Friday, August 22, 2014

Hypomania. Here's How To Manage It.


What is hypomania?

If you are not bipolar, "hypomania" may be a normal, pleasant part of your personalty. Some people are naturally high-energy and don't need much sleep. Hypomania won't make you have problems in your life. You won't fall into depressive episodes in your life either. And yes, you are very, very lucky. 

If you are bipolar, hypomania is a low-grade mania. If you are Bipolar, Type II, this is the worst your mania will get. It can cause problems for you with making poor, impulsive decisions. It can "crash" into a deep depression that could be morbidly deep. So, yes, you do need to manage your hypomania, because it can do a lot of damage in your life.

But, unless you are Bipolar, Type I,  it won't grow and exacerbate to the point where it can make you psychotic or need to be hospitalized. Hypomania, for Bipolar I, is a sign that you are not stable and you are in danger of attaining great heights of instability. Sadly, I am a Bipolar I. Happily, I now know what to do about this problem.

Experienced sufferers of Bipolar I may go into terror when they hear their doctor tell them they are "hypomanic." Will the mania grow to an all-consuming point where you will be unable to contain your behavior? Truthfully, you don't know. Even with the best hypomania management techniques, there are no guarantees. Yet, if you don't try, it's likely your hypomania will escalate.

So, here is a very simple guide of what to do.

(1) Stop Freaking Out About It: "Freaking out" and worrying about it and feeling powerless and helpless will ramp hypomania up.

(2) Let the people you are closest to and see most often know the symptoms of hypomania and ask them to point them out to you when they see them. 

Common Early Symptom List:
*Intense, high-anxiety.
*Unusually strong irritability.
*Behavior out of the ordinary for you (You might hear people say, "You're not acting like yourself.")
*Ability to do much more work than usual, more efficiently.
*Something traumatic happens and you feel no reaction. "I must be dealing with this really well!" Um, no. (Caveat: Yes, you may be learning to cope better- Yet numbness followed by euphoria may indicate that you have been blindsided by something.)
*Intensely happy, out of the blue, for absolutely no reason. "Wow. What happened? Was I just enlightened?" Um, no.

Full List

(3) Follow your doctor's instructions to the letter even when that is the last thing in the world you want to do- and it will be. (If you are laughing hysterically alone in your apartment like you are naturally blissfully high, do you really want to take that pill your doctor said to take right away to make it stop?) I can answer that easily for you. NO, you will certainly NOT want to do that.

SO.. Poster time. Post, somewhere in your home, what can happen if you do not follow your doctor's instructions.

Sample Poster Contents:
*Mania feels good but mania will not be good if I let it control me.
*Mania can land me in the hospital.
*Mania can quickly lead to bankruptcy.
*Mania leads me to do things I'm ashamed of later.
*Mania scares my family.
*Mania can crash into severe depression.
Stop. Do all you can to make it stop. (Personalize this more based on your experience.)

(4) Do Things You Really Should Be Doing Anyway:
Go intentionally slowly about your life. LOTS of pauses. LOTS of breaks. REST. Take a "thought vacation." Very little about what you think about while you are manic is meaningful and that often feels overwhelming and frustrating. So, don't even bother trying to figure some things out. Accept confusion for now. Remember- You are not well. So, treat yourself like it. Relax.

DO correct errors in logic. Practice mindfulness more conscientiously. Take almost nothing you are worried about or fixated on seriously. Live your life in little "bites," even though you want to woof it all down at once! Breathe more. Walk more. The storms can pass instead of escalate. But, monitor, monitor, monitor and take care, care, care. Make relaxation a primary goal.

(5) Ride it out, and as long as you are doing what your doctor said, enjoy the creative flood you may be having. Sometimes, hypomania gives you ideas for new projects and the impetus to start to carry them out. As it grows toward increased mania, however, your thoughts will get so scattered and overwhelming, your work will lose focus completely. Watch the process. Monitor and tell your doctor when you start to see this.

Crisis Plan: How To Nip It In The Bud Early

Stressful events and trauma can immediately trigger bipolar disorder, creating a mess of misfired neurotransmitters and chemical flooding. So, make a list in advance of what you will do, step by step, as soon as you have the awareness that something traumatic or stressful has happened to you, even if you don't feel a thing. Follow this list very carefully. 

#1 should be, "Call your doctor." Yes, your doctor. Call him before you call your family, your therapist or your minister. Doctor. He needs to know you need more monitoring. #2 and the rest are up to you, but "choice options" are best. For example: "I will sit and say certain prayers OR I will call my Aunt Mary." You don't know what you'll be in the mood for, but you will need simple choices, so don't give yourself more than two to choose from for each line. Write down your own personalized steps for crisis time. Add your crisis plan to your poster of why you need to do what your doctor says. That's the best idea.

Possible Other Helps:

* Intensely emotional music. Some recommend not listening to intense music, because it could make you more emotional, but intense music contains my hypomania. Unsure why. I have really strong feelings, get tired and let go of them when the song is over. So, give me Imogen Heap or Regina Spektor, Rachmaninoff, or Andrea Bocelli. I don't care the style. Just give me intense. For others, soothing music might be better, but I am just not a "Yanni person."

*Take your mind off worry with art, poetry or musical composition. 

*Meditation and prayer.


  1. I don't have bipolar (at least I don't think I do, although I do seem to have mild mania spells occasionally) but I do have really bad depression and anxiety to the point where I can get physically ill and even suicidal. I found this site online where you can make a "WRAP Plan," which is basically where you can create a plan to monitor your own symptoms, and to help others notice your symptoms as well. You can also specify what you want people to do to help you, from ways of being there for you when you're experiencing mild symptoms, to a crisis plan with which hospital you want to go to and who will watch your pets if you experience severe symptoms. The online version is at, but you can also find guidelines online for creating one.

  2. Angel, WRAP Plans are great. I used to teach the WRAP program. The WRAP program goes a step further than what I wrote, into the realm of what to do if you DO end up "over the edge" and needing to be hospitalized. That's important to figure out too. This short guide I wrote is specific only to hypomania and only to containing it, and I hope it is useful with that aspect.