Hypomania: What My Disorder Taught Me


Noun: A mild form of mania, marked by elation and hyperactivity.

It is amazing how many new words I stumble across now that I’m constantly in and out of the doctor’s office. Hypomania was the word of the week this time. Apparently, during a hypomanic episode, the need for sleep is decreased and it is characterized by happiness and racing thoughts.

For the last week or so, I’d been experiencing some pretty awful insomnia. This was nothing new to me, as my medications often cause fits of sleeplessness. I’d be up until one or two, then be up by 7. Usually, even if I get 8 or 9 hours of sleep I’d still be groggy throughout the day, so five or six hours to me is extremely unusual.

I also started some pretty out of the ordinary behavior for myself. I’m normally fairly busy. I work full time and I go the grad school part-time. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for other activities. However, when the insomnia started, I began to look for activities to fill the extra hours of the day I now had. Knowing that we have a vacation coming up in the next few weeks, I started looking for ways to earn a little extra cash. As dumb as it sounds, I started taking surveys for money. Day in and day out, you’d see me with my phone glued to my hand answering marketing and research questions for a few cents (You laugh, but I’ve made close to $50 on the side… that’s a whole meal for four at Disney Land, people!). I also applied to a few transcribing companies. Listen to the audio, type what they say. It didn’t sound so hard. Plus, I had the time to do it! So, if you’ve kept up, at this point I was working, taking surveys, transcribing, AND doing homework. On top of cleaning, cooking, and keeping up with the girls.

I didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing. My husband told me he was worried about me. I didn’t understand why. I was making money. Everything was getting done, and I had started a nice little account for vacation. If I could keep going with the surveys and transcribing, I could actually pay for my family’s groceries every month. If that wasn’t contributing to the budget, I don’t know what is. Why on earth would he be worried about me? Saturday started off with a bit of a headache, but no other complaints. I jumped online and started another transcription project while the girls played. Sure, I was a bit snippy with my husband when he got home, but he just didn’t understand what I was doing. I had a giant list of things to do, and getting up to make him breakfast just wasn’t on the list.

Then came Sunday. I had picked up a pretty big file to transcribe the night before and wanted to get an early start on it before the girls got up. I’d gone to bed about two and was up by 6. I didn’t want to admit it, but I didn’t feel ok. I was shaky. More than the side-effect of my medication shaky. I could hardly talk to the dogs because I didn’t have control of my voice I was shaking so bad. I laid on the couch while my coffee brewed, and covered my head with a blanket. Maybe I was just hungry. Some caffeine and something to eat would make me feel better, I thought. So I drank my coffee and downed a Poptart (nutritious, I know). I still felt shaky, and by this point, my head was throbbing so bad I could have cried. I took my morning meds and grabbed another cup of coffee. I jumped in the shower, and for a while, I felt better. I thought of about forty different things to do that day while I was in there. I was a planning machine. By the time I got dressed, the kids were up. I fed them, got them dressed, and we had a mini dance party in the kitchen. I was super happy. I didn’t know why, but I felt SO overjoyed that I was going to get so much accomplished that day. My husband came home, and I chatted his ear off while he was in the shower. I couldn’t even remember the last time I did that and I wondered why I hadn’t in so long.  I felt like I hadn’t seen him in ages, and couldn’t stop talking.

By the time I finally started working, it was about 9 am. The husband and one kiddo left for football Sunday at his mom’s house. At about 10:30, I stopped typing. I couldn’t follow what was being said on the audio file. I kept rewinding, but my mind kept wandering. The pressure that had been building up in my head had settled right between my eyes. My brain felt like it was spinning and I wanted to throw up. I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. I didn’t understand what was happening. I immediately messaged my husband. “Something is wrong. I don’t feel right.” He called me immediately.

I tried to explain what was wrong, but my brain was rushing so fast that I couldn’t piece a sentence together. I started crying. Not just a tear or two, but good old-fashioned, hyper-ventilating crying. The shaking got worse. I could barely hold the phone. I didn’t want to call my doctor because I knew the answer would be the ER. I could just picture being strapped down to a hospital bed getting pumped full of sedatives. I’m not that crazy, I thought. I’m just having a bad day. That’s all this is… A bad day. My husband kept asking what I wanted him to do. “I want you to fix me!” was all I could say. It felt like the world around me was a puzzle that my four-year-old was hastily breaking apart. I could see the pieces falling around me, and everything was a blur. “Put me back together. This isn’t right, something is wrong.”

In the end, I gave in and called the doctor. He was an on-call doctor and didn’t know my medical history. But, he said he wouldn’t send me to the ER just yet. He called in some Xanax to help calm me down. He instructed that if I should still feel the symptoms within two hours of taking the pills, to go ahead and go in. My husband (right in the middle of a football game) brought home my meds, along with a chicken sandwich, French fries, and a diet coke (he knows the way to my heart). He took the other kiddo with him and left me home with a blanket a the remote. He told me to relax, and sleep if I could. No phone, no computer, no nothing. So I settled in for the first time all week and tried to stop thinking.

Thankfully, the Xanax helped settle my mind. I watched a few hours of HGTV, and then a movie or two.  I still felt different, but nothing like I had before. For the first time in over a week, my mind wasn’t racing between thoughts. I didn’t feel compelled to be constantly moving or doing something. I didn’t have kids to chase after, the family was eating dinner at my mother-in-law’s, and I gave up the thought of even looking at my homework.  I called out of work the next day in order to get used to the Xanax. The last thing I needed was to be high out of my mind at work, let alone risk getting stressed out again.

There is a moral to this story, I promise!

Having a mental disorder doesn’t mean I know what’s going on inside of my own head. I can be headed down a path of total self-destruction and never know the difference. Having someone close enough to notice changes in your behavior is SO important! That person can be a friend, a sibling, a parent, a spouse… anyone who knows you well enough to know when you need to call your doctor. Don’t wait! If you are experiencing out of the ordinary behaviors or symptoms, call! Make an appointment or talk to a nurse. Get the help you need before you end up Xanax’d out on the couch eating french fries like your life depends on it!

So yes, I learned a new word. I learned a new, fun symptom of being bi-polar. I learned it so that I can learn FROM it. Going forward, I have to remind myself that my brain is running at full-capacity anymore. I can’t push myself to do all of the things I think I need to be doing. It’s ok to slow down and give up on something if it means holding myself together.

Don’t be afraid to say no. Your mental health is worth more that.



2 thoughts on “Hypomania: What My Disorder Taught Me

  1. Brandi Bratt says:

    I had an experience very similar while at work on Monday. It was by far the hardest experience I’ve delt with so far. I went home, got the medicine I needed and rested like I hadn’t in years.

    Thank you for sharing. Your experiences let me know I am not alone.

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