Hypomania takes you from off the ground! The British Psychological Society defines it as “elation and overactivity”, and this experience is common in our society (BPS, 2010). Hypomania can be particularly problematic for my life with bipolar. And, I argue, it can be troublesome for the general public too.
I met some people at an event one night and I felt attracted to a particular lady. I happened to feel quite low, a sadness closely related to depression. But when I spoke to this lady, I bounced from sadness to highness, all in a matter of seconds. And this bouncing can occur quite frequently in social situations. With a friend, my eyes can bounce to the right with one idea and bounce to the left with another, thereby not maintaining eye contact and not connecting. Behind my bouncing, there is a fear of intimacy: I often find it uncomfortable to be up close and personal with people. Intimacy is both my greatest wish and my greatest fear. Instead of trying to escape, I would do well to maintain eye contact with the person next to me.
Referring to his clients in a hypomanic state, psychiatrist Bernard Murphy says, “When they’re high, there’s a distance. It is better to face the normal fluctuations of affect which are normal in life”.
I am lying in bed with my thoughts racing. I just published a blog post after spending a lot of time on it. But I recall a possible typo or a possible sentence that could be rephrased. So I edit my blog late at night and I still feel wired. My sleep becomes even more disturbed and the next morning I am left with a headache and a feeling of unrest. However, overactivity is no longer a major part of my life. Meditation awakes me to the danger of unrest and medication aids my sleep. The days of excessive work and play are almost over.
There is a link between people with hypomanic traits and creativity. Martin Luther was noted to be in a hypomanic state when he devoted enormous energy to writing theological tracts to defend his position on the Reformation (Andreasen, 2008). However, he also experienced periods of intense despair which arguably could have been lessened if he wrote within a normal range of affect. It is reported that Robert Schumann composed most of his musical works when hypomanic, but he attempted suicide twice and died in a mental health hospital (Jamison, 1993).
Other hypomanic behaviour was seen in Industrialist Henry Ford who sailed off on a luxury steamer on a whim in 1915 to personally end World War I and bring world peace (New York Times). My friend says, “You have loads of extra energy and everyday tasks are much easier, and you are more productive at work”. While this state seems absolutely fantastic, I think the hypomanic disconnect is ultimately harmful for her. And I would urge you, friends, to get an elderly person’s opinion on “overexcitement”.
The Latin term Agere Contra – act against or go against self is the best advice during this time of great seduction. Consider it part of your psycho-spiritual development. When you notice the symptoms of hypomania – slow down, turn off the internet, focus on your breath, and return to that still point where you are connected with your world once again.