From Hypomanic to Panic

I mentioned in other posts, namely The Hypomanic Toll Booth that I was going through a serious episode. To make a note, it was the most intense and longest hypomanic episode since I started treatment. I made it something like 16 or 17 days. This is coming from someone who has maxed out at 14. I can thank some virus for knocking me down around Tuesday or Wednesday.

Now, I am still running on high. I do have symptoms like rambling speech and hyper-speed thoughts. No sleep problems and no desire to be social. In fact, I have the complete opposite.

For the last week, I have been suffering from full on panic attacks. I’d be in the middle of something and come to a screeching halt, like the deer in the headlights. At first, it was very irregular. I was stricken at 5:30PM during a Kindergarten class. Another day, it was in the shower, first thing in the morning. Then, it settled into what I thought was about 12:30PM-1:30PM.

Today, I first got hit at T.D.’s pediatrician appointment at 9AM – but, there was a specific reason for that. (More to come on that). Ok, I rode that out, until I was out of the office. I got hit again at 11AM. I figured out why later – I woke up an hour and a half before I usually get up.

Instead of instantly medicating, I attempted the navigate the choppy waves with mantras and breathing. No dice. With panic, those techniques are only effective in the moment. They won’t prevent another attack. Panic comes when panic wants, ready or not.

I finally broke down at 1PM because the panic was quickly seizing my ability to function. I took a half a milligram of Xanax like I usually do. I suppose I waited too long. A half a milligram didn’t do it. I had to take the other half at 1:30PM. Even a milligram wasn’t enough to keep the anxiety completely at bay. But, at least the panic attacks stopped.

I was thinking about it the other day. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anxiety outside of a depressive episode. Nor have I ever, ever, ever experienced panic without provocation, such as being faced with a phobia.

So, here comes the questions. Note, I did not have a depressive crash after the last hypomanic episode. I’m not being plagued with constant underlying anxiety. I’m having seemingly random panic attacks.

Is running on high causing the panic? Or, is the panic actually a result anxiety that makes me appear on the edge of hypomania? Or am I still hypomanic except on the lower side and I’m experiencing panic as a result? Or is the panic a separate entity all its own?

So many questions. So few answers.

7 thoughts on “From Hypomanic to Panic

  1. Is this a time of year that you’ve had trouble with panic (or even a traumatic or particularly stressful event) in the past?

    I’ve heard some people experience panic problems (or more anxiety in general) when it is around the same time of year other stressful experiences have taken place in their lives (divorce, abuse, a car accident, etc).

    It definitely doesn’t rule out any of your other hypothesis but it is something to consider.

    • Actually, no.

      I had my son this time of year, and I guess it was a little traumatic. But, the fact that I have this sweet, beautiful little boy cancels that out. His birthday is only one of a handful of “holidays” that are joyous celebrations. (The others are Halloween, my wedding anniversary, C.S’s birthday, the anniversary of when C.S. and I got together, and occasionally my birthday.)

      In fact, autumn is, and has always been, my favorite time of year! I found it so appropriate that my son was born in October. The weather is cooler and the wind is blowing all of the time. Here in Pittsburgh, the whole landscape is alive in color. This time is right before The Grey Season. And Halloween is always the big finale! The one time of year that you can dress up, pretend to be someone / something else, and get rewarded for it!

      Oh wait. I did think of one thing, and I think this has been underlying for both my husband and I. A year ago, we were both unemployed during this period of time. We were very poor and diverted all of our remaining funds toward feeding and clothing T.D. So, C.S. and I were cold, hungry, and at each others’ throats.

      Hmm… some food for thought. It has been unusual that both of us have managed to retain and excel in our jobs for nearly a year. Before this, there was two-and-a-half years of chronic layoffs and unemployment.

      I’ll bounce it off of C.S. and see what he thinks. He’s been pretty anxious lately too, but I thought it was about his upcoming promotion. I started to think that my empathy was acting like an emotional sponge! Or worse, that this panic was something underlying that began emerging. God only knows what could have been hiding underneath the BP all these years!

  2. I think either pure, unadulterated anxiety or perhaps sub-threshold depression could be culprits. I get that panicked feeling when I have to do anything social and I’m depressed (and I mean anything, even going to the grocery – to the point where I don’t do it). Even my regular tasks – wait, who am I kidding, I haven’t got any regular tasks. But making telephone calls, let’s say.

    I try to be extremely present and focus completely on what I’m doing (‘Right now I am shaving my legs.’), otherwise my head spins out of control with what comes next and after that and after that, and I literally freeze up completely and wind up climbing back into bed.

  3. Maybe anxiety. I know it’s not on-coming depression. I had another high level day, almost to the point of hypomania. The only things that are missing are the lack of sleep and hyper-sexuality. I actually did frivilous shopping today. Even in hypomania, I’m well aware I don’t have the money. But C.S encouraged me and it happened. No depression on the horizon.

    I did well with the crowd in the Strip, thanks to some Xanax. But later, I had a random panic attack. I had to retreat to my bed and cover myself entirely. I was disoriented, with heavy breathing and heart palpitations. I was OK in about ten minutes. But, I did need some soothing afterward.

    I don’t know. I just don’t know! At least there was only one today. It was solved a lot quicker than most days.

  4. Pingback: I Bet Jekyll Felt This Way « As the Pendulum Swings

  5. Hi i cant answer your questions but i just want you to know i suffer the exact same hypomania and panic attacks both i feel great very confident energic then suddenly im having these attacks this is all started after my drug addiction you are not alone i know its weird and confusing hang in there..

    • Sometime after this, I had what was my first recognizable, full-blown manic episode. I remember that the anxiety had gotten so bad that it turned paranoid-delusional.

      I never quite understood it until one of my martial arts instructors took note of my anxiety. (I’m apparently a lot more expressive than I know). She told me to turn my mind off and channel that energy into my techniques. Sure enough, I was suddenly unweighted, practicing techniques very well.

      It occurred to me. (Hypo)mania generates energy both mental and physical energy. I have a lot more of an influence over the nature of this energy than I once believed. I always kind of assumed that I was kind of a victim of circumstance. But, once I had the experience of translating nervous energy into kinetic energy, I knew better.

      I thought nervous energy and hypomania were hand in hand. The truth is, they are one in the same, two expressions of the same thing. Energy is neither positive nor negative by nature. The way we choose to harness it determines the expression.

      Meditation is really good for this. I started meditating in class, and suddenly started hearing the jumble of loosely connected thoughts in my head. The instruction was simple, “Stop”. I’d give myself 10 seconds of mental silence before concentrating on the task at hand. No emotion. Anytime any emotion crept in, I’d go back to just stopping. Sometimes, when we just concentrate on the silence and sensations of our own bodies, we can develop a more cooperative relationship between the two.

      I hope this helped you unravel the mystery a little better. I’ve started to write wellness articles recently that you might want to check out. Brave New Mind was actually featured on Freshly Pressed!

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