Each day, we all make decisions. Some are large decisions, like whether or not to put an offer in on a house, and some are small, like what to eat for lunch. Some decisions affect us financially, some affect our health, while others affect us in a variety of other ways. When I am hypomanic I find that making certain healthy decisions can be a bit tricky.
I recently had a lot of medications changed due to symptoms like anxiety, depression, and irritability, as well as a lithium blood level result that was on the low side. These changes included increasing a medication which is prescribed for anxiety, and has historically also given me a lot of energy. Most people become tired with this drug, but I always seem to react in odd ways to medications. Since I am on several mood stabilizers, it seemed a safe bet that I would be level with an increase in this medication this time. This did not end up being the case.
It was prescribed to take one capsule three times a day. I was fine each day after the first and second dose. After the third dose I became energetic with racing thoughts and high irritability, occasionally feeling on top of the world. Once getting to that level of energy, whether from a medication induced hypomania or a normal cycle of hypomania, my unhealthy instinct is always to try to stay that way. The longer it goes on, the more that becomes my instinct. I had been able to keep from following that instinct for almost a week, but then, the night before my next appointment, I almost faltered.
I knew that the following day my psychiatrist would more likely than not decrease that medication, I kept thinking that I should take advantage of this last night. I wanted to take more of it or drink extra caffeine so that I could elongate the experience. This is when making a healthy decision came into play.
I think one of the key differences between hypomania and mania is that with hypomania you can much more easily see how your actions may result in something bad happening. While I wanted to experience the hypomania for a longer amount of time, I was able to take a moment and consider the problems doing so could cause. The pull was strong, but I was able to abstain from drinking caffeine and I avoided taking any additional medication.
Decisions like this are not always easy. This one sure wasn’t. When clouded by hypomania it is easy to think everything is just fine and this is how I should feel all of the time. Even just six months ago I likely would have allowed myself to use artificial means to prolong my hypomania, but living with a mental illness teaches me new things every day. Things about myself, about how I interact with others, and how to empathize with different people. Something I have learned about myself (and is common with others as well) is that hypomania is often followed with depression. The cliche “what goes up must come down” comes to mind.
If I have to live with ups and downs, anxiety and addiction, the least I can do is learn from it and not repeat past mistakes, even when it is tempting.