I’m encountering something new lately in my bipolar world. For about a couple months or so, I’ve felt a little bit off… and it’s been getting worse the past few weeks.
My thinking is sharper but still slows down so I don’t feel elated. I get frustrated at nothing and ponder why I’m frustrated, hence getting more frustrated for no reason. I find I need to spend more patience than I need to. I don’t feel sad, blue, particularly happy, or even normal. I just feel the way I do, and I’m confused, and I didn’t like it. However, it’s very subtle and doesn’t always feel like the funk is there.
I took the Goldberg Depression test and scored a 14, and took the Goldberg Mania test and scored an 8. I fell in the “minor depression possible” category on the depression quiz and on the upper end of “no mania likely” category on the mania quiz.
These aren’t a replacement for therapy but they can be useful tools for dealing with moods and gauging how depressed or manic I am. Seeing this shows me yes, it’s very minor… but there’s possibly a slight depression going on and I’m also a little bit more up than usual on my test scores.
I’m not positive it’s a mild mixed state, but that’s my best guess at this point. I’ll be seeing my psychiatrist soon and this is a very minor thing at this point, so I’ll ask his opinion then.
This past week, I’ve noticed that my mood has been off a little bit. Other people haven’t picked up on it, which indicates I was not hypomanic or anything, but I noticed things internally.
I’m also aware of what brought this on. I recently learned my current job position is being eliminated, which caused a lot of negative stress. I’ve been staying up too late on my own and that has added fuel to the fire. I haven’t been eating very well, either, and that combined with lack of exercise can cause problems. Also, reducing my Zyprexa about three or four weeks ago may have gradually brought this on. There are other personal reasons as well I will not get into at this point.
There have been positive happenings as a result of being up. I’ve been very creative, and able to ponder my spirituality, myself, and the universe in great depth. I’ve been more witty, spontaneous, and outgoing than usual. I found I could talk much easier with people in person and didn’t think too much about being judged socially. Writing and ideas came easier to me, and my mind was much sharper. I had more energy than normal. I sometimes felt a bit euphoric. My eyes saw colors more vividly, I could notice more details, tastes were much more pronounced, and my sense of smell was better than normal. Meditation came very easily, and I could find the balances and the voice efficiently. Basically, everything was a little magnified.
However, there were negative things as well. I felt a lot more impulsive than normal, I said weird things to people that I normally wouldn’t say, and sometimes wished I could take them back. I became more obsessive about thoughts and sometimes people, concepts, ideas, things, and couldn’t stop the obsessions at will at some points. I tended to overanalyze everything and it started to drive me nuts. One example of this obsessing and analyzing was my manager who broke the news to me about my position. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and the situation at hand, which led to bad conclusions. Fortunately, I was not so “up” that I was hypomanic and didn’t actually act. It all mostly stayed in my head, but not all of it, I’m sure.
My course of action? To start going to bed on time, for one! Also, I am starting to eat healthier again and I am noticing a difference after a few days already. One night, I had to take a prn dose of extra Zyprexa to slow my mind down. Also, I need to come to terms in that this is the beginning of falling off course, so I’m not tempted to just “go with it” and fall way off course. Instead, I am being proactive and preventing the mood swing from turning into a significant one.
Meditation also helped, along with keeping my heart on a very short leash. When my heart gets carried away, the mind goes with it. When the mind gets carried away, the heart wants to skip away. When the mind or heart begin to drift away, that’s a warning sign. It’s hard to recognize, as I largely perceive things through the two.
However, I look from within myself, my center, if you will – the mind and heart are extensions of me. I am getting to know them and learn how to keep them close to me. When they drift off the ground is when other people will begin to notice and not just me, which is a place I don’t want to be. It can lead to doing things, big or small, I’ll regret doing later on.
So, keep your minds and hearts on a short leash! Learn what little nuances show up when you’re about to have an up swing. Don’t be in denial, and do something about it when you have that inkling something’s not right – it could save you from crashing and burning down the road!
If you don’t have a plan for when you’re starting to swing up towards (hypo)mania, talk with your doctors about it and come up with a preemptive strike!
The one thing that can throw my bipolar management off most efficiently is a disturbed sleep pattern, caused by chemical imbalance, life situations, or irresponsibility. Most of the time, it’s my own irresponsibility. A disturbed sleep pattern often means difficulty falling asleep and an inception of hypomania and/or mixed states, causing more troubles falling asleep and staying asleep, and the spiral begins unless I get the sleep under control.
Sleep medication hasn’t helped me much in the past. In fact, ambien made me sleep walk and hallucinate, and other classes of drugs didn’t seem to have an effect on me. However, what have helped are music, binaural beats, and isochronic tones.
Ambient music is my number one choice for music to fall asleep to. Sometimes, it’s drone metal or other genres, such as trance and classical. It depends on what I want. One good source for a legitimately free, diverse selection of downloadable ambient music is Jamendo.
I then add binaural beats and/or isochronic tones to my headphones. I choose ones designed to induce sleep or progressive relaxation ending on sleep wave frequencies. When my sleep is disturbed, the induced hypomania or mixed state causes me to be very sensitive to all stimuli, making it hard to clear my head and fall asleep. Yet it also amplifies effects of the beats and tones because I’m so sensitive. When I’m functioning normally, they don’t have as a pronounced effect.
A binaural beat is basically two very similarly pitched frequencies being played simultaneously, one in one ear and one in the other ear. It has a very hypnotic effect on the listener. While listening in both ears, beats appear and have a fluctuating pattern, fast or slow depending on how close the two pitches are to each other. Listen in only one ear and it’s simply a sound pitch. Put both on, and it’s like listening in 3D. Higher frequencies are associated with stimulating effects, concentration, and meditation, while lower frequencies induce sleep and relaxation. There are an incredible variety of beats out there: search “binaural beats” on YouTube for some examples.
Isochronic tones are simply one pitch of sound being played repeatedly quite rapidly. The pitch is played for a certain length, followed by an equal length of silence, over and over again. The sound is the same in both ears, and it also has a hypnotic effect on the brain. They can produce states of reduced anxiety, better focus, stress relief, meditation, concentration, and others. One does not need headphones while listening to isochronic tones.
I’ve seen some places where binaural beats and isochronic tones are combined as well, sometimes even to music all at once, to produce certain effects.
There are phone apps out there which allow one to pick ambient noises, music, tones, and beats, mix them together, and play them all at once. I use AmbiScience from Tesla Software on my iPod touch, specifically the AmbiScience 300 program, which is $2.99 on the AppStore. I understand some versions of AmbiScience are also available on Android. The 300 has many sleep and relaxation effects, both isochronic and binaural, along with an exclusive interval feature. This allows the user to program additional effects on, say, a 15 or 45 second timer. For example, I can add extra thunder during a rainstorm track, or bird sounds, electronic effects, and more.
Otherwise, one can peruse the YouTube videos, find some you like, and use an internet YouTube video to mp3 converter to download the audio if desired. In any case, tones and beats have been powerful sleep aid tools for me, medication free! Let me know what you think!