why bipolar ups suck more than people often think

Some terminology used for states in bipolar disorder:

mania: euphoria and/or irritability.  People who don’t know much about it sometimes think it’s the same thing as being extra-super-happy, and would like to have it.

hypomania: somewhat less euphoria and/or irritability.  People who don’t know much about it usually don’t know that it’s mania to a lesser degree, and therefore not as destructive, but if they did, they’d probably pick hypomania out as the fun mood state to be in, and pay more for this than mania.  (I’d sure pay a lot personally to trade out what I actually get for these happy, productive hypomanias.)

mixed state: a lot of people know something more about bipolar disorder aren’t familiar with this term.  It involves having symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.  Anybody who paid for this would want a refund.

dysphoric mania: Not a DSM term, and as far as I can tell, accounted for by the fact that even euphoric mania can suck, and the fact that mania with depression mixed in gets termed a mixed state.  Maybe someone will rescue it but I think this might be a red-headed stepchild.

depression: real depression (as opposed to fake-ass glamorous depression) is probably not worth much to anyone who isn’t in a mixed state.

First, mania and hypomania
I’m going to leave out all the objectively bad things for you that can happen during hypomania/mania – damaging relationships, losing jobs, spending yourself into debt, etc. – and instead concentrate on the subjective-type-stuff that happens during mania (data from table in Goodwin and Jamison):

percentage and symptom

76% flight of ideas / racing thoughts

75% Distractibility / poor concentration

29% confusion

54% delusions
29% persecutory/paranoid delusions

Hallucinations: 18% auditory, 12% visual, 15% olfactory

19% thought disorder

By definition you can’t get delusions or hallucinations in hypomania (if you do, it’s considered mania instead), but you can certainly get racing thoughts and crappy concentration (I don’t know how common confusion is, but I’ve seen the first two mentioned a lot).

I have no doubt that some people with bipolar disorder get the euphoric kind of mania without the subjectively unpleasant stuff, and that some get the euphoric kind of hypomania that is also useful and productive and doesn’t even screw up their life and people write books on it about how hypomania is great and how to prolong and maintain it.

But man, let’s have a little recognition of those of us who can barely read through a paragraph or write an email while we’re so pointlessly overenergized, and who can’t sleep or calm down or do anything because we can’t slow down or stop our speeding thoughts, etc.  All bipolar disorder sucks ass, but things suck especial ass when there’s a perception that there’s a good side for you that helps make up for the bad side, when it’s mostly just different kinds and degrees of painful.

And that’s mania and hypomania, the more positive side of bipolar disorder.  Later I’ll write about mixed states, which were what I actually wanted to write about, since there is some damn nifty research and theory on them.  And since they are also under-recognized, particularly popularly.

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One Response to why bipolar ups suck more than people often think

  1. L.RabbitGirl says:

    Yay! Yay for you! Yay for this topic!
    Ahem. Anyway. About the euphoric manias… even those… there are bads in them… confusion and embarrassment and just not understanding what you are supposed to do with what you have and not being able to get your thoughts across to people and a high level of frustration. Even though you feel good. Even though it’s a “good” mania.

    Now, there are people who get so damn out of it they are completely in their own little world while manic but they are not all that common I should think. And not so out of it that they don’t interact with others: it would be almost catatonic mania or something which I’ve actually never heard of though, honestly, it could probably happen. Anyway, my point being that the only purely good mania would be one separated from reality entirely and that doesn’t often happen. There are still small frustrations at least. Small, but they are there.

    I’m going to wrap it up before I go off in an entirely new direction.

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