Bipolar Disorder with Rapid Cycling is Not a Fast Bicycle Race

What is Bipolar Disorder with Rapid Cycling?

  1. A person with rapid cycling experiences mood shifts of mania and depression at an increased rate.
  2. To meet the clinical definition of rapid cycling there must be four or more episodes in a year of mania, hypomania or depression.
  3. Rapid cycling occurs in 10-20% of all people with bipolar disorder, and is more common in women.
  4. Rapid cycling varies greatly from person to person.
  5. A few people with rapid cycling bipolar disorder alternate between periods of hypomania and depression. Far more commonly, repeated and distinct episodes of depression may dominate the cycling sequences.
  6. Mood swings can quickly go from low to high and back again, and occur over periods of a few months, days and sometimes even hours.

What is Hypomania?

  1. Hypomania is an elevated mood not reaching full-blown mania a minimum of four days.
  2. People in a hypomanic state have an elevated mood and feel euphoric, energetic, and productive, but they are able to carry on with their daily lives. They never lose touch with reality, like they can with a full blown mania episode (which I like to call my “bad” mania).
  3. To others, it may seem that people with hypomania are just in a very good mood. Hypomania sounds like it would be a great thing to have and at times it is a good thing to experience.
  4. However, hypomania can cause one to be impulsive, make bad decisions that harm relationships, careers, and reputations.
  5. In addition, hypomania often escalates to full-blown mania (my “bad” mania) or is followed by a severe, and/or suicidal depression.

Rapid cycling and mixed episode are two different types of symptoms. However, a person with Bipolar Disorder can have both mixed episodes as well as rapid cycling various times throughout their day and their lives (which describes me). Rapid cycling and/or mixed episode symptoms cause Bipolar Disorder to become much more severe, devastating, harder to treat and more difficult and painful to live with and survive.

Moods shift from mania to depression and back again at various rates for each individual.

Individuals with Bipolar Disorder with rapid cycling can experience:

  1.  several mood shifts throughout the same day.
  2.  mood cycles that change and shift randomly throughout the year.
  3.  mood cycles with the same patterns year after year.

What is Bipolar Disorder with Ultra-Rapid Cycling

  1. A small number of patients may have many episodes of mania and depression within one day, shifting from mania to depression often throughout the same day. This has been described as “ultra-rapid cycling” or “ultradian rapid cycling.”
  2. I have ultra-rapid cycling or ultradian rapid cycling (which means I am a very fast bicycle rider…. hehehe).
  3. Ultra rapid cycling or ultradian rapid cycling is rare and means I switch very quickly and often within the same day from mania to depression or depression to mania.

What does it Feel Like to Live With Bipolar Disorder with Rapid Cycling and Ultra Rapid Cycling?

  1. Rapid cycling is like a huge roller coaster ride with extreme highs and extreme abrupt turns and low downward crashes to the bottom. You cannot see the path or turns the roller coaster is going to make ahead of time so it is a very scary thrill of a ride. It is like this roller coaster ride is in the dark because you cannot see when you will hit the highs or lows or how long the turns or highs and lows will be. Just like a real roller coaster ride you have absolutely no control of your….. roller coaster RIDE of your life!!!
  2. It is scary because you feel so out of control of your own emotions.
  3. Sometimes I am very impulsive and unpredictable even to myself. I don’t even know what I am going to do. Oops! I did something. I didn’t know I was going to do that. It sure was not in my plan or itinerary for that minute or day or my life. Oops there I go again! Oops I did it again!!!
  4. Rapid cycling feels like there is a magician in your brain playing different card tricks with your mind always surprising you at the end because you never know what is going to happen. Wow! How did that happen? How did my brain do that???
  5. You don’t know how you are going to feel, when you are going to feel that way and for how long.
  6. It feels like your moods are changing every minute and maybe they really are.
  7. You never know who you are going to be from one minute to the next and you never know how you are going to feel when you wake up in the morning.
  8. I could be in a dark dangerous suicidal depression at night and wake up in the morning and feel great.. like.. hmmmm….well I guess I am ok now. Shake myself off and feel amazed and happy that somehow I have survived again. My brain decided to come back to life and live again.
  9. For a while I think I am great. I can do anything and everything and more. But, I have to be realistic and know this feeling and mood I have will end sometime. I don’t know when, but I know it will. I never know how long my hypomania will last. I know it will never last forever… I know someday I will crash. This is the nature of my illness.
  10. Sometimes I feel invincible, euphoric and on top of the world. I can do anything.I am or was beautiful and can do great things in my life. Then….. BOOM!!! Out of the blue. Boom! Bang!!! I splattered all of the pavement into a deep dark depression. There was no warning. It just happened for no reason whatsoever. I would crash hard into my deep dark grave of a suicidal depression….. there is never an in-between for me. I have no so-called “normal” mood in between my extreme highs and my extreme lows.
  11. Will I like my job today or will I hate it. Will I like the people I work with or will I hate them? Will I like myself this minute or will I loathe myself and want to kill myself in an hour? Will I hate my life and feel like it sucks or will I believe that I can thrive and I have a plan, goals and a purpose for my life?
  12. I swing from mania branch and then swing back down to the broken depression branch several times within the same day. This is quite an amazing high and low tree to swing from all around and all over…… and I am quite a monkey or should I say large old gorilla or maybe an Orangutan. Ooh! Ooh! Eeeeh  Aahh…..
  13. I am high and happy for a couple of hours then severely depressed with suicidal ideations for another few hours. Then I go back into a hypomania then back again into depression and swing around some more on my mood pole of life.


I am so happy and now I am mad and now I am so happy and now I don’t care and now I am ecstatic. Wow! Slow down these moods!

Wow! I bet you are tired after rapidly reading all of that information about rapid cycling and ultra rapid cycling on your rapid cycle blog ride. Wheh!!!!



  1. thank you. I’ve been trying to build the courage to go back to my doctor since my emotions are going up, but mostly down again. I’m functioning, but its getting harder each month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sorry you are not feeling well. If you feel like you need to go back to the doctor than you most likely do. Please don’t put it off….. I know it is hard to go. I hate going to the doctor for any reason, but sometimes we just have to go. Sometimes I know it is time for me and I have to go. The pain becomes too much to handle. It is okay. Deep down you know it is. You would go for a virus or if your arthritis was worse…..It is just the nature of our illness. Our moods change sometimes and we do not have control over them sometimes. We just have to fight to live and to get better. Remember you are so strong!!! You are a mental illness survivor!!! Hugs! and blessings to you always!!! Just put that one foot in front of the other and soon you will be walking out your front door right into your doctor’s office and you will get the help you need. This illness needs medicine revamping or sometimes hospital stays and it is okay. Do whatever you need to do to be healthy, survive and thrive again. Thanks for reading my blog.


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