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How do you swing?


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I'm curious about how people with longer/slower cycles typically experience episodes of hypo/mania and depression. (By "longer/slower," I mean it's easier to measure your cycles over the course of a year instead of over the course of a month, week or day.)

How do the episodes "come on" for you? Suddenly? Or can you feel yourself winding up or slipping down for a period of time before recognizing that you're having an episode? Or maybe both, depending on the episode?

How long do the episodes last? Are some longer and some shorter? Some lighter and some more severe?

Have you found that the severity of one pole indicates the severity of the other? For example, if you swing only a little bit high, is the downswing also not very low? And if the upswing is really dramatic, does it follow that the downswing is also?

I tend to feel like my cycles start with an upswing, but do other people feel that their cycles start with a downswing? Or is it just one big long continuum with no beginning and no end? (I would find it difficult to cope with that image.)

I guess what I'm trying to do is get better at identifying upswings and downswings, whether they are minor or major. The major ones are easy to spot, but the minor ones come with their own set of problems. Like steering just a little bit off course at a time until you suddenly realize that you're facing an entirely wrong direction. No individual change of direction seemed like a problem because it was so slight, but when they add up...well, you know. Things get all wrong.

Would love to hear about others' experiences.

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My cycles don't seem to correlate. I have big upswings (mania) where I am psychotic that can last a long time, but they are very infrequent- I haven't had one in years. I have periods of mild depression, if you would even call it that, where I feel blah and have no motivation, nothing pleases me, but not anything extreme, a few times a year. I also have anxiety very often that isn't part of cycling I don't think, but is a big problem for me.

I have trouble relating to people who cycle very frequently. That must be very difficult. I don't really feel a need to mood chart because I'm pretty stable

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I usually have a stable mood throughout most of the year, but on average there's 1 - 1.5 month each year that I go into a fast cycle of hypomania, depression and mixed episode. During this period, I can feel manic during the day and depressed during the night. It doesn't really seem to fit the description of bipolar-I, bipolar-II or cyclothymia.

My mania are often triggered by falling in love with a girl. This has become very problematic. I've never been able to get a relationship because the mood swings and anxiety completely overwhelm me. The good news is I'm finally getting help for this.

This year I've been mostly struggling with depression caused by obsessive thoughts over a girl, although I did feel short bursts of hypomania as well. But thankfully no mixed episodes.

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You forgot the trigger that starts the cycle and for me that is the key the outside stimulas and mine is usually stress and this a downward cycle and if I accomplish a difficult task or problem that no one could figure out I guess this is some sort of pride and that immediately starts a upward cycle but to me all cycles are a full cycle and the only one I get stuck on recently is depression and this could and has ended with hospitalization

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You forgot the trigger that starts the cycle and for me that is the key the outside stimulas...

That is a really good question that I hadn't thought to ask, but I'm interested in knowing. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Most of the time it is outside stimulae that does it for me too, but occasionally I'll find that I start trending upward or downward for no apparent reason. That doesn't happen as often though.

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Normally have 6 or 7 episodes a year, lasting a month or two, cycle to mania that lasts like 3 or 4 weeks, but can last up to 3 months or so, to mixed that normally last 3 or 4 weeks to depression which can last any wear up to six months, had the longest stable patch lasted 5 weeks or so.

I can normally tell i am getting depressed, feel myself slowing down but mania is a tad harder so is mixed for me, mania and mixed come on sudden and depression seems more gradual.

Triggers are normally major life stresses but notice a patten in my cycling the past year was, 3 months depressed then 3 weeks manic, then 3 months depressed, 3weeks mixed, then 3 months depressed a month manic, then 2 months depressed and so on......

Some are defiantly more severe than others, as in some land me in hospital some don't, some i do worst stuff and cause more damage and others don't.

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Edited:

Depression comes on slow and fools me. Hypo/mania/mixed comes on fast.

Episodes before meds lasted months and months. After meds, they last weeks to months depending on how effective meds are.

Severity of one pole used to indicate severity of other.

Cycle starts down then used to go hypomanic. Later, it went mixed to hypo/manic. Later still, to mixed manic.

I don't really seem to cycle since meds. I had a problem with hypo/mania for a few years, but went back to euthymia. Now, I'm struggling with a mildish depression that I fear will get worse.

When you feel yourself having little signs, go to your doc to have your meds adjusted before you end up in a full episode.

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I tend to swing hypo-manic quite often, everything sets me off to hypomania. I have mild 'down' episodes if I'm bored, lonely, something went wrong. I don't have manic or depressed episodes anymore, they stopped after ECT.

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I really appreciate all of the responses, it gives me a bit more context for understanding this stuff. I'm still trying to understand my dx, really, because I swing over long periods of time and it's not even been a year since the dx. All I really have to go on is the year and a half I've been back in therapy and some retrospective "is that what that was?" for years past. Tdoc and I figure that major swings happen about once a year for me, but last months at a time in each direction. I did have a shorter upswing earlier in the year, but it was pretty mild.

Stacia: I've found that the upswings come on a lot faster than the downswings too, but they also tend to pass more quickly (relatively) for me. The depressions, which last longer, usually have a longer slide too.

Sandorfalot: Thanks for sharing your experience -- I love your sig line: "I hate being bipolar. It's awesome!" :-)

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My depressions do seem to creep in slowly, usually with loss of motivation as the primary first indicator. Then I start isolating a lot, sleeping more, and all i want to do is read random books to stop passive death wishes and whatnot..... No fun.

Hypo/mixed/manic is more rapid, and hard to control. The trigger is usually too much outside stress, or a poor med decision. Once in one of THOSE episodes I can be expected to be heavily medicated for months in order to function, and restabilizing takes about 9 months, it sucks. I will usually also dip below euthymic before once again restabilizing. No fun.

I can identify triggers easily.... lack of sleep, racing thoughts, etc. It's just that catching them in time is usually rather difficult and involves SUPERB amounts of medication, and even then, I'm usually screwed.

That said, when stable, I can stay stable for long periods of time.

But if I'm off, I'm usually extremely, totally off. That said, I am extremely BP I to the max, so not everyone has such extreme cycles as I do. Learning to manage them and accept them has been.... difficult. I am finding DBT to be helpful in terms of coping skills rather than medication (though medication will probably ALWAYS have to be part of it, to an extent).

Anna

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My depressions do seem to creep in slowly, usually with loss of motivation as the primary first indicator. Then I start isolating a lot, sleeping more, and all i want to do is read random books to stop passive death wishes and whatnot..... No fun.

Hypo/mixed/manic is more rapid, and hard to control. The trigger is usually too much outside stress, or a poor med decision. Once in one of THOSE episodes I can be expected to be heavily medicated for months in order to function, and restabilizing takes about 9 months, it sucks. I will usually also dip below euthymic before once again restabilizing. No fun.

I can identify triggers easily.... lack of sleep, racing thoughts, etc. It's just that catching them in time is usually rather difficult and involves SUPERB amounts of medication, and even then, I'm usually screwed.

Seriously, are we the same person? (No, really. I'm glad I'm not psychotic, or I would be suspicious.) It is so reassuring to read your descriptions of your BP, because it makes me feel less like a one of a kind freakazoid. We're two of a kind freakazoids... ;)

That said, when stable, I can stay stable for long periods of time.

Except this. I've never been truly stable-- even when I am mostly stable, I still go up and down multiple times a year. I won't know what hit me if I actually stabilize on my current meds.

Sorry OP, this doesn't really answer your question. I have to admit, when I read the title, I thought it was something to do with sex...

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My depressions do seem to creep in slowly, usually with loss of motivation as the primary first indicator. Then I start isolating a lot, sleeping more, and all i want to do is read random books to stop passive death wishes and whatnot..... No fun.

Oh, I hear that. I listen to talk radio in the car and watch a lot more television when I'm in that mode, because it reduces thinking. Same with being unconscious. Sometimes I think that's why I sleep more when I'm depressed, actually. Often I'm not even tired, I just can't stand being awake with myself anymore.

Sorry OP, this doesn't really answer your question. I have to admit, when I read the title, I thought it was something to do with sex...

I can rarely resist a double-entendre, even when I AM feeling depressed. ;-)

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I used to have severe depressions that lasted for months to over a year. I recall being depressed for two years once, but it was pre-diagnosis. After I was treated, they became shorter, but still lasted months. Then they stopped for 5 years. Then I started having mostly irritable hypomanias, and a mixed episode here and there. I had been stable for several months when I went off the rails in July. An AAP tamped it down for a bit, but it is coming back.

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