I Am Superwoman: Hypomania And The Trials Of Bipolar II Disorder


Battling bipolar II disorder is difficult. It is serious enough of a mental illness to be drugged on Lamictal or Lithium and enduring countless hours of therapy. Yet, for some reason, bipolar II is not a mood disorder severe enough to be diagnosed as bipolar I because of the difference between hypomania and mania. Hypomania does not debilitate you in ways that a manic episode (characteristic of bipolar I) does. There are no psychotic features and frequent hospitalizations. Rather, hypomanic depression is masked with episodes of hypomania and depression that have made me feel alive. Alive times ten.

It’s ridiculous to say that hypomania makes me feel alive, right? The adrenaline coursed through my veins as I spent days and nights awake, hyped up on caffeine and feelings of invincibility and grandiosity. I claim to love my life and my life claims to love me. My self-esteem shoots through the roof as I write a ten-page research paper as a freshman in college. I spend hours at the gym, flushed by newfound confidence in my abilities to lose ten pounds in just a few days. I hold a conversation by myself, spurting out intelligent arguments about politics and current events. I walk out of an exam room feeling cocky about my performance on an exam. I spend $500 on new jackets and shoes, only to have my parents cancel my credit card hours later. I make friends so fast and love everyone. Is that just myself being a goal-directed individual with ridiculous amounts of energy and happiness? Or is it a hypomanic episode? It’s the latter. It’s a hypomanic episode, lasting three weeks to a month at a time, but I love it. It makes me feel like I am Superwoman. I envision myself as the next Secretary of State, accomplishing everything and nearly anything, without a worry in the world. Why care about consequences and partaking in high-risk behavior when I truly have nothing to fear? No fucks given. None whatsoever.

When my hypomania is channeled properly, I am productive and happy. Sad thing is, it is hard to channel properly. It’s hard to healthily cope during a hypomanic episode. The downsides of my self-esteem flourishing as I complete aforementioned tasks of writing a ten-page research paper, spending hours at the gym, talking to the point of verbal diarrhea, overspending my parent’s money, and socializing to the point of constantly searching for validation in others is that it is all fake. While I’m in a hypomanic episode, I do not realize how fake the Superwoman façade is. It happens three weeks later, when I am lying in my bed, paralyzed by the inhibitors of my mood disorder. That’s my depressive episode. I don’t have the same energy I do when I’m hypomanic. In fact, I’m apathetic about life. I don’t care what happens to me right then and there because the world is over. It’s rock bottom. That is when I turn into an infant, lacking maturity and the knowledge that rock bottom is only temporary. I lose my senses and keenness of the world around me. I isolate myself to a point where bridges are burnt with my friends and my family. I have no one but myself until three weeks later where I reinvent my Superwoman façade and become the social butterfly, able to achieve anything and everything. My depression plagues me but more than anything else, my hypomania kills me and makes me feel alive simultaneously.