I suck at sports, but I’m going to use a sports analogy.
You know those machines that spit tennis balls at you so you can practice your swing? Imagine you’re practicing, and it’s going great – you’re hitting 90% of the balls. Then, maybe it’s your imagination, but it seems like the balls start coming a little faster and it’s harder to hit them. OK, now they’re definitely coming really fast, you’re only hitting maybe 50% of them, and the other 50% are hitting various parts of your body. Finally, the balls are coming so fast one after the other that they’re just a blur. You’re not even trying to hit them anymore. You drop your tennis racket and stand there motionless, being pummeled by rapid-fire tennis balls, wishing you could either turn off the machine or walk away.
Why can’t you? Because the machine is your brain, and the tennis balls are your thoughts. It’s kind of hard to walk away from your brain.
This is my metaphor for what happens to my thinking during hypomania. In the beginning, it’s great, I’m having lots of exciting ideas and I am able to use them constructively (write a blog post, design a hat, etc). But as the thoughts come faster and faster and there are more and more of them, I start getting confused and overwhelmed, until I can no longer distinguish one thought from another. And yet, I can’t turn off my brain. I can’t make it stop firing thoughts at me.
This is especially fun when lying in bed trying to sleep, because I know that my toddler will wake me up at 5 AM demanding medicine and food and stories. And forget about napping tomorrow. I’ll be getting creamed at metaphorical tennis practice while he naps.