Friday, August 12, 2011

Could this be Hypomania?

Ever since my son has been on Lithium we haven’t had any rages or depression, thank goodness and overall he’s doing amazing. The only unusual experience was the previous “I need to clean” impulse that I blogged about recently and then last week, we had a new episode that has left me guessing.

It all started one evening when I took my son to the store to buy some organizational tools for the game he was inventing. All day he was being very creative and spent hours designing a new dice game with a rule book and characters. I have to say, it was pretty darn clever.

When we arrived at the store, I could tell he was in a great mood and was very excited to purchase these needed tools. But as the shopping continued, he became very silly. During this time I just blew it off, thinking... “boy he’s having a great time”. As the minutes passed, his mood became more elated and out of the ordinary and he started repeating his made-up word, “Kerplupidunkin”. I just laughed it off and focused on the next item on our list, but as time went on he continued relentlessly, saying the word over and over again. Every once and a while, he said with a smile on his face that he didn’t know why he was saying this word but he couldn’t stop. Because his comments came with a silly smile and goofy attitude, I didn’t think much of it. But at a certain point, I started to sense some stress in it all, maybe because it started to make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

Once we got to the car, my son made the comment, “Boy, I feel much better now”, I responded with, “Yeah, you sure seemed to be having a silly time.”

Then I heard it... the soft murmur of tears falling as he said, “I really tried to stop acting that way, but I couldn’t. It scared me.”

I was caught off guard with this, rushing to give him a big hug as I reassured him. I had no idea that he was uncomfortable and that he was struggling in any way. While in the store, he was smiling the whole time, maybe a little annoying with his repetitive word, but it looked like he was having fun and just being a silly boy. Had I known that he was scared by it all I would have responded differently in the store, but I didn’t recognize this as anything to worry about, until I heard the words, “It scared me.”

So is this a breakthrough of hypomania? Could this be the same thing as the episode of impulsive cleaning? Is that why he was so creative all day? This is all so new to me. I’ve experienced the rages, the depression, the anxiety, the rapid cycling and scary thoughts, but seeing him suffer when he’s “too happy” is scary because I know that deep down, this could be a symptom of bipolar disorder.


  1. What you are describing is how my son acts from time to time, but he doesn't get scared. I personally think it's hypomania but it would be good to run it by his Doctor, too.

  2. I agree with the assumption of it being a hypomanic episode....but I am no doctor or mental health professional.

  3. Oh honey, you are so very in tune to your son. Please don't feel guilty (it sounded like you felt that way once he said, "I was scared" in the car) that you didn't recognize it in the store. I agree with your insight that these episodes are indicative of hypomania. I think it is wonderful that he was able to be in tune with what he was feeling enough to try to stop what he was doing, be aware that he felt scared when he couldn't stop, and most of all to be able to convey all of that to you afterward. It is a powerful tool for treatment that you both seem to be quite in tune with behavior and the emotions connected to them. I commend you!

    I have seen the same behaviors in my kiddos time and again as we are still striving for stability...
    Hope to catch up with you on my blog soon too :)

  4. Thanks for your feedback ladies!

  5. I agree it probably was a little blip of hypomania. My son has ups and downs in his stability but for us it's not really a problem unless it goes on for days or weeks. I'm so glad the lithium is working so well for you guys though! And I think as your son's hormones start to surge and recess, surge and recess you will see more times like this.

  6. Thanks Meg, that's good to know.

  7. Just read your comment on CABF's post on iCarly. So well written and so true. It's not just about not watching it, it's about everyone else who watches it and the stigma continues to perpetuate. Sad.

  8. I can very much relate to this feeling because so often I find myself hoping my daughters experience is not really bipolar (you know---lifelong illness) but just a bad response to antidepressants. She has been doing so well lately that the thought comes into my mind alot. She has also stated that she has laughing episodes that she can't control, and we will see some episodes of crying and laughing at the same time in response to a sad TV show or commercial. These short lived episodes are minor compared to major mania so we will just keep watching closely, keep loving, supporting and trying not to overreact. Currently we are trying to reduce her Seroquel, so I am going to be watching even more closely. Lamictal is her mood stabilizer. One day at a time.

    Enjoy all the good moments and try not to dwell on the what ifs....

  9. SarahinSC- Thanks! It would be nice if they pulled the episode.

    E-You're so right about enjoying the good times and not dwelling on the what ifs. Sometimes it can be hard to do.