Bipolar: Wired and Tired

October 15, 2014 Natasha Tracy

I have this thing, and I don’t know if it’s the bipolar, specifically, but I get wired and tired at the same time and it sure feels bipolar-y to me.

Bipolar and an Anxiety Overdose

If you’ve been reading me in the last little while you probably recall that I’m in the process of buying a condo. This is a very exciting thing that feels like a massive ball of stress. And on top of all the condo buying chores I’m also putting in a kitchen island (Ikea to the rescue, yes, put together by me), doing presentations, trying desperately to keep up with my writing, I’m sick, oh, and folks from New York are coming next week to film me.

I’m swamped. And I’m beyond stressed. I don’t think they’ve invented a word that fits how I feel at the moment. It’s an anxiety overdose.

Bipolar: Wired and Tired

Sometimes with bipolar disorder mixed with extreme stress, I find myself wired and tired at the same time. What to do about being wired and tired?And when things are like this, I tend to get really wired. A little hypomanic-y. It’s sort of a cross between hypomania and severe anxiety. It’s like my inner cells are vibrating slightly. I have an exaggerated (seriously exaggerated) startle response. My thoughts are running at such speed in my mind that they collide and send fragments all over the place making my brain virtually unusable.

At the same time I’m exhausted. I want desperately just to calm down for a few hours and sleep but with all the vibrating cells that just doesn’t seem likely. I also tend to feel the over-emotional-ness of depression at the same time as well. And seeing as I can’t rest I tend to get sick, get headaches and the like.

Wired and Tired: A Bipolar Mixed Mood?

I wouldn’t call it a bipolar mixed mood and I think, classically, it couldn’t be diagnosed as one. I would call it fairly normal, human stuff except for the extremes at which I feel it are not particularly normal.

I suspect it’s symptoms of the bipolar popping up in weird ways. Which is standard practice for bipolar disorder.

What to Do about Being Wired and Tired?

I can tell you what I do, but I’m not suggesting it’s a defined best practice.

I use the wired energy to the best of my ability, often doing things that don’t require a lot of thinking (because that’s seriously hampered) or increase my stress level, such as packing. And then, when I can’t take it any more I take an anxiolytic medication (antianxiety) PRN (as needed) and rest when there’s a hole in my schedule. It’s the only thing that allows for the rest I need in the extenuating circumstances of extreme stress.

So, tell me, do you ever feel wired and tired? Does that feeling last for days, weeks, longer? What do you do about it?

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2014, October 15). Bipolar: Wired and Tired, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

In need of relief
October, 12 2015 at 12:40 pm

I've been feeling wired (very anxious) and tired (struggling with broken, fitful sleep) lately due to some overwhelming personal issues (and a lack of much needed family support). My doctor gave me a prescription for valium. I've never taken it before. From what the pharmacist told me about it and from what I've read on the internet it can be somewhat addictive and withdrawl symptoms can be brutal. This made me very apprehensive about taking it but I decided to give it a try anyway, it cost me less than $10 on my medical plan so what did I have to lose? Although I was given a two month prescription I promptly stop taking it after only a week because it made me horribly constipated and it didn't even come close to reducing my anxiety (to be honest I probably wasn't on it long enough to make a difference). Instead I've been trying to make use of this nervous energy (normally my energy level is so low that not much gets accomplished outside of work) by keeping myself obsessively busy so I don't have time to think about my problems. This works for a little while until it's time for bed. In bed my mind constantly races and I can't shut it off long enough to get some much needed rest. I feel like I am living in panic mode most the time. I don't like sleeping pills, they make me too groggy the next day) and I know that a lack of sleep and stress can aggravate my bipolar symptoms but I just don't want to take something addictive that isn't really helping. I've tried listening to some calming classical/new agey type of music that helps a bit as does tring out some aerobic exercise. (Normally I hate exercise). Avoiding coffee and refined sugar helps some too. But none of the benefits from these coping methods usually last for long
I've recently discovered a free counselling service run by a local university but there's usually such a long wait list for this sort of thing and even when you finally do get in to see a student counsellor it usually takes too long to find a modicum of relief. (Besides this service is only available from Sep to Jul). By then the help needed is so far past it's due date that any help offered seems grossly inadequate. Also I don't like the idea of being recorded for "training purposes" and watched behind a two way mirror. It's much harder to be open in this type of scenero. But I think I might give it a try anyway. I'm getting desperate. I see my doctor again in a couple of weeks, maybe he has something else I can try in the interim. I really loathe the idea of ending up in hospital again. Being in hospital makes me feel so vulnerable and has a tendancy of crippling my already wavering self esteem.

April, 2 2015 at 2:21 pm

A doctor diagnosed me as being bipolar because of the tired and wired feeling. I was diagnosed in January 2015 so I am new to this. They say I don't have all the classic symptoms, just the wired and tired feeling. The only time I went into mania/hypomania was from being put on an antidepressant for anxiety. No mania in the past or depression. Just had one case of depression in January. I am 34. So, I guess I would say the tired and wired feeling is the bipolar. That's the thing they used for my diagnosis.

November, 16 2014 at 11:38 am

I've been going through this same feeling for the last couple of weeks. I'm wired and tired but can't sleep more than 4-5 hours. I have so much energy to clean house, sort out old clothes and throw old stuff away. My senses are heightened and I am reading a lot of interesting stories online like crazy. I'm hungry for knowledge.
I hope I don't crash into a deep depression after this like a have in the past. I am usually depressed this time of year. I almost don't want this energy to end even thoughts I have lots of anxiety with it.
Yeah "vibrating cells" is a perfect discription.

November, 4 2014 at 4:47 pm

This so perfectly describes me! I've only just begun reading this blog, but even from the small number of entries i've read, i can't believe how accurately you describe what i struggle with everyday! Thank you very much for sharing as its nice to have someone else eloquently express what you can't.

Olivia gepner
October, 23 2014 at 7:25 pm

I haven't had this for a while but I usually lie as still as possible almost like when meditating and I draw my attention to how I physically feel as my body is in contact with the surface I am lying on and let thoughts and sounds etc come and go. It can be an hour that I lie down for but it is wonderful. Then I might reflect back on emotional an thought triggers :)

Susan F
October, 22 2014 at 11:54 am

My sister and I have used that term with each other when we've had a night when we didn't sleep and the next day it catches up with us but we're also really wired. For me however it feels 10X worse than for her and it lasts for days or weeks and can be caused by lots of things. I like the cells vibrating description. That works really well. This situation/feeling you're describing is nearly might least favorite to be in. I can't stand that jittery feeling and I struggle a lot to stay focused on what I need to do. I also know that after it's over I will crash into a depression but sometimes carry some of the anxiety or restlessness with me.

October, 22 2014 at 9:25 am

Lists and a little ativan helps me.If I am in a good place maybe just the list.It's having everything jangling around in my head that makes it worse.So lists.

October, 22 2014 at 5:09 am

Yep I get that too. I think it's very common.
Anxiety plus overtiredness I compare to babies fighting sleep.
I fight sleep I want it but can't calm down. I am that way tonight too.

caroline hill
October, 21 2014 at 2:11 pm

wow...wired and tired describes me to a body is exhausted but my mind just keeps going....The vibrating cells thing...i get that...With me i described it as i feel like I need to just escapee from my own body it's the most horrible feeling. I'm new to all this and finding this site a godsend as I'm struggling atm so thanks guys xxx

October, 18 2014 at 5:22 am

Wow! Vibrating Cells - I've tried to explain that feeling to my husband and just get weird looks... Keeps me out of sleep. Wouldn't be able to sleep with a racing mind anyway. I get so tired my body aches that I start to believe I must have arthritis in al my joints, but I know its just stress and being overworked. When I'm working myself to the bone like this I get these "manic" symptoms of racing thoughts, and irritability, vibrating cells, but also the depression side with severe tiredness where I do not have any energy in the mornings and I just want to breakdown and cry at any moment.
Thanks Natasha for a fantastic blog - you always show me I'm not the only one...

October, 16 2014 at 10:55 pm

I can totally relate to this post. I have dealt with this many times in my life. I used to be so tired in the mornings for work and I'd say when I get home I'll take a nap. Then I'd never get around to taking a nap and end up going out dancing again the next night and the cycle started again.
As I'm sitting here I looked up at Hanna's post and feel exactly the same. Of course I can empathize with everyone(except the obsessively cleaning the house). I wish I could have the energy for that.

October, 16 2014 at 1:05 pm

Yes, it's me right now. i tend to get slightly irritated and bit snappy too , but i feel depressed over it, because i don't want to be like that to anyone. It makes me want to scream, i can't concentrate, i am restless and all the time between anxiety and panic attack ( which will never come). I wake up and i don't want to get up, because i don't want to deal with the world, i am really tired but for some reason, generally in ok mood and i can function normally. I also don't have patience and i want to do things NOW .Sounds confusing, but it is hard to describe. When i feel like this, i usually up my other mood stabiliser dose for a day or 2 (just slightly) and it goes away.

October, 16 2014 at 11:42 am

i have used the words 'tired but wired' at various times to explain how I am feeling - I am convinced it is a bipolar state too. All you want to do is rest but there is this underlying energy and bubbling anxiety. It is very unpleasant. I haven't had it last more than a week so hopefully it passes for you soon xx

October, 16 2014 at 8:39 am

Vibrating cells. Absolutely get that. It's very uncomfortable. I can't predict when it will happen. I think of it as a manifestation of anxiety. I thought a drink or a smoke might calm me down. Terrible idea. If anything it makes it worse. Usually, I just endure until bedtime. But if it's bad enough I take a Klonopin and it pulls me out of it and helps me sleep. A glass of water helps, too.

October, 16 2014 at 7:57 am

Wow, this is totally me. I was in a really heavy work flow earlier this month at work, and it usually (before meds) would end up with me being extremely irritable, obsessive ruminating and compulsive anxiety actions (like emailing people to fix things or obsessively cleaning my apartment), and often when it was all over, I'd collapse into a ball of depressed, anxious, tears and then eventually into the depression valley. I always knew that stress messed with my brain, but I never connected it to a bigger issue until now.
This month, on meds and feeling much more stable, was the first time I really made it through the other end of the stressful time at work still feeling stable and like I was able to handle it. But it's funny because during the most stressful week of the busy season this month, I was going out every night with friends, planning way too many things, being hyperproductive at work, and then would sleep, sleep, sleep and struggle to get up in the morning because I was so exhausted, but wired at the same time. My psychiatrist asked me if I was manic, and I felt like, yes, in a way, but it felt like it was more related to the stress than occurring naturally. I felt the meds were doing a whole lot to stabilize me, and I made it through a million times better than I would have 6 months ago, but it's funny what the stress does to my bipolar brain.
Thanks for posting this and helping me understand it a little better through you experience! Glad to hear you're taking care of yourself and good luck with the condo! :)

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