Today someone told me that I should try and be the friend I was before around my friends and that they might not be comfortable with me being high around them.
For a start, I think I was depressed from about 8 years old and I most certainly sometimes suffered from depression from the age of 13 so I don’t know who this ‘friend before’ mental illness is as for at least seven years if not more of my life I have had mood swings.
Secondly and most importantly it’s really not that simple to just act as if you are mentally stable and not depressed or hypo/manic. Mental illnesses change who you are as a person and how you present yourself to the world. They change your emotions, your behaviour and how you view things. I am aware that some people are able to put on the ‘I’m okay’ mask however I’m not.
When I was first severely depressed my parents eventually noticed that something was wrong because I was so low that I had completely lost the life within me and my personality. I was a girl ghost and I couldn’t for the life of me pretend that I was okay and act like a person who wasn’t extremely depressed! I cried all of the time, was very morose and I completely isolated myself from everybody at school and retreated into a world of books, music and computers.
My most recent depressions in late May 2014 and mid September 2015 were similar. Once again I was so lifeless I was hardly a human being. I would force myself to meet up with friends a lot but I found myself almost completely unable to converse! I would sit there and occasionally give short replies to the person I was with. One time I was so depressed that I could not even make conversation at all and I just sat there staring into space as I ate my dinner with my friend.
As far as I know my highs started in early June 2014 when I was put on antidepressants but I can’t tell looking back whether there were moments before then where I experienced extremely mild highs.
My highs also often affect how I am around people and I am often unable to modify or tone down my behaviour. During my most recent and current hypomanic episode I have often bursted into hysterical laughter and got extremely excited about things. How on earth are you supposed to control what you laugh at?! We all laugh subconsciously at things all of the time.
Another thing that I find hard is to stop myself from taking out my irritability and anxiety out on others. Just like how many people will very occasionally get angry and be unable to stop themselves from unleashing it on others, this sometimes happens when I’m high and I get angry for absolutely no reason! Recently I was irritable for almost two weeks and snapped at my mother in a very ferocious way and even shouted at her. I was completely unable to control this and all I was able to do was to apologise for my behaviour. I have very mild anxiety anyway but when I’m high it gets a lot worse and I start flipping out and having obsessive thoughts. Recently I shouted a lot when I tried twenty times to put a photo on my university accommodation profile and it would not work! I also screamed very loudly and viciously at my mother when I had been waiting for 15 minutes for a taxi which had not arrived which I needed to take me to therapy!
I will admit that the first time I was high I was able to contain my hypomania a bit around people by just purposefully being quiet and somehow holding all the energy bursting inside me in so that they didn’t notice.
However, generally I find it extremely hard to control my behaviour and how I appear to others when I’m high or low as my mood swings completely change who I am and turn me into a different person. I would say that when I am in a mood swing I act like how a mentally stable person acts naturally and instinctively and I find it absolutely impossible a lot of the time to pretend that I am more stable than I am!