If you know anything about bipolar you’ve probably heard that one severe manic episode could literally ruin your life. I can tell you, from my own experience, this is absolutely true.
Technically, I don’t even have manic episodes. My diagnosis is bipolar II, meaning I have depression episodes and hypomanic episodes.
What is hypomania? It is similar to mania but your symptoms are less severe. It’s “mania light”. Symptoms of both mania and hypomania include:
- having higher-than-normal energy levels
- being restless or unable to sit still
- having a decreased need for sleep
- having increased self-esteem or confidence, or grandiosity
- being extremely talkative
- having a racing mind, or having lots of new ideas and plans
- being easily distracted
- taking on multiple projects with no way of finishing them
- having decreased inhibitions
- having increased sexual desire
- engaging in risky behavior, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, or going on big spending sprees
For most, mania feels good. And you do not recognize it when it’s happening.
It started at the beginning of last summer. I had been fired from my job, so my schedule was out of whack. My son moved in with his dad for the summer. And my boyfriend at the time moved into my house.
To say that this boyfriend was a bad influence on me is the understatement of the century. Normally, I work, take care of my son, and take care of my responsibilities. I rarely drink or go to bars.
Once the boyfriend moved in, the wheels completely blew off. We partied, partied, partied. We hung out with people that I would never normally associate with. Drug addicts. Low lifes. People who had been in and out of prison. People who had had their kids taken away from them.
It never crossed my mind that I was acting out of character. It was fun! It was exciting! Plus I loved my boyfriend and wanted to please him.
My boyfriend and I had regular late night conversations where I would talk and talk, so rapidly that he couldn’t understand me. I was full of brilliant ideas and literally could not control my speech. Often I’d be doing this, then discover that he had fallen asleep. So I’d go online, usually on Quora, and talk on there.
I had so much energy. I stayed up late at night, or all night working on projects, talking to people online, sending out my resume…I was constantly using my phone. But, I didn’t have energy to do “boring” things like clean the house or go grocery shopping or cook a meal. I craved excitement and stimulation.
In my late night sessions with my smartphone, I regularly did what I call “going down the rabbit hole”. Something exciting would pop up in a news article or a Facebook post or something else. I would then obsessively read everything I could about the topic. Then, since after spending 2 hours reading about something I considered myself to be an “expert” on the topic, I would go on various sites and social media and make comments. These would often lead to heated debates with strangers. This would go on for hours. I remember the Jeffrey Epstein story kept me going for days!
Meanwhile my house was a disaster. My clothes were dirty. I paid almost no attention to my teenaged son. There was a pile of unopened mail in my kitchen so high, I had to move it to the floor. Normal life was just too boring.
Then I got a job. It was a very structured environment with lots of rules. Looking back, I rubbed certain people the wrong way. I talked way too much and, being full of brilliant ideas, I gave unsolicited advice to people. Managers. I regularly went to my boss with a “better way” of doing something. I couldn’t sit still, so I frequently got up from my desk to get a drink, go to the bathroom or go talk to someone. I didn’t get much work done.
After a month, I received a written warning. But my behavior continued. After two months, I got fired. So in a span of 5 months, I had been fired from 2 jobs. I thought everyone was out to get me. It never occurred to me that I was the reason why I’d gotten fired.
My hypomania continued. I was rapidly going through my savings but didn’t give it a second thought. Friends and family took notice. Nobody liked my boyfriend. My son hated him. They warned me.
One night, we were hanging out with my boyfriend’s friend. He seemed nice. It was late so my boyfriend went to bed. The friend said he had to go back to his place nearby to let his dogs out. So I went with him.
He drugged me and raped me.
The drug was GHB, known as the date rape drug. In large doses, it makes you pass out. In even larger doses it can kill you. As soon as it hit me, I knew what was happening. But I was too high to call for help. Then I blacked out. The next morning he drove me home as if nothing had happened. The worst was that my boyfriend blamed me. He said I never should have left with a lowlife scum like that. I felt ashamed. I never called the police.
This wasn’t the only time my boyfriend treated me like shit. It happened regularly. He had a terrible temper which came out of nowhere. He said awful things to me. Things that “you just don’t go there”. Ladies, you know what I mean.
We had one fight at my house where he got in my face, screaming so violently, I got scared. Then he started throwing things at me. I called the police. He took off before they arrived. After every fight, he’d apologize and I’d take him back.
September came. My boyfriend was also out of work. So I came up with another brilliant idea. We would start a business together! I poured myself into it. At first it was to be a handyman business just for him. But it snowballed into me being his manager, getting him jobs, setting his appointments, doing his quotes and invoices. I also designed a logo and a website. Occasionally I helped him on jobs. All of this work I did for no pay.
We worked seven days a week. I had plenty of energy. But I was also exhausted. I made mistakes in the business which cost him money. We had fights regularly. Not really fights, more like him blowing up at me and me silently taking it.
Normally, I keep to myself unless I know someone well. But during my hypomanic episode, I was Chatty Cathy. I struck up conversations with people in stores, bank tellers, anyone who would listen. Even people who clearly weren’t interested in my friendly banter. I talked to them anyway.
I also had much higher confidence than usual. I thought that I was smarter, more creative and better looking than most anyone. Modesty and humility flew out the window.
Looking back, these beliefs were way off. To give you an example as to how bad I looked, I often slept in my clothes, then wore them again the next day. No shower. I didn’t bother with makeup or fixing my hair.
I finally found a new job in October but it didn’t start until November. This is when my hypomania slowed down. Usually what follows a hypomania episode is a depression episode. So from mid October until the day before I started my job, I laid in bed depressed.
It’s late November now and I feel fine.
The aftermath: By mid October, I was completely broke. I sold everything of value that I could. It was some of the worst stress I’d ever experienced. I even had to borrow money from my ex-husband.
I broke up with my boyfriend. I can’t blame him for everything. But had I never met him, I don’t think I would have had the hypomanic episode. And I finally realized that I deserved better.
I’ve been trying to repair relationships that I damaged during this episode. Especially with my son. I feel guilt and embarrassment. As for my family, it will take a long time before they trust me again. Right now, they see me as crazy, immoral, selfish, and a bad mother. But it could have been much worse.
A manic (not hypomanic) episode can destroy your family, your career, your finances, your reputation. You could end up homeless, in prison or committed to a state hospital. Or dead.
I am grateful to God that I made it through this chaotic time.
Have you ever had a manic or hypomanic episode? Please comment below. Or, use my Contact page and I will email you back. Hugs, 😀❤️💥🙏