Mania or Hypomania?

I’ve always wondered how hypomanic you have to be before the episode is then classed as manic? Where is the line drawn between the two states?

Mania is the more severe state experienced on the up swing, characterised by high energy, high impulsivity, grandiosity, delusions, huge spending sprees, poor judgements in business/relationships/home life etc.

By comparison hypomania has always been thought of as a milder version of mania. However what I have experienced in the past has been anything but “mild” to me.

The wonderful euphoria that wafts through my spirit during early-phase hypomania is just such an amazing experience. Everything feels so “right”, I feel I can do anything in the world I want to do and be mega-successful at it. I feel “special” and at one with the universe. I feel I have a divine purpose. My body feels as if it has blazing energy bursting out of each cell. I talk too much, talk over people, don’t listen, think I’m right, everybody else is wrong, I must win every discussion, I must have the most attention- I’m funny and witty and people love me!! That’s honestly how you think when you’re hypomanic! You cannot possibly see how anything could go wrong in your life.

After a while though, in the background, is a droning pressure to keep moving, keep doing, keep talking, talk louder, don’t stop, DON’T STOP! You have a nagging inkling that if you stop, your whole world could fall apart.

Of course eventually it does fall apart and soon the arguments come, the tears, the extreme irritability which can easily turn to rage. Sleep is in fits and starts. There’s a grating restlessness that is insatiable and feels extremely uncomfortable. The intense urges to self-harm and aggressive impulses to tear at your arm with a knife are torture. Sometimes I don’t think I really realised at the time how ill I was until after I got better. Then I would realize what a total arse I had been to people, how horribly I had treated people I love and how much disruption had been caused in my life at work (I have been fired before when I was hypomanic) and at home.

The fall-out of hypomania is also painful: relationships may have suffered, sometimes fatally, debts may have been racked up. I’ve done some silly and sometimes dangerous things when hypomanic. You have no sense of risk.

So when the hell does all of this turn to mania? Because it seems to me that my moods were pretty intense. Do you, on impulse, need to have racked up thousands of pounds worth of debt, or think you’re Jesus? Do you have to have been hospitalized? (Thankfully I never have been).

At what point does a psychiatrist say this patient is manic?

I guess in my head I’ve always thought this depends more on the patient’s awareness. If he is spouting off gibberish over and over, or thinks he’s Simon Cowell’s best friend and seriously, seriously believes all this stuff, I guess this is true delusion and would be classed as mania. In my head I’ve always thought that if someone needs to be hospitalized with an upswing, the patient must have lost touch with reality and is now unable to look after themselves.

This is all my personal opinion, so please don’t take as fact!

Related post really worth reading by Purple Persuasion: Installing Bipolar v1.5.

Photo Credit: Free Digital Photos


6 thoughts on “Mania or Hypomania?

  1. Summer Moon

    I’ve often wondered about this same thing myself. Where is that line? I know I’ve never been manic, since that is what my psychiatrist and therapist tell me, but I’ve definitely been hypomanic as they have witnessed it. But, what I can’t understand is where that dimmer switched is turned up into manic territory. I wonder if even doctors know this. I wonder if they just know what the symptoms are, but not where that line is drawn thru the symptoms. I know with my hypomania, I become a completely different person in regards to my energy and my ability to deal with people and situations around me. I lose myself in my own world. I always have struggles with that, but when I’m hypomanic it’s obviously more heightened. It’s almost like viewing the world in a haze. In the beginning, I don’t see the haze, but after I’ve been hypomanic for a week or so, I start to actually notice the difference. It’s almost as if my body is saying “enough!” but my mind is ignoring it, and I get glimpses of my body screaming that it can’t take it anymore. Yet, I don’t want to listen. That might be why I crash into a depression every single time I am hypomanic.

    This is a post that definitely makes me think. I’m going to try and remember to bring it up with my therapist next week. I wonder what her view is on where the line is located.

  2. rachelmiller1511 Post author

    Yeah I know what you mean when you say that after a week your body feels it! When the depression hits no wonder I sleep for hours and hours!

    I’d really be interested to know what your therapist says!

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting, it’s great to have your input.


  3. projectwhitespace

    Rachel, I don’t know if I told you in my last comment, but there is an inkling that I might have some of this hypomanic bipolar thing too. I still need to go back to my therapist (which I haven’t done because right now I feel fine–like everything is so “right”). But what you are describing here sounds too familiar—that sense of energy, broken sleep, the feeling to go go go . . .
    I’m certain I’ve never experienced mania. That would be scarey, for sure.
    Reading your blog is an . . . experience for me. I don’t know how to tag it.
    I like your picture, by the way. Is that you?

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      LOL- if only I could stand on my head like that!! No, not me- but sometimes feels like me!

      You did say that you might be bipolar and I would say that your relating to what I’ve written would make it very likely that you have Bipolar II, which doesn’t include mania, only hypomania. That’s what I have.

      I hope you get to see your therapist soon and that they can give you a diagnosis and help you.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it.


  4. Pingback: Hypoland Part 2 | Moorestorms

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