One Day of Hypomania
I spent most of my life in a depressive or low-stable state. This is fairly typical for people with bipolar 2, although I may have less hypomania than average. Those moods, coupled with three serious illnesses in six months plus an almost crippling period of an arthritis flare in my knees, has made this year a particularly rough one.
Filthy Kitchen FloorTwo of the things that drag my mood down horribly are getting behind in my work and living in a messy house. If I don’t keep up with my work, I don’t get paid - that’s what happens when you’re a freelancer. And just walking into my kitchen is depressing, because I see the dirty floor (and I mean filthy - that’s a sample at right), the sloppy, spill-encrusted counters, a sink full of dishes, a jumble on the table, and I hate it.
In both cases, I feel guilty, I feel angry with myself, I feel despair. And if you’re like me, it just gets harder and harder to get going because you just don’t know where to start.
Then the mood started to lift. I had an epiphany - I wouldn’t hate cooking so much, would find it easier to clean the kitchen, if I had a TV in a corner counter. Even anticipating that (it took far longer to get the cable installed than it should have), I started getting excited. Once the TV was put in, and visible from just about anywhere in the room, my mood really climbed.
About a week ago, I woke with a rush of energy. I could do it! I could tackle the housework! I was in high gear all day: four loads of laundry; counters cleaned and reorganized; everything moved off the kitchen floor, which I then swept and steam-mopped 2/3 of it (a massive job, as you can see from the picture); all the dishes washed and put away; made a beef stew in the crockpot; and more I can’t remember now. It was a glorious day. I loved every minute of it.
The next morning I got up and finished mopping the floor… but before I was done, my back started to hurt and the next time I went up the stairs my legs felt like they weighed a ton. In the early afternoon I took a nap - and woke up with every muscle sore.
I took as much Advil as I dared for the next three days but was tired and in pain the whole time. No more housework. Though my mood didn’t plunge, I wasn’t particularly productive.
So I learned a lesson: don’t overdo it when I have those hypomanic days. My body, sluggish from lack of exercise during the long depressions, can’t handle it.
It’s kind of like what used to happen when I was acting. I’d be high and happy through the run of the show, but by the end of each I had worn myself out and got sick. I finally had to give up acting when I was ill for three months after the last play I was in (gastritis, followed by flu, followed by bad cold).
If you have long depressions, does this happen to you when your mood jumps up? Do you suddenly find yourself able to charge around doing things that strain your body beyond its limits?
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Marcia wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Mental Disorders.