What Bipolar Mixed Moods Really Feel Like
I’ve written a lot about bipolar mixed moods but not necessarily what bipolar mixed moods actually feel like. While it’s true mixed moods exist in bipolar I and bipolar II and it’s true mixed moods tend to worsen psychomotor agitation and increase the risk of suicide, this doesn’t tell you how bipolar mixed moods actually feel. This is different for everyone, but here is a window into how I experience mixed moods.
The Technical Definition of a Mixed Mood
The idea of a bipolar mixed mood is simple. It is when the symptoms of mania or hypomania appear concurrently with major depression symptoms. So you can have the vast energy of an elevated mood but the devastating sadness of a low mood at the same time. It’s generally, the worst of both worlds and it’s difficult to treat.
And because people experience hypomania/mania and depression differently, bipolar mixed moods vary in how they manifest dramatically.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; the manual that defines all mental illnesses) it used to be stated that mixed moods only occurred in bipolar I. In the latest edition of the DSM, however, it is written that mixed moods happen in bipolar II disorder as well (and, actually, in any affective disorder). And I can attest to the accuracy of this. I have bipolar II and I have nasty, wicked mixed moods. In fact, like a lot of people, I experience mixed moods more than I experience pure hypomania.
Mixed moods, for me, tend to happen when my medication gets out of whack. They can also appear thanks to stress. Last year, when I wrote my book, Lost Marbles, I had a bipolar mixed episode that lasted for months.
But How Do Bipolar Mixed Moods Really Feel?
When I say they are “the worst of both world,” I mean it. It’s like taking your least tolerable “up” symptoms with your least tolerable “down” symptoms, mixing them in a blender and being forced to roll around in the resulting muck. It is no wonder this state makes people want to commit suicide.
A Video on How Bipolar Mixed Moods Feel
See my explanation of how bipolar mixed moods feel for me:
I think my point here is that I can write and write about the technicalities of mixed moods and barely scratch the surface because the experience of this mood is so extreme. And a very important part of talking about any kind of bipolar specific is talking about how it affects us and not just what the doctor looks for to diagnose it.
Natasha Tracy YouTube Videos
By the way, I know I don’t do a lot of videos here. I plan on changing that, but for those of you who don’t know, I actually already do about 12 a year for HealthyPlace. Just do a good-‘ol-fashioned search on YouTube to see them.
Banner image by Flickr user: See-ming Lee.
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.