- Posted January 2, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
The Icarus Effect
Many may wonder, “What is hypomania?”, as they never heard of it. Hypomania is a symptom of Bipolar II, which falls on the Bipolar Spectrum. This spectrum just like the light spectrum that creates the rainbow is one of many hues. In Herman Melville’s famous story of Billy Budd, he poignantly describes these spectrums: “"Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity." The Bipolar Spectrum is an arrangement of varying “levels” of mental illness. On one end you have Cyclothymia and on the other, Bipolar I. Bipolar II falls somewhere in between. As modern psychiatric medicine progresses we are beginning to realize that these illnesses are in fact very different and surprisingly, may not be related at all. For instance, while someone with Bipolar I may suffer from a crippling “mixed episode” where they barely can control the flood of thoughts and varying moods, the person with Bipolar II does not have these experiences. Hypomanic, normal mood, depressed. That’s all we get.
It is important for me to point out that not all hypomania is made equal. Not all are given the boon of wonderful happiness. Some suffer from a hypomania that is characterized by increased levels of irritability. Growing up, I saw this many times in my father. An intelligent but often troubled man in my younger years, he would suffer from a terrible irritability that often manifested itself in angry outbursts. It wasn’t until I experienced hypomania and researched its symptoms that I realized that his demeanor was not of his choosing.
For me, the hypomania is exhilarating. The increased energy and creativity and very little need for sleep is accompanied by a change in mood. This change in mood for me is characterized by feelings of elation, profound importance of even mundane events and a feeling of being in close contact with God, nature and the universe. This hypomanic state can last for days or even weeks cycling within itself through various states and stages of these feelings and moods. They whirl about like gusts of wind in a gale and like the sailor Billy Budd all I can do is hold on for the ride. Inevitably the storm ends but the end of this storm gives way to a burning hot sun and no air and like Icarus my wings melt and I fall into the sea.