Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hello Hypomania

It appears our oldest son may have been experiencing hypomania this week in the more traditional form. It only lasted about 2 days but the behavior was noticeable by everyone in our family, including our son.

I first noticed it when I picked him up from school, he was full of conversation, very excited and seemed pretty happy. Of course I enjoyed the positive mood and soaked in all the smiles. But once home, it became more pronounced.

He began talking non-stop about his creative ideas and plans, so much so that the other kids felt annoyed by the behavior and I too have to admit to feeling overwhelmed. At one point, he was in my office pacing back and forth, giving me great details about the plans he had in mind. His movements were so constant that I had to ask him to stand still since he was making me dizzy.

I then commented, “You seem to have a ton of ideas in your head.” He said with a huge smile, “Oh yeah, my brain is full of them! I just can’t stop thinking about them.” I then said, “You seem to be feeling pretty good today.” He responded with an even bigger grin, “Yeah I do, I feel really good!” Then he broke out in giggles and used his hands to cover his grins and laughs, trying hard to contain himself.

This was very unusual for us since we usually see irritability. My husband and I both agreed that his behavior seemed like someone on a drug. He was persistent, intense, full of creativity and plans, it’s like his brain was speeding on the freeway and nothing was going to stop it! He was clearly experiencing a mind altering mood!

As the day progressed, his elevated mood continued. By evening he was making plans to journal all his ideas down in a notebook so that he could eventually get to sleep.

When morning approached he was up earlier than usual and followed my husband around the house with his creative-based conversations. Though they weren’t really conversations since he was doing all the talking. At one point my husband excused himself to the bathroom, but my son kept rambling on outside the bathroom door. By afternoon, he was talking in-depth about the polar coordinates changing in our lifetime while I was trying to blow dry my hair, all cool stuff, but his passion was so over the top.

Then came the crash.

He started talking about school and some difficult moments, then the tears followed. He began breaking down, just minutes after a speech over his love of science, he now was crying in my arms. I held him tight and told him that everything was going to be alright.

We were in therapy about 45 minutes later, by then he seemed to be settled down and has been ever since. The therapist agreed that this was probably a breakthrough symptom.

It’s funny, even though my son has a working diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I don’t hold on to that diagnosis as something final. Especially when he has stability for long periods of time. Then I see this kind of behavior and think... maybe this really is a bipolar illness.

After all we’ve been through, is it strange that I still think this way?

Do we ever feel ready to accept a diagnosis?





11 comments:

  1. So long as there is hope for stable times I think we all hesitate to 100% accept the diagnosis. Because after all we do appear well fairly often then the crashes and flight of ideas come. Reading this post actually made me smile because it reminded me of my hypomania and I enjoy those phases of creativity so much. It makes me giggle when I get like that. I am just hoping those spurts of elation aren't followed by to hard of a crash.

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    1. From an outsider looking in, it sure does look like a fun experience when it's isolated from the higher or lower ends. Thankfully, the crash was short lived and his memory of the whole thing was a positive one.

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  2. It is fascinating to me that this post came right after your post about labels. You wrote about your happiness that your son has found the care he needs and the meds that he must have because of his illness. But because you've had stability for a while, you drift into the land of "I wonder..." I wonder if he's really THAT sick. Or I wonder if he's really bipolar at all, etc. We all seem to waver between wanting answers about our kids to denying there could be anything terribly wrong. I was still brooding over your last post, thinking that we would give just about anything to know what is truly wrong with our child. We've been told all kinds of things without many answers. I just want to know what it is we're battling. I want to know why my child is being sucked under and disappearing from life. And if someone could give me a label, I'd rejoice. However, if we ever get to a point where we have some actual stability and I see my child again as a sweet girl and not a monster, then I, too, would probably wonder what I was so worried about all this time.
    Cathy

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    1. That's a very good observation. I think the hard part in finally saying, “Yes, this is bipolar disorder.” is that we are told so often in research that our kids can look bipolar as a child but most will grow up to only have depression and anxiety in the end, thus growing out of some symptoms.

      Because there is this, “Wait and see” approach that we are encouraged to embrace, it makes me still wonder what exactly we are dealing with, even when you are given labels to work with. Also, the labels we are given are moving targets, when the DSM guide changes and new labels are released, it makes everything more confusing. I in no doubt question that my son has a serious mood disorder illness, I guess I’ll always wonder if it will be bipolar disorder in the end.

      I remember being in the phase you are in now, willing to do anything to get a diagnosis for my child, but what I have found, as long as they are a child, any diagnosis they get seems to come with an asterisk*. With a side note that “only time will tell.”

      Getting a label, for me has brought many answers, yet there are still questions that remain. On the other hand, my husband thought it was strange that I was still thinking this way, as he said, “Of course it’s bipolar!” Given that his therapist and Psychiatrist also refer to him as having bipolar disorder, maybe I am just being overly optimistic.

      I look forward to when we have blood tests, brain scans etc. to help us diagnosis these symptoms. I’m sure we’ll get there someday and just like a person facing cancer when they feel healthy, seeing the tumor on a cat scan brings clarification. Until then, labels in mental health feel like, well labels. Only time will bring us the truth.

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  3. I just ran across this article, and it made me think of you and your family.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/my-son-is-schizophrenic-the-reforms-that-i-worked-for-have-worsened-his-life/2012/10/15/87b74a98-eadd-11e1-b811-09036bcb182b_story.html

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    1. Wow. Thanks Wendy for that article. It is heartbreaking and overwhelming all at the same time. It scares me, it’s why I am fighting so hard now for my kids while they are still minors. I hope changes can be made fast, but I’m not counting on it.

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    2. I didn't mean to frighten you. I saw it as you were fighting for everything this man says he should have fought for. That you are taking steps to make sure that your son isn't just pushed through or ignored by school districts and that he has the help he needs to do what he needs to do.

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  4. Mama bear, I hope you realize I was empathizing with you about the roller coaster ride we are on with our kids. I think you are an amazing mom, and as a mom we will always want what is best for our kids, and I believe that includes hoping our children will feel better and get well. Thank you so much for all your insight. Hugs
    Cathy

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    1. Oh, Cathy, I sure did know where you were coming from, I really appreciated your insight. Sorry if I can across defensive or something, I was typing a little fast since I was in between stuff, I was processing ideas that were coming to mind. You know how that goes! I always love your feedback, keep it coming!

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  5. Mama Bear, thanks so much for this post. I was getting chills as I read it, because we went through a spell just like this at the end of the summer. Bug was in a very upbeat mood and FULL of plans that, if not exactly grandiose, bordered on it. They kept getting more elaborate and were all she wanted to talk about for days, to the point that it was driving us nuts. She also had the pacing. And like you, I was saying to myself--and my husband--"yup, it really is bipolar." Because even though Bug has been given that diagnosis by three separate psychiatrists, I know EXACTLY what you mean about doubting it at times after you get used to seeing your child so much more stable. Thank you for saying that because it makes me feel like I'm not crazy for going through those periods of doubt!

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    1. LOL! Your comment made me laugh because it brings me so much joy that we can relate so well with our kids!! I love it! Glad to know that I’m not the only mom to do this. Also, the talking really does start to get to you, I was trying so hard to be patient during this time, but it is an overload of information isn't it!

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