Hypomanic Insomnia

As I am writing this I have been awake for 38 hours now. It’s just something that can happen when you go on the upswing of bipolar in to (hypo)mania. Essentially my brain goes into overdrive, and I become extremely energetic, silly, more personable, confident. My thoughts race sometimes, that’s bad enough. There’s a push-shove, love-hate relationship I share with hypomania. It has plenty of positive effects. It can allow me to hyper-focus, and complete tasks and projects I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to complete, at least in one sitting. There’s the rush of confidence, feelings of euphoria – and so on.

There plenty of downsides too – impulsiveness, hyper-sexuality, grandiosity, distractibility – among others. The most potentially destructive of all the symptoms however would be what the textbooks call “decreased need for sleep” and sure, sometimes that’s all it is. You fall asleep for 3 hours and wake up feeling lively and energetic. Other times however, the “decreased need for sleep” is the entire absence of sleep. It’s the inability to go to sleep. That is what happened to me yesterday. It was a wonderful euphoric “high” of hypomania. The trouble started last night when I tried to go to bed. Usually, the hypomania subsides enough for me to sleep, or to at least be overpowered by a sleeping pill. Last night, this was not the case. I could not sleep – no matter what. I sat in my room until the sun came up, and I had to get ready for work.

The day was actually pretty good. I felt lively, and energetic – almost as if I had actually gotten a really good night’s rest. At work, I was very productive. It was around 4-5pm where things got bad. Even now, my mind is very much awake – it’s very much active. However, my body feels as though it’s shutting down. I’m in pain from my head to my toes. My eyes are burning a hole into my skull and my body feels as though I ran a marathon. I’m heavy. My body is telling me it’s tired, and to go to sleep. My mind however, says no.

Guess who wins.

Just a quick note.

I’ve been blogging on and off since I was in middle school, and I’ve run justinrobbins.net and twistmyfate.com for well over ten years. Over the last five years I’ve retired twistmyfate.com (it redirects here) and I’ve launched and relaunched justinrobbins.net more times than I can count. I always lost interest because I never wrote about anything of substance. I never really let myself be “seen”.

This time around I said fuck it. I’m throwing it all out there. I started this blog mainly as an outlet for myself – putting ideas in my head on to paper, err, screen.

Since launching I’ve been contacted by a fair amount of people. Some find my writing relate-able, some have found it entertaining – which is great. It’s wonderful to hear that people enjoy your writing. It’s humbling, but what’s the most humbling is something I never expected. I’ve had old friends, and even strangers write me – thanking me for sharing my story, because it has helped them with their own mental health struggles, which is an indescribable feeling.

I just wanted to write a quick note of thanks to anyone who reads my rambling words. I am truly and deeply humbled by the responses I’ve received. I’m glad you like it, or if you hate it – that’s fair. Thank you just the same.

Graduation

I went on medical leave from work, and checked myself into an intensive outpatient (IOP) program for mental health on January 16th of this year to help me cope and attempt to overcome my bipolar diagnosis. I decided to enter into the program because, I had an episode of hypomania, perhaps full on mania that lasted about three days. I was also cycling between ups, downs, and mixed states much more rapidly than I’m used to. So, I decided that I needed something more structured and intensive to have my “episodes” more closely monitored – this allowed the psychiatrist to better understand how my diagnosis is manifesting and allow for more precise management of my medications. In addition to all that, I was very resistant to therapy – essentially I’m a pretty good bull-shitter, and so I BS’d my therapist with what I know she wanted to hear, and with examples of coping skills that I knew would help, but that I never utilized. The IOP program offered me tons of therapy, including traditional one-on-one, but also group therapy. The groups are really what wore down my therapy resistance and opened me up to processing my past traumas and current struggles more freely.

My (hypo)manic episode,the reason I checked myself in, occurred over a three to four day period in which I did not sleep – at all. In fairness, I probably slept a total of 6-8 hours over the three days, enough to keep me from dying I suppose. During the episode I was functional for the most part. I was overloaded with energy, despite the lack of sleep – and I made some very careless decisions. For example, I spent about 2,000 dollars on I’m not quite sure what. I engaged in some risky behavior, like having a string of anonymous sexual partners, and I also took out a loan for a couple thousand dollars, that I didn’t even need. I just found it to be exciting. My behavior became erratic, and I suffered from racing thoughts that impaired my ability to function for a few hours at a time. I also strained relationships with close friends. I can only liken the experience to being on some sort of “uppers” drug for days on end – without taking any substances. Eventually I came down from the high, hard. My entire body was in excruciating pain, and I lost mostly all motivation to do much of anything.

That’s just a quick summary of the experience – it’s far more complicated and nearly indescribable.

The point is that I feel better now than I have in a long time. I will always have this condition, and I’ll always cycle up and down – but  highs are less high and the lows are less low. I feel empowered and more in control of my life. I feel comfortable again.

I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I probably always will. Stressors may become triggers, and triggers may become episodes, but I’m no longer worried about them. I’m focusing on the here and now, and that’s big. So, what am I actually trying to say? Am I cured? No. Am I worried about it? No. What I am is alright.

Here, and now – I’m alright – and when I’m not, I will be soon.