Friday, October 27, 2006

Am I just a little too happy?

I've been feeling really good lately, not quite sure why. The weather has been beautiful, chill but very sunny, and since I'm in school and not working 9-5, I get to spent a fair amount of time outside. Sunlight is very important to me -- I usually experience a slight dip in mood when daylight savings time hits and I'm not getting as much sun. (Of course I wear sunscreen and sunglasses to prevent cancer and wrinkles.) So when I get plenty of sun, I'm happier.

I've also been taking megadoses of flaxseed oil supplements, which are natural mood boosters, since they support good neurotransmitter functioning. And I might be at a point in my menstrual cycle when my hormones aren't promoting dysphoria.

But I wonder why I'm feeling so good, despite Dr. Jerk's antipathy, midterms, being a lonely single girl, the pain in my knees, and the rotten news from my orthopedic surgeon that after I spent a ton of cash, my MRIs were basically normal. (That does not bode well for a lawsuit against my gym.)

When I feel too good, it's called hypomania, and it's an aspect of my mood disorder. I won't rattle off a laundry list of signs and symptoms; read about them here if you're interested. I don't want to go into too much detail about my hypomanic episodes, because frankly, they're very embarrassing to recall. I will say that hypomania has lost me jobs, friends, and money -- because when I'm hypomanic, I need to shop.

I don't say I like to shop; I say I need to shop. One of the signs of hypomania is an "excessive involvement in pleasurable activities." That could be sex, music, movies, or shopping. My strongest urge when I'm hypomanic is to shop, because I want to possess almost everything I see. I don't just buy a CD -- I join Columbia House and buy 50. I don't buy a shirt, I buy 12. I buy a new boom box that comes with a microphone and a little karaoke tape -- then I buy 12 karaoke tapes. I want, I want, I want. The appetite is voracious, and a hypomanic person with a credit card can do some serious damage.

And right now, I want to shop. I have no income -- I'm living off savings -- so I've tried to be careful. But I feel like I need pretty clothes, and I don't have enough of those for the weight I'm currently at. I'm trying to be very, very careful -- I'm only buying on sale, and I'm not buying very much. But I really want to shop, and it's distressing not to; I've even started ordering my groceries from Fresh Direct instead of going to the grocery store, because I love online shopping, it saves time, it saves money because many of the products are cheaper than in the bricks-and-mortar store... and I have to eat, right?

I've never gone into major debt due to hypomania, which I guess is something good. And hypomania is definitely easier to control than depression; I just have to watch what I say and do very, very carefully. Because when you're hypomanic, you're not always aware of the effect your behavior has on other people, and you're not always amenable to suggestions that you tone it down a bit. That's how you lose jobs and friends.

I've learned from past hypomanias, and right now I'm watching myself carefully to make sure I don't spiral out of control. Because the initial euphoria of hypomania can be replaced by intense irritability and anger -- which then spirals down into depression. And I can't afford a depression right now; I will not be able to handle grad school. (And wouldn't Dr. Jerk be pleased.)

I'm waiting to see what happens when daylight savings time arrives this weekend. As I mentioned above, I usually get a little depressed around this time of year. I'll be watching myself very, very carefully over the next few weeks.
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. Oysh. That can't be at all easy to live with. I hope that this time around it doesn't hit you so hard.