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difference between "normal life" and hypomania?


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Hi all, I'm very new here. I actually created an account because I've been pretty confused and distressed about what's been going on with me.

So, long story short, my issues started about 3 years ago (I'm 20 now), but it wasn't until a year ago that I got proper help & was diagnosed with GAD and MDD. I've only had 3 "real" depressive episodes and am actually just getting out of the last one. My anxiety has been well controlled for a while but sometimes makes me overly worried/anxious about stuff because, well, that's what it does.

Recently I've been thinking about this period in my life, beginning a little after I started college 2ish years ago, where I felt absolutely on top of the world, more confident than I had ever been before. I think I suppressed it a bit because I knew it was unusual (I was really in denial about having *any* mental health problems for a while), but looking back it seems a little uncharacteristic--I spent almost all my savings, committed to a bunch of stuff, made a lot of friends who thought I was wild (I'm actually kinda shy). Then within a couple weeks I had crashed and felt really terrible and my life kind of started falling apart. But it's hard for me to tell how much of it was situational, because I had been experiencing low-moderate grade depression for a while before that and college was a big change for me.

And now, over the past week I've been feeling kind of weird and high on energy, but still with a depressed mood (I was quite down and feeling suicidal over the past month), and then I woke up yesterday feeling quite a bit better mood-wise, and today I feel really a lot better about myself and have been cleaning, working, etc. Now, it is hard for me to get a perspective on what it means to be "normal" and healthy vs in a hypomanic state, like what is the distinction there? I feel a bit out of control and am worried I'm headed for a weird place, but I don't know how to tell what's "normal" anymore. Sorry if I am not articulating myself well! 

I know you can't diagnose me, etc, but I would just like some personal viewpoints, because I want to make sure I am staying safe and all that. 

PS: I am seeing a psych and therapist regularly but am a bit afraid to bring this up in fear of sounding stupid, but I might if anyone can give me their own personal opinions here.

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Thanks for your reply! I really appreciate it. I just worry that it is the GAD talking and I am being paranoid, because I have been known to go all "OMG I have cancer" before, but I've always been too embarrassed to bring those things up with a doctor. Generally I can rationalize "ok you're not dying don't worry", but here I have no idea what's happening.

 

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Definitely bring this up with your doctor. You're around the age that bipolar tends to manifest. If your doctor knows you might be having hypomania, then he/she can look out for these symptoms and make a decision him/herself.

That being said, I know it can be embarrassing to unload certain things to doctors. But in my experience, it's the right thing to do. 

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Quote

PS: I am seeing a psych and therapist regularly but am a bit afraid to bring this up in fear of sounding stupid,

I agree with others that you should definitely bring this up with your psychiatrist (pdoc).  If you are afraid to bring this up and don't because you feel like you might sound stupid, you may end up worse than what you wrote in your OP.  IMO better to start telling pdoc now so things dont' get worse.

And like said in an earlier post, you could always print this out and hand it to pdoc to read himself before you start talking.  I do that almost every week when I have a pdoc appt and it is extremely helpful so I don't have all the stuff I want to tell him backed up in my head, trying to remember every detail.

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You guys are right. I don't see my pdoc for over a month (mine is awful so I have to wait to get a new one--but trust me waiting is better than going to see this lady). 

I guess my question is, what are some things I can do to self-monitor to see whether I am experiencing hypomania or just normal levels of life happiness, etc? I am not always great at being self-aware when I'm going through some kind of episode, but I can always try.

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Maybe you could keep a journal, and every day write down how you are feeling, what you are doing that day, and anything else you want to write, or not.  Then you will be able to look back in your journal to see if there is a pattern of some type.

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Keep a mood journal. Here's one: https://www.depakote.com/Content/Pdf/Mood-Tracker.pd

Keep track of how much you're sleeping (even a one or two hours difference is significant).

Monitor how much you are spending on non-essential items. 

Keep an eye on how many activities and responsibilities you want take on.

Ask friends and family - people who know you well - if you seem normal.

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Thanks for the mood journal link. I have been using it and I think it's a great tool

I'm starting to wonder if this is a delayed side effect/reaction from the Abilify I'm taking. I guess there is no real way to tell but I am sending a message to my pdoc to see what she says about it. Maybe she can cut down my dose or something and see if that helps.

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