Saturday, October 24, 2009



Ah okay, here it is. The counter to being sick all this time. Hypomania. Someone at work caught me - they said "Stop! You are confused, and it's like you don't know what day it is!" And they were dead right.

I'm going to be typing this at stream of consciousness, and so I will be throwing things around, giving others an experience of what a Hypomania state is like, and hopefully slapping myself around and rebooting myself so things don't head on to the next step, full mania.


In the late nineties, I was working a job where I was doing fifteen and sixteen hour days, and getting no sleep. I was partying hard, and I was promiscuous. I have a science brain. The chemicals I was playing with I had researched, and I was on very low doses. I know there are no safe doses. but they were very low. Much lower than the legends some people might tell. I had no interest in babies or loosing my sexual health, so I was a safety boy. Bareback is a nicer ride, but HIV and penicillin injections hold no appeal. The most dangerous thing I was doing at this time was abusing my sleep.

Late 1998 I quit a cool, well paying job as a Tipmaster because I had on the certain feeling that 'something was wrong.' I had two warnings about sleeping on the job. Actually, that wasn't true. I had warnings for going to sleep in my car before the gates to the compound I had to open. The truck drivers would be there, and I would open up once they blasted the horn. If I didn't try and sleep there, I couldn't get to sleep at all. I couldn't explain it, I couldn't fix it, and I didn't want to get fired so I left before I was pushed.

I had been to medical specialists. I had been to a couple of counsellors and shrinks. Unfortunately, the old adage was true. They were, without a doubt, much, much more messed up than I was.

So I spent about half a year travelling around Australia visiting friends, and then about a year doing odd jobs. I talked to people, but they couldn't figure it out, and no-one spotted it. Eventually I worked at a seed factory. The job was easy labouring and sorting work, and involved throwing 25kg and fifty kg bags around. The job perfectly suited my body. I carved off my usual 120kg down to 87kg, and a six pack stomach. I was back to being able to do hand stand push ups, which I had not done since I was a kid and a gymnast.

My labouring meant that I was exercising all day. And I had never been that fit post puberty. So when I shrank my needed sleep, I just presumed it was a side effect of fitness. When I was going into pubs and club, smiling and winking and a charisma stunned girl would follow me home and we would shag like bunnies, I just presumed this was western, decadent, pagan Australia.

Our good friend wikipedia says " Patients may be relatively unlikely to seek psychiatric treatment for Hypomania alone." To which I say "Hell yeah".

"People with Hypomania are generally perceived as being energetic, euphoric, visionary, overflowing with new ideas, and sometimes over-confident and very charismatic." I'm not sleeping, being hyper charismatic, I'm shagging like a bunny, and I'm super fit and energetic. If Hypomania was a tablet, it would be the most valuable and potent pharmaceutical in the world. Quick, doc, I want to be fat, asleep, boring and unattractive! Cure me!

And when I'm hypnomanic I'm a natural born poet, which I can tell you doesn't hurt with the hyper charismatic factor. "In the hypomanic state, people may feel like they can't slow their mind down, and that the speeding thoughts are crafted exceptionally well. Some examples are speaking or writing in rhyme or alliteration without planning it first; quick responses to people talking; or the ability to improvise easily on the spot."

Of course, this has to fall down. Now, the really unlucky (vast majority) of bastards plummet from this height to depression. For some reason, I don't. I might get as low as 'a little blue' or 'slighty miffed.' I thank goodness that I don't plunge into the black. Conversations between myself and depressed people are weird. I can't even imagine what they are trying to express - and they sit there jealous as hell but not really understanding mania.

When this falls down for me, it goes to mania. The trouble with mania is that from sitting inside, it's Hypomania, but EVEN BETTER. The merry-go-round is going faster. You need less sleep. Nothing hurts. The vast majority of people are electrified by your company, and want to share it. I got disciples. The kind of people that want a hand to get through life latch onto you and ask to receive your wisdom.

Manic symptoms include irritability, anger or rage, delusions, hypersensitivity, hypersexuality, hyper-religiosity, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, racing thoughts, talkativeness, pressure to keep talking or rapid speech, grandiose ideas and plans, and decreased need for sleep (e.g. feels rested after 3 or 4 hours of sleep).

I had every one on the list. Bingo! Eyes heavenward for a full house! Rapid speech meant that I was motormouthing so hard that no-one could follow. From the inside, it just seems like everyone is a bit slow, and not following the new improved you. Racing thoughts - I think we had covered that. Decreased need for sleep - I was down to a couple of hours a day. I was not angry. I was hyperfocused on what I was doing, but I never got violent, I walked away from impediments to my plans, I didn't try to hurt anyone. Hypersexuailty - I've already covered that. And thank goodness I always 'covered that'. Boom boom.

Hyper-religiosity was weird. I was raised devoutly catholic, and it is completely ingrained into my thinking and actions. I have never denied its massive effect. So when the strong religious feelings of need for exploration came, I decided to try and commune with God, using meditation methods I was researching. The fact that you decide "I'm just going to talk to God" also neatly covers grandiose ideas and plans. Well I made it, which has been handy ever since. It took days of meditation, and travelling without moving. When I got there, God's message was "I will call you if I need you". That was quite reassuring, and has been handy every since. My rational science brain says that it was a scientific explainable chemical imbalance. And when I talk to the deeply religious, I can look them straight in the eye and say "Sorry, when I spoke to God, that's not what he said to me." Like I said, Handy.

The religiousity and charisma mix was very strange. As I said, I got very charismatic, and had followers and stuff. I also became a compulsive gift giver and receiver. People seem to just give charismatic people gifts. And I wouldn't keep them, I was stuck by the 'you need nothing but faith' where faith is fine amalgam of faith/ confidence and arrogance. I was giving stuff away at a great rate of knots, and minimalising my personal possessions. I've always had a strange relationship with money, and it got weirder with the mania.If you have
have enough disciples, all you need to do is cover rent and people just invite you out for food to hear you speak.

"Manic patients are frequently grandiose, obsessive, impulsive, irritable, belligerent, and frequently deny anything is wrong with them." Eventually it all came to a stop. Enough people who cared had said 'what the hell' to enough people who knew me, and eventually my brother Matthew, who is a psych nurse, had the sense to call it all to stop and convince me to go to hospital on 2nd January 2000. I sometime use the line that my brain had the millennium bug. I was on a 21 day order, and I was out in 14. I was medicated heavily for a couple of days, and weaned off really rapidly down to some seds and lithium. I think the main things I needed were real sleeping hours and real food.

Hospital was great fun, and really interesting. Only one thing CREEPED ME OUT, even when I was doing it, and that was the ability to play the piano. Why did it creep me out? Because I can't fracking play the piano normally. I can sing, but I couldn't stand doing the drills necessary to learn to play the piano. I learnt as a kid, but I found the whole process painful. In hospital, I could think of a song and play it. When I asked the staff
"Hey, Is this any good or am I just crazy" they said " It's pretty good, but rushed." Then I said "Well it's scaring me 'coz I can't play when I'm sane." They had tight smiles at that point. That's the trouble - all your question and answer and testing mechanisms are out. Was I crazy? Was I playing well? Were the staff humouring me?

I was at my parents place and was a zombie on lithium and seds. They got me off the seds after about three months, and I came back to 'slow but reasonable function' pretty fast. By March that year I went to Rowany Festival okay. I was a bit of a slow mover, but I was there and happy. I was out of my parents place and back into sharehousing pretty quick. I spent a year doing all sorts of little stuff. My nominal house I had keys for was B's, but I was couch surfing and crashing in with friends and exes. I was on sickness benefit, and was not able to work until after I was off the lithium.

I moved to a student sharehouse and decided to use my free income support to study. I know, studying while on medication was going to be special, but I gave it a go. It was a mistake. My biggest mistake was my choice of subjects. I decided on philosophy. Thinking about thinking. What was I thinking? I had a ball. It was freaking great. It made my head go so fast...

The wise amongst you will see where this is going.

I was in trouble again, and this time it was spotted a lot faster, by a certain red headed angel. She found me, owned me, smacked me on the nose like a naughty puppy, supported me through another two weeks in hospital, and this time shared everything with me and married me. It might have only been a symbolic 'jump of the broomstick', it might not have been in a church, it might not have been the type of married that would have made my mother happier, the terms might have only been the old pagan 'year and a day' but it was real in our hearts and heads. We got each other pointed in the right direction. It didn't last, but the happy ending was that the next boy she dated I approve of heartily. She did get married in the way that made her mum happy. I think we are both happy with the fact that we know we love each other but know that we can't be together. I have not been back to hospital since then.

Back to Now:

I have just today realised that I am having a Hypomania episode. All the symptoms were there. As I said before, I caught it this time. I do not need hospital. I have developed the instinct to pull it back. I need sleep, and I probably need something to get me to sleep.

Theoretically others should be able to spot it. But I am an odd fish, I am a very smart person/ genius, and I am stubborn as any Beswick and strong willed. So to call it, and then back your call, takes the sort of guts and sensitivity that is very, very rare. So far it has only been two other geniuses who love me, and even those had Psych training, who have had the certainty of will. Thanks to all who have given me enough 'little warnings' to realise what is happening this time. ML, RC, ST, KB, KP and Dr Nick.

Sorry to anyone who I have freaked out. Sorry to anyone who I have worried. Thanks for reading this far.

I hope to resume regular programming after fixing these small technical difficulties. :)


Barnesm said...

Sounds like something you are familiar with and the best person to deal with it is on it.

That person being you.

Interesting to read about it through your experience of it.

YsambartCourtin said...

Thanks Barnes. The hardest part is the 'wakeup call' moment. And that needs someone else for a big 'stop' or a lot of little 'is this right' warnings eventually filter through.

This one was a lot of little warnings, verbal and physical: "That seems desperate", "Hey bucko, what's the line between confident and arrogant", "You look confused", not being able to keep pace with someone while walking, having to march faster, I start making complex analogies that are too complex for my audience and being even worse with names than usual.

Self analysis requires your brain, and brain is the thing that is glitching out. And behavior is a spectrum: from normal - having a good time - hypnomania - mania.

YsambartCourtin said...

However, you usually go a research some of the coolest stuff, and this time my favourite word was 'loggorhoea' What is the line between loggorhoea and vebosity? Is it your audience comprehension?

Nautilus said...

Wow that is pretty much the very epitome of full-on!

I have no experience with this and so have little to offer except sympathy and a reminder that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Ufortunately being highly intelligent I am sure makes that help seem slow and inadequate.

Good luck!

YsambartCourtin said...

Thanks Naut. Yeah, it is pretty full on :) And help is always appreciated, but when I'm in that state it can be not understood from my end AS attempted help. Once I'm coming down a bit there is usually a go round to friends and I say

"Thanks, Sorry, what a ride. Hey if it freaks you, next time I suggest calling X."

YsambartCourtin said...

Since there are a few writers and budding writers around these parts, I though having a perspective from inside the unwell persons head could be a useful tool.

Dr Yobbo said...

Bart, that was fascinating mate. Have known a couple of people along those lines - most of them had the depression to go along with (several of whom ended up informing characters in ITWPT, which has several characters lacking correctly functioning neurochemistry in various ways) - and it was a very interesting insight. Good luck with it.

Henry Walker said...

Very insightful post. In my personal situation, I often attempt to deal with my particular situation myself. While my condition is primarily physical there are other elements. I have a great doctor who helps me a lot, but most of the time I muddle through. Asking for help is hard, I know. I can tell when things are going wrong when I push myself so hard I start to "fall down". This has often happened at Rowany Festival, fighting from a chair because my legs don't work, or taping my sword to my hand is a result of the stubborness that I have.

Your post has inspired me that maybe I should be writing a blog about being a fencer with fibromyalgia and also dealing with it in other situations. I will give it due consideration.

Thanks for the blog, it is great.

Jules said...

Thank you Bart.

Much love to you