When I thought I had unipolar depression, I used to wish I were bipolar, on the theory that I could get a lot more done. (I later found that not to be true, as I’m sure many of you can attest.)
I had a lot more experience with depression than with mania. My bipolar disorder is Type 2, which means I get hypomania instead of full-blown mania. And most of the time the hypomania comes out sideways as anxiety and/or irritability.
(Don’t ask me why I get the full-monty-style depression and only a smidge of hypomania. I don’t know. If my shrink does, he hasn’t told me.)
Looking back, I can remember only one hypomanic episode before my new diagnosis made me more aware of the possibility. I was working at writing and editing – the same things I do now, only then I could do it in an office full-time instead of at home and freelance. A woman came to me, asking about how she could become a writer for magazines.
I positively burbled and babbled. I gave her all sorts of advice on query letters and Writer’s Market and niche publications and getting bylines and clips. I told her about how I started, writing for I Love Cats magazine and editing my martial arts club’s journal, and working my way up. (Incidentally, I am, as far as I know, the only person ever to have articles published in both Black Belt and Catechist magazines.)
The woman went away inspired, she said, though I never heard how she made out.
Now I can more easily recognize hypomania when it hits. I still get the anxious and irritable sort, but now I get more of the buzzy kind. And even though it makes me twitchy, I can make use of it.
It was in a bout of hypomania that I decided to start this blog (and my other, general-purpose one – janetcobur.wordpress.com).
It’s hypomania that has kept me going for over a year so far. Though I can now, thanks to medication, force myself to work while in the dysthymic stage or the “meh” stage, if I hit a spell of hypomania, I can use it to write and edit. Right now I’m using a hypomanic swing to stockpile ideas and first drafts against the inevitable downswing.
Of course, the ramblings that go with hypomania are not worth posting (or submitting to a client) the way they hit the screen. When I’m less jazzed, but not in the Pit of Despair, I can re-read, edit, and improve. It’s a fine balance, a tightrope I’m learning to walk. And it takes both therapy and medication to maintain.
In essence, the not-properly-treated bipolar 2 made my work go downhill (even as I did), until I was unable to work at all. Now that my diagnosis and my meds are more on track, so am I. I may not be well, but I certainly am better. I can live with what I’ve got, and even re-learn how to use some of the abilities I lost in my most recent, largest, most devastating crash.
I wouldn’t recommend mania or even hypomania to anyone, but as long as I’ve got it, I might as well make it be good for something.