Hypomania is a psychological state that precedes a manic episode, which is often described as a nervous breakdown. It is a symptom of bipolar disorder and is characterized by an elevated mood, increased activity, decreased need for sleep, grandiosity, and racing thoughts.
When you live your life in a perpetual hypomanic haze, like many of us do, it’s hard to know whether you’re simply feeling a natural high from the productive streak you’ve been on or teetering on the brink of a total mental breakdown. Most members of this volatile breed of person appear to have it all together. Rarely would anyone suspect that they could be at risk of losing it all.
Over the years, as I have battled bipolar disorder, I’ve noticed there are some physical symptoms that start to pop up to warn me that my body might be headed for a crash landing. Unfortunately, it took a lot of trial and error before I was able to properly understand what I was experiencing. Below are five things to look out for if you’re worried you may be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
1. Skin Issues. Just prior to my last breakdown, I experienced a horrifying bout of psoriasis and cystic acne. I saw a dermatologist who wrote me several prescriptions, but no matter how many shampoos or steroids I tried, it would not go away. My acne was so out of control at 33 years old that I had weekly appointments to take care of my drainage problems. My head was on fire and my face hurt like hell.
2. Overactive Allergies. There was also the hoarse voice and allergies. Figuring my symptoms had something to do with the climate in my new home state of California, I made an appointment with an allergist. After she examined me and sent me along with just some Claritin, I went to an endocrinologist, but he was similarly unable to find any hormonal irregularities.
3. Loss of Muscle Mass. As a fitness freak (and aspiring YouTube wellness personality), this one was especially troubling. Despite maintaining my weight, my lean muscle mass had decreased significantly over just a few months. My trainers suggested that it must be from working out too hard. I know, I was in shock too…working out too hard?
4. Problems with Sleep and Focus. Along with the above-mentioned physical symptoms, I also noticed accompanying changes in my sleep cycle. Though I was constantly fatigued and had difficulty concentrating during the day at work, my imagination would run rampant at night and I would get lost in creative project after creative project. I didn’t realize that this burst of energy was a sign of bad things to come.
5. Tinnitus. Around this time, I also began to hear ringing in my ears, but paid it no mind. I was on the up and up and nothing could stop me! That is, until I cracked—hospitalization, restraints, inpatient, outpatient, the whole nine yards.
Looking back, I had been so involved in my search for the perfect specialist that I completely missed the simplest diagnosis—I was totally stressed out. It’s mind-boggling to me that a relatively innocuous problem could cause such catastrophe in a person’s life.
What seemingly could have been so easily avoided by taking a few mental health days will now forever be the central theme of my life. So, I beg you to take a holistic approach to your wellness and find a doctor who can read the warning signs. Your health is your number one priority. Work can wait. Your life really does depend on it.