Depression Voice Vs. Hypomania Voice

Cyclothymia And Self Doubt 

A mental illness complicates everything. Who is with me on that? I can't speak for other people, but I suffer from cyclothymic disorder, and let me tell you... it's a bitch! 

I never know whether I am coming or going, succeeding or failing, creating or destroying, living or dying. That last one may sound a bit extreme, but if you suffer from a mood disorder you will know what I mean.

As an example let's talk about when we fall out with people, because let's face it, this happens a lot with us. Depending on where we are on the cyclothymic or bipolar mood scale, we often can't judge what the hell is going on, while it's going on. Some of us have the skill of being able in retrospect to see where things went wrong and the role our illness has played in it, but by that time it is often too late, and the damage has been done. 

Since coming to terms with my diagnosis I have wanted to learn as much as possible about how my illness manifests itself in me so that I can recognise my symptoms and have a little bit more control over how much damage and chaos they wreak in my life. I'm not always able to, but when I can it makes a big difference and I feel like I have something to be proud about, as opposed to the shame and self-doubt that result when the monster and gremlins take over. 

Real-Life Symptoms Of Hypomania In Action 

This blog post is actually the result of an altercation I had today with someone close to me. I suspect that I am currently in a slightly elevated mood state, which means that I am experiencing a few symptoms of hypomania, so I thought I'd tell you about it, and show you in real-life what my hypomania voice sounds like.

I have been super-focused on projects all week, I am in full-on research mode, there is a fair amount of irritability, and according to the person with whom I have just fallen out, I am cold and incapable of showing any empathy at the moment. When that was pointed out I luckily caught myself before my normal reactivity would have kicked in and I would have erupted with rage. That would have been a fail.

I honestly feel like I am completely justified in how I feel and how I came across during the dispute, I was logical and I stood by what I felt because I have the right to be heard - that's my hypomania voice sounding off. I basically think, right now, that this other person is a nightmare and I can't be bothered with them as I have far more important things to think about in the all-encompassing important world of "me". But I will look back at this later when my mood has subsided and probably cringe at how unsupportive I was.

For now, though, it has prompted this blog post. This is me channelling my mood disorder superpowers for the greater good. You think I'm joking, but this is genuinely my current thought process. In my head, the other person is an emotional fool and I am the rational one, destined for greater things.

I am able to self-reflect upon all of this at the moment, quite shortly after the row occurred, which is something I try to practice as much as possible because I am determined not to let my illness run my life. Despite the hypomania symptoms, self-reflection allows me to question myself. Do I sound arrogant? Am I going to regret posting this later? Is my brilliance real? Who am I really? Do I even care? Nope because I'm "up" right now so let's carry on being awesome, other people's opinions are irrelevant. It's a struggle, the voice of hypomania is pretty loud and I rather prefer the sound of it.

Cyclothymic disorder manifests itself in me as a rapid cycle of moods. The switches from a depressed state to a hypomanic state are very frequent, which leaves me feeling like I never know for sure from one moment to the next whether I am judging my feelings or behaviour correctly. This creates a lot of self-doubts and ultimately ruins my self-esteem (unless I am feeling particularly high, in which case I may have too much of it... see what I mean?)

A Snapshot Of My Cyclothymic Mood Cycle 

To put things into perspective for anyone who is reading and doesn't know about these mood swings, or for those of you who know all about them and would like a little validation for what you may also go through... here is a snapshot of my own cyclothymic mood cycle. 

One moment I am experiencing the glorious symptoms of hypomania. Perhaps there is a general sense of euphoria. The world is a bright and wonderful place. I am excited about a new project, ideas are flowing, or I am absorbed in spring cleaning and keeping myself very busy... Basically, everything feels effortless. I feel well, perhaps even a little too well? I am feeling awesome, this is where the grandiosity might kick in. There is a touch of arrogance and a feeling of invincibility. I become fixated on certain things, some might say - obsessed. 

All of my time and energy is now being put into activities that are distracting me from my normal routine and life. I have forgotten about deadlines, I am researching random things with all of the tabs open on my laptop. I am scrolling eBay and buying things I can't afford because I "need" them for my new projects and business ventures. I am staying up until the early hours of the morning completely absorbed in whatever ridiculous things have taken over in my mind. I am not living in the real world anymore, I am on my own planet, and it is all getting a little out of hand.

Suddenly I find that the vibe has changed and things are moving too fast inside of my head. The dark side of hypomania is surfacing. My thoughts are racing, nobody can keep up with me because I'm on fire and they are all incompetent. I become very irritable, reactive, perhaps even explosive? Rage often shows its ugly face and destroys everything in its path. 

And then everything is taken away from me. I crash. Horribly. I am drained of all the surging energy. I have become mentally and physically overwhelmed and my brain slows down until it can't function properly. I can't focus on anything. I am exhausted. The voice in my head has changed too. Now it makes me question everything I was so confident about before. It tells me I will fail and that I am worthless. It shows me how useless I am by weighing me down with self-doubt, self-hatred, and despair. I can't see into the future anymore, there is nothing there for me. What is the point in life? My body is too heavy. I can't move because it is all just too much now. I find myself in bed, just wanting to escape from myself... until it lifts and starts all over again.

The cycle repeats itself, in a different order, with different levels of intensity at different stages of the cycle, so that I honestly can't predict what I am going to think or feel next. There is no pattern I can chart. 

I have no idea what my baseline feels like because I never stay there long enough to recognise it. I'm either very up, very down, or a little bit up and a little bit down. But level... I don't know what that looks like in me. Maybe I get glimpses of it, but I just can't be sure of who I really am.

Mood Management For Cyclothymia & Bipolar Disorder 

Before my diagnosis, I had no idea what was actually happening and why my life, study, jobs, friendships, and relationships never seemed to work out. I always felt like something was wrong and that life shouldn't feel this hard, but I put it down to my own personality flaws. 

Cyclothymic disorder is considered rare because it often remains hidden underneath the radar. Like me, people struggle for years but never seek help because they blame themselves for hardships and turn to unhealthy coping strategies to manage their moods.

I have always used food and alcohol to help lift me up or relax me. I am prone to binge eating and drinking. Relationships become addictions because I end up relying on the increase of endorphins that I get when I see or spend time with a partner, and in the time in between it's almost like I experience withdrawal and crave more of what made me feel better.  It is not uncommon when I am seeing a guy for me to experience my hypomanic symptoms at the weekends when I am with them and then spend most of the week depressed and unable to function properly. If you suffer from a mood disorder or other mental illness you probably have your own coping strategies. You might not even know that you have them! Spending money I can't afford is another one, and calling in sick for work was frequent before I became self-employed.

Accepting my diagnosis and educating myself has been a game-changer though. Understanding my illness and how it works means that I don't have to beat myself up as much as I used to. There is less confusion, and I am able to recognise the people and situations that trigger me and steer clear. I try to create structure and routine in my life, and eat healthily and at regular times. I have cut down on alcohol almost completely which has made a big difference. I have also been able to talk to the few people I have in my life about my mental illness to help them understand and support me a little better. I even bought a workbook that taught me how to track my moods, and now I am so much more aware of myself. Medication is also currently playing an important role in helping to take the edge off my moods so that I have even more control.

All of the above is great, but it doesn't mean that I don't still struggle. Managing my mood is exhausting. I hate having to track and think about my illness all of the time. Sometimes I wish that I had never found out about cyclothymic disorder because ignorance is bliss as they say. But actually, ignorance wasn't bliss. It wasn't bliss at all. And though my knowledge of my condition isn't bliss either, it's important because it gives me a much better chance at improving the quality of my life.

Thank You For Taking The Time To Visit My Blog 

I really appreciate your support and I'd love to hear about your own thoughts and experiences with your "hypomanic voice" and your "depression voice". Leave a comment and share some of the things the voices in your head tell you. Or share how you have had success in managing your mood, at least some of the time.

I am trying to branch out to social media in order to get the word out about my blog, so if you are on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram I have included my links below. You can leave your own links in the comments below too and I will check them out!

If you have enjoyed reading this post it would be great if you would like to share it. You never know who might get something positive out of reading my blog, or who you might educate about mental illness.

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