Not a doctor just my stories…
Today is a new day I forgive myself for yesterday…
Bipolar and I just didn’t know it…
I have had multiple experiences in my life getting yelled at in public by a variety of people telling me I was speaking too loud and I was disturbing them. “It’s like Grand Central Station in here!” (this was in a Starbucks and I yelled back at the old biddy telling her we were in public and she should go home if she wants quiet)
I ruined someone’s meal was another one and they felt the need to stop by our table and tell me. I got embarrassed and I burst into tears. I noticed these altercations almost always happened as people were on their way out and decided they needed to yell at me and then just run away. Too afraid of confrontation but perfectly happy to be assholes.
I have dozens of these, some were me; headphones not plugged all the way in, talking to my sister on the phone while on a Queens express bus which either did not allow phone use or was a quiet bus I forget. In most cases I know I probably was so loud I was practically screaming. I was having a hypomanic or manic episode but these were decades before I was diagnosed. Manic happy, manic angry, manic excited, manic hungry, everyone can experience these things but I just get, well, loud.
I have a favorite one. My husband and I were on a trip I think it was Philadelphia and we were up early and walking down a street near our hotel. It was a city block in a business district on a weekend and no one was around except one old man at least half a block ahead of us. We were talking about if we could build a window seat (something I have always thought would be mega cool) The old man turned around and yelled at me from half a block away something akin to the Grand Central Station comment and I yelled back that we were f—ing outside and he should go the f–ck home. I curse a lot always have it’s not a bipolar thing just me.
My husband and I have a sign if we are together and my volume creeps up, he will touch my elbow. I also am forever asking him if someone is behind me in restaurants now. Based on elbow touches, and hand gestures we have a volume control method. Those near and dear to me enjoy my company and my stories but Sam is my sound meter. If he’s not around I have work to do. The upsetting thing for me is my lack of control. I always know I am doing it, just sometimes it is too late.
So why is this worth talking about? It is a mood specific to bipolar. I actually have hypomania a less severe form of mania. I also now know the term bipolar is used because it reduces the chance of being called a “maniac” so I can live with the change but the imagery for me still involves long underwear, goggles, and ski poles.
What is “bad” about this? I am not listening. I am just waiting to be able to talk again. This is not an uncommon thing a lot of people do it and active listening and being present with another person is a skill.
My thoughts swirl and swirl, I sometimes feel like I need to laser in on someone’s eyes and try to clear my head to listen. It can feel like a physical strain instead of a mental one. If I am entertaining I want more, I want to hold attention, it is a compulsion.
When I read the symptons of hypomania it fit me to a tee with a few exceptions and reiterates things I have mentioned in other posts.
Hypomanic symptoms must last at least four days in a row and include:
euphoric, elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and increased energy Euphoria yes until I kill it, kill it dead waiting for the other shoe to drop. Irritable-constantly
excessive self-esteem or grandiosity; I don’t have excessive grandiosity that is when other flaws rear up, anxiety, negativity
trouble focusing; Every day
restlessness or increased participation in goal-oriented activities; Restlessness-yup-I also am ADHD it goes hand in hand with hypomania but really? I do get overwhelmed with things that I want to do or people I want to see, or long term commitment goals; learn spanish, learn to play the piano. Then I get obsessed with time, my free time, how to manage it? how to plan? how much time do I have in the rest of my life?
excessively engaging in activities that have a high likelihood of having negative consequences (for example, promiscuity, excessive spending, poor business decisions). Smidge of the shopping thing
Quite often I freeze, the brain computer goes black, I get down, what’s the point of starting things I will never finish? Whatever I choose, there is something else I am not doing. This can be as simple as taking time to read a book. Instead of enjoying relaxing activities I can go into a sad fog and I eat junk food and I just want to lie around, watch hours of TV and then I feel bad.
Overall though I welcome this sympton, it keeps me engaged in my life after decades of being down. I would rather have too many plans than none, too much to do than not enough, if being excited, inspired, funny, happy means I get loud so be it. What I want to work on is slowing down and being present for others. Also I would love to talk slower my tongue gets tired.
So the next time you are somewhere and you hear someone screaming from a block away it is probably me.
Until next time