Symptoms and Treatment of Cyclothymia: The "Mild" Bipolar Disease
Signs and Symptoms of Cyclothymia
I could do anything. There was no mountain high enough and no ocean deep enough. Give me a challenge. In fact, give me a list of challenges because I am on an unstoppable high. Drugs? For heaven's sake no! Who needs drugs when you are lucky enough to feel this way naturally?
According to Mayo Clinic, these are the symptoms of cyclothymia.
Manic Symptoms in Cyclothymia:
- Extreme optimism
- Talking more than usual
- An exaggerated feeling of euphoria
- Decreased need for sleep
- Inflated self-esteem
- Poor judgment resulting in unwise choices
- The tendency to be easily distracted
- Inability to concentrate
- Excessive physical activity
Depressive Symptoms in Cyclothymia:
- Sleep problems
- Feeling sad
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Weight changes
- Feeling worthless
- Concentration problems
I had never heard of a disorder called cyclothymia, the so-called mild bipolar disease. I just thought I had an overstimulated brain.
And talk about your energy. I had enough energy to fill a hot air balloon. I could work 80 hours a week, keep the house sparkling clean, shop, design a website single-handedly, socialize and take on everyone's' problems all by myself. What a woman!
But wait...something is terribly wrong. I suddenly lost my feelings of euphoria and superiority. Completely uncontrollable, I was losing myself. A cold, deep darkness begins to settle in, surrounding me—playing tag with my emotions until every feeling of joy and wellbeing was buried and consumed.
Stop the World: I Wanna Get Off!
I do not want to get out of bed. I think I have the flu. My body aches and I find that I can barely put one foot in front of the other. I must cancel today's appointments. Teaching is out of the question. I reach for the phone as I locate my list of students for the day. I make my calls and appreciate the sympathetic voices on the other line. I am wished a speedy recovery and get well soon. Some clients even offer to come by and fix me something to eat. I do not want to see anyone. I want to be left alone.
My voice mail will pick up all messages. I cannot bare to talk with anyone today. Accept for my children. If my children call, I will use my cheery voice to disguise how terrible I feel. They must not know. No one must know how hopeless my world looks right now.
No one must see what a terrible person I am.
Star of Stage and Screen Battles Bipolar Disorder
Cyclothymia and the Noisy Inner Dialogue
"I am not worth much. I am not a success. In fact, I am a failure. And the person viewed on the television talk show last week? Well, that wasn't me. It was all smoke and mirrors. Just a lonely, scared little girl sitting in front of some cameras pretending to be something she wasn't." Oh, sure, all the facts were correct and she has worked very hard to come so far but somewhere deep inside she looks at herself as an imposter.
Someone suggests to me that I may be depressed. Ha! Now that's one for the books. I never get depressed. And what on earth would I have to be depressed about? I have it all. And let's not forget about the opportunities available for me to perform. How I loved my audiences and their appreciation for my talent. Boy, do they ever love me. They think I'm just great. (My mind talking to me. Notice that It's all about me.)
I suddenly feel better. My crying has subsided and I feel like taking a shower. Maybe I will go for a walk. And I just bet I have a ton of email waiting for me. As long as I'm at the computer, I will start some new articles about singing. And I must remember to call my photographer for some new head shots. My website needs some tweaking too. And the kitchen is calling my name. I can't wait to get started. but first...I feel like shopping and the local mall is having a sale.
Living With the Mood Cycles
Cyclothymia is no "walk-n-the-park."
Moods fluctuate. You find yourself going from depression to hypo-mania and then back again. And even though the sensations are mild compared to bipolar disorder, it's still like being on a roller coaster ride. The moods are totally unpredictable and can last from days to an entire week. You have absolutely no idea what is happening to you. The mood swings and irrational behavior all seem normal to you.
My mother, a highly intelligent and talented woman, may have had bipolar disorder. It is thought that cyclothymia is a genetic disorder, although this has not been proven.
My doctor tried to explain her diagnosis and why I suffered with mood swings. I went right into denial. But I had sense enough to realize that I needed some help and began taking a prescription for the drug, Paxil.
I will forever be grateful for this drug, my empathetic and wise doctor, and the self-management I came to learn.
At Last, My Emotions Found the Right Balance
Paxil Helped Me Manage the Mood Swings
For me, a drug called Paxil is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's in a class of drugs referred to as SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). All that means is, it acts on the serotonin levels in the brain. So my serotonin levels are unbalanced and the medication helps in the release of more serotonin. It's a little complicated but makes perfect sense to me. And the main thing is...it works.
I no longer hide the "shame" I have lived with for having this disturbance. I can thank a fellow writer for that. She wrote a well-written poem about bi-polar disorder.
As with all medications, side effects can occur. I understand that the worst thing you can do is to stop taking this drug abruptly. If you suspect you may have cyclothymia or bipolar symptoms, be sure to see your doctor.
The thing is, when you're going through these mood swings, you don't recognize that anything is wrong. And the last thing that enters your mind is that you may need some help.
There are three possible causes for cyclothymia:
- Differences in how the brain works
- Prolonged periods of stress or a traumatic experience
My experience with cyclothymia happened a very long time ago. Today, I am completely healthy and symptom free. In fact, as I was writing this article, it all seems like a bad dream. On the positive side, having gone through this, I know what it's like and I can help others. And that's what it's all about.
Today, I'm glad that I have shared my story and struggle living with cyclothymia. I haven't really thought about it for a very long time. I guess I kind of went in to a denial mode when I was diagnosed all those years ago. I felt a huge amount of shame and...well...this is the first time I have ever talked about it, to anyone.
All I can say is: thank you for bringing me out of the darkness and into the light.
I encourage anyone with this disorder to seek help with a qualified doctor. Medications are available and may be the answer so don't put it off. You deserve to discover who you really are and live a life of stability and joy.
The Greatest Love of All Is Learning to Love Yourself
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say "My tooth is aching" than to say "My heart is broken".”
Do You Experience Periods of High and Low Regularly?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2011 Audrey Hunt