"I fell from the dizzying heights of hypomania" | MHT – Mental Health Today

Posted: April 28, 2020 at 2:47 am


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Ann-Marie D'Arcy Sharpe 27 April 2020

Throughout my teenage years I really struggled with mental illness but, at the time, I had no idea what was going on. All I knew is that I was lost, confused, feeling out of control, and in emotional pain. For a long time I thought that I was "just a bad person".

In my mid-twenties I received my bipolar disorder diagnosis and finally got the help I needed.

Looking back, I understand that during my teenage years I had very few - if any - periods of mental stability. Ifell from the dizzying heights of hypomania down to soul crushing depression and back up again, over and over again. It was a truly horrendous, destabilising time in my life.

Now that I understand my disorder and I have more self-awareness, I can recognise clear signs of hypomania throughout my teenage years.

Acting out of character Most of the time I was hypomanic in my teenage years I can see that I was acting extremely out of character. I knew that at the time, sometimes even while it was happening, but I felt like I had no control over my behaviour at all. It was terrifying. I was saying and doing things that I would never have done if I was my usual self.

Risky behaviour Unfortunately, I engaged in a lot of risky behaviour in my teenage years during episodes of hypomania.

I was binge drinking a lot, I partied a lot, and because of this I was often around people I didnt really know, in situations that probably werent safe. I often walked home alone or ended up in places Id never been with no way to get home. Im incredibly lucky that nothing too awful happened as a result of these situations.

Hypersexuality As much as I am ashamed to say it, hypersexuality was one of the hypomanic symptoms I struggled with the most during my teenage years. Its one of the risky behaviours I engaged in, and it has been difficult to get past that.

Barely sleeping Coming home from parties or nights out during the early hours of the morning meant I barely slept when hypomanic.I was going to bed around 4am or 5am and even then, I was lucky if I slept for a couple of hours before I woke up again.

Many of these nights of not sleeping were the catalyst for me crashing back down into a deep depression.

I would suddenly come back down to earth' and be absolutely distraught at what I had done and the way I had been acting. Those depressions were some of the worst, and most dangerous, I have ever experienced in my life.

Restlessness I remember finding it really difficult to sit still or to engage inmy usual activities, like watching TV with my family or going for a nice day out. I always felt like I was being held down, like I needed to break free. I felt like I constantly needed to be doing something,which usually meant doing something risky, going out with friends, or going to a party.

As much as I tried to focus on education and various jobs, I found that I was entirely incapable of focusing on normal life. As hard as I tried, my mind would race ahead to other things that seemed far more important, even vital, at the time.

Spending money I didnt have I spent money I didnt have on silly things which seemed like the most important thing in the world at the time: a night out with friends, a whole host of new outfits, or a trip to visit a friend who lived far away.

Being irritable When my parents or friends couldnt keep up with how fast I was talking, or with the thoughts I was having, I became very frustrated and irritable.

When they didnt understand my actions it reminded me that I too didnt understand them and I felt increasingly alone. I often was short tempered, snappy, and harsh with those I love.

The present day: learning to release guilt and forgive myself Thankfully I now have the treatment and support that I needed when I was younger.

My hypomanic episodes are far less frequent. Im able to recognise indicators of their arrival and when I do experience hypomania, its far less severe.

I no longer struggle with hypersexuality and very rarely struggle with excessive spending or other risky behaviours. My hypomanic episodes tend to centre around racing thoughts and great ideas which I never finish even though they seem absolutely genius at the time.

I have a medication regime which works for me and the tools through therapy to manage my disorder.Acombination of an anti-depressant and mood stabiliser to be the most helpful for me, along with a sedativeto take when needed. Ihad to try a lot of different combinations and types of medication to get to where I am now . I find general talking therapy to be helpful in supporting me to address the root issues and triggers.

I have an amazing husband who helps me to manage my episodes when they do happen, and I feel so much more in control of my life. While bipolar disorder is lifelong, now that its well managed, I feel more me than I have since I was a child. Im happy and Im thriving.

As ateenager I was aware that I was acting out of character a lot of the time, but didn't know why or know that it was mental illness. Now that I know it's hypomania and I have my diagnosis, I tend to be able to feel rising.

However, once I'm actually in a hypomanic episode, I'm rarely aware that this is the case until afterwards. My husband may tell me that I'm having a hypomanic episode but, at the time, I often refuse to believe him. Sometimes I'm able to grasp that self awareness, but that's something I'm still working on.

Now I know that that time in my life wasnt my fault. I understand my behaviour back then was the result of a powerful, uncontrolled mental illness combined with a very lost young girl in immense pain. So, I have been able to forgive myself.

That period of my life is still hard to talk about and to think about, but Ive released the guilt and shame I carried with me for so long. Instead, I have replaced those negative emotions with a sense of intense pride in myself that I got through that, that I survived, and that I am here today.

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"I fell from the dizzying heights of hypomania" | MHT - Mental Health Today

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April 28th, 2020 at 2:47 am

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