By: Keith O'Neil
Certain things trigger me and I become hypomanic, a milder form of mania. I’m actually hypomanic right now but it’s alright. I embrace it. I realized I was flying into hypomania yesterday when I was running at 4:30am (a pretty good indicator) but I loved it. I wanted to run more and more, I could have run for days, I was high. So what triggered me this time around? It was the completion of the first draft of my book proposal (the proposal is what you sell to publishing companies). My literary agent wasn’t completely satisfied with it and has a different vision. So now we are working things out between me, her and the ghostwriter. She recently said, “The book is only as good as it’s author.” That comment lit a fire under my ass and it challenged me. That motivation wasn’t much different than the way my coaches use to motivate me. This is a very good thing. It motivated me. I want my book to be the best. Even after my playing days I still want to be the best, I still want to win.
Being hypomanic is great. I get things done! I run a lot, I clean the house, I write, I run errands, and then I run again. Music couldn’t sound any better when I feel this way, it feels as if every instrument is running through my body. I love it. Unfortunately, all the things that I do that feel great feed the hypomania, which makes me even more hypomanic. It’s like some drugs, the more you do the more you want. And just like drugs, hypomania can be dangerous. If I don’t control it I could eventually go into full mania.
My mom said she loves when I’m in this state. I’m engaging, fun to be around and helpful. I don’t just lie on the couch like I typically do. I help with dishes, set the table, etc. My mom said today, “I love when you’re hypomanic, you’re Keith” I said, “No, I’m always Keith, even when I’m up, down and everything in between.” All the states of my illness are me. I AM bipolar. Although, there are negatives to my hypomania, my mind races, I pace, I can’t sleep without medication. I can fall asleep but I’m up extremely early because I want the day to begin, I have things to do. I am also forgetful and my attention span is short. I want things done now because I’m impatient. I’m very impulsive and I get anxious. With the good, comes the bad.
Jill is cool with me when I’m hypomanic. I know she is keeping a close eye on me but she let’s me do my thing. If I want to get up at 4:00am to unload the dishwasher she lets me. If I want to run around the neighborhood at the crack of dawn she let’s me do that too. She doesn’t say much and like my mom, I think she kind of enjoys it. Her only concern is that I don’t get too high and fly into mania.
Fortunately, I’ve learned to recognize all these symptoms. Two years ago, five years ago, twenty years ago I couldn’t recognize these symptoms and as a result I would climb the mountain of mania. Today, I take steps to make sure I don’t spiral out of control. I take my medication, I try to relax, I see my therapist, I limit the hypomanic feeders and I breathe. It’s a great feeling to know I have my illness somewhat figured out. Its something I have tried very hard to do.
I called my therapist yesterday after I recognized my state and she said, “pace yourself, spend two hours a day working on the book then close the computer and you’re done, you’re finished for the day - don’t feed the mania, don’t feed the monster. Set aside time to rest and do things that are mindless like watching college football. Don’t forget to relax and it helps to breathe.” It’s nice having someone in my corner providing these tips.
So where do I go from here? I’m going to turn off the music and remove the headphones. I am going to shut down the computer for the rest of the day. Then I’m going to sit on my couch and watch Northern Arizona University, my old school, kick some ass!