“Everything is terrible and nothing is not on fire.”

I’m sure most of the people who read this know, but for those of you don’t, I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This consists of cycling between two modes of thought and mood: depression and mania. In my case, as my disorder is less severe than others, the opposite of depression for me is “hypomania”. While other factors may cause me to cycle rapidly between different moods – my case worker calls this “emotional reactivity” and suggests it’s different from bipolar – the depressive state and the hypomanic state are different baselines.

I am very aware of when I’m depressed.

Hypomanic, less so.

Over the past week or so, I have had a hypomanic episode.

Maniacs do highly obvious and out-of-character things when they are in the throes of an episode. Hypomania is more subtle, and in that way, more destructive. Hypomania is unrestrained energy and attachment to joyous, uplifting, or simply distracting things. It’s a tendency to spend more money than one really should, losing track of budgets, and accruing debt. It’s ignoring self-care in favor of being out, having fun, and indulging in pleasures, vices, and ultimately self-destructive behaviors which are also damaging to others.

The problem is, these things are fun, and in the midst of an episode, I feel happy.

Please understand that, as I write this, I do not consider it an excuse for my behavior, or for decisions I’ve made. This is an explanation. Like the discovery of motive during a criminal trial, my realization of the episode explains some of the poor decisions I’ve made. Those decisions were still made by me, and I must accept responsibility for them and deal with their consequences. It’s more than making apologies and admitting I’ve fucked up. It is making an active effort to do better, act better, be better.

It begins with admitting that I am not okay.

My instinct is to run away from things. To cut ties with the people I’ve hurt and go into radio silence. To push away those who care about me. To crawl into a hole and pull it closed after me. But what would that change? How would that help me and, more importantly, people I’ve hurt? The answer is that it wouldn’t. These things are knee-jerk reactions caused by swinging back downwards into depression.

I need help. I must discuss with professionals ways to be more aware of swings into hypomania, if there is medication to give my mental state a “ceiling”, and what else I can do to establish a balanced mental baseline. I am already on medication, mood stabilizers, to mitigate some of the swings. However, since my baseline is typically low (I stay depressed for months and this hypomanic episode was a mere few days) I need to find ways to raise it. In the meantime, I need to return to more focused, more active self-care. Cleaning up my messes. Sleeping more. Eating. Looking myself in the mirror and knowing that I won’t like what I see.

I neither expect nor demand help from my friends. Professionals, yes. Friends, no. I have some great people in my life who will want to help and give advice. I’ll accept what I’m given but I won’t make a habit of asking. The last thing I want is to cause further discomfort or give the impression I’m using any of the above to manipulate the situation in my favor. I’m not a con man. This is not a game. This is damage control.

I am not okay.

And I won’t be okay until I deal with this aspect of my issues, first and foremost, before anybody else gets hurt.

So I’m going to do that.