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Mania denial. Seeking those with similar experiences


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I posted this in reddit a couple of days ago and got no relevant replies. I'm hoping some of y'all may have similar experiences. I feel as if I have unipolar depression and I'm stretching the definitions of mania to fit me.

 

I certainly get depressed. That part of the diagnosis is easy to accept, but the mania is tough to distinguish from normality. I went in for a second opinion at the same office I was diagnosed at 3 years ago but this time only spoke with the physicians assistant. I brought up my concerns with not trusting my diagnosis but I also came in because I was too damn depressed to function. She confirmed that the lady who took my family's history was very thorough. What follows is the journal entry I made to flesh out what symptoms I believe to be mania and my experience of it. I'm hoping someone can find similarities with their experiences. I have put things in parentheses that weren't in my entry for clarification.

"Generally characterized by a strong-willed drive towards an activity/interest. (I pick up hobbies for a couple months at a time) Can spend every hour of my free time researching or practicing this interest, and may eat into time usually reserved for sleep. Mood is like that of a busy businessman. (Very focused on the hobby) Quickly work up a mental itinerary of tasks to progress as a journeyman in my chosen activity. Tend to ignore social obligations and relationships when "in the grind". Can't get enough work in on the topic. May spend anywhere from ~$20-$1800. (Though I never bleed my bank account dry or let it get into financial trouble.) Complete immersion in the lifestyle of the chosen hobby, eating acai bowls because I practice BJJ, start seeking out and befriending musicians when I'm learning guitar. (Seems normal in hindsight) My identity becomes invested in the activity, I consider myself a musician and my life philosophy branches out from music. (I see the world around me as it relates to music and wonder how I could ever live without it. Even though I've never cared as much for the 20+ years I've been alive. Also guitar will be my example hobby for the remainder of this entry.) My thoughts are overcome by music or guitar related ideas. I pickup on a memory from childhood, my father playing the guitar perhaps, and use it as an anchor for why I'm so suddenly obsessed. This becomes a feeling that this was my destiny and I've finally found my passion in life."

I've done such things as currency trading, CAD, lock picking, psychedelics, filmmaking, among others.

My life cycles from depression to the above pattern of "mania" a few times a year. I may pick up 2 or 3 things a year and in between I'm generally very bored, directionless, sometimes full blown depressed though not often.

To me it seems more like hypomania if it is mania at all. It feels so normal to me and I'm ecstatic to have a direction in life. They diagnosed me with type 1 though because these hobby periods of my life prevent me from having a long-term direction and interfere with social obligations.

I'm asking for advice because I only have my life experience to go by and hopefully if some of y'all share in the same experiences as me I can begin to trust in my diagnosis.

If you took the time to read some of this I appreciate you for listening!

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I can relate to the obsessiveness you're describing. When I'm manic I will often become fixated on an idea which I think solves all of the problems of the social sciences (I'm a graduate student). This ends up preventing me from doing any meaningful work, though... I'll do a lot of talking and arguing and book buying, but I won't write anything or do any real research.

The degree to which this really impacts my life varies... I think that a lot of my episodes have been long hypomanic episodes. The manic episodes I have had stand out pretty obviously since during them I have marked psychosis. 

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Thank you for your reply aura! Can I ask if you didn't have marked psychosis during manic episodes if you think you would find your hypomania to be difficult to distinguish? To me, what I describe as hypomania has historically been what I would call my baseline. I always though I was much more driven and productive than others and I was gonna leave them behind when I'm not depressed. I wish I could hop in a person without bipolar disorder's mind so I could compare experiences!

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54 minutes ago, BipolarTypeUno said:

Thank you for your reply aura! Can I ask if you didn't have marked psychosis during manic episodes if you think you would find your hypomania to be difficult to distinguish? To me, what I describe as hypomania has historically been what I would call my baseline. I always though I was much more driven and productive than others and I was gonna leave them behind when I'm not depressed. I wish I could hop in a person without bipolar disorder's mind so I could compare experiences!

I also always thought my hypo/mania was me at my best. I firmly denied having bipolar for more than a decade. I would seek out experiences that would drive my elevated mood. In hindsight, I can see how sidetracked I could get. I would be much further along in my career if I had sought treatment.

Edited by aura
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25 minutes ago, aura said:

I also always thought my hypo/mania was me at my best. I firmly denied having bipolar for more than a decade. I would seek out experiences that would drive my elevated mood. In hindsight, I can see how sidetracked I could get. I would be much further along in my career if I had sought treatment.

Thank you! This is exactly the information I'm looking for and makes me feel more at home with my diagnosis. I've got the same feelings about my career, and the sidetracking, I believe that's a good descriptor for how these hobbies make me feel in hindsight.

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I took up got obsessed with genealogy once. Couldn't work out why my husband didn't think his great grand parents being inbred was interesting. Seriously though, he has a couple of branches missing from his family tree...

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What you describe is what I call hypo mania for myself.  I have learned amazing things along the way. (laying floors, retention walls, refinishing  furniture, photography) but I stay with nothing for long. My home is filled with all the forgotten obsessions. It feeds into my introverted personality, that is more of a depressed symptom because I do not want others to distract me from the current obsession. I do not recognize it. I feel like I am perfectly normal and others are quite slow.  I can become agitated if told that I seem symptomatic. I move and talk fast, need little food.  Others see it well before i have a clue.   

At work I tend to be on fire, I am in the zone.  Very focused and even productive if left alone.  

It is quite different than a manic episode.  My manic episodes have a psychotic feature that land me in a heap load of trouble. I have little control over impulses and there is no way in hell i could focus long enough to actually commit to anything.

I fought my DX for a long time.  I was incorrectly DX'd for decades.  When i finally got a DX that made sense i still fought it for years.  Still do sometimes. 

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I agree with Dragonfly. You're describing what my hypo manias are like. Which doesn't mean you *aren't* manic, the terms you use just makes me think hypo (do not take my word, I can't diagnose you). See if you can get an appt. with your pdoc soon, to try to let your pdoc see what you are iike during an episode.

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I honestly have a hard time telling the difference between hypo and mania unless there is psychosis present. But from your description, it sounds more like hypo. One thing I've noticed is that a clean house generally means hypo for me. I can actually make quite a mess when manic, and cleaning is far from my mind when I'm in that state,

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I don't always recognize hypo/mania until I've been that way for awhile, so the mania takes longer to come down from and back to stable.  I'll start out hypo and feel good and do whatever I usually do ... but I have more energy that I had.  Then the hypo turns into mania (if I don't see the hypo there), when I will clean everything, including the tiles on the walls, and it all gets done very fast.  Almost spotless sometimes.  I also start ordering things on my credit card.  Also do stuff that I normally wouldn't do.  Sometimes I am more talkative with others (IRL).  My mood soars to complete happiness, pure bliss.  And everything I do when manic gets done really fast.

Edited by melissaw72
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10 hours ago, dragonfly23 said:

...I have learned amazing things along the way. (laying floors, retention walls, refinishing  furniture, photography) but I stay with nothing for long. My home is filled with all the forgotten obsessions. It feeds into my introverted personality, that is more of a depressed symptom because I do not want others to distract me from the current obsession. I do not recognize it. I feel like I am perfectly normal and others are quite slow....need little food....

That's exactly what I am looking for and describes me well. My closet is full of obsessions in boxes. My friends back home even refer to such episodes as phases. "He's in his filmmaking phase." I've learned to not trust such phases though and keep my money to myself but sometimes I can only make it a month before I'm overwhelmed and have to purchase that something I've been looking at!

 

9 hours ago, crtclms said:

I agree with Dragonfly. You're describing what my hypo manias are like. Which doesn't mean you *aren't* manic, the terms you use just makes me think hypo (do not take my word, I can't diagnose you). See if you can get an appt. with your pdoc soon, to try to let your pdoc see what you are iike during an episode.

I forgot my journal entry at home when I visited them but I described such things and she said it could be. I jokingly asked if it was hard for them to affirm mania without me walking in maniacally, she agreed.

 

Easily the toughest part of accepting bipolar instead of just unipolar depression is the lack of psychosis. I thought that was needed but I guess not. I found psycheducation.org last night and combined with your experiences I'm beginning to accept this. I've been taking lithium for nearly a week now and I don't feel so blind in trusting that it's the right treatment for me. Thank you all for your help!

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Oh my. Yes. I could have written your post.

I go off on what I call "rabbit trails" several times a year. I will become absolutely obsessed with a topic. Change my entire life around it and then abruptly, without warning, drop it. Mine are often centered around religious/metaphysical topics but I think that is just "my thing". I know more about certain religions than most of their members do.

It is interesting that you looked for meaning in your obsessions (as in you finding something that gave your life meaning)...I do something similar. I have always said that I can gauge where I am on the bipolar merry-go-round by how I'm feeling about God at that particular moment. If I am convinced that there is no God or if there is, He (or she or whatever) doesn't give a shit about me, I'm depressed. If I am convinced that there is God and He thinks I'm special and sends signs and wonders of His love just for me, I'm manic. If I'm just like "yeah there is probably a God." I'm in that rare middle ground between mania and depression. I think, for me, bipolar manifests in this way because I'm looking for meaning. Looking for the WHY of this life and this illness. It sounds like you are looking for meaning too...just on different topics.

I have no advice for you since obviously I'm going through the same thing.

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For me those experiences are hypomania related.

I usually get frustrated between obsessions, at least is what I tell myself to explain why I get depressed afterwards.

I'm still a driven person but when stable I'm noticing that my expectative are very realistic and even pessimist au contraire of when hypomanic.

While 'stable' there's no crash between, or if there's some, it's just a more 'proper' reaction to failure, nothing long or impairing. 

As 'stable' I can manage multiple interests better. I don't invest blind 'on the dice'. I have a foot on the ground and the outcome of my decisions are more comprehensive, I'm more patient and aware.

Now, mania, well, mania for me it's going fruit loops, sorry about the term, but I go fruit loop.

While manic,

I always have a psychotic symptom, can be a very pathetic sense of self importance and other nuances but usually it goes to bizarre and mystic, developing some pretty sticky delusions and if not managed it goes to psychotic.

Mania for me is different than social skills impairment by anything or isolation due some particular invested, at least in my case mania is more dangerous, I can risk a bunch of things that I would not while hypomanic.

Not saying that hypomania isn't a serious state but, hypomania is more like a tornado and mania is a fucking hurricane followed by volcanic activity a tsunami and the damn thing goes on.

 

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18 minutes ago, uncomfortable thoughts said:

Not saying that hypomania isn't a serious state but, hypomania is more like a tornado and mania is a fucking hurricane followed by volcanic activity a tsunami and the damn thing goes on.

^^Good way to describe it.

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