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What It’s Like to Be Addicted to Hypomania


Hi, my name is Kelly. I have bipolar disorder and I’m addicted to hypomania.

That’s right — I’m addicted to my own illness.

Here’s the thing about bipolar disorder: depression is terrible, awful, debilitating, torturous. Hypomania and mania… Well, those can be debilitating too, at times. But there are other times when the manic side of bipolar is fun, euphoric and freeing.

In my case, I only experience hypomania, otherwise known as mild mania. When I feel purely hypomanic I experience euphoria, racing thoughts, increased productivity, increased creativity, a sense of grandeur (thinking I’m intelligent, artistic and attractive), faster speech and increased energy.

I write a lot when I’m hypomanic. In fact, I’m hypomanic right now as I write this article.

I feel as though I’m on top of the world in this mood state. I feel like a genius, an artist. I feel hopeful about the future and I have so many plans.

When I was depressed, I desperately wanted medication. I needed to escape the terrible, unbearable void I had entered. However, I didn’t want medication for my hypomania.

However, I’ve learned that in order to treat the depression, you’ve got to treat the hypomania too.

I am medication compliant; however, in the past, I would do things to “trigger” my hypomania, as I was addicted to the feeling.

I would drink several cups of caffeine until I was launched into a hypomanic episode (caffeine is generally not recommended for this with bipolar disorder). I especially would do this when I was feeling depressed, in order to create a mood shift. Once hypomanic, I would run around socializing and making plans and writing and creating. I would ride the high as long as I could.

I also used to abuse alcohol in order to get hypomanic. Sometimes this worked, but other times the alcohol would send me spiraling into depression. It was a mixed bag with alcohol.

I no longer do these things, as I realized they’re unsafe. Hypomania might mostly seem harmless, but the impulsivity isn’t. And neither is the crash into depression. Most of all, the mixed episodes (depression and hypomania together) are very dangerous.

I still crave the highs of my bipolar disorder and despise the lows. I think this is “normal” for many people with bipolar. I’m trying to learn to live in the middle — to enjoy and be productive in an even, calm mood state.

I still don’t believe that hypomania is such a bad thing. However, one needs to be careful, as it usually leads to depression and possibly impulsive mistakes.

Some may be addicted to a substance, but I’m addicted to a part of my illness.

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Getty Images photo via Kerkez