May 23, 2009

Exploring Hypomania

3:17 AM. I did very well trying the melatonin for sleep; it's an effective supplement, but I think the present set of symptoms are too great to penetrate.

Dropped off to sleep at 12:55. I did reach R.E.M., but the last (guessing) third of the sleep session was thin enough I was mildly coherent and remember it. If I do the math, I probably slept for two hours.

Now, I'm awake and feeling refreshed. It's the middle of the night, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't be awake and feeling refreshed. But rather than waste the time playing Scrabble or feeding my face, I continued research on my symptoms, since they're fairly pronounced at the moment, and I'm acutely aware of them.

Research led me to Hypomania, or "A mild form of mania, characterized by hyperactivity and euphoria."

Says Wikipedia:
According to the DSM-IV-TR, a hypomanic episode includes, over the course of at least 4 days, elevated mood plus three of the following symptoms OR irritable mood plus four of the following symptoms:
  • pressured speech; rapid talking
  • inflated self-esteem or grandiosity;
  • decreased need for sleep;
  • flight of ideas or the subjective experience that thoughts are racing;
  • easy distractibility and attention-deficit (superficially similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder);
  • increase in psychomotor agitation; and
  • steep involvement in pleasurable activities that may have a high potential for negative psycho-social or physical consequences (e.g., the person engages in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments).
In the hypomanic state, people may feel like they can't slow their mind down, and that the speeding thoughts are crafted exceptionally well. Some examples are speaking or writing in rhyme or alliteration without planning it first; quick responses to people talking; or the ability to improvise easily on the spot.
Six out of seven -- four symptoms of which first grabbed my attention and led to the research in the first place.


I'm not seeking a label (although on many levels, a label would help me feel a lot better about it all), because accepting a label may mean committing to a specific treatment plan, which may not be necessary or entirely effective.

What I want is a definite, established coping strategy. Thankfully, I think I've already crafted a strategy quite similar to the ones below.

From Hypomania Part VI: Coping...
Jodie, who has been free of serious episodes for three years, has learned to take her pills without resentment, has limited her social activities and involvement in various projects, and has established a regular sleep schedule and other routines. Especially important, Jodie has developed "the capacity and insight to see episodes coming on." For example, when she finds herself talking very quickly and craving excitement, she implements her "action plan."


Susie, for instance, knows her main triggers are family stress and caffeine. When she finds herself buying more than one lotto ticket, visiting adult bookshops and writing late at night, she goes to battle stations. This includes limiting her coffee, restricting her access to cash, turning off her computer after 6 pm, and not going to night clubs on her own.
Recently, 'Ailina recognized a pattern in her proclivity to commit to more projects and activities than are humanly possible to manage. Periods of intense planning and optimism are extreme, recurring, and in time, predictable. The end result, however, is always misery when her plans inevitably fail.

Having recognized the changes in her thought patterns, behavior, and consequences of action, 'Ailina is learning to limit her involvement in activities and projects and to allow for a "cooling-off period" before committing to a new opportunity when it arises.

Like Jodie, 'Ailina understands the importance of monitoring her own body and mind, so when symptoms flare --
  • talking rapidly and excitedly
  • compulsive rhymes, puns, and witty turns of phrase
  • rampant inspirations coupled with a sense of self-limitlessness
  • surging activity
  • social bravery (clearly uncharacteristic, as aggravated social anxiety is her "norm")
  • low requirement of sleep
  • friskiness
-- she can take appropriate actions to control the ensuing damage.


Awareness and acknowledgment are the first steps.


  1. I like how one of the quoted symptoms became friskiness in translation. Nice clinical writing, too. :)

  2. Hey, I'm glad you think so. I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV. So I was kind of worried about that.

    Yeah--"friskiness." (ha!) The mildest of alternatives, considering audience. :)