When the inner monologues of hypomania and depression collide and contradict each other, you find yourself questioning everything!
Cyclothymia and self doubt
A mental illness complicates stuff. Who is with me on that? I can't speak for other people, but I suffer from cyclothymic disorder, and let me tell you... it's a bitch!
I never know whether I am coming or going, succeeding or failing, creating or destroying, living or dying.
(That last one may sound a bit extreme, but if you suffer from a mood disorder you'll know what I mean – suicidal ideation is a thing. But that's for another post.)
I think the real killer, if not literally, is the self-doubt.
This mood disorder creates so much inconsistency, that you really do end up questioning everything about yourself!
The inconsistency comes from two very different inner monologues ...
One is over-confident, over-ambitious, hyper-creative, over-enthusiastic, super-duper-happy, excited and fuelled by hypomanic energy.
The other is pessimistic, negative, derogatory, mean, insecure, anxious, and fuelled by depression.
So with a mood disorder that's made up of states that alternate between hypomanic and depressed, it's no wonder we have no idea what to believe!
A snapshot of my cyclothymic mood cycle
I thought it would be a good idea to describe a snapshot of my personal experience of a cyclothymic mood cycle.
If you don't know much about mood swings then this may help you to understand what we're talking about.
Alternatively, for those of you who are no stranger to this torturous cycle, perhaps my snapshot will offer you some kind of validation for the hell that you may go through too.
Okay, here goes ...
I am experiencing the glorious symptoms of hypomania. Perhaps there is a general sense of euphoria ...
The world is a bright and wonderful place.
I'm excited about a new project and ideas are flowing, or I'm absorbed in spring-cleaning and keeping myself very busy...
Basically, everything feels effortless.
I feel well, perhaps even a little too well? I'm feeling awesome in fact! And this is where the grandiosity might kick in ...
There is a touch of arrogance and a feeling of invincibility.
I become fixated on certain things, some might say - obsessed.
All of my time and energy is now being put into activities that are distracting me from my normal routine and life.
I've forgotten about deadlines. Instead I'm researching random things with all of the tabs open on my laptop.
I'm scrolling eBay and buying things I can't afford because I "need" them for my new projects and business ventures.
I'm staying up until the early hours of the morning completely absorbed in whatever ridiculous things have taken over in my mind.
I'm not living in the real world anymore, I'm on my own planet, and it's all getting a little out of hand.
Suddenly I find that the vibe has changed and things are moving too fast inside of my head. The dark side of hypomania is surfacing ...
My thoughts are racing, nobody can keep up with me because I'm on fire and they are all incompetent.
I become very irritable, reactive, perhaps even explosive? Rage often shows its ugly face and destroys everything in its path.
And then everything is taken away from me.
I crash. Horribly. I'm drained of all the surging energy.
I've become mentally and physically overwhelmed and my brain slows down until it can't function properly. I can't focus on anything.
The voice in my head has changed too. Now it makes me question everything I was so confident about before ...
It tells me I will fail and that I'm worthless.
It shows me how useless I am by weighing me down with self-doubt, self-hatred, and despair.
I can't see into the future anymore, there is nothing there for me.
What is the point in life?
My body is too heavy. I can't move because it is all just too much now.
I find myself in bed, just wanting to escape from myself ...
Until the depression lifts and the cycle starts all over again.
This is just one version of the cycle. It repeats itself, in a different order, with different elements and different levels of intensity at different stages of the cycle, so that I honestly can't predict what I am going to think or feel next.
There's no pattern I can chart. Triggers seem inconsistent.
I have no idea what my baseline feels like either because I never stay there long enough to recognise it.
I'm either very up, very down, or a little bit up and a little bit down. But level? I don't know what that looks like in me.
Maybe I get glimpses of it, but it's fleeting and I'm never truly sure of who I really am.
If you have enjoyed reading this post it would be great if you would like to share it. You never know who might get something positive out of reading my blog, or who you might educate about mental illness.