I want to talk about the upside!
The flipside to the depression, the hypomania.
Well it’s the upside down really, because sometimes it’s damaging, unhealthy, sometimes the aftermath stings and takes time to repair, to forgive, it’s not all unicorns and daisies!
When I get like this I sleep a lot less, that’s often the first sign I’m on the way up. I may grab a couple hours here and there, often 4 feels more than enough, sometimes I get 6 hours on and off, it varies each time, but it creeps in, in this familiar way, usually at least once every 4-8 weeks and lasts for a few days at least. (Sometimes I am in tune with the full moon but not always! Feeling depressed on a full moon is fucking dire, especially when you see fellow lunatics so joyful and full of beans!)
I feel so connected to the world and people, I will talk to anyone, I will hug everyone and everything. I will talk none stop. I will crack jokes constantly, (to be honest I do when I’m down anyway) but sometimes more inappropriate ones, I will laugh even more loudly than usual. I will flirt like crazy and be more charming and seductive than is perhaps necessary or desirable. I probably make people feel uncomfortable with that but I’d never notice at the time because my brain has tricked me into thinking that everyone is running on that same level or energy and understanding, that everyone appreciates this moment in time and our interaction feels as significant to them as it does to me.
I adore myself and I feel like others must too! And I adore them back, there is no sense of suspicion or intuitive sensations around others, I just feel a complete connection with everyone and everything. Like an important piece in a big exciting puzzle!
I can get really enthusiastic for one idea or object or activity and think everyone else in the world must get involved and connect over it. I feel bonded to everything, colours and smells are more vibrant, in a good way, not in that panicky, walls closing in on me, anxious way. When I’m anxious I get overstimulated by everything, but this is the opposite of that, when I am high I am a vessel and I am letting it all flow through me and grasping at it all eagerly, it feels like my particles are splitting and my eyes, mind (and sometimes legs) are wide open.
I make so many plans, to see so many people and do more than I could ever possibly do in a balanced week, let alone one when I am down! I take on many projects at home, most of which don’t get finished.
I can get more creative than usual, I write more, paint more, spray paint the furniture, start big ambitious projects that never get finished. (Sometimes it feels like tidying up after a toddlers craft play date). Usually the big ideas I had for art projects or collaborations, turn out to be not so great afterall. I write lists and ideas for days, I dance more. I laugh and smile and feel so alive and full of love and excitement, like I could burst with it all. I wish all good things to all people, which is no bad thing, but I really feel like I have all the love in the world to give and I must give it immediately! I’ve noticed my clothes and make-up might get more out there, more colourful, more mismatched, and it is already quirky to begin with!
I ‘love bomb’ people, I tend to be overflowing with love and compliments and enthusiasm and tell them how wonderful they are, how much I love them, how much they mean to me. This does no harm mostly, but it can make me feel vulnerable after, a little foolish, exposed. I am a loving and emotional person anyway so I hope they don’t notice the difference, or that they see it as authentic and not just me ‘off on one’. I probably scare one or two people with my flirtatiousness too, but at the time I can’t judge or contain that, I can’t pick up on the nuances of things that I normally would. I have no anxiety, tact or shyness to hold me back!
I have learnt to not jump into bed with everyone or just anyone, I have learnt not to spend too much, to rethink big purchases, like trips away or spending rent money and assess whether something is considered too impulsive. I have taught myself to look beyond the next stripe of colour in the rainbow road stretched out before me, to not be too blinded by the shiny bright things! But if I’m honest I still overspend. I’ve just got better at hiding it and being more selective and I’m lucky enough that I don’t have expensive tastes. I am also more prone to giving money away or treating friends. You can imagine how people have taken advantage of that in the past!
I call this time ‘mermaiding’ because there is a great deal of basking in the beauty of life, hair down flowing with no inhibitions, feeling glamorous and sexy and free, and being able to access this mystical and often elusive thing called happiness!
But it’s not all joyous, there can also be an annoyance, like the world is too slow around me, and impatience, and an inability to grab hold of one thought or another properly. I often have lists to keep me right, so I know what I have to do and when because otherwise it won’t stick in my head, as all the thoughts rattle through at a ridiculous speed.
I’m writing this on a high right now, and it’s not poetic or interesting in the slightest because I just want to type it the fuck out and move on to the next thing!! But it’s no good writing in hindsight sometimes and also because I know I will probably be too tired and down to type about it in a couple of days time.
So I can get cranky, confused, it can become a mixed state where I can laugh and cry at the same time, be tired and in need of rest but hyper at the same time, it can be exhausting and frustrating and disorienting. And I haven’t always had as many good people in my life. I didn’t always have the insight and practise and good habits and safety nets that I have now. I wasn’t as safe as I am now. Bad things happened.
Because there is always an aftermath.
Sometimes I have some serious explaining to do! Apologies are needed, bridges need rebuilt, sometimes damage limitation/juggling the finances, regret, remorse, embarrassment, guilt, facing up to my abandoned responsibilities, at one time in my life pregnancy tests were almost a weekly occurrence, (I was lucky and I am not at all proud of myself) not to mention all the risky drinking/drugging/shoplifting and other unmentionables that add to the rush when I’m sky high and feel untouchable. It’s not so fun on the way back down.
And then the slump, in mood and energy. Often the depression hits heavier because I’ve been so high, because my actions and behaviour have been problematic and I am faced with the reality of what I have done, the ways my behaviour have betrayed my true nature, the reputation I’ve gained, the paranoia creeps in, the guilt and shame. I feel so much more vulnerable, no longer invisible, it’s like a comedown from amphetamines but I haven’t taken anything to make me that way, my head chemicals or wiring just misfire and propel me like a rocket into a weird, love fuelled, excitable state of recklessness!
I have good people in my life, who recognise this for what it is, they know how best to tolerate it and when to indulge me and reel me in. In recent times I have added two more voices of reason in my head which pop up and keep me from acting too impulsively, one friend L, who says ”Best not Love” when I am thinking of being too reckless or drinking, and S, “Sit the fuck down” for when I am taking on too much or being too busy or restless.
My mum told me recently of a time when I was 2 or 3 years old and darting around her bedroom like “a wild horse when you don’t know which way it will go next” and I ran straight into the mirror as I saw the reflection as an extension of the room. My mum tells me ‘this child never had any concept of boundaries, she thought she could run through mirrors!’
And you know, maybe that’s not a bad analogy. When I’m manic I can see how the world is but am able to see through my usual limitations and run beyond my inhibitions. But even back then, charging face first into the glass gave me a bloody nose.