When I get hypomanic, I write. I write a lot. I wrote 20,000 words this week and it’s only Thursday. I have next to nothing to do at my job, so I pretty much do it all day. Primarily, I’ve been writing a memoir called Daniel Undone. It’s about my journey from mild mannered, do-good, faithful husband to hyper-sexual, unfaithful, hyper-religious, grandiose, paranoid, psychotic, delusional, bipolar me. I’m writing it to help me connect the dots, and to share my story for the sake of helping someone going through a similar experience. I also intend for it to be entertaining. It’s not a novel, but I’m writing it as if it were one. I’m up to 17k which is about 72 pages.
A serial writer knows that it’s best to space out the installments to create suspense and keep people looking forward to the next chapter of the story. But I know that the creativity and drive will go away eventually and so I’m putting out as much as I can every day. Writing a serial is challenging because unlike writing a novel, once you’ve put a chapter out there, it shouldn’t change which means if you leave something out, you have to get creative. If I wanted to publish it in paper, I would need to do some rewriting.
But why do I do this? Why does hypomania cause this frenzy? A quick google search brought be very scant information. There is talk of chemicals such as dopamine and serotonine both of which make a person feel happy, but that can make things go wrong in the brain as well. Perhaps the truth is that no one knows exactly. I don’t have the patience at the moment to research this further. All I know for sure is what I’m experiencing on a week like this.
I am obsessed, with both songs and writing. I’ve been listening to the same 7 songs for a month now. I am intense and focused. I take very few breaks while I’m writing. Swimming and lunch
That’s it. Hours fly by without me looking away from my computer screen. When someone tries to talk to me, I am distracted and often miss what they are saying. I am overconfident in my writing. I feel that I am producing professional-level writing, but I know myself well enough that when I read back over it later, it may be uneven and sloppy. Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes it’s good.
Then there is the checking. My first experience with mental illness was with what the doctors thought was OCD. I have OCD friends , and they are much more hardcore than I am. I don’t think I really am, but I still struggle with obsessive compulsive tendencies, anxiety, and narcissism. When you combine those, you have someone who obsessively seeks validates and feels anxious when they don’t get it.
I first realized I had a serious problem with this in 2000 when I was software consulting with an insurance company. The manager called me into his office. He had done an internet usage audit and found me to be out of line. He give me a number of how many clicks I’d made. It was a staggering number. I was confused about how it was even possible. I’d been clicking my Yahoo email at a rate that would suggest that I was doing no work at all. In fact, I was doing a very significant amount of work, but the guy was upset. He threatened to fire me, but my company manager talked him out of it. To me, an email equaled validation. It meant that someone was thinking about me.
I needed that. I started seeing a therapist after that. Today, I and millions of others, are on a constant, obsessive checking rotation of Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Facebook, 2 Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, and 2 WordPress accounts with 17 blogs. I know I’m not the only one. It’s an epidemic. But no one else in my family struggles with this the way I do. I need people to like, comment, share, follow, friend, and read everything that write as much as possible. I’m not asking you to stop enabling me. Please enable me. I’ll feel miserable if no one reads what I write. I never admit that. I say that I just write for myself. I don’t care if anyone reads. But it’s not true.
When this hypomanic episode is over, and it’s starting to feel like it never will be, I know that I’ll relax a bit, but not all that much. I’m pretty active and obsess when level as well. But not 5000 words a day active.