Have you heard of rapid cycling ? I would like to say when Ihear that term that I think of people in their “spinning classes” or the lovely lady on the new commercial that rides her indoor bike right at home (Peloton, isn’t it?). Unfortunately for those of us who live with mental illness, Bipolar in particular, rapid cycling is a demon that lays low in our brain until is sneaks out to say a not so pleasant “hello.”
I thought I would share with you a portion of an article from the DBSAlliance. This organization is quite renowned in the research of Depression and Bipolar. Their articles are interesting and easy to read and you will be able to empower yourself with knowledge which is so important in managing your illness.
Click on this link for the complete article:
What is rapid cycling?
Rapid cycling is defined as four or more manic, hypomanic, or depressive episodes in any 12-month period. With rapid cycling, mood swings can quickly go from low to high and back again, and occur over periods of a few days and sometimes even hours. The person feels like he or she is on a roller coaster, with mood and energy changes that are out-of control and disabling. In some individuals, rapid cycling is characterized by severe irritability, anger, impulsivity, and uncontrollable outbursts. While the term “rapid cycling” may make it sound as if the episodes occur in regular cycles, episodes actually often follow a random pattern. Some patients with rapid cycling appear to experience true manic, mild manic, or depressive episodes that last only for a day. If there are four mood episodes within a month, it is called ultra-rapid cycling, and when several mood switches occur within a day, on several days during one week, it is called ultra-ultra-rapid, or ultradian cycling. Typically, however, someone who experiences such short mood swings has longer episodes as well. Some individuals experience rapid cycling at the beginning of their illness, but for the majority, rapid cycling begins gradually. Most individuals with bipolar disorder, in fact, experience shorter and more frequent episodes over time if their illness is not adequately treated. For most people, rapid cycling is a temporary occurrence. They may experience rapid cycling for a time, then return to a pattern of longer, less frequent episodes, or, in the best case, return to a stabilized mood with the help of treatment. A small number of individuals continue in a rapid cycling pattern indefinitely.
Yes, I can relate!!!
In the early years of my illness, I learned that I suffered from ultradian cycling. If I ever look back at my mood charts I used to keep I could see how erratic my moods were in any given day, even any given hour. My brain was sooooooo incredibly all over the place and I wished I could shake myself out of it (there were times I would literally hit my head with my hand trying to “come to”). The more I learned about rapid cycling, the less severe my episodes were. I know medication and therapy helped as well.
So why am I writing about this today? Well, I realize that I think I may be going through a dose of rapid cycling….not the fast highs and lows as before, but definitely something is up. For one, I can’t focus on ANYTHING!!!! I have started puzzles and stitchery and books and tv shows and on and on…. I am happy one morning when I wake up and just pissed off by night-time. I just can’t…I don’t know….stay level! Can anyone feel this way? Of course!! It’s not something that only people with bipolar have, it is just much more pronounced and common with this mental illness. Also, I know that part of my up and down has to do with my physical heath and lack of mobility. I am not living my life as I normally do which can definitely make things a bit wonky. I can just “feel that feel” like the old days but you know what????
I NOTICED IT!!! As soon as I realized what has been going on in my mind besides my physical health, I started to feel a little better. Does the rapid cycling immediately stop? Of course not, but I can work towards feeling better. I have to remember that this cycle WILL go away. I always think of how ocean waves hit the beach and then retreat, that my moods and cycles are similar. I have to be gentle with myself – that’s a tough one for me. I need to continue taking my medication as prescribed. I also know that if I feel I need to, I will visit or call my therapist. I will be ok, I know I will…this is is mild if I think back to past years . I am thankful that I am so much healthier now.
Do you suffer from rapid cycling? How do you work through these spells? I would love to know your ideas