Managing hypomania: The best way to learn is to teach

Ever since I learned about this thing called Cyclothymia a couple of months ago, you can read about it here, things have been kind of better, somewhat confusing, and all over the map. Perhaps I should say, I have been all those things.

The day I wrote about Neverending Story was the onset of another hypomanic episode for me. I didn’t quite realize it at the time I was doing my writing. I actually didn’t start recognizing it for what it was until it was time to lie down and go to sleep and my brain was just spinning, spinning, and spinning with all the things I want to write about and craving conversation, debate, and interaction with others who all seemed dormant in my preferred interactive forum of Facebook.

Tuesday at 11:09pm: Why is it I get so amped after writing? Feels like synapses are not going to settle down and let me sleep.

I gave up, got up and went out into the living room and logged onto the computer so I could use a full size keyboard and sit upright without disturbing the other sleeping bodies occupying the bed, Luna and her daddy.

I found another late night insomniac who I met through my daughter almost two years ago when she couch surfed at our apartment. We’ve chatted a few other times during 3rd shift when sleep eluded us both. We wound up discussing the difficulties with feeling out of control when she posted this statement:

I know I’m doing really good for myself right now… But why do I feel soooooooooooooo bi polar…I just wanna put my head through a wall!

The public conversation included me offering information about cyclothymia and then went private as she asked questions and shared about her experiences with relationships and how to cope with these kinds of overwhelming and out of control thoughts and moods.

The-best-way-to-learn-is

“The best way to learn is to teach.” ~ Frank Oppenheimer

I found myself responding to her questions and plaintive expressions of pain with the following:

Sometimes you have to focus on what you know, instead of what you feel, think, or believe. I KNOW I am loved and worthy of love, although much of the time I don’t feel, think, or believe it. Taking action on that knowledge helps me stop reacting in negative and harmful ways when other people whom I love don’t treat me the way I want and need them too. It helps me to respond differently than I otherwise would and has gone a LONG way in healing my relationships with my adult kids and Keith. Especially once I take into account how long and difficult the journey has been for me to choose loving action in the face of overwhelming feelings of rejection, depression, and judgmentalism, theirs and my own. 

“Yessss…I definitely understand your words and they are actually helping me in ways…I never understand my feelings and when other people tell me I’m negative all the time.. Or I’m depressed all the time or they don’t know what to do… Its like Ummm… Neither do I so why don’t you relax cuz neither of us understands it….! I just have been trying to stick around true souls and positive people… But I miss some people a lot and I’d give anything to keep them in my life and make them see.. Its not them… It is me… But Theres only so much I can do at times and others need to accept that. I’d accept my friends if they were homeless, lost, and had nothing to give… I’d give them the shirt off my back… But yeah…”

I could see the she in me when I read those words. It brought so many thoughts and memories about the lost and broken relationships in my life, as well as the lost and broken dreams.

Thankfully, because I’ve been doing the research on cyclothymia and working through my own healing and recovery process, I can look at recent history and recognize that new and healthier relationships are forming while bent and damaged ones are being healed and restored. So, when she asked, “What are some coping skills you have learned work well… Maybe its worth a shot for me ta try…,” I had a constructive response:

The 12 Steps of recovery have helped. One fb page, Codependent Life, has a lot of good stuff that helps me to reevaluate how I deal with people.

I started writing on my blog in December 2011 and was attending some recovery groups online and in person. I wrote about what was going on inside of me, in my life, and writing out some of the steps and meditations I had been reading through and studying.

As time went on, little by little, I started connecting with other bloggers who were experiencing various mental health, physical health, and relationship issues. I would read and comment and really think about what I was doing that was contributing to the problems I was experiencing and just praying, wishing, hoping for ways to move out of that negative head and heart space.

Acknowledging and taking ownership of my powerlessness in these things really helped me to start refocusing on what WAS in my control. I had to reevaluate my beliefs about God and His love for me and others. I realized that the only way I was going to heal and get unstuck was continually turning everything that I couldn’t control over to my Higher Power and trust that I would come out on the other side.

Step 1: I can’t. I was powerless over my own emotions, attitudes, and even actions. I still am to a large degree. My life was unmanageable and I was overwhelmed by everyone and everything in it.
Step 2: God can. Whether it is the “Christian” God or Love or the Universe, I had to recognize that a power greater than myself could and is restoring me to sanity.
Step 3: I think I’ll let him. I had to let go of my fierce desire and need to control the outcome and get people to understand, love, and treat me the way I wanted to be understood, loved, and treated. I had to trust that the Law of Attraction was strongly at work in my life and all the negative energy I was generating and focusing on was coming back to me in all areas of my life. I needed to find ways to turn that negativity over and find ways to reframe my negative thoughts.

The next day, I realized that by engaging with her about these things and sharing my own experiences, I had actually been reinforcing and teaching myself about managing my own hypomania.

To be continued . . .

Click here to find out more about Blog for Mental health 2013

Click here to find out more about Blog for Mental health 2013

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6 comments

  1. You have shared really heart felt and personal experiences. Thank you for sharing and teaching me. I had never heard of Cyclothymia or hypomanic episodes. I look forward to your next blog to learn more.

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    1. Susan,
      Thank you for sharing that. I had heard rumors of a “mild” or “low-level” form of bi-polar off and on for a number of years, but never had a name for it. Whenever I would see a mental health professional and the subject of bi-polar disorder came up, I never had the extremes that “qualified” me for that diagnosis. When my friend shared that term with me and the NIHS link explaining it, I was dumbfounded and actually went through a grieving period about it. I’m only just now really researching it and learning about hypomania myself. So, depending on how things go, this is probably going to be covered from a variety of perspectives over an unknown number of posts for the foreseeable future.

      Thank you for visiting.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  2. What a wonderful quote – and I quite agree – there’s nothing quite like trying to teach someone something you think you know and then discovering what you don’t know! It also isn’t always that easy to explain things to others when you take different learning styles into account!

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    1. Tamsin,
      You are so right. Learning styles definitely impacts it. Then, adding the layers that come with mental health issues like mood and personality disorders, just complicates it even more. I think that is one of the reasons why more and more organizations are utilizing peer mentoring in helping people to learn coping skills and why peer based recovery programs are so very effective.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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