Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Mixed Phases

Every so often with my mixed-state bipolar disorder, I’ll go through a very mixed phase. I’m in one right now. Whereas someone with more typical cycling bipolar—someone who isn’t mixed-state will have definitive periods where they’ll experience and present symptoms of either mania or depression, I commonly have phases where I present and experience symptoms of both.

Most typically with me, the depressive side will manifest as letting my housekeeping falter or fail, while the hypomania turns me into a moody, bitchy, temperamental person. These mixed phases I do not enjoy. It takes a lot of effort to do anything around the house and I hate doing it the entire time. When I’m in a state like this, the slightest thing can set me off. I have thrown fits, and probably will again, over such minor things as untying my shoes, or the fact I let my tea steep too long and now it’s cold when I wanted it at least warm by the time I’m done mixing the sweetener and milk in, or opening one of my bottles of medication. Simple things a person without bipolar disorder wouldn’t be inclined to stress over, I have a screaming temper tantrum over. When I’m enduring this sort of mixed state, the temper tantrum state is just on the edge of my mood at all times, and the depressive side makes me not care about housework.

But on occasion, I enter a slightly different type of mixed-state phase.

Right now, my depressive side is manifesting as a desire to sleep the day away, no matter how early I go to bed. I’m much inclined to remain in bed until after noon, frequently until as late as two or three pm. I see no reason to get up, even though my writing is going fairly well right now. I wouldn’t call myself suicidally depressed, but I definitely don’t want to get up to face the day until most of the day is over. When I’m like this, getting up even for an afternoon appointment or activity (even if it’s fun) takes a great deal of effort.

This depressive phase, y’all, is why I habitually get dressed in a full day-clothes outfit each and every day, even when I’m physically ill. Being fully dressed is a mood booster. If I sat around in sweats or in pajamas all day, I’d be depressed. How do I know this? Because I used to “dress down” if I had nowhere to go during the day. This was way back when I was younger, and I noticed a propensity for my mood to grow gloomy over the course of the day, so I started dressing in day clothes every day regardless of whether or not I expected to go out. And, in fact, after forcing myself out of bed when in a mood like this, getting dressed takes little effort—and the mood-boost payoff is incredible. I’ll admit it doesn’t throw me into raptures over being awake, but once I’m dressed in day clothes, I feel much more interested in being up and about. So, quite literally, some days putting on a full day-clothes outfit is like putting on armor—armor against a low mood. It’s one of the simplest and quickest ways I know of making myself feel capable of facing the day.

But at the same time I’m feeling so “hopeless,” I’m also much more interested in household things. I spent about two or three hours cooking tonight, purely because I wanted to. I was in the mood to cook. And while cooking, I enjoyed it (I don’t when this particular mania isn’t functioning—cooking is a chore and I do as little of it as possible). Then, after I ate, I cleaned the kitchen. Other housework is on the agenda, but some of it involves disposing of boxes, and I’m not going to do that at night when the chute abuts the bedroom of the neighboring apartment. LOL

To be honest, I’ve been working up into this mood over the past couple weeks. I’m coming up out of a phase where I was experiencing no particular phase—a stable phase, so to speak. I cooked when I felt like it, cleaned when I felt like it, got up with little difficulty, but didn’t keep up with personal hygiene as well as I perhaps should have, though dental hygiene was going really well. For the most part, a typical stable phase for me.

I don’t think this is something I need to notify my psych doc about. It’s not pronounced; it’s an average mood swing, one of those I expect to have over the course of time. Eventually, I’ll swing back into either another stable phase or into a different combination of my mixed state.

1 Comment

  1. That’s an interesting tip about the day clothes, as well as a fascinating glimpse into mixed-state. Thanks for sharing!

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