What Does Euphoria Feel Like in Bipolar Hypomania?
I don’t think euphoria in bipolar hypomania feels like extreme happiness. I use the word “euphoria,” which does mean “extreme happiness” but the word only partially fits my experience (Bipolar Mania and the Impact of Manic Symptoms). “Euphoria” is what doctors call one of the “gateway criteria” for bipolar hypomania or mania (one of the main characteristics) so many people with bipolar disorder experience. And sometimes I do experience something like euphoria in bipolar hypomania but bipolar hypomania euphoria just doesn’t feel like its real definition to me.
What Is Euphoria?
According to the American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary, euphoria is defined as: “A feeling of great happiness or well-being, commonly exaggerated and not necessarily well founded.” (In the non-medical definition, the “not necessarily well-founded” part isn’t there.)
As it’s “not necessarily well-founded” that really exemplifies the feelings that bipolar mania or hypomania bring. The feelings are over-the-top and out of proportion with the experience.
My Experience of Euphoria in Bipolar Hypomania
I do experience this odd giddiness in bipolar hypomania. I laugh at the oddest things. For example, I might smile and have the best time washing dishes. And while washing them, I might pick up my sponge (which has a happy face on it) and start laughing hysterically. For me, this hysterical laughing at nothing and immovable smile for no reason are distinct indicators that hypomania is here. Excess energy also seems to feed into these things and also be a symptom that hypomania is present.
But the thing is, for me, these feelings seem very superficial. It seems like the laughter and smiles and giddiness and energy are all really fake. They seem like a layer on top of what is me and not what is truly me. I can feel it as the illness rather than part of who I am.
The Unfortunate Reality of Bipolar Hypomania Euphoria
This is really a bummer because when bipolar hypomania arrives, I would love to feel euphoria, energy and smiles for real. I would love to experience them in a genuine way and not a superficial one. And this is even more unfortunate when you consider the fact that while depression can feel superficial as well, it often doesn’t. My bipolar depression is so much stronger than my bipolar hypomania that when I feel the depression it often does feel like the real me, even when I, intellectually, know it is not.
Maybe these symptoms feel fake because I’m so aware of the brain-mind separation. It’s so clear to me that my brain is sick and my mind isn’t. It’s really clear to me that these symptoms are just misfires of the bipolar brain and not products of my mind, my “me.” Understanding this is usually a blessing but in this case feels like a curse. Knowledge and understanding may be power, but it’s also disappointing at times. Hypomania should be the release from bipolar depression, which is so deserved and welcomed. But instead, for me, it isn’t. Only an equilibrium that is the real me is a release. And that is a whole lot rarer.
Check out Natasha Tracy’s book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar and connect with her on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.
Image by Flickr user Hartwig HKD.
Tracy, N. (2017, January 20). What Does Euphoria Feel Like in Bipolar Hypomania?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, July 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2017/01/what-does-euphoria-feel-like-in-bipolar-hypomania
Author: Natasha Tracy
There is no upper limit to the manic state. As such, there's no such thing as less than manic. How the person reacts to the manic state or the movement in direction towards mania; is only different for each person because each person is different. We are a analog of various synapse having been pruned of neurons over a period of years. One that, in it's organic state of the brain has degenerated into a patchwork of damaged brain networks that are ever changing; while at the same time being strictly limited to the happenstance of our own internal and external stimuli of human experience. The combination of both is nothing more than a random result of seemingly random causes.
It's when this system is put into motion; the action of life, where our symptom or behavior changes. However, this is who we are; how we are. It's unacceptable only because it's compared to those people without a degenerative brain disease. Then, if you ask me; these are all just symptoms if it's something you are trying to fix. One would assume that in doing so; that there is something wrong. But how could that be if it is humankind that determines what that is in the first place? Although the alternative is me running around in a manic state until the police catch me, and beat the s*** out of me just before they throw me into a hole I won't come out of for 3 weeks.
And so... We are heavily medicated into a acceptable state. But here the issue becomes the unpredictability combined with a lack of inhibition which in itself is very dangerous. Is it that there is something wrong; or that there is a major risk of unmitigated disaster? This is much more useful than blaming behavior. When our healthcare system blames our behavior; they are really just blaming us. The idea that we caused this to our self; as if we had control. The muddied waters between mental illness and substance abuse. It makes me want to scream! None of that even matters. It's not applicable. These words you have used to describe Bipolar; are wrong.
Hypomanic might as well be the manic state in a brain that still has well functioning frontal lobes. The manic state with all the regular inhibition that a person usually has. The loss of that, and now you are manic. Perhaps it's two pieces here, and with different combinations that produces different effects that are what we describe as from what we have seen exhibited in humans. It is still only a description, and one that is being made with the wrong words. I don't think we should take regular life and use that to invent words to describe abnormal life. We need new words. Nobody cares about that; they just want to sleep at night knowing that I won't be lurking outside their house with a shovel.
You are being crazy. You are being insane! A great fear of what we don't understand. Then I'm here thinking "who am I to say that God was wrong when he made me". Well, you still have to live in society, and they are not going to allow you to live the way you would live if you were left to be who it is that you are. What is it that you have become? This is unacceptable. Be like everyone else! Can't do that. Okay, we'll just give you lithium because we can't figure it out. Only took us 150 years to figure it out. We got there by giving people lithium when we couldn't figure out what was wrong with them. Well, in a few words; what was wrong was that we were not like everybody else.
You were young. You felt elation, excitement, and energy. That does feel euphoric when we are young, but it's only because we have never actually felt euphoria. You felt it even more than most people would; because you are female. If anyone could ever describe it; you would be the one to figure it out. I wouldn't describe it as euphoric though. Heavy medication or narcotics maybe. But even then it's too powerful to be euphoria. True euphoria is way more subtle. It's a fleeting moment. You are sitting back flopped in a chair that you landed in the way you would if God just dropped you there for a second, and you landed in a weird way. A quiet and still; nothingness that you landed in for a moment.
Euphoria feels like 100% comfortable in the world as everything fades away. It's like being hugged by God. It feels so great in such a fleeting way. It feels perfect, but there is nothing to it. It is as if you actually felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing, thought nothing, and cared about nothing. If you could stop time from passing; it feels like that. We get trapped in feelings. A lithium stare. The autistic mode brain. Lost. Wandering around looking for something when you were not looking for something. Wandering off and not knowing where we are going when we weren't going anywhere. Standing on one foot trying to feel the planet Earth rotating. Outside in the pitch black night.
Euphoria is not like anything else in this world. It is it's own unique feeling; wholly indescribable. All that is there is; is the feeling itself. You know: like we often tell our self that we wish for only a moment... Maybe that is as close as I could get to describing it. The feeling of a perfect moment of nothingness that is altogether far too comfortable for anyone feeling it not to melt into a puddle of butter on the floor, and at the same time be fine with that result of having turned into tasteless creamy & melted butter. I feel it more often with lithium orotate, but lithium carbonate has the same effect mixed into the regularity of lithium calmness. Not everybody gets that euphoric feeling though.
It's just that clinical depression is so bad. Such a bad feeling. What other choice in feeling is there; when we have only felt more & more horrible for 3 weeks. It's a spring. We bounce back as manic. It's not actually a thing. It's just that feeling normal is just that good when you have felt so bad. It's only natural. I don't mean anything by it. How can we say the manic state is actually a thing; though? Right? It's also indescribable, but I suspect the spring effect is the hypomania; then the amount of actual synapse/neuron damage determines the bulk of the psychosis and manic state itself : verses the still remaining inhibition in the frontal lobes of the person's brain. Still, it's hard to say that it's a actual thing.
It's too rare to be a thing. It's like half of 1% and only half of those people will ever even feel it or realize that there is no limit of mania that one can feel or experience. Depression on the other hand; everybody feels that. We have better words to describe depression. People know that. We understand it. What are we going to use to describe a broad spectrum psychosis? I used to say I would just shoot off to the moon. I stopped thinking about it though. You know: how to describe this situation I was in to other people. Later on I just notice the manic state poking through the heavy medications; time to take more medications. To laugh and enjoy what little mania pokes through; among similar to normal life.
I know that a couple of hundred years ago that people would have built their own utopia around what it is that they were. Perhaps that is how we have all failed each other, and in the great freedom experiment of democracy. You know: in the end it all just boils down to human nature. And we are not of a good or even decent nature. I believe our nature is wild, and out of place now. Somehow a new human nature will be formed, but we have not yet reached that point to which it would have begun to develop. Although I do know that we will eventually find a better solution for many of our problems. We know it's not perfect, but we can always work on improving towards the ideal.
Hypomania: I become aware that my energy has shifted upward and I feel embarrassed. It's enough that people would notice and I'm aware that my son is looking at me funny. Oh dear. So, I try to quiet myself with picking out a movie to watch while I pat the dog. Movie's over. I'm on the internet looking up hypomania. Why? Because I am afraid of becoming manic and out of control, where in the past I have hurt myself, where I have run away , began drinking again--all things I don't want to do. This is a change in energy, not a better mood.
Thank you for your comment.
You are completely right. This piece was just about the euphoria that some people (not all) experience in hypomania but the overall, most-pronounced symptom of hypomania is an energy shift.
- Natasha Tracy
When I get hypomania, I feel great, much like in your picture, except it should be in psychedelic colors. I get a lot done, creativity and learning really increase. Most of what I do is excellent work. I'm not getting hypo much for years now. I am fairly sure it's because my husband insists I go to bed on time. I think people can age out of it, too. I think I read that.
But I'm not taking meds, not for 7 years now, I think. It may be the prescribed drugs inhibit the euphoria feelings in those who aren't having them.
When I'm hyper I'm restless and have ADHD often as well.
I will often talk fast, my mind is racing everything that is funny is twice as funny.
I may say and act inappropriately; for instance shit stir or BS for fun.
( which often does not go down well.
I'm inclined to go on spending sprees and far more susceptible to suggestion.
I definitely would not survive this malady if I had those feelings of anger or disconnect. Hypomania is my saving grace. After months of depression I welcome it and all during those times I long for it. Otherwise I stay holed up in myself shutting out the outside world. The first few manic episodes I had were terrifying because I had never felt that way before. But as 20 years have gone by now and I've easily experienced over 40 episodes, I have learned to control it a lot better. The depression, on the other hand becomes less tolerable with experience it seems. In depression it seems that I am so far removed from GOD's thoughts, forgotten as opposed to feeling that I am at the forefront of his mind when manic. I know it's exaggerated because the world just seems to be my wonderland when manic. Everything I see, everyone I talk to seems so significant and important. I get flirty and have had to really learn to rein myself in. I shop and even though I am very thrifty and choosy, I still buy some things and then when I'm in a normal mood (very rarely) , I can question, "why did I have to have that? It seemed so important at the time, but now, not so much. I am much more aggressive when manic. Not so much aggressive as impatient and outspoken. It's a total personality flip for me and I really like the manic me much better than the depressed one. I barely know the normal me anymore. She only comes out for a few days when manic me takes her leave. So, in summary, my manic flaws are: 1) I tend to flirt 2) I spend too much 3) I'm pushy 4) I talk too much 5) I bounce all over the place in conversation and work
My depressive flaws are: 1) I exist and breathe oxygen that plenty of people deserve way more than I do.
That's why I like manic me better! But I do wonder if I'm so addicted to manic me that I just refuse to function on what would otherwise be a normal day just because I'm not happy with just being normal.
Unfortunately, hypomannia for me means feeling highly irritable, short tempered, and just plain angry! At the same time, I also feel 'upset' and I can't specify anything else - just a bad feeling of being upset. Oh and I think everyone is stupid and that they talk too slowly. I have trouble focusing to read and my mind feels like it is full of drunk bees. Euphoria has never shown up for me.