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Unpacking bipolar II

Yesterday something amazing happened. I made dinner and cleaned up. I played with my son, bathed him, put on his pyjamas, read him a book and sung him a lullaby.




A year ago, this would have been just another evening. But since the decline in my mental health, I rarely manage this. When Amory gets home from daycare, I am usually in bed myself, where I stay until he is ready for bed. Then, Amory climbs in beside me, we read a book, and I sing to him.

I cherish these small moments of parenting because they are all I have. But by some miracle, yesterday I just felt like an ordinary mum – like a Hannah I haven’t seen in a very long time.

My psychiatrist is currently working with the theory that I have bipolar II. Unlike the more well-known bipolar I that you see in movies, this bipolar is at the lower end of the spectrum. It comes with hypomanic episodes, which for many people just look like a productive few days. Bipolar II is primarily characterised by long depressive episodes and mostly functioning with low-level depression.

This is not a firm diagnosis. My doctor is treating me with mood stabilisers and, if I respond to treatment, he may confirm the diagnosis.

I am worried about the stigma that surrounds this condition, so I have not shared this news before. But I am also worried about the idea that I don’t know my brain as well as I thought I did.

We have identified two hypomanic episodes this year – but I wasn’t the one to point them out. My dad recognised one and my husband recognised the other.

I like to think I’m a self-aware person but there is obviously a gap here.

So last night, rather than just being happy about my unusually productive evening, I turned to my husband and asked him, ‘do you think this is hypomania?’.

I have no way of knowing for sure.

Whether or not it was hypomania, I had an amazing evening. I felt like the light at the end of the tunnel was a fiery spotlight, beaming down upon me.

So for the moment I will not overanalyse this. Instead, I accept this as a gift from the universe – a precious evening during a time of great struggle. #ipreview via @preview.app

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