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This post has been a long time coming.  Over the past few weeks, my wife and me managed to find a few opportunities to explore how some of her depression (? bipolar disorder type II – ambivalence continues) mood states look like.  This set a tone of self awareness that has been incredibly helpful.  We even worked on together a draft symptom list of how depressed mood looks / feels like to her, like I started for anxiety.

All the books I’ve recently reviewed say that hypomania mood,  particularly the milder spectrum, is the hardest for sufferers to see themselves.  This makes sense.  When a person finally moves out of th unpleasantness of anxiety / depression,  they are not likely to notice feeling good (really good), as being a problem.  What’s wrong with feeling good?!%?!   I have seen many ‘self-aware’ bloggers write excellent accounts of this difficult to describe mood state.

The problem for my wife, is that there is there is a narrow space on her mood spectrum before feeling good slips into the ‘spaciness’ & ‘floating’ of hypomania, and not much further before it becomes more severe and unpleasant (dysphoric mania – to be explored separately, because it’s so different).

[Just thinking about this stuff to write it down, is making me stressed and causing my reflux to worsen]

Below I have tried to  describe what my wife’s hypomania looks like to me.  Everyone is different.  Eventually, I will invite her to review it (scary – shit shit shit) and contribute her perspective.  I will try place descriptions of the more severe spectrum at the end of each category.

A couple final introductory remarks.  When considering many of these ‘symptoms’ individually, it’s common to think:  “What’s wrong with that!”  or  “We all have moments like that”.  I have discovered that when many of these things happen together, it often seems to progress into a spiralling negative shift in mood, and the inevitable fall after the high.  Also, some of these signs could be considered coming from concurrent ADHD, but often times it’s just the mood disorder.  Definitely need for experienced specialist to differentiate, to guide treatment plan.

Using the system described in Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, here is the list I came up with for my wife, for hypomania state:

Hypomania – 1st draft

What partner says:
I’m feeling a bit ‘spacey’
I got distracted
I know I get a bit ‘floaty/floating’ sometimes.
I’m just really busy
Stop trying to control me, invading my personal space

Do you think I’m hypomanic! (defensively/angrily)

Relations with others:
Very friendly with her friends, especially on Whatsapp
Outgoing, confident and talkative
Doing extra, unplanned acts of kindness for friends
Irritable and impatient with our kids

Tension with partner over family schedule and car sharing

Partner thoughts:
Life is great
Increased flow of ideas about running the household
Creative with music and humor
Difficulty prioritizing important vs urgent  (not important)
Becomes embarrassed / anxious about recent social interactions

Thinking partner is criticizing, controlling or boring (ouch! 😉 )

Medications:
No change
Occasionally forgeting to take night med 

Work obligations:
Feels confident and excited with work
Takes on extra comittments, sometimes regretted after
Becoming overstretched and late to appointments
Disorganised and neglect of home responsibilities

What partner does:
Speaking faster, more jumping of ideas
More time texting with friends on phone
Playing word games on phone
Mindreading partners thoughts, assumed negative
Finishes my sentences – says I’m talking too slowly
Overstimulated by noise
Agitated and irritated by minor triggers

Sexual behavious:
Increased libido
More frequent sexting, with me only – thankfully

Physical signs:
Happy and smiling 🙂
Laughing more frequently
Face looks preoccupied or stressed

Rapid mood fluctuations, to angry / teary unexpectly

Eating & Drinking:
Begins eating healthier, eg salads
Drinks more freshly squeezed juice (healthy – I know)

Occasionally drinking a little too much alcohol

Changes in daily activities:
Less tired
Increased distractability and procrastination
Takes on extra acts of kindness for people in community, unplanned
Breaks in usual exercise, learning, prayer routine
Trouble focussing on family schedule, meals, bedtime etc
Avoiding or too busy for usual communication with partner,

Spending behaviour (I am capable of many of these):
Increased shopping activity
More unplanned purchases
Expanding kitchenware supplies
Purchasing excessive quantities, eg wall paint

 

Sleep schedule:
Going to sleep later, and later, because busy / not tired
Less sleep needed, less tired
Waking up early, by alarm

 

Exercise level:
Increased exercising, everyday
or becoming too busy to fit in exercise in schedule
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