I actually have Bipolar II Disorder, which is different from Bipolar I because of the manic states. With BP I, the manic states are much more...well, manic. The person has delusions -- sometimes of grandeur, sometimes of paranoia, whatever -- and can engage in seriously harmful behavior or become detached from reality.
With BP II, the manic stages are milder -- they usually involve elevated energy levels, less sleep, rapid speech, and over productivity. I've always called my hypomanic states my "creative times," because I seem to get a lot of ideas and want to work on art projects or write.
Recently, I've been in a hypomanic state. I've felt very pressured to get lots of things done -- write a book proposal, tile my kitchen, paint the kitchen, clean the house, etc. I've also found myself having racing thoughts and talking more than I should. I also get irritated a lot faster. I've been pretty productive, so I can't say that it's a totally bad thing.
My biggest concern right now is what my kids are thinking. Mommy's really productive right now, in a good mood (mostly), and around. What happens when the hypomania wears off (which it inevitable does)? Will they even notice? Are they too young to try to explain this to?
In general, I want to shield my kids from the idea, and possibly stigma, of my mental illness. But is that the best thing? I did a little web research and found a few links:
Parenting with Bipolar Disorder, from Two Trees Media (the "Bipolar Disorder Experts," so they say)
How does a severe Bipolar parent affect kids? From Livestrong.com (written by a "contributing copywriter")
Growing up with a Bipolar parent, from Associated Content
What strikes me from these articles isn't their content, but their lack of content. Where are the articles by psychiatrists? There are a lot of articles about the hereditary implications of being a parent with BP, but not much about the emotional impact.
I'll have to do some further research and see if I can find some testimonials or researched info about this topic.
For now, though, we'll just keep having family fun (and productivity) with hypomania.