For both a manic and a hypomanic episode, during the period of disturbed mood and increased energy, three or more of the following symptoms (four if the mood is only irritable) must be present and represent a noticeable change from your usual behavior:
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
- Decreased need for sleep (for example, you feel rested after only three hours of sleep)
- Unusual talkativeness
- Racing thoughts
- Increased goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or agitation
- Doing things that are unusual and that have a high potential for painful consequences — for example, unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions or foolish business investments
I don’t get full-on manic episodes anymore because I’m on Lamictal, a mood stabilizer. I still get hypomanic episodes though, which I’ve adapted to quite well. I’m hypomanic right now. It’s like a turbo boost. I imagine this is what speed feels like. (I’ll never know because my psychiatrist told me that drugs might break my brain.) Plenty of motivation, energy, courage, creativity. It’s a good time to get things done and make plans. (I think this is probably why I’ve finally submitted any of my work for publication after around 13 years of constant writing.)
As opposed to Manic Me, who does stupid things, Hypomanic Me is like this stronger, braver, smarter version of me that comes around and gets things done. She makes strangely correct decisions and sets good goals. (“Strangely” because in my life so far, I have been wrong much more often than I’ve been right.) At the beginning of the year, she decided (among other things) that I was supposed to quit Epival, get my driver’s license, move to the city, and lose weight. These were some of the best decisions I’ve ever made towards becoming a healthier and more functional person. And the other goals she set – join a nonprofit, find a new job, travel abroad with a friend, attend the wakeboarding nationals – I didn’t get these things done this year, but they would have been good for me too if I had.
Normal Me is this sort of affable lump that is quietly sad and self-contained in her daily affairs. (For all my aggressive emotionality online – things I write and in messaging – I’m pretty sure that I present meekly in meatspace.) Except, of course, when she gets pissed off. Then she rages quietly, but like a boiling cauldron full of hatred and broccoli stew that is bubbling over and ready to singe the eyebrows off anyone who comes too close.
Depressed Me is a pathetic thing for whom I am torn between loathing and pity. She cries a lot; she feels like she is drowning in sadness and wants to grab anything to stay afloat; she is in pain all the time and can think of nothing but to make it stop, consequently she thinks about herself all the time. She isn’t kind, all she has are sentiments that don’t translate into action. She’s selfish. She’s lazy. She’s cowardly. She’s weak. She’s not like other people who can work through the pain; all she wants is to make it go away.
the hardest person in the world to be kind to is the person you once were, the person you are trying hard to no longer be. – Andrea Gibson