What Does Bipolar Hypomania Feel Like?

Hypomania. People haven’t generally heard of that word, but once they have, they want to know, what does bipolar hypomania feel like? This is a reasonable question with a completely unreasonable answer.

What is Bipolar Hypomania?

Hypomania can occur in many illnesses but it is a diagnostic feature of bipolar II. People with bipolar II experience hypomanias as opposed to the manias of bipolar I. I generally shortcut the definition and simply say that hypomania is like mania light.

Bipolar hypomania is not life-threatening by definition. Mania, on the other hand, is. In fact, to me hypomanias are little more than a bother. Well, a bother with the positive side effect of being a very fast way to get work done. Usually, but not always. Bipolar moods and their impacts tend to be unpredictable.

This is not the case for everyone, however. Hypomanias can jump in and destroy your life quite nicely, thanks. They remove judgement and create a sense of hypersexuality for many. This leads to, say, jumping the bones of the person next to you, over and over. Or spending money that you don’t have on Versace handbags. Or gambling away your rent money. Or writing an endless stream of gobbledygook and posting it on the internet making you seem a little, um, nutty, all the while insisting that it was genius. Or being so angry that you scream at the flies (not to mention people) that dare annoy you by entering your apartment. And other things. All of which have a habit of harming relationships and lifestyles.

What Does Hypomania Feel Like?

Like a freight train running through the middle of my head.

Like being trapped in a tiny phone booth with 12 other people and they’re all yelling at you to the point where all their voices become an untenable din.

Blur of Hypomania, Mania

Like a brain being on speed while a human, flesh body tries desperately, unsuccessfully to catch up.

Like being a genius that no one understands and being annoyed at the stupidity of everyone else.

Like being unable to complete a thought before another comes and runs over the first, blanking it out without completion.

Like jittery cells inside a solid frame. Sharp, jagged cells ripping into your flesh.

Like torment from the pulsating cells walls that won’t shut up for one moment and let you think.

Like crying and running and screaming and jumping and scratching and clawing and hitting and gnashing all at the same time.

Like tossing and turning all night long with tormenting dreams in slips of unconsciousness no matter how many sleeping pills you take.

Like anxiety created from not being able to quell the millions of thoughts or being able to facilitate the 1000s of movements being demanded of the human body all at once.

And like a million other things all happening at once inside one tiny head unable to contain them all.

And, personally, I have to keep telling myself that everything is fine because it feels like it’s really not and that I’m going to freak the hell out at the very next moment.

Dealing with Bipolar Hypomania

I’ve written before about dealing with bipolar hypomania but I think one of the things to remember about hypomania is you might not be able to think logically enough to be able to take even simple advice. Try to remember this. Try to remember that you might not be thinking logically. Try to remember that the advice you thought was good when you were thinking clearly is probably the advice you should follow now, even if you don’t feel like it.

And the most important rule is this – do not encourage bipolar hypomania. To many people bipolar hypomania feels good, especially after a prolonged depression. So they want it and they encourage it by doing things they ought not do like drinking 25 energy drinks and staying up all night long.

But remember this: the higher you fly, the farther there is to fall and the bigger the crater you’ll make once you do. Everything has a price and the price of bipolar hypomania tends to be bone-crushing depression. And that’s something no one thinks feels good.

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About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.

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  1. Pingback: The Lesser-Known Symptoms of Hypomania - Bridges to Recovery

  2. I agree with some of you that said perhaps this shouldn’t be labeled strictly as hypomania but all inall I think she is right on point in descrbing many of the things those of us go through who have a looser bipolar diagnosis and even if the label is wrong, I was happy to hear someone else knows how I feel and has experienced what I go through….ok, not happy but you know what I mean….

  3. I can’t relate to half of that. In fact, it’s been shown that you can have medication-induced hypomania without being diagnosed as bipolar II. I’m taking Prozac 40 mg and took my old Lamictal because I ran out of the Prozac for awhile and sure enough, I’m hypomanic again. It won’t last long then I’ll be somewhat sad and tired again. I get a thousand thoughts a minute, major energy, like getting up in the morning (so not me lol) and I take notes on EVERYTHING under the sun. I usually lose wt , clean and organize. My thoughts are usually very clear and of course I do a thousand things at once but feel more organized than usual. I got a lot done yesterday.
    I do really shop but have in the past. Now I’m exhausted for the day and will sit down and read or watch TV for the rest of the night.

  4. Pingback: It Really is Bipolar Disorder

  5. My x is bipolar I.
    He is always manic
    He thrives on being as evil as possible. He has directed ALL his hatred toward me.
    I’m in my late sixty’s, so is he, nearly 50 yrs of marriage.
    I filed for divorce nearly a year ago.
    He has slandered me so bad, that 2 of my kids refuse to have anything to do with me.
    I am broke, IRS took our home and every penny of equity.
    We still owe 316K to IRS.
    He destroyed our credit.
    My whole life has been in vain.
    After a yr. his sheer hatred has not let up.
    He told friends I was going to jail. That I had been arrested for violent crimes, that I hit a cop.
    He is still fabricating lies about me.
    He wants me to live in the streets. I fear it may be in my future. I can’t keep up.
    I am broke immediately after paying bills.
    He tells people that I diagnosed him as being BP. What?
    And I guess I gave him all his electric shock treatments as well. NO!
    He refuses to talk to me, and hasn’t for a solid year. How do you end 50 yrs of marriage without one spoken word.
    Because he believes his own delusions sooo deeply…so do others.
    He puts in nearly 8 hrs of work before lunch time is over. Yet he swears he is broke now so the judge will give me pennies to live on.
    He promised me he would never ever turn on me. I told him over and over I am your wife I am not your enemy, please remember that. Please seek help when you have LOST it. He has so far not abided by one promise.
    He has completely rejected all his grandchildren, all of them. He calls their mother, our first born and his favorite a Fxx’n AH. He tells her I am one too. I just cannot express this nightmare.
    If you are ill, it’s not your fault! Please seek help, and seek it in ernest and see it thru and DON’T LIE.
    Please I beg you don’t destroy your entire family. My family does nothing but fight now and are so full of
    division and we are forever fractured!
    I wish I could ask my x…”Was it truly worth it, really?”
    I am a grandmother, I love God, I am a born again Christian

  6. Hi Claire, I know your problems must seem kinda scary, I would suggest going to a good psychologist and talking to them about your feelings. After your first visit you realize that they really do want to help. It took me awhile to go to one, but afterwards I realized I should have gone sooner and that they offer great advice.

  7. Hi, two days ago I read an article about bipolar II disorder that finally explained the high that follows my depression.
    I’m 44, been depressed since I was 18 but before that, at the age of 13, I was hospitalised for meningitis/encephalitis and the doctors there thought that I exhibited “strange/immature behaviour” (I took a peek at my medical file), so they ordered me to see a psychologist.
    I saw a few doctors over the years, one even prescribed some anti-depressants because I wasn’t getting better. Anyhow, when depression leaves and I start to take off, I go through most of the symptoms that I’ve read in this blog, the anxiety, the insomnia, the genius thoughts, the fast talking, the reckless/promiscuous behaviour at times (I used to take bone-chilling risks when I was in my 20s and 30s), I usually fall crazy in love with someone whom I don’t really know and do all sorts of things and then invariably come crashing down and it’s so bad, I can’t describe it. My life stopped 27 years ago. People find me weird I think, they stay at a distance, though they don’t seem to dislike me. I have had friends but I lose touch easily.
    My own family thinks I’m a pessimist and that I should “lighten up” because “I’m wasting my life” by not living it. I have withdrawn from any kind of social life in an effort to remain calm when the high hits me and hide my depression when the low comes. Now I’m coming up again after a long period of depression and this time I searched the net and found the email address of a girl I knew at school who had told me once that she loved me. It is the only time I heard it from anyone else besides my mother. I contacted her to ask her if I had hurt her feelings then by not saying it back (although I did love her) but she didn’t remember me at all.
    Now suddenly I’m caught somewhere in the middle with my stomach tied in a painful knot, my legs won’t stop moving, feeling ridiculous and ashamed for being so full of myself, and the bad thoughts which I believed had gone are coming back. It feels there’s no escape from this cycle. Like I don’t deserve even some kind of peace. Is it possible that the child psychiatrists and the psychologist missed it? All we ever talked about was depression. I always thought that the “high” was my normal, immature, ridiculous, narcissistic, unworthy self. I’ll probably regret posting this but now I have to tell someone. Anyone.

  8. Hi Amy. I suggest you get at least one other confirmation of your diagnosis. A psychiatrist is best. Bipolar symptoms look different for everyone, even if there are similarities, we have our own combination of experiences, co-existing issues and life circumstances. Learn about what it is you are experiencing. Read, ask, research. Create a support network. Then start living. Bipolar diagnosis simply means we need a different set of life coping strategies from other people. That is okay. Sometimes we get ill and those support networks help us to manage our responsibilities and recover.
    As for your children, pay attention to their school performance. Diagnosis of ADD or ADHD should alert you to the possibility that they are susceptible to a mood disorder.
    I first remember wanting to die at age 7. I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar II at age 44. Now 47 and living better than ever. I have worked since age 15 and raised two great kids now in their twenties. One with mood disorder and one without. My goal is to set an example for them to follow. Self awareness and self care.

  9. Hi everyone :)

    I’m newly diagnosed with bi polar, I’m 24 and a mother of 2 year old twins. I have been struggling for years with anxiety and finally came across a GP who listened and cared.

    I’m so new to all this and in all honesty, I’m scared. I haven’t come across anyone with the same “mania” I seem to live, so I’m reaching out to see if anyone recognizes it..

    Basically it feels more physical for me, than mental.
    I get a surge of energy, usually at wind down/bed time that lasts 20 seconds or so and bam. Eyes wide open, ears ringing, unable to focus, racing or irregular heart beat, sweating palms only and a tightness around the whole chest. Although I’m full of energy, I feel as though it’s impossible to breathe! These used to last for 10-20 mins but will now last for hours, sometimes all night until the sun comes up and I can distract myself with mother hood. I can’t explain how uncomfortable this is and how unnerving my life becomes during these “mania” visits.

    The depression isn’t too bad, my children are my focus so any down thoughts are pushed aside because I’d never want them to grow up without me. It’s a double edged sword because when the mania hits I am fearful my body will cave in and I’ll die there right on the spot.

    Does anyone recognise or familiarize with this? So lost….

    Thank you everyone! Hope you’re all having a good day!

    • Hi Amy, I do experience this, but not during mania. It’s not really my place, but a GP diagnosed you? Or did you see a psychiatrist? Anyway, anything I say after this point take what you will, because I don’t want to be ‘that person’.

      This seems like hyper-arousal (which is not mania but an activation of our fight or flight system). I’m not a doctor, and I’m not tryin to negate your symptoms because I know they are distressing. You just want to make sure you’re getting the right support and help.

      I have Bipolar, ADHD as well as (supposedly) PTSD (which can be caused by a broad range of things, which generally causes the hyper-arousal state I refer too). http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/1443/159977/hyperarousal/

      Now I know Bipolar impacts others differently, but when I am manic, I am not really myself. It usually lasts at least 3 weeks, but it’s constant and even progressive – I progressively become more impulsive and reckless, even psychotic. I go to bed at 11.30 and I’m awake between 1.30 and 4am. I wake my wife up because I want sex. I do silly things like sing to the sound of the bathroom fan (as if I were communicating with it). I feel intoxicated with my ideas and life. I may start smelling things other people cannot (I killed several plants with bleach my last episode – thinking it would get rid of the smell). I can get super vindictive to the point where I sabotaged the neighbors car. Towards the end my mood generally becomes labile and all over the show. Then one day I will wake up and not want to exist.

      Sometimes you can have depression and mania at the same time or a mixed episode. These episodes have put me into hospital a few times, and are generally disturbing.

      Hyperarousal is more like being stuck in traffic or missing your train and then having a friend call saying you missed a great party, but you don’t ever remember being invited – all the while realising you have just lost your wallet. You become agitated, your mind starts racing over the possibilities. Your heart is pounding. You may find you’re prone to snapping. You cannot sleep and may experience panic attack and more than likely severe anxiety.

      You generally crash from both hyper-arousal and mania. Both can have your thoughts racing. Both can be distressing. But they really are different states. You’re actually more likely to think you’re crazy in hyper-arousal.

  10. Hello Natasha. I found your site this morning as I began doing searches for anything that had to do with a bipolar becoming fixated on one particular activity, especially after a very irrational or drastic life change.

    My story is long and complex, as with many “caregivers” of someone with bipolar. The woman that I have been in a relationship with for the past 6 years recently broke up with me and went directly back to her ex-husband. Her ex represented a “safe place” and thus her reasoning for going back there rather than with family or getting her own place. This of course was very crushing for me and left me spinning and doing whatever I could to get her to change course or come “back home”. This all came about after we had been struggling for a while and as a result of some disconnection between us. The way she left was very abrupt and very irrational and I was quick to question whether bipolar was at work. I think I”m the only one that sees the “big picture” and sees so many bipolar related signs with this decision.

    Of course I’ve been watching from afar, looking for signs of hypomania or anything that would support my theory that this decision was made during a very manic state, especially since it came on the tail end of a long several weeks of depression. I firmly believe that a “crash” is coming and I guess I’ve been waiting for it.

    In moving out she stressed that this was not what she wanted but because of our struggle and some mistakes on my part, she felt that the ex was her only alternative and was that “safe-place” that she needed. Since then she has uncharacteristically become “obsessed” with biking, something that I was very passionate about and something that I helped bring back into her life after her never even owning a bike when she was with the ex. Her social media documentation of doing this with her ex seems very “fast” and very deliberate, almost as if they are “stabs” at me. I might be reaching, but they’re my observations none the least and I’m worried for her. And yes, I’ve made steps to block or hide her social media so that I don’t have to see this.

    So my question to you and your followers is whether this sounds like symptoms of someone in hypomania or someone with bipolar becoming fixated on something that was a big part of the life of someone that she feels “hurt” her? I would be the person that she feels hurt her and that she was upset with enough to feel the need to “run”. Just looking for some answers, maybe even some hope.

    Thank you for all that you do. In the years of being with her I have become an advocate for mental health and illness and have learned so much over the years. Thank you.

  11. I’ve had bipolar all of my life, got diagnosed at 17, finally. Struggled with meds and abusive relationships until I finally figured it out. I was getting better sliwly, but I’m on the right meds and keep the right company. I sleep and eat as consistently as possible. I eat a high protien, low carb, low sugar and no processed food diet, and my moods and anxiety are stable. Do what makes you happy. Remember that you are not your disease. You are not impared. You can be better if you want it. Keep an action plan, keep good support, always be honest with yourself and never give in to that impulse that makes you want to screw it all up. It will pass. Idle tome is not good. Be constructive. Feed your soul. Exercise. Don’t be too serious. Love. And let go of the notion there has to be turmoil. Be steady.

    • Steph, I love what you wrote about keeping yourself/oneself/myself stable and safe. Your story sounds a lot like mine. Thanks for sharing your success story, and your history prior to that success.

  12. Hello, Natasha and everyone. I am new, but have written a couple of comments since I joined. Thanks for this great website! I’ve been looking for something ever since About.com’s bipolar forum dwindled down. This is really helpful about hypomania. I’m doing to send the link to my boyfriend. He’s very supportive, and kind, and he’ll be real interested to know more about hypomania. I think I may have been/am hypomanic since a change of meds last fall, after 2 months of terrible depression! My other meds failed — this happens to often, as many of you surely know, esp. for those of us who have rapid cycling bipolar II. Hey, gang, have you seen the movie with Richard Gere (what a hunk!) called Mr. Jones? Richard Gere does a tremendous job of depicting what hypomania is and looks like. There is a scene where he is fading/descending into depression which is really awesome and realistic. There’s also another character who is rapid cycling. She’s great, too. The only things I was disappointed in the movie were One, the ending which is kinda dorky, and the scene where Richard Gere’s character is having a rage. The rage scene is really under done. Wish he’d been more powerful in that one….I know i”m pretty horrible, feel horrible, and scare people when I’m in a rage , which never happens anymore since I’ve been on medications. However, a few times this winter I have had pretty bad irritation — which other people see as extreme anger….ha ha ha if only they knew! That’s like the difference between little waves and a tsunami, or between a fire cracker and Mt. Vesuvius!

  13. Hi, Im logan. I am a 17 year old female and I think I may be bi-polar. My whole life, I have had severe depression and scuicidal thoughts. I remember that beguinning at the age of 7 or 8. I have had a sort of unfortunate childhood so I always thought that that was the cause of my depression but I dont think that is the case anymore. I am know all around my school as very outgoing and talkative. I have stages of where I cant sit still, I feel like I NEED to go do something. I have had insomnia for years, it occurs in both my depressed state and “normal” state. I feel like if I sleep I am far more tired than not sleeping as well. I have always been very unfocused and unable to keep my mind on one subject but I has gotten extremely and has begun to affect my grades. I went from a gpa of 3.9 (freshman year) to a gpa of 2.0 and less my sophmore year. I am now in my junior year and have still been unable to concentate and study the way I had before. When I am outgoing and my “normal self” (which I now think may be hypomania) I can get very angry and pick fights with my family and my mother over small things. I also sometimes think I may get to the point that I think certain things happened in my childhood that did or didnt. (I do not remember a lot from my childhood going back to some unfortunate events) I sometimes switch between being happy and almost jittery to deep depression a few times a day. I am mainly depressed and scuicidal but I dont know if this is just severe depression or bipolar disorder. I have always dealt with everything on my own, a fre friends know about my childhood but I have never spoken to my parents about it. I have also never spoken to friends or family about my depression and my almost uncontrolable emotions. I notice I am very bottled up and tend to sometimes not feel emotions (which is not generally bipolar which is why i am not sure) I am very scuicidal in thoughts but There is no need to worry, even though I want to I know I wont because I wouldnt want to put my friends through that. ( I have had friends die in the past so it made an impression on me) I jist feel these switching emotions have become unbareable and usually cause me to get involved in binge drinking, ( my sophmore year I had accsess to oxycotin which I became dependant on, though I luckily was able to detox myself off when I no longer had access to it) I do not know if this seems bi-polar because of some unrelated sypmtoms or if you think it is. I really would appreciate answers because I cant ask my parents ( I truely can not, I wish it was an option but it isnt and thats why Im here) please answer. Thank you. -logan

    • Logan, your story is almost identical to mine, other than I can remember a lot from my childhood. I have been depressed for as long as I can remember, but was just recently diagnosed last month because of the negative impact it has had on school and work. Tomorrow I will be receiving a psychiatric evaluation to determine if I also have manic depression (bipolar disorder). I have experienced every symptom of BD and this year in particular has been very rough on me, my friends, and family. I would suggest that you keep a journal and write down all your symptoms, emotions, mood swings, behaviors, impulses, etc. Also, keep note of any times that you feel like a different person. That was the factor that caused me to reach out to counselors because I truly did not recognize myself and could not predict my own behavior. I also struggled with impulses to drink alcohol and eventually wrecked my car. That was enough for me to stop drinking though. Logan, I really think you should reach out to a counselor/psychologist because what you described seems consistent with BD or another psychological disorder. Eventually you should let your parents know what’s going on, but do so when you are ready. I too dealt with everything on my own until recently. After I told my family what was going on, they were able to provide their perspective and help me identify when I possibly started having bipolar symptoms. Just take it one step at a time and you’ll be fine.

  14. I have hypo mania at the moment. I feel like I want to do a million things at once . It’s 1 am and I wanna go out; party, talk to people. Also it causes me to be almost hyper sexual. This is not me at all and it scares me. My moods change rapidly from day to day.. I could have several different moods in one conversation. Bi polar is the main reason I am not doing well in college at the moment, I have no friends and wreck every relationship I have. I don’t want to live with this anymore.

    • I’m so sorry you are having to go through all this. I was able to graduate college unmedicated but I wish I had been. I could have been more successful and also a happier person. I recently found this website called bipolarhappens.com and I have learned a lot of coping skills to help (on top of my medication). Its tough but don’t give in to the hypomania. Try to keep yourself calm. The more you give in the higher you will get and the further you have to fall when you crash. Good luck. You are not alone.

  15. I believe my girlfriend has this disorder. She’s constantly has changes in thought. We will be talking about something and she will say something that has nothing to do with what we’really talking about. Seems like she has mood swings sometimes. She has road rage and will cuss out cars driving down the road. She also has difficulty making decisions on stuff. She can be very energetic and gets school work done very quickly. What do you guys think? I’m worried about her, but she doesn’t think she’s bipolar

  16. My best apology is as follows: it’s like jumping into a pool full of man eating sharks because you really want to pet one and that’ll make you feel good. Doesn’t matter that your family is crying knowing youre going to get eaten. Doesn’t matter that there’s that rational part of you’re brain saying, “Uh, this is not the best Idea you’ve ever had.” So you jump in and you go to pet one and it bites your arm off. Now you’re pissed at the shark for being a shark and biting your arm off. You crawl out of the pool and suddenly you’re really mad at yourself. Then comes the depression. You feel sorry for yourself and how stupid you are. You never want to feel that way again so you switch back to hypomanic without even realizing it because you need that feel good fix again. So what do you do? You think “well, cats make me happy so… Lemme go to the zoo, jump in the tiger exhibit, and play with them with a laser light. ”

    I know it’s extreme but it’s kinda true.

  17. I feel that if everything is going perfect in my life then I should destroy anything that is good in it. I am evil and can hurt people deeper then any knife without meaning to. Why???? Does anyone else do this???

  18. I have my mood swings under enough control that I can get up every day, go to work, and function pretty well. However, when I am not working, I usually give in to the depression that is always pretty much just sitting there, just waiting to come in. Sigh. I’d give just about anything to feel normal and just plain happy again.

  19. I have been so high strung, to the point I could bounce off the wall. Then I’m so degenerativeepressed that I hold a knife to my neck. I’m frustrated, angry and feel like I cant get the war out inside my head. I don’t like myself and I feel like I’m a burden to everyone. I dont know what to do anymore. I see a therapist and a doctor, but they can’t seem to get me on meds that work..

  20. Puppy, you really need to talk to a trusted adult and see a doctor. I am not a doctor but have lots of experience with bipolar and it sounds like you are rapid cycling. Please see a doctor to get the help you need.

  21. That description sounds like full blown mania to me. Hypomania is very similar to the effects of cocaine in my experience, unfortunately including a horrible crashing comedown. Hope you feel better anyway

  22. Dear Puppy,
    Get to a doctor ASAP. It sounds as though you cycle every few days into profound depression, then mania. The emotions are getting out of control and you need help fast. Talk to your parents about getting a psych evaluation. If there is a problem with them helping you, seek out your school counselor, call a crisis hotline, suicide hotline – even 911, if in a bad place in your head.

    Your symptoms are nothing to mess around with, and will respond to treatment to level you out.
    I can’t urge you too strongly to seek the help you cried out for here. Love and prayers to you! I lost my husband to this!!!

  23. Hello. I need help. I’m young, teen, and I think I’m bi polor but I’m not sure. (Havent seen a doctor) I go through, up to two to three days at the most, depressed states where I’m blaming myself for everything. I feel sad and alone and guilty. I cry at the little things, I mostly lay in bed and I hardly eat. I even have thought of just wishing for death and asking a friend to kill me a few times. But then that goes away, in a day or more, and then I’m happy. Like, really excited and I can’t stay still and I get these ideas to do the most amazing things and I’m hornier than a cat in heat. (I’m a virgin, though) My thoughts race and I feel like I’m going mad. I feel smart but insane. That’s mostly it but I have one more state, the one that concerns me most and I know the least about. It doesn’t happen too often (Thank the good Lord) but it’s terrible. I feel…angry in a way. And powerful, like I can do anything, even hurt someone. I want to in that state. I am laughing and grinning and I taunt my online friends (every time it’s happened its been night and there wasn’t anyone else around) to the point of making them never speak to me again. When it stops I feel incredible guilt, I hate hurting my friends! It’s happened three times. Technically two. I’ve tried to hurt myself during two of the moods but I barely DoD more then make a few scratches. Sorry to trouble you, but what does this sound like? Is it normal bi polor behavior? Or something else? The only other conclusion I can think of might be schizophrenia but I highly doubt it. All that I’ve mentioned is pretty much all that is wrong.

    • Puppy, I work for a crisis center and have almost completed my Masters Degree in clinical psychology. Medicine can help you, it is is probably Bipolar sounds like mania which is more severe than hypomania, it’s not schizophrenia. I urge you to find a doctor because you could end up in a psychiatrist hospital against your will during one of the manic episodes if you can’t keep the moods under control and some people can have psychotic episodes if they don’t take meds. Talk to your parents or a counselor at school, you aren’t crazy, but you might have an illness that can be easily helped with meds. Good luck!

  24. I just went to my psychiatrist today because I am hypomanic. My brain wont shut up but I’m not super happy and out of control like mania. hate it! He is adding a medicine and hopefully that will help because I just hate this feeling. I am so hyper that I cannot sleep but I am exhausted too. So annoying and really just another way for my brain to remind me once again that I am not “normal” and cannot run myself into the ground like every other “normal” person. GRRRR to bipolar

  25. Are there any stories of people with bipolar that found the right medication(s) and live a “normal” life without struggling with mood swings etc?

    • Hi Jessie,

      Of course, there are many. Many people have experienced exactly that. I don’t know if you’re going to find these people on this thread, but yes, it absolutely happens and it happens for many.

      – Natasha Tracy

    • I was first diagnosed at age 20, now 40 and I’m not going to lie….it has been one heck of a ride. I was extremely stable for 10 years on Lithium then got married and wanted to try to have babies but Li is bad for that so I switched meds a few times and I certainly do NOT recommend that. Now back on Li after my husband and I decided that my mental health and our marriage is more important than naturally conceiving. Might adopt one day, who knows. I earned my Mechanical Engineering Degree and have had a very successful career so YES it is possible. My trick? See a Psychologist AND a Psych, helps if you can find those who specialize in BP. I take 900mg of Li and 25mg Seroquel (anxiety and sleep) and that has been my perfect cocktail. Stay positive and take care of yourself as if you are your own kid….sometimes it is easier to take care of someone else other than ourselves, that is why you kinda have to trick yourself to care for yourself as your own child. Doctors, meds, sleep, exercise, nutrition, balance, surrounding yourself with healthy people….those are the things that it has taken for me. By the way, 40% of all manic symptoms are significantly reduced by one thing…..SLEEP! Good luck to you, take good care of yourself and good things will happen.

  26. Hi, I have had depression all my life, so when I say I have no clue what normal is, it means I rarely stay in a happy mood for long. With My Depression I suffer Anxiety to the point that if I was a Socopath it is the only thing makes me feel for though people.

    Can someone please tell me if I am right or wrong in this, why is everyone completely wrong in how they do things. Is there someone actively making them not see any kinds of sense. Or is my perception so wrong that I am not seeing what truly is happening.

    That is done with the crazy aspect.

    Now is laughing supposed to hurt the veins inside your head, If I laugh too much watching something funny I can feel the blood moving through my skull. Pulsating. I get continuous thoughts, not really rushed unless I am crazy and they pick up a little. How much does everyone else eat, do I not get the highs because my energy is lower. Oh and being everything at the same time, is that fast mood swings or fast multitasking. an example.

    I like to write stories, So I want to write, play star wars, Play Lotr, Watch TV and Watch movies all at the same time. I do not have the tvs, hands or concentration to do them all at once.

    Impulses, wanting to go out and stay home at the same time. Take my Pills and not take my pills. walk around and sit down at the same time. Move and not move. Sitting up high I want to jump off the stand seats and not jump off. Kill myself and not kill myself. Kill everyone and not kill everyone. Sleep 12 – 17 hours and only be up 4 hours and still be tired and sleep some more. Wanting to be in a relationship and not in a relationship at the same time.

    Moving through the motions because you know you should, get a girlfriend, go out, kiss, spend time together, Care for someone and not care for someone at the same time is kind of mean with Anxiety. I am not saying Caring for someone as a friend only, I mean both as a lover and someone who is a stranger.

    I try and base my life around proper logic, is this harmful to others, will I be locked in jail, is this person old enough to be in this porno clip. Is this legal, is this right or wrong. Am I writing english right now.

    Why are people not able to understand what I am saying, even if it is Grammarly incorrect the word is close enough for my liking.

    Take this for Logic I do not understand. If no one is allowed to have guns except for the army and, well not even the police, why do people need guns. You can’t shot someone without a gun, over kill and not needed. So having no guns is the Logical steps. Anyone has a gun on them or near them or with them is breaking the law, no matter who they are.

    America is at the point of being sold off to other countries because Capitalism just does not work, So why is everyone trying to be like America. It doesn’t work.

    Budget papers have GDP, basically what percentage of the World trade is theirs. A country that is trading well is a high percent, crappy ones are lower percent. Okay you can add in that figure but why are you adding it to a Dozen things, Who cares what the Expenditure of everyone else is, or the Revenue of non Global sales is.

    Selling off assets, by the name it is making money, you sell off liabilities to others to see if they can make it into an asset.

    Can someone tell me why Christians believe in a God who is willing to do bad things to the people he created in his own image. If god wanted people to not be something, they would not be something. So why do Christians question Gods Design.

    Fighting in the middle east, These people leave there and come to America, Australia and all these other places to make a good life for themselves. Than bitch and moan about how America is corrupting their children and their way of life. No its not corruptions it is a choice to believe you are telling lies and they want another opinion to think about.

    Catholic Church has priests who are raping children. These men are not godly, they are criminals so they go to jail not be placed so where else in the church and everything covered up.

    Your oppinion are these statements logically correct, I ask for people who which to say I am wrong to tell me why, they just don’t. It is very annoying.

  27. After years of not being to identify my hypomania until it was bad (refusing to listen to my husband when he told me I was “high”), I caught it this time by myself, before he noticed the symptoms. The main thing I noticed was that all of a sudden, I had no tolerance for anything anyone said that was negative. When I questioned my husband, he said he noticed a bit of obsessiveness, but nothing else. I made an appointment (it killed me to do that because I felt good) and the doc noticed some “switching” and also a bit of rapid talking. We raised my medication and boy o boy I now realize I was a lot more hypomanic than I thought, due to the crashing I am doing coming down. Another couple weeks and I would have been manic and in big trouble.

  28. I never come down from my hypo mania. I have had my crazy energy called ADHA, BI-polar..etc. I have always been independent and self employed. I now go backpacking alone as therapy. No medication for this Hypomanic

  29. Basically, this is 110% true.

    The thing is that it’s not anxiety in a typical sense but the boundless energy and creativity, none of which you can channel in a useful way most of the time, creates such fucking intense an overbearing feelings of…

    I can only use so many descriptive words before saying ‘it’s a billion things happening all at once’

    but you have singled out a lot of those things which happen simultaneously very articulately.
    One thing to say is, that when you try and counter act these feelings and act ‘calm’ and talk slow and you try to fool people into thinking you’re not manic, THAT’S what gives me awful anxiety. Because my mind is racing and I am trying to act ‘slow’

  30. I can relate; most on the list in the article are exactly what I do, and the one regarding losing the path you were on in your mind, and “POOF!” it just evaporates, is the reason I had to leave my job (in IT). I feel like my brain is made of Swiss cheese, and I can’t avoid the holes and I completely lose track of what I was doing. Suddenly I’m stuck in a big blank spot and have to start over, ifI can figure out what I was doing. And some days, it feels like that’s all I do, and even keeping a list of processes I’m supposed to create no longer make any sense.

    I want to copy this and email it to all my friends who say things like, “Oh, I do that all the time…”. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to explain quantum physics to an idiot.

    Before I started Lamictal, it felt like a roller-coaster through Hell. But like some mentioned, you miss it when it doesn’t happen as often, because when your in a hypomanic state you feel like you COULD explain quantum physics to someone just fine, idiot or not. And I agree that if you could put hypomania in a pill form, it would be more addictive than heroin…

  31. Pingback: Bipolar Mania and Hypomania: What Do They Feel Like? - black dog pie: a magazine on depression and bipolar

  32. Hypomania is a word that I ran across when I was trying to get more information about bipolar II. My sister who recently committed suicide was possibly diagnosed with it, but the family doesn’t want to talk about it yet. Maybe because it might run in the family. Your posting and some others I read answer a few questions as much about what goes on inside my own mind as well as my sister’s.

  33. Wow, that is the best description I’ve ever heard of what hypermania is and how it’s experienced. My story in relation to hypermania is a little different to most (might be helpful though); So I guess I’ll start by saying that from my early teens til a year ago (I’m now 26) I suffered with depression, did all of the common drugs (meth, shrooms, pot etc.), lots of drinking, many attempts at my life.. Things weren’t looking good… Until my 28th admission into hospital where I came to the conclusion that in order to get better I had to do the hard work myself. So I got to work with some papers and a pencil (weren’t allowed pens) just writing ideas how to help myself, brainstorming in my own sort of way. I actually (thought I) found a solution!!! In order to cope with everything, I had to imagine situations that would stress me out and re-imagine ‘in’ positive replacements that made that situation awesome instead of horrible. After 3 hrs of practicing this new-found-solution, I felt my mind was adjusting. I thought I had actually reprogrammed my mind and cured myself of depression! Can you imagine how awesome that would feel? Well, that elation just grew, and grew, and grew until, bang!! It felt as if I had done a heap of meth, popped twenty ecstacy pills, 2 tabs of lsd and just, well, some incredable feeling crept up, as if i were god-like and could do absolutely anything i wanted… So, there i was, laying in my hospital bed with my eyes closed, halucinating Patrick the starfish spewing perfectly made salad sandwiches, laughing uncontrollably, noticing a pink hue appearing in front of my vision and feeling strangely turned on by it!? Anyway, this all lasted, without sleep, til the next morning, was still giggly and elated but no halucinations. Contained myself until i was discharged (didn’t tell the doc), and the hypermania lasted a few days after, then woke one morning (yes, finally got some sleep) to find that my much loved hypermania had all but vanished :'(  But, so had my depression :-)  No crash.. So, i sought to try to find a way to control this new found awesome state of mind, tried the “imaginary replacement thing” that brought it on to start with and much to my dismay, that didn’t do anything.. I found that the usual triggers for hypermania worked, but i couldn’t sustain the awesomness for more than a day. Must add that i haven’t ever experienced a crash or come down, it’s absolutely a natural drug to me. So here’s the cool bit; i was doing some random reading about relaxation and stumbled upon something called “mindfullness meditation”. That was it! With hours and days and a couple of weeks of practice, i found my own triggers to bring on my natural high and also, turn it off :-D Mindfullness requires a lot of self disipline, repitition and practice, practice and heaps more practice but, besides controlling and choosing how i want to feel, it has improved every single aspect of my life dramaticaly and i highly recommend anyone who reads this to at least google mindfullness :-) 

    P.S. Sorry for the thesis lol, and this is definitely not spam

  34. I’m actually at the end of hypomania right now. I try to ignore my symptoms of bipolar but sometimes they are difficult to deal with without treatment. I went to a psychiatrist almost two years ago and she tried to diagnose me with bipolar II. I got angry and never went back. I was definitely in a hypomanic state today though. It started at work because I was really stressed out and then left really angry (My skin was on fire with rage but I mostly remained calm on the outside). I bought cleaning supplies and cleaned and scrubbed my house for 7 hours. I swept, mopped, scrubbed the oven and stove, trimmed the bushes in the courtyard, cleaned the toilet, washed blankets. I didn’t do these things one at a time though, I ran back and forth because I wanted to do everything at once. I even cleaned the fireplace to the point of mopping the brick on the inside. I am coming off of the state now and I can already feel my emotions going down hill fast. I still feel like my blood wants to push its way out of my skin like its a shaken up energy drink waiting to be popped open. I’m trying to keep calm and not crash too hard but I feel it coming. I haven’t had an episode that intense in a while…

  35. Another great article !! I especially love the pictures you have chosen, I can so relate. Your descriptions remind me of mania, so I am a bit confused right now. Can you describe the differences of the two ? Thanks, Natasha :)

      • I am a 36 year old white male. When I was 19 I did some CRANK with drinking and some weed for about 3 days. During this time I felt a weird feeling that wasn’t something I could control. Panic set in and I been like that every sense. I have seen doctors since then, recently they think I have Cyclothymine. Been on millions of meds and nothing has ever worked. I am taking Lamictal 100mg, then upping the dose to 200 mg a day. My question is this, what is going on with me? I don’t see the mood swings like I read and hear about, yet they insist this is what it is. I feel more like strange physical things, almost like i was still doing a drug! i read lots of Bipolar forums and I don’t feel like these people! Not one day has gone that I haven’t felt this crap, some days are better, but never gone. I feel like crap! I think a fried something and will always feel this….

  36. Pingback: ObnoxiousBitch » Blog Archive » Pick yourself up, dust yourself off…

  37. My husband is severely bipolar. But his mania/depression is somewhat predictable. About three days out of the week he sleeps maybe two hours a night. Then for the remaining days that’s he wants to do. He was a drug addict (Meth) before I met him an I have accused him of using frequently but I honestly think its mania. He doesn’t talk wildly fast but he’s full of energy and more motivates and calm. When he’s not in mania he’s a jerk…says a lot of mean things to me and kids. He isn’t on meds BC we can’t afford to go to Dr. Ne ideas, suggestions, input.

  38. I am bipolar 2, and used to experience hypo-mania, before going on medication, and now I don’t experience it anymore, but I can honestly say, as terrible as this may sound, I miss it! Unlike Mania where you don’t feel in control, with hypo mania, in my experience, you feel very in control, and completely on top of your game, happy, productive, energized, etc. Frankly, I got more done and felt best during these times, and the loss of them has presented it’s own challenges in figuring out how to motivate and be productive now that they are gone. I used to be able to rely on them to come around so I could get things accomplished that had fallen behind when I wasn’t having one of those episodes, but I no longer can do that, and have to relearn methods to be productive and energized. However, the crash afterwards is terribly depressing and debilitating. While i miss the episodes, it is far better overall to be more consistently “even”. Like drugs that give you a “high”, it may feel good, but ultimately it’s bad for you.

    • Caroline – I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been on Lamictal for a year and a half now. The hypomania is starting to ebb . I don’t miss losing control all of the time but I miss the euphoria, and the crazy sense of both being in control and completely out of control. Sometimes it was better than sex.

      Even is good though. I’ll take even for now.

  39. I experience hypomania on a regular basis – I am Bi-polar and I am a rapid cycler. I go through states of hypomania and depression that can be characterized as mild to severe. It is a constant struggle. One day I have $5000 in my checking account and two months later I do not have money for cigarettes or gas in my car. The I come to my senses and wonder how did this happen. In the end my bipolar is destroying my marriage and work life. At times I can not sleep for 48 hours and them I take a prescribed med and sleep for twelve. I have learned to live with bipolar disorder as I was diagnosed 20 years ago. But I can not function like an everyday regular person, I never know when the next round of highs and lows are coming. There are no easy answers and I get little sympathy from the people in my life. Some how I will carry on and try to use my Bipolar to my advantage. Wish me luck. Many of use with Bipolar need help and need to be recognized as having a serious disorder, but we don’t – sometimes that is the hard part.

  40. I didn’t understand hypomania for the longest time. The way I was just seemed too mild, and I didn’t recognize the ugly, irritable bits for what they were. Hypomania, as experienced by the average person, sounds so dramatic. And looks dramatic when you see it in person. In my case, it’s not. So I ignored it for many years, until the day I became an enlightened being and had the truth of the universe revealed to my via conversations with “god.”

    Now that I am unquestioningly bipolar I have the confidence to identify my hypomania, and it is often subtle. I can sleep 5 hours a night. I pick up more activities. I become a genius but I know better than to tell anybody. Things might move fast, but it’s light and pleasant. Only those who know me well can tell. The rest just think I’m particularly chipper.

    Even during my biggest mania, which wasn’t florid but had psychotic features, my loved ones couldn’t tell. I have somehow always retained the sense to not share my craziest thoughts with the normal world. I don’t know if I appear normal or if people are just afraid to say anything. If I hadn’t been diagnosed bipolar by 3 different doctors, I would still doubt I had it.

    All of which is neither here nor there, just sharing after having enjoyed reading about the experience of others. As for preventing it, lithium nipped it in the bud. It’s going the other way that I have to worry about.

  41. Wonderful, wonderful description. I was diagnosed around a year ago, changing my long-standing depression diagnosis (with notes of features of recurrence and such) with bipolar II. This followed a period of Cognitive Analytic Therapy where we noted a problematic ‘up’ pattern as well as the down one.

    For me, the main thing about it can be summarised by a distinction with full-blown mania; a manic person will believe they are able to do something they can’t, in a ridiculous and obvious (to other people) way – serious delusions. A hypomanic person will believe they are able to do something they can’t, in a more subtle way – like volunteer for every favour anyone is asking for, all at once. The positive effects of the hypomania do let me get more done – and they do sometimes come at need, stress can trigger an up or down for me – but not as much more as I feel like I can do at the time. Then I fail, and let people down, keeping up the delusion for a surprising time. Almost always followed by a much worse depressive episode than those that start from baseline.

    Thank you for sharing what you have.

  42. It kind of like that first moment when you start the highest drop of a rollercoaster. It’s similar to how I imagine the first few seconds would feel after initiating warp speed on the Enterprise.

  43. I try to trigger hypomania daily. I was off all caffeine, per doctor’s orders but went back on to the max. I want euphoric hypomania. I usually experience the anger side. I’d do anything to get it! Even consider going back on Abilify, which had me awake for days of creativity!

  44. Last Monday night – as Sandy was roaring overhead – I walked out of the house and down the driveway. And I realized the storm was the perfect analogy for hypomania – one part astonishing and one part terrifying.

    I was in my bare feet btw. What does that tell you?

    We still don’t have power back so I suppose I should try to string this hypomanic state out as long as I can….

  45. Yeah. Hypomania is feeling kinda superior when you look at people who abuse drugs. “You pay money and risk arrest to feel like this. All I have to do is nothing.” Then you pause, and pause, and pause, “Oh, by the way, here’s why it royally *sucks*.”

    OTOH, if you’re in a decent relationship so the sex you’re getting is safe and okay for you to have—there is pretty much nothing in the world like a blasted-out-of-your mind hypomanic, hypersexual sex binge. Except that your partner just can’t keep up, dammit.

    Alas, the ups have to be paid for with downs. Far better to never, never let them happen, and to stop them as soon as possible when you can.

    But if you’re stuck on the ride–sometimes it doesn’t suck. (Or does.)

    Hey, wouldn’t do it on purpose, but it’s the truth. There are few and very rare compensations to the suckosity of having bipolar. The mindblowing sex part is okay.

  46. My father was 32 when he died from suicide Dx:Bi-polar, schizophrenia, I had a twin sister, her & I were Dx: Bi-polar, ptsd, schizophrenia, among other psychological dis-ease with genius level IQ’s. My sister died at 33 from…suicide. I am 42 see my Dr reg but I have a voice deep calling me to be with my sister.

    • Hi Pamela
      I know exactly how you feel, I to lost a brother to suicide, specialist believe he had the same than me, bipolar II and yes our illness tries to persuade us that joining them is the answer but let us try to believe that we mustn’t let this horrible illness control us and that life is worth living, hugs xx

  47. Good article Natasha. Thanks.

    The good and the bad.

    I have experienced the hypomanic state as a welcomed, short-lived bit of “comic relief” in the midst of a depression. I’ve woken up to displaced ribs brought on by the stress of depression, moved onto wildly singing Christmas carols (oh, the ridiculousness of it all), and then returned to my bed in a depressed state.

    I am much more likely though, to feel like a dumbass after a period of having, like you’ve said, felt like a genius and annoyed at the stupidity of everyone else. I’m just not me when I’m hypomanic.

    All in all, I’ll take my healthy state over a hypomanic one any day.

    I think you’ve come up with a list that describes it well.

  48. I just found your blog today. This is the first post I’ve read and… it’s hard for me to put into words… wow. I’m Bipolar NOS and I just rarely find people talking or writing in Bipolar-ese.

    Normally I’m the one explaining what hypomania is, having to tell someone that yes, I did scrub the baseboards at 4:20 am because I didn’t sleep for two days and, it just *had* to be done. That’s a relatively mild example, but it’s a crazy weird feeling with some crazy weird effects.

    Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more.

  49. If they could bottle hypomania it would be the most addictive drug ever. But at the same time, you learn from hypomania that the ups have to be paid for with downs, and that the price of the crash is almost never worth it.

    Yeah, I tell people why i don’t do “recreational” drugs and why I don’t think they should. Taking recreational drugs is usually the straights trying to mimic hypomania. They’re slumming in crazy-ville. Those of us who live there are trying hard to get out on a weekend pass, or get an apartment in a better place and visit the old ‘hood as rarely as possible.

    Neurotypical people taking recreational drugs don’t realize that they’re breaking their normal, healthy brain on purpose and just blithely assuming it will be temporary. Yeah. Just because you can get into the neighborhood doesn’t mean you’re gonna get back out.

    And the crash after the high always, always, always sucks.

    I don’t get high sometimes because I want to. I get high sometimes because my brain’s broken.

    I describe bipolar type 2 and hypomania as like being at a party with a drink in your hand, in an open cup, that you have to keep looking away from, and you have to keep sipping. Every once in awhile someone comes along and drops a drug in your drink.

    And you can’t quit sipping, and you can’t put down the drink.

    All you can do is pay attention to how you’re acting and *try* to notice and guess how you’ve been drugged by your drink *this* time, and take opposite-drugs to try to counteract the effects. And those aren’t perfect.

    But hey, if you notice you’re having a good time on whatever got dumped in your drink, sure, you can just ride with it—-nothing illegal about that. It’s just that you might do some really embarrassing, life-altering, and crappy things while you’re having that grand old time, and the crash afterwards *suuuuuuuuuckkkkkkks*.

    Bipolar (II) is god’s way of dumping rufies in your drink. Now don’t you feel speshul?