On Being Bi-Polar

It is 4 in the morning. I am listening to the rain piss down on the stone tiles outside my room. The balcony door is open a foot and the 27 degree Celsius, muggy tropic air wafts in.

I have been awake since 2 a.m. And, IT is happening again.

IT being the return of hypomania. Hypo is a word prefix meaning under. So, literally under manic or less than manic. Manic being the word for certifiably crazy, wacko, outta control. At least in the eyes of people who are not manic, not bipolar.

By the way, an aside, I just loathe The Bangles song, Manic Monday. It is so, so wrong. The song describes a hectic, frantic, chaotic day. Not like mania at all. Not. Well, maybe a little bit. But just one aspect of the whole magilla.

To be official. I have Bipolar Affective Disorder II. Let’s parse that. Let’s look at the Affective bit. According to Google’s dictionary, affective means relating to moods, feelings, and attitudes. Let’s get more specific, denoting or relating to mental disorders in which a disturbance of mood is the primary symptom. What is mood?

Most of us know what our mood is. But, what’s the official definition of mood? Mood is defined as a temporary state of mind or feeling. Synonyms are state of mind, frame of mind, temper, or humour. The latter two being rather old words.

So, let’s sum up. Bipolar disorder is seemingly about mood. And, in my 34 years of experiencing it that is true. But, as I will tell you later, it is much more than that. So, much more.

Let’s look at the Bipolar piece of the phrase. Bipolar literally means 2 poles. Two opposite poles, like North Pole and South Pole. But in this case the 2 poles are Mania and Depression. Mania is defined as mental illness marked by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions, and overactivity. Some synonyms for mania are madness, insanity, lunacy, delirium, frenzy, wildness. Let’s look at the downward pole. Depression is defined as feelings of despondency and dejection. Some synomyms for depression are melancholy, sorrow, despair, hopelessness.

First a bit of a discursion. When I was first diagnosed with a mood disorder my official diagnosis was Manic Depressive Illness. That name reflected the illness was clearly about both Mania and Depression. That was in 1983. Since then psychiatrists and psychologists have recognized that there are several versions or forms of mood disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic there are no less than 9 mood disorders. But, let’s look at ones pertinent to this discussion. These are Bipolar Affective Disorder I and Bipolar Affective Disorder II.

The chief characteristic that distinguishes Bipolar II from Bipolar I is that the mood swing in the upward direction, towards mania, is less than that of Bipolar I. Hence, hypomania.Individuals experiencing hypomania may experience different degrees of mania and its affiliated symptoms.

Next post, I take an unvarnished look at just what those symptoms are.

Excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved