hypomania hy·po·ma·ni·a (hī'
The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary
I always assumed that if my mental health status had to be summarized by an ICD-9 code, that my diagnosis was major depressive disorder; after all, that's the conclusion that my healthcare providers always came to. Whenever bipolar disorder was considered (or maybe more accurately, bipolar I) it was always dismissed because I never had any kind of full-blown manic episode. I was just a high-functioning person who was depressed. The other night, though, I started reading about bipolar II disorder, which, by the DSM criteria, must include at least one major depressive episode and one episode of hypomania. I'm wondering if maybe bipolar II might be more accurate diagnostic framework to work from. After all, it opens the door to a lot of new medications that might be a hell of a lot more effective for me.
Based on what I've read, hypomania is mainly distinguished from mania by it's lack of psychotic features (hallucinations, delusions, etc.), and that the person experiencing the hypomania often maintains a high or improved level of functioning.
I don't know if I'm just being paranoid, but I started jotting down a list of hypomanic symptoms and personal examples that I could think of:
Decreased need for sleep; increased productivity: a huge chunk of my time as an undergrad consisted of never sleeping and working all the time. Then again, that can be normal, right? It's normal to be motivated and work hard for the things that you want. And it can be normal not to sleep if you're working hard. Then again, here is a post from the fall where at the end I describe my sleep deprived self as being "invincible." I'm also really not sure why I thought I would be able to pull off that insane schedule, other than the fact every time I had tried to stretch my limits in the past, it had worked. I was convinced that everything was just a battle of will.
Risky behavior: for no reason that I can really explain (clearly I knew better), I would repeatedly have unprotected sex (and eventually unintentionally became pregnant); I would regularly participate in an illicit activity that I won't go into detail about right now; I sometimes would spend significant amounts of money on an impulse; I would go joyriding (always alone).
Psychomotor agitation: there are a few things that I find myself doing but that I really have no desire to do: jigging my leg; scratching my scalp, sometimes until it bleeds; chewing on my hair. The hair thing is new, and equally disgusting, I think. I keep catching myself mid-act, stopping myself, and thinking: that's gross -- if I don't stop this I'm going to have to chop all my hair off.
It makes sense that bipolar II was never considered, because for the most part, I've never talked to anyone about this stuff. Why would I want to? It's all kind of odd, gross, stupid, or embarrassing.