Normal or Hypomanic?
I realized - just a few minutes ago - that I am not sure I know the difference, for me, between normal and hypomanic. If I feel focused, energized, confident - is that “normal”? Just what is “normal”?
My longest hypomanic episode came as the result of first being put on an antidepressant. I had no idea till much later that this was hypomania. I thought, “Wow, is this the way normal people feel?” Everything was easy. I felt good all the time. I was decisive, smiling, sailing through the job I really did love anyway, but now with enthusiasm and much more speed.
But “normal” people don’t feel that way all the time. They have doubts, worries, struggles. They have ups and downs. During that period, I didn’t.
That was obvious. These days, it’s not clear at all.
It might be that I’ve studied bipolar disorder so much, I second-guess myself based on that knowledge. For example, as I wrote in Bipolar II - Why Don’t I Feel as Good as I Used To?, I know that “normal” in BP II may tend to get lower over time. Since I learned that, have I redefined my personal norm as feeling “not too bad”?
So - when I have a week where I am energetic, when I can look at the sink and say, “I’ll clean that up now,” instead of, “Ohhh, not now,” when I tackle things that have piled up - whether it be on counters or in email or something else - is that hypomania?
For the last few years at least, a mood like this rarely lasts very long. So now I’m wondering and I’m asking you - what’s your “normal”?
Marcia wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Mental Disorders.