Irritability – My Special Compass Point

vivien This is my first post for Canvass of the Mind.  Big ‘hello’ to the community and a big ‘thanks’ for inviting me to blog!

When Ruby Tuesday told me one of the themes of this blog is to explore how each one of us handles Bipolar differently, I jumped right onboard. I’m looking forward to sharing experiences with everyone.  Cheers!


Hypomania.  Sometimes it’s impossible to tell when it begins.

I may not feel hypomanic when working on a writing project.  I don’t feel hypomanic when it occupies my thoughts from waking until retiring at night.  Nor do I feel hypomanic when my thoughts are racing all over the place, from plot point to plot point. Hey, I’m getting that novel done in my head, after all, because my fingers simply cannot keep up. Talking with my hands has always been a trait, usually chalked up to my heritage.   But when my family starts telling me I am behaving in an irritable manner and my reaction is overly defensive, then it’s time to admit the hypomania train may be pulling into the station.  What’s especially interesting to me is that this state I’m describing is not only categorized as hypomania, it is mixed hypomania.

Yup, time to Google. I think the best resource I encountered on the “Bipolar irritability” search was an article from the Psychiatric Times  titled, Mixed States and their Manifold Forms Part 1.  It very succinctly states, “The diagnosis…required the presence of irritable mood plus 4 [DSM IV] Category B criteria.”  [See table within the article for Category B criteria.]

Great.  That’s me.

Everyone deals with their Bipolar in a different way.  So, what do I do when a mixed state hypomania comes to visit?  First and foremost I contact my doctor.  I know he is going to elevate one of the meds I am already taking.  I also know he is also going to add back another one that’s already in my medicine cabinet.  But he can’t possibly treat me effectively unless he has the whole picture by the time our next scheduled appointment rolls around.  No one should self-medicate.  Call the Dr instead.  Second, I tell my therapist.  Talk therapy is so important to me, and again, how can my therapist possibly hold an effective session unless she’s clued in to what’s really going on.  Third, and most importantly, I talk with my family and acknowledge I’ve climbed aboard the hypomanic mixed state train.  If I weren’t acting rash in the first place, they never would have alerted me to my change in behavior.  Any transgressions are apologized for and a plan put in place to call my Dr if I get any worse.

Lastly, what I do may seem trivial, but I write.  Most of the time, when I am swinging to one end of the Bipolar spectrum or another, whatever I write is utter crap.  But, the act of tapping those keys and getting the garbage out of my head is incredibly cathartic.  So what if my vocabulary is mysteriously narrowed and I can only write articles and not fiction (weird, but true)?  It’s something I’m doing for me to get through the storm until the clear skies – and clarity of mind  – come again.

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10 thoughts on “Irritability – My Special Compass Point

  1. Wow. I love this! It’s a wonderful mix of personal experience and symptomatology, information and links, and a plan you have tailored to your specific situation and needs. We all find different things that work for us, regardless of our commonalities in diagnosis.

    I find writing so therapeutic and cathartic as well. Blogging, journaling, emailing friends – I have a long-standing love affair with language, and I find it often brings out in me things I didn’t even realize were on my mind.

    Thrilled that you’re on board with us!

  2. Glad to see you Manic!

    I’m so glad that you reminded us to be completely honest with our professional team. I don’t currently have a therapist, and I haven’t had much success there. I was wondering if I should try again.

    My compass? Depression. Sometimes it’s a slow progression and sometimes it’s a very short plunge into delusions, paranoia, and isolation. But it throws the red flag every time.

  3. Hello ManicMuses, pardon my slow response time. I’m really glad you’ve joined us, and I like your perspective a great deal. I look forward to getting to know you better and reading more of what you have to say (I would write more, but it has decidedly been one of those days).

    Take care!

    • Hello there, Always! Nice to meet you also. I read some of your personal blog this morning and do hope you are feeling well. I’m very excited that we’ve all agreed to work on Canvas and I’m also looking forward to getting to know you. Take care and thanks for reaching out!

      • I am doing much better than I was back then, thank you. Much, much better. The reason I haven’t linked to it directly on here is that it’s almost like a different chapter of my life, when I wasn’t me. But lately I’ve been thinking that it might actually be beneficial to make people more aware of that chapter in my life, so they can actually understand where I was compared to where I am now. What do you think?

        • I think it’s a great idea! This blog is all about being Bipolar, and I think most of us would agree the disease has forced us each into having several chapters in our lives. It’s important for people to understand when you’ve got BP, you’re by default a milti-dimensional person. 🙂 Let me know what you decide. Have a great weekend!

          • I had Ruby link me to it, on my Gravatar (my computer is on the fritz, so I have been depending on the kindness of others for all things technological). I’m nervous, and I’m not yet ready to broadcast it, which is why I don’t have it on my personal page here. But you gave me a little nudge and some courage, so thank you. 😉

  4. I find writing especially helpful too. When I look back over my journals it is so easy to see the times at which I’ve been depressed and hypomanic- not just due to content, but how my handwriting changes. When manic it’s a scrawl written at high speed to keep up with my thoughts, when depressed it’s heavey-leaden and a bit juddery. If it weren’t for my journal though I don’t know who I’d share my secrets with! Good therapy.

    • Hi there – thanks for the comment! You bring up a really good point with difference in handwriting. I’ve kept an electronic journal for so many years, I forgot all about how valuable a clue it can be. I’m curious – can you use the change in handwriting as a warning your mood is about to shift?

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