The Aftermath of Hypomania


Feeling Out Of Control...

Do you ever feel like you are not in control of your own life? Alas, I get this feeling a lot due to the cycling nature of my mood swings.  

If, like me, you suffer from a mood disorder like cyclothymia or bipolar disorder you will be familiar with terms such as "flight of ideas" and accompanying problems such as "overspending" and "obsessing". These are just some of the things that many of us who suffer from hypomania deal with, and it can cause havoc in our lives, leaving us feeling out of control.

What Makes Hypomania So Tricky...

One of the things that I find difficult when I am on a "hypomanic roll" is that I can very quickly become overwhelmed. Some people think that "being on a high" must be great fun, and sometimes it is, but most of the time for me hypomania turns into, what I refer to as "dark hypomania". With this comes excess, irritability, impatience, heightened emotions, reactivity... and all of that bad stuff.

Whatever is happening inside of my brain to trigger these hypomanic symptoms creates a kind of vortex that sucks me into a swirling realm. I find myself surrounded by thoughts and ideas that compete against each other, bouncing off each other, triggering new thoughts and ideas. Ultimately I am encouraged to take action, spend money I don't have, and launch new ventures if only to get the thoughts and ideas out of my busting brain. 

Life and everything in it becomes speeded up and filled with a sense of excited urgency and the need for instant gratification. I am riding a whizzing carousel with nobody else on board with me. Everyone wants me to get off the ride and get back to real life, do some real work... and I find that irritating... because I'm hypomanic.

What Happens When Hypomania Takes Over...

Don't forget that along with hypomania comes a certain amount of grandiosity. Often when I am in the throes of it all I genuinely believe that my ideas have enormous potential and that I am a genius and perhaps even a little bit superhuman. 

It is not uncommon for me to stay up all night, without realising it, creating new websites and researching new topics that I have become obsessed with - like the time I took it upon myself to become an expert in nano-aquariums and aquascaping - when the truth is that in reality, I'm not even remotely interested in pet fish or underwater gardening. I now have a tiny aquarium overgrown with string algae and a handful of surviving water snails. 

The problem is that when I am in this state of mind I simply can't believe that I have wasted my whole life not pursuing something as brilliant as the current project, whatever it may be. All realistic notions of work and life fly out of the window. Anything that belongs in the real world - a sensible routine, a sensible diet, a sensible job - all feel like they are getting in the way of what I was put on this planet to do!

For example, suddenly ALL I may want to do is draw trees. It is like a deep and almost spiritual desire that makes me feel like everything else, including an important work deadline, is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I mean, why would I, the mighty creative genius, waste my time on so-called "work", writing content for some random stranger client and their business (I'm a freelance writer), when I should be doing what brings ME purpose, something that makes ME feel connected to myself, the earth, and ultimately the universe? What do I need to earn money for, after all, when the universe will always provide for me? Yeah, it can get pretty deep.

I did indeed spend the better part of a week photographing trees and then stayed up until 7am one night focussing like a crazy person on drawing the intricate branches on my tiny mobile phone screen, only for my phone to crash in the small hours of the morning and me to lose hours of work. Completely undeterred in my hypomanic state though, I simply opened up the sketch app and started from scratch. That happened twice before I decided to give up and go to bed, only to wake up a few hours later raring to go again.

I mean who does that? Who sits hunched over their smartphone in the middle of the night basically drawing a web of lines onto a digital device, no music or TV on in the background, just silent manic obsession, until suddenly you look up and realise it's not dark outside anymore? All when what I should have been doing all week was my freelance writing work, earning a living, so that I can pay my rent.

And Then Comes The Aftermath Of All This Hypomanic Absurdity...

When the hypomanic phase passes I am usually left with unfinished projects, handmade things and artwork that I don't really know what to do with, and a feeling of dread because I know that I've done it again. I have wasted time and energy on things that have distracted me from real-life, and now I must face the consequences.

My grand ideas, plans, and work were all an illusion, and now as a foggy depression sets in and my self-esteem plummets, I feel like a failure and a fraud, stupid and exposed after telling everyone on the internet about the amazing new venture that I now can't follow through with. On top of this, I have to somehow get myself through a depressive slump and get back on track to meet my deadlines and function in the real world again.

The whole cycle is very disorientating, relentless, and really quite tragic if you think about it. Like waking up over and over again and realising that all the passion and energy and accomplishment wasn't real, it was just part of a dream.

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Thanks for reading x

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  1. I enjoy your openess and style of writing particularly about a difficult topic. I totally had to smile about telling people.about all sorts of plans that fall through, seeing the night leave and sunshine as a complete surprise. And I wanted to tell you that I understand the feeling about summer months. I have tried to enjoy it more this year, but just find myself doing outdoor projects. Keep writing. Your blog is wonderful.

  2. Thank you :) I appreciate your kind comments, and I'm pleased to hear that you have been enjoying and able to relate to my blog. I am also trying to embrace the sunny weather and enjoying it more this year. Zara x


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I write about a variety of topics, including mental disorders (like bipolar, cyclothymia, depression and anxiety) but also everyday mental health challenges and self-care tips. Subscribe to my mailing list and never miss a post...