Cycling – Baby Baby

2.57am

It’s not supposed to work this way. I don’t usually cycle this quickly.

I need to go look up the date when I was last “up” – because it’s more often months in between. It’s been a few weeks or something. Usually it is more like a couple of months – I think, I haven’t been tracking it super closely.

I don’t know if I “triggered it” this week and today through things. I don’t know if that’s possible. What thing(s) might have triggered it:

More coffee than normal yesterday.
I was still careful, but definitely allowed myself more – and recently have been having more.

  • Super stressed out.
    Work stresses, then some personal stresses dialed it up to 11 this week. (I thought I was at 11 before that hit – some moments of “white blinding stress” this week*.)
  • Emotional draining.
    While this can cause stress, I think of this as separate. I think too much stress – from any causes – might be a trigger, so this would add to that. But, by itself, I think this might be a trigger.
  • Insufficient restoration time.
    I don’t have a good list of “things to do to regenerate energy.” It would be worth working out such a list.
    Of course, I’ve been too busy at work to be able to indulge in much of this anyways**.
  • New Ideas.
    Curse the interesting ideas and the fascinating people they rode in on.
    I don’t mean that, but I recognize that that is part of the cause. No question.

 

This is only the first night of having sub-manic symptoms (wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts), so it’s early to call it an up cycle. But, here I am awake, mind racing, typing. So seems likely.

I hope that by setting this expectation for myself, I’ll be more relaxed about it tomorrow at 4am or the next day at 3am when I’m awake with a million thoughts and idea.

 

Is People!

I’m emotionally drained from a higher than average number of interactions with people this week. Some I could have controlled, others were less in my control.

And, as always, becoming a recluse and avoiding everything, while effective, doesn’t feel like winning. So I could have easily cut a third of the interactions – but would have felt like I was hermiting and giving in.

That’s definitely a mindset that I should change: sometimes that is the right course of action. I’m not yet comfortable knowing when avoiding difficult situations is the right choice.

Long-term, obviously, you can’t avoid all interactions***. But for short periods, it’s a valid response.

The trick is in the details: how long those periods are, which interactions to skip, what percentage vs. time for restorative activities.

 


 

 

Among the racing thoughts this morning, Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Use Me.” I have no idea why. I couldn’t pick that song out of a line-up on a normal day – I had to search to figure out what the song was that was stuck in my head.

 


 

* White blinding stress: there is a certain level at which is “stressed out” in a manner akin to how you get move from “anger” to a “rage” where you just aren’t thinking straight. And usually I can’t see that level of stress in the moment, only after some time I can realize that “oh hey, I was stress blinded there”.
I’d guess it’s a particular level of cortisol or something, but I haven’t begun to look or think about what the cause is.

** The giveaway here is the word “indulge”. There is a certain amount needed that isn’t an indulgence. But if your restoration is found by going to a coffee shop and reading quietly – that will look like indulgence to the outside world and you’ll likely think (possibly erroneously) that people are judging you to be indulging. Ignore those people or the voice in your head who is vocalizing their judgement.

*** You could, but then you have a very different life. Which is a valid choice. But if you feel that isn’t a choice, then likely you won’t be happy with that outcome. So a different solution is needed.

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Cycling – Baby Baby

Slump

I expected more of a slump – it never came. I don’t know whether to be happy that I didn’t have a valley of despair that I needed traverse and come up out of. Obviously, I’m happy about avoiding the down/depression symptoms directly.

I’m also worried that it means my disease is changing.

It could get worse.

It could just be different: which is, by definition, somewhat worse as understanding it I can manage it better. If my symptoms keeps changing, they might become different enough that I can’t manage them. So change in symptoms is scary, even if the symptoms are less bad.

 

So, cheers that I didn’t get depressed. But fear of what that means. One cycle does not a pattern make. I just need to stay on my toes.

Slump

Evening Out

I don’t recall being this excited to be even-ing out. This hypomanic period has been one of the least useful/productive and most disruptive (mostly for sleep) in recent memory. So having slept a solid night last night, and feeling more or less “normal” today; I’m happy about that.

I dread the other shoe dropping. It worries me that I’ll slip from sub-manic to even to… down, depressed.

I feel like I’m doing everything right. Keeping a good schedule, sleeping as well as I can, getting outdoors and exercising, taking my vitamins. Aside: I’m not kidding about the vitamins. I have read a few things that suggest that some deficiencies can make various mental issues worse and I feel like it has helped over the time I’ve taken them. I still haven’t spent the time to do some tests – but how I feel is not something that I want to play with.

Even though I feel like I’m doing everything that I can, I’m concerned it won’t be enough and that this downward slope of mood will continue and dip into depression.

*crosses fingers*

Evening Out

“Up”

“Up” periods of mania used to happen several times a year. I didn’t know what was going on. I wasn’t aware of what it was that was happening.

I felt happy. I was excited. I couldn’t sleep well. Sometimes I couldn’t fall asleep for hours. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep.

I thought that it was just something that happened. Ebb and flow of life.

Triggers

It doesn’t just happen. At least, not randomly.

Caffeine (usually coffee) stimulates my mood. I noticed that if I have more than the usual amount of coffee (2-3x) in a morning, I’m all but guaranteed to feel over the moon within an hour or so. The world if full of possibilities, I’m accessing new parts of my brain (like Limitless’ NZT or Bourne Legacy’s Blue Pills).

New ideas are also a powerful drug. If I spend a few hours with someone who spurs interesting, new ideas, I’ll come away in a much more positive mood. Commonly such discussions can happen in the presence coffee, so this is a powerful mix.

I can’t pin it down much more than that. But recognizing that it is something that has triggers and knowing two of them is powerful. I can avoid these, or mix them in carefully. Or use them when I need them.

Or switch to decaf.

More, Please

Often, feeling manic feels good. Sometimes really, really good. I sometimes think I want more of it. And mania definitely beats depression. If I can only pick one to experience forever, definitely the mania.

But it is also problematic. If it’s a low boost of energy, then it can be relatively easy to control. But when it interferes with sleep it can start to become a problem.

Waking up at 4 am one night isn’t the end of the world. Even if I’m awake for an hour. And often, that is the only sleeplessness a manic period will cause.

But if I wake up every night for an hour, in a few days; I’m in trouble.
Or, when I am awake for 4+ hours, then it is disruptive.

Like tonight. I’m past the three hour mark at the moment. I’ve now been awake more than I’ve been asleep “tonight.” I have a meeting in the morning.

Do I cancel?
Do I just get very hopped up on caffeine to make it through the meeting?
Do I try to take the minimum caffeine amount and then get a nap later?

Rescheduling isn’t a problem. Drinking a lot of coffee tomorrow sounds good right about now.

The problem is that this won’t be the first instance where I have to decide between skipping a meeting or straining a mix of sleep and drugs to get through a day. Because this mania isn’t going away today or tomorrow. I’m on about day 2/3 so I know that, for me, I can expect another 3-5 days of this.

I often avoid morning meetings because of this. I worry that people think of me as lazy and I try not to call attention to my eschewing morning commitments. I’d happily schedule a 7am call – if I felt I had control over whether I’d be alert at that hour and, after, how many nights it would take me to not have days that were sapped of energy.

Obviously, mania is better than depression. But mania still messes with being normal and interacting with people.

 

 

“Up”

This is My Mania

4:44 am

I’ve been awake for over two hours already.
Did I mention I’ve been walking around exhausted the last several days?

This is my mania. This is what it looks like.

 

Before I identified as cyclothymic (“sub bipolar” / “sub manic-depressive”), I thought that I was just excited about things. A new job. Exciting ideas. Great opportunities. Interesting people.

I thought I had too much coffee. Or coffee too late in the day. Or ate too much sugar.

Or something.

 

It is somewhat excitement that drives this. And coffee. Caffeine as mood-booster, which is at least as important in its effect on me as the wakefulness portion of the drug. But I digress.

 

Two nights ago, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I was tired. I didn’t want to watch anything. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to get up and work. I didn’t want to get up at all.

All I wanted was to fall asleep so I could get up and work later. At a normal time. When I wouldn’t be tired.

 

This morning though, it’s more the common feeling: I have energy. My brain won’t stop. Oh, how it won’t stop. I started this blog which I had only thought about once before. I thought of a good quote earlier (which I now forget). I thought of several things I should do. I thought of two good ideas for work.

I watched the last episode of the “night TV show” I had been watching. Still not tired.
I started a relaxing movie that I had recommended. Thirty minutes in; still not tired.
I started a calm podcast. Twenty minutes in, I realized it wasn’t all that calming; still not tired.
I started a different calm podcast. An hour and ten minutes in; still not tired.

 

So I got up and here I am writing this; trying to sort out what it is that is affecting me.

 

This is my mania. This is what it looks like.


This is My Mania