Out Of The Blue

I promised you a few posts ago that I’d write one about mood episodes that come out of nowhere, and since I really don’t have a lot to talk about today, here it is.

I call them “sneaker waves”—mania or depression that has no identifiable trigger, but which slaps me flat and knocks the wind right out of me. This is one of the characteristics that distinguishes bipolar disorder from borderline personality disorder, which is a diagnosis I don’t have but have studied at some length because a lot of the symptoms overlap. In BPD, mood swings are almost always touched off by a trigger; in bipolar, they can certainly be triggered, but some of them come right out of the blue.

These are the episodes which frustrate me the most. It’s one thing when I can point to a cause or a contributing factor in the development of a depressive or manic mood; but when I’m going crazy without a reason, I feel betrayed by my own brain. It’s just not fair—when a person takes their medication regularly and does what they can to maintain a healthy lifestyle, they shouldn’t have to deal with unexpected mood swings. But it happens, and it really doesn’t have much to do with how well or how poorly one manages their disease.

I remember one manic episode I had a couple of years ago. It was summertime, yes, but I don’t spend entire summers in a manic state, and this was the middle of the season when I’m usually well. I was going about my business, nothing unusual was going on, and then WHAM! It didn’t even give me the customary few days of hypomania as a warning; I went from 0 to 120 in a matter of of hours. I also recall freaking out and calling the on-call psychiatrist at the clinic—Dr. Awesomesauce was out of town—which resulted in my being introduced to my first anti-psychotic. I also got sent home from work and told to “get that shit under control” before I came back.

I’ve also had depressive phases that had no obvious origin. One of them even happened in the early summer a few years back, which of course is when I’m normally hypo/manic. I analyzed that one to death and never figured out where it came from, but it was an angry, agitated depression which is memorable because it cost me my moderator position at another website and created a great deal of tension between my family and me. It also lasted throughout the entire summer…..in fact, I didn’t pull out of it until the early autumn.

Now, of course, my meds have not only decreased the frequency and severity of my mood episodes, but also the number of “sneaker waves”. I’ve also gotten better at sniffing out the subtler clues as to what might have contributed to a given mood shift. This is good, because the worst thing for me is being unable to explain something even to myself.

So that’s a bit about the mood changes that happen for no particular reason. Now it’s your turn to tell me about some of your experiences with “sneaker waves”. 🙂

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

11 thoughts on “Out Of The Blue

    1. That’s exactly why I’m having to file for disability. It’s amazing how much my moods have stabilized since I’ve been out of work…..just one intense but brief depressive episode in early summer. Even now when I’m severely stressed out, my baseline mood is relatively calm. I do miss my hypomania though.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. All of my manic episodes are random, i genuinely can’t remember any event that has triggered mania. My depressive episodes can definitely be triggered and tend to last a very long time, fairly standard triggers for the depression but sometimes i can be happy as a clam and for absolutely no good reason the blues will envelope me. I have BP2 so i live for the manic spells

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know that feeling! And of course now that I’m on so many medications, I don’t get manic anymore, or at least I haven’t in the past year. I miss it sometimes…..


      1. My meds need tweaking, this is my first manic period since starting cymbalta, I’ve been in a depressive episode for nearly a year it’s most crappy. I’d be manic full time if i had any choice in the matter, now i’m in my 30’s I tend not to get terribly ‘up’ anymore but boy do i get a lot of stuff done 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Friday I was happy and calm feeling very thankful. Saturday woke to temps in 40’s…felt like my body was filled with cement and all of a sudden living alone was too difficult..Sunday i got out of bed to bathroom and about 9p got up to feed dog. Friday did not eat, sat had soup, Sun had cottage cheese. yep i am losing weight but not much. i lost appetite in april when in rehab for broken hip. lost total of 30 pounds in 4 weeks..but i needed to lose it and had tried for years. mon was okay when i woke but then nasty thunderstorm hit about 9 a. i had things planned but still not real comfortable driving so i took a nap till storm passed over. lived in FL for almost 20 yrs and do to family hx of skin cancer i do not do much outside.then my moods usually were hypomanic and no reason was outstanding. now i get depressed..started 18 mos ago now on Paxil 40 mg started on 20mg then dr upped it.. i bet he will raise dose again. basically i am unhappy not suicidal just plain unhappy. some things make me happy for short bursts.. new things is i now talk to people wherever i am. I never have been very social unless i was teaching. one time in 2004 i fell apart at work..thedirector drove me to hospital and never told other employees so when i went back things were okay but got laid off when office was moved. i was accused of drinking during orientatiom once..i have tremors and my nose and cheeks get red all the time. i can not say i have even had more then once a yr.

    i have never had therapist… when i took kids therapist blamed me…… youngest is bipolar.
    i am looking at medicare supplement for next yr. used medicare advantage last 2 yrs but this year i spend so much as i was in hospital way too much.

    tomorrow no idea what will happen..i can handle hypo manic but not depression.

    i do not know where i was going with this but it is me!!!


  3. I’m sorry you’re feeling down. I feel the same way you do about depression. I’d ten times rather be manic…..but my family, friends, and doctor see things a bit differently. LOL
    Seriously, you are already on quite a bit of Paxil and I can’t imagine a pdoc RX’ing a higher dose because of the risk of mania, but then you are probably a lot less sensitive to ADs than I am. I hope whatever your doc does will make the sadness go away. (((HUGS)))


  4. I’ve done a bit of reading on bipolar versus borderline, as I ran into a doctor early in my diagnosis process who had no room in his head for anything but classic bipolar I, and BPD. Because I’m Bipolar II with rapid cycling features (which is common to Bipolar II), AND because I kept pushing to be seen, I got slapped with Borderline Personality Disorder for a bit. His boss knew better and diagnosed it right, hee hee.

    Anyways, that is to say, I’d not heard specifically that on mood triggers. I have things that trigger *anxiety* (which I’m unweaving at a fair pace now that I’ve got my parents out of my life), but actual depressive/hypomanic episodes? Pretty much completely out of the blue. So I thank you for that, ’cause it’s something to help reassure me of my diagnosis here while I am feeling a bit too stable. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean about the anxiety. That almost always has a specific trigger, and it’s seldom hard to figure out where it came from. Like now, with my unemployment benefits about to run out and we’re having to move…..where, I don’t know. I’m just amazed that I’m not completely bat-crap crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

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