quick to get frustrated even by simple things. The phrase “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” yeah, I have cried over spilled milk.
8. Talking a lot. I talk and talk and talk. And I talk FAST. I talk fast on a normal day to day basis anyway. I have always had rapid speech. But during a hypomanic phase it can get so fast that my friends and family cannot understand me and they are used to my every day rapid speech. The last bad hypomanic episode I had I remember my husband saying “Make no wonder you cannot sleep, you cannot stop moving and talking a lot to sleep.”
9. Increased self esteem. Normally I have pretty low self esteem. When hypomanic I feel like I can do anything. That I am indispensable at work, that I can do things faster and better then others. Or that I would have something already completed that someone else doesn’t. These are unusual thoughts for me because when balanced I do not think like this at all.
10. Paranoia. I am afraid someone is doing something vindictive to hurt me. I feel like people are talking about me. During one of the hypomanic episodes I thought everyone texting on cell phones were talking about me or doing something behind my back.
So these are some of my personal signs that hypomania has set in. They start off small. Maybe a thought to research something or getting excited to do cleaning, maybe I cannot sit still or perhaps I am talking faster then normal and cannot stop talking. But they always get worst over time. Everything gets more and more heightened.
For me the end of the episode brings a lot of irritability. Frustration over little things and big things that becomes worst and worst until I crash in some frustrated way and blow up, getting upset, crying, accusatory questions and pointed remarks even towards people I love and care about more then anything else in the world.
Then I hurt and feel ashamed because I hurt them…..
What are some of the signs and symptoms that you experience while hypomanic or manic? Do you have early warning signs? Are you able to pin point theses warning signs and symptoms before they get too bad?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading.