Almost five weeks ago now I noticed my mood was elevating. This was the first time ever that I caught the early signs of hypomania and it was because I have been mood monitoring and practicing mindfulness meaning that the early warning signs were more easy to notice than they ever have been before.
I noticed a lack of concentration, elevated mood, and my sleep starting to suffer.
I highlighted this to my mental health team and so the challenge began to try and stop my usual pattern of hitting the ceiling that is a manic episode and ending up in A&E having tried to take my life as I crashed down to a deep depression.
I started by ensuring that I was practicing basic mindfulness everyday to help slow and focus my mind. To bring me back into the present and to try and help focus racing thoughts.
I created a weekly timetable of activities so that I would knows if/when I started doing more than I could manage. This came in handy when my mood stepped up to unmanageable levels and I started running around taking on too many activities, juggling multiple activities at once, and carrying out basic household chores in a manner that was disorganised and would frankly be laughable if they weren’t related to a mental illness.
I was given activity sheets to help me organise my thoughts and ideas. The process behind these is to stop impulsive behaviour, to stop you jumping into projects my impulsive shopping etc and I have found them very helpful. They are similar to a business SWOT analysis but for a bipolar brain! As someone who is quite methodical naturally I found it helpful to write down all my impulsive ideas and be more methodical about them, it helped me to realise how bad some of them were and which ones really had some credence.
I wrote down what my hypomania looked like as it progressed, what the symptoms looked like on the outside and what they felt like. I’ve done this so that in the future I know what to look for and where the danger signals are.
I refreshed my memory on sleep hygiene which I practice nightly but I wanted to ensure that there wasn’t anything I had let slip knowing my sleep would only get worse as my symptoms progressed.
Once I hit the point where I couldn’t manage it with coping strategies anymore and my mental health team and I became concerned I was too close to mania the psychiatrist and nurse were brought in to help me manage the symptoms with medication. Since then I have had a number of different medications prescribed to help me manage the lack of sleep, hypomania and psychosis.
I’m now at almost five weeks just starting to sleep again having now found a sleeping med that works, my sleep had rescued to 2hours per night and despite this I was wide awake every day and not in the least bit tired.
My brain is starting to “slow” and my mood is starting to level which is largely down to the large levels of medication I am taking.
However, I am suffering with quite bad psychosis at the moment with voices and visions and due to this I had anot her increase in my Quetiapine today.
I was lucky that this episode occurred while I was under the care of such a good and responsive mental health team, it has meant I have had instant support and care, and have had the chance to learn about my hypomania properly for the first time.
I was first formally diagnosed in 2005 and have had these episodes for at least 5 years before that but have never had any help or support psychologically or medically through an episode until this one and it has made such a difference.
I’m not through it yet and I’m still very sick but I feel so much better knowing I have that support and help and that this experience will shape the future.