I was hypomanic for the past two weeks. I had a lot of energy, I spent too much money, I was talking too much, I was hyper focused (which was great now that I’m back at work), but today I felt the crash. It really does feel like when you’re playing around at the beach not paying attention and then WHAM – you get sucker punched by a wave.
Everything just starts to feel heavier. You get tired quicker and want to nap often. I literally want to just pass out right now as I type this. Then there’s the emotional side as well. I space out. I tend to have racing thoughts. Not as much now that I’m on medication, but enough leaking out to distract – and enough to make feel upset for no reason whatsoever. I remember my Mom way back when telling me to stop thinking about whatever was bothering me, but when I’m in a bipolar depressive state, there’s nothing actually bothering me. It’s purely chemical. That’s the confusing part. It feels like everything and nothing all at the same time.
The first time I noticed these feelings was back around the tail end of 2013. I remember being stressed out about both family issues all the while trying to move up in my job and I couldn’t hold it together anymore. I had what I now know was my first mild panic attack at work. I was shaking and couldn’t even type, I remember my manager asking me if I was diabetic and what kind of food to get just in case I passed out. I went home early that day and became increasingly more and more paranoid. I couldn’t sleep.
My ex liked to self medicate with weed, and so I tried that too. I remember that I was constantly checking my heart rate for some reason even though I didn’t know what I was looking for at the time. The combination of the lack of sleep plus the marijuana triggered a manic episode and I had a full blown panic attack for the first time. It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. Everything was spinning uncontrollably and I couldn’t stand upright without feeling like I was going to fall. My depth perception was off and everything looked super small.
I begged my ex to take me to the hospital but he was on the phone with his sister and he had a feeling I was just high. But I was convinced something was wrong. Why else would I have almost passed out at work and then had this happen? Then my heart started beating faster and I started hearing whirring noises that were unbearable, so I told him that I was going to drive myself to the hospital and that’s when he stopped what he was doing and took me.
At the hospital I felt like an insane person. I sat in the emergency room oscillating between crying immensely to laughing hysterically, like I was the Joker. It wasn’t a good look. The nurses asked me if I was stressed out about anything and I told them, “You know. Family, work, the usual,” but they didn’t react. They just continued to check my vitals. Everything was normal. I was confused.
“Have you ever had a panic attack before?” A panic attack? That didn’t seem like that could be what happened and yet once they mentioned it, my symptoms started to subside. I’d never actually had a panic attack before – well, at least not one that I’d recognized. Wait… I had similar symptoms the other day at work. It was beginning to make sense.
The doctors still made me do x-rays and EKGs and later sent me on my way, but that was the first time I felt how terrifying it could be when the crash goes too far. I have tools now to combat the crash such as deep breathing, meditation, and exercise, but for the times that I can’t fight it I know that the wave will pass over and move on just like it did when I was a kid on the beach and I’ll only lose my breath momentarily.