Bipolar hypomania during a pandemic

I’ve been hypomanic for nearly two weeks. My therapist knows, my psychiatrist knows, my partner knows.

Most importantly of all, I know. I know why I feel this bad, I’m not in denial. I’m not enjoying the creative edge. I’m not resisting treatment.

But I’m already in treatment and on medication. They may be able to tweak things a bit, but⁷ sometimes you have to ride out the symptoms and stay focused on day to day improvements.

A hypomanic episode commonly manifests with unusual gaiety, excitement, flamboyance, or irritability, along with potential secondary characteristics like restlessness, extreme talkativeness, increased distractibility, reduced need for sleep, and intense focus on a single activity.

I wake up in the morning feeling startled, like a sledgehammer hit my chest. I take meds and try to slow down my heart rate with breathing tools.

I get dressed and start my day. I need to take tasks one at a time. Get dressed, check on the cats, go downstairs to make coffee.

I’m not hungry so I must work very hard to get myself to eat. Same with lunch. Making a peanut butter sandwich is quite an accomplishment. My body isn’t feeling hunger so I rely on my brain to know when to eat.

It is hard to concentrate. I do one task at a time. But I distract myself so I don’t get fixated on one project. I blog, I work on the masque project, I watch General Hospital, I read, I work on cat projects, etc. And when I feel really bad, I watch Designing Women.

This is so much worse because my laptop is in the shop waiting on a part. Blogging and project management are very tough to accomplish on a phone. My hands, wrists, and fingers ache all of the time.

I’ve been without laptop for 24 days and it wasn’t working great for a month or so before that. My friend’s son kindly agreed to repair it b/c he loves cats, but he’s stuck waiting on a part. For unknown period because it’s coming from overseas. He’s a lovely young man who did me a huge favor.

This laptop has been sturdy. I bought it gently used from Brittney Chantele so it has provenance and artistic history. I feel inspired using it, especially knowing it’s been repaired and not simply discarded. I’m also pleased I kept it clean for a cat lady.

But I am struggling. Trying to do all of this pandemic work on my phone and old tablet is soooooo frustrating. My fingers hurt, my eyes hurt. It’s not helping my struggle to tamp down hypomania symptoms.

If you have a laptop that I can borrow, please let me know. I just need a real keyboard and access to internet, no apps. It has to use Windows. I will take good care of it and will pay my friend’s son to clean it for you to remove cat hair.

I can’t justify buying new nor do I have energy to do my research. I’m definitely struggling. This could help.

The next phase for me is usually hypomania to bipolar depression. My treatment team and I are working on it. This is what some mental illness journeys look like. They are painful, jagged periods. We like broken electronics can be cast aside for new or we can be healed and bring our experiences with us.

I’m asking for help because there are many balls in the air.

But fairy godmothers don’t deliver new laptops right now.

I haven’t had a hypomanic episode lasting this long since 2010 so I’m also a little scared.

I’m also scared that when it does break, I’ll sink into depression. Bipolar depression is nasty.

One of my biggest symptoms is irritability. Offering me unsolicited advice on what I should do or try or read is oh-so-not helpful.

When soneone says “Have you tried <insert suggestion>?” Its infuriating. Of course I know fresh air, good sleep, distressing are helpful. But its not stress. The stress of our larger situation makes it worse, but a bath bomb and candle is not comforting to me.

Asking me what I need is helpful. I need a laptop, my project funded, cat food donations, pre-planned video chats, comfort food, and the other things most people need.

Being hit with this plus allergies is super hard. It peels away the thin layer of resilience tied to that marker. But I have inhalers, meds, vaporizer, and I’ve even pulled out the Vicks. I drink hot tea. All the usual stuff.

None of this is meant to portray me as some suffering fool who nobly sacrifices for the greater good. Nothing noble here. This sucks.

I’m fortunate enough that I saw this coming and recruited a strong team for the masque project. I can take breaks. See, I know what I need.

There’s nothing noble or brave or genius about hypomania. It feels terrible and doesn’t relent.

I’m fortunate that in the evenings, I feel better and can get to sleep. Usually. But I can also feel my revved up thoughts pushing me to watch one more hour of MSNBC, write one more email, etc. My nighttime meds make me drowsy so I take them earlier now.

Using my tools, including meds, does help and I still know intellectually that I can tough this out.

If you are struggling, please ask for help. You deserve support and peace of mind.

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