How to Handle Bipolar Hypomania
After my recent post about stress leading to hypomania in bipolar, I’ve had a couple of questions about what tools I use to handle hypomania. I’m happy to share my experience with hypomania but I can’t promise it will agree with your own. (Remember, hypomania is not the same as mania. In bipolar I, mania can easily be life-threatening.)
Are You Hypomanic?
I know it’s tough to admit you’re hypomanic, which is a mood, which is a symptom of bipolar, because many of us enjoy parts of hypomania and we don’t want it to go away, especially considering some of the alternatives. We just want to believe we’re feeling “good.” Really good. Which would be nice.
Nevertheless, the first step in dealing with bipolar hypomania is realizing that you’re hypomanic. And, of course, there are various degrees of hypomania – the more hypomanic you are the more worried you probably should become. The more hypomanic you are the more you need to focus on dealing with it properly because the chances are greater are there’s a nasty depression waiting for you at the end. (See, Self-Diagnosing Hypomania.)
How to Handle Bipolar Hypomania – Self-Talk
The first step in dealing with hypomania is self-talk. If you know you are hypomanic then hopefully you can create the presence of mind to not make decisions based on your mood. Yes, I understand you feel like you’re the most brilliant person on Earth but the President probably doesn’t want to hear about it, k?
Self-talk is about your own awareness. Yes, I’m hypomanic, that’s why I’m feeling this way. Yes, I’m hypomanic, that’s why I want to act this way.
If you know that, and you can (probably) repeatedly tell yourself that, then you can start to correct some of the problems that are likely to happen when you’re hypomanic.
Dealing with Bipolar Hypomania
So to deal with bipolar hypomania:
- TAKE YOUR MEDS and see your doctor if the hypomania puts you or your life in jeopardy
- Don’t make any big decisions; don’t make any major purchases
- Don’t eat sugar or caffeine; don’t take drugs or drink alcohol
- Don’t skip meals – force yourself to eat good food
- Breathe – your hypomania is going to want to speed you up but purposeful, deep breathing will slow you down – but you have to do it for it to work
- Try meditation or yoga (if that’s your thing)
- Exercise to wear off the excess energy in a positive way (One commenter mentioned this can be activating for them so be careful about that.)
- Force yourself to sleep on schedule (I admit to using sleeping pills for this. I believe it’s much better to take pills and sleep than to not take pills and not sleep. I believe it is much better for mood and this one step can often right hypomania immediately.)
- Check in with yourself on your actions – before you go and sleep with that handsome stranger, check in with yourself and really see if it’s you that wants a one night stand or the illness. Are you really angry with your friend or is it the illness?
In short, whatever the hypomania wants you to do, do the opposite. That’s not a very fun rule but it is a generally true rule of thumb. Hypomania feeds on itself so the more you give into its behavior the stronger it will get (just like depression).
Self-Awareness and Bipolar Hypomania
Dealing with hypomania is like dealing with any other mood – you need to see the mood, analyze the mood and outthink the mood. It’s hard but that’s what self-awareness is about. And self-awareness is what’s going to get you out of the jams that hypomania has a tendency to put you into.
(This is not to suggest you can always do this on your own. Sometimes other people can be your saving grace as they can see your behavior and moods much more clearly than you can. It’s OK to lean on them for their insight too.)