My Plan for Hypomanic Episodes – What I Do First
I have bipolar disorder type 2, and thus, experience hypomanic episodes, not manic episodes.
Hypomanic episodes vs. manic episodes?
Hypomanic episodes have the same symptoms as manic episodes but are not as severe. However, even though hypomania isn't considered life-threatening, that doesn't mean it isn't lifestyle-threatening.1
In other words, I've found that if I give in to hypomanic symptoms, I might harm myself financially, interpersonally, or even physically. Additionally, if I allow hypomania to take root, that will just end in a nasty depression once it's over. I always say the higher you fly, the farther you fall, and the bigger a crater you make when you get there. It's for these reasons that I have a plan for hypomanic episodes.
Have you been diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
How I know a hypomanic episode is coming on
The first thing I need to do is recognize that a hypomanic episode is coming on. For me, the biggest indicator is racing thoughts and an inability to stop talking. And I do mean inability.
I just talk and talk and talk, even if no one is there. My ideas fly rapidly, and I explain them to anyone or even no one. It's when I find myself constantly, rapidly talking to myself, that I realize I'm starting to become hypomanic.
This doesn’t mean that this is the only thing that happens during hypomania for me, but it is the easiest thing to spot.
The first thing I do when I feel hypomanic
The first thing I do when I feel hypomania coming on is purposefully try to calm down. I do what the bipolar disorder doesn't want. It wants me to speed up and perform constant actions. I need to counter that by breathing deeply and working to calm myself.
I take deep breaths, hold them in for a few moments, and then release them. I close my eyes and focus inwards on quiet stillness. Simple, slow movements, like that of yoga, can also help.
Breathing, writing, eating...
At this point, I write if I feel like it. Often, it's a good way to get the ideas out of my head that don’t make sense anyway. Sure, they may feel brilliant at the time, but in the cold light of day, I tend to realize they are nonsensical.
I also make sure to eat something reasonably healthy. Sometimes, in hypomania, I don’t feel like eating at all, but that's not going to improve the situation.
The most important thing I do during hypomania
While the above can hold and calm me during the day, it's what I do at night that helps the most. I ensure I get a good night's sleep. My hypomania tends to recede if I sleep properly. The hypomania would prefer I stay up all night, but if I do that, the hypomania will build on itself. Sleep is what's needed.
In my case, I use medication for sleep. If I'm hypomanic, I might have to take more than my standard dose. While this may not be ideal, it's far more important to rid myself of hypomania than worry about a little more medication. (This is done with a doctor's guidance.)
Sleep is so important
Other things you can do for sleep include:
- Ensuring you use good sleep hygiene (have a routine before bed, always go to bed and wake up at the same time, sleep in a cool room, etc.)
- Doing relaxation exercises before bed; this might include yoga or progressive muscle relaxation exercises
- Practicing mindfulness meditation
Talking to my psychiatrist
Finally, if hypomania presents a big problem and my usual methods aren't helping, I don't hesitate to contact my psychiatrist. Sometimes, medication alterations are needed, and the best person to make that call is him.
The important thing to remember is that even if hypomania feels good, it is not good for you, and I've found it's easiest to nip it in the bud.
Do you have trouble sleeping?
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