Recognizing Mania Warning Signs, Even in the Eyes
Knowing and understanding warning signs of depression, hypomania and mania can be crucial in accessing the resources and supports needed at different times in your life. Warning signs can vary across individuals but there are also many warning signs that are thought to be more universal such as changes in sleep. The International Bipolar Foundation, discusses the importance of examining warning signs that predict and/or indicate changes in mood. These can be changes in symptoms specifically related to bipolar disorder, symptoms of other co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, changes in behaviors, changes in how you are thinking or feeling, and changes in physical symptoms. Here is a list of their 100 warning signs:
Warning signs can even be as specific and visible as someone’s presentation in their eyes. In a recent blog post in bphope.com by Julie Fast, the idea of examining one’s eyes is presented as a way of determining states of mood. Julie reflects on her own changes in eye presentation in a depressed and manic state and discusses how 3 clues can be used to evaluate her mood state.
“Clue #1 Sparkling Eyes in Euphoric Mania: Euphoric mania often creates a shimmering quality to the liquid in the eyes. We sparkle! When I look in the mirror during a euphoric manic episode, I’m entranced with my face. I see NO flaws. My skin is perfect. My eyes are brilliant. My hair shines. Believe it or not, this is often physically true as well. Mania does make those changes. I have seen what look like silver, shimmering flicks in the whites of my eyes when euphoric. People find this very attractive. We all know how easy it is to get a relationship when you’re euphoric. How we look at people is a big part of this. We focus these sparkling eyes on our unsuspecting prey and they are lost!
Clue #2 Darker Eyes in Dysphoric Mania: Once I started asking clients to notice eye changes in a loved one, I heard many stories of how dysphoric mania turned the eyes black. I tried to figure this out on my own, and finally asked an eye doctor about it. She said, “Oh, I’m not surprised by that. It’s documented that adrenaline can make the pupil take over the eye. Mania sounds like it’s something to do with adrenaline, so I would think the eye is the same color, but the pupil is huge. This creates the the all black eye.”
Clue #3 The Eyes Change Shape: The eyes can widen with euphoric mania and often get mean and narrow with dysphoric mania. I’m not talking about a few minutes of this- the changes can last for months. I know my own dysphoric mania makes me as mean as a snake and as suspicious as a jealous husband. Suspicion narrows the eyes and purses the lips. In contract, I’m open to the world when euphoric and this widens my eyes. I have seen it in pictures. My entire face brightens in euphoric mania, so it makes sense I would open my eyes wider as well.”
Read more of this post here…
What are some of your warning signs? What warning signs do you identify with on the list of 100? What warning signs are unique to you? Don’t be afraid to ask a trusted loved one what changes they’ve seen in the past. Sometimes getting perspective from others about what they have seen from you during changing mood states can be helpful to learn as well!
Fast, J. (2016, April, 21). 3 Clues For Recognizing Mania In The Eyes, Plus Other Physical Symptoms. Retrieved from http://www.bphope.com/blog/your-eyes-hold-the-clues-how-to-read-the-eyes-to-spot-euphoric-and-dysphoric-bipolar-disorder-mania/
Lin, C.E. Spotting Icebergs From Miles Away: How To Use Early Warning Signs In Bipolar Disorder Relapse Prevention. Retrieved from http://ibpf.org/blog/spotting-icebergs-miles-away-how-use-early-warning-signs-bipolar-disorder-relapse-prevention.