My Light Box & Hypomanic Symptoms

Daily Prompt: Winsome via The Daily Post

IMG_0585Omg, wtf????? I don’t know how coherent this post will be because my thoughts are racing through my brain faster than a Formula One car at the Monaco Grand Prix. Of course it will be proofread and edited because I’m obsessive about that.

Speaking of which, out-of-the-ordinary obsessiveness began yesterday afternoon or evening. This is a little graphic, so sorry. Last night, or actually, early this morning, I found myself relentlessly picking a zit that may not even be a pimple, but a tiny imperfection. In my need (obsession?) to be perfect, I worked that sucker and couldn’t get it out. Now I have a red splotch on my cheek from the tiny blood vessels that broke, and look worse.

My sleep hygiene has been poor for the last few weeks, I admit.  Normally I take my trazodone at 10:00 PMish whether or not I’m sleepy, but it kicks in fast. I’ve been staying up late reading/finishing books I can’t put down, which I’ve been known to do. Then I go to bed.

Last night, I finished a book at about 1:00 AM, then started reading a new one — something I never do. Halfway into the first short story, I put it down for two reasons: it was so good that I wanted to savor it, and because I could no longer concentrate. But I was wide awake and there was no way I was going to bed because why shouldn’t I stay up if I want to? Fu@k trazodone. So I checked and re-checked all of my social media accounts.

At some point, I got ready for bed but went back into the living room and started crocheting, which I could focus on. I was obsessed with finishing a practice mitten before making the real thing. I finished it around 4:45 AM, but it’s hardly winsome; in fact, it’s downright ugly. It looks nothing like the cute mitten pictures on the pattern.

During this time, my husband was up working on his fiction writing (not unusual), but lay on the loveseat around 3:00. Before that, I told him how I was feeling — the racing/obsessive thoughts (like how to write this post and what today’s one-word prompt would be — I kept checking throughout the night/morning to see if they’d posted it — they hadn’t); the obsessive behavior; being completely and fully awake at 3 in the morning. We wondered what could have caused it, because my psychiatrist didn’t change my meds when I saw him Wednesday. Then, we hit on something: the light box.

We Googled (I know, never Google) “side effects of using a light box” and found this on the Mayo Clinic website (I took the screenshot at 5:00 AM). If you can’t read it, click here, and scroll down:


One of the risks is “Mania . . . associated with bipolar disorder”. I have bipolar II, so I don’t get manic, but in the past I’ve experienced hypomania. I haven’t been hypomanic in over 10 years, but I sure feel like it now.

Earlier this week, my psychiatrist suggested that I start using the light box because my mood has been dipping lately. According to the long-lost instructions to my particular “happy light,” you start off at 30 minutes and work your way to 2 hours. I didn’t have the patience, and besides, I see my doctor again in 4 weeks and we’re supposed to discuss if it helped. So I used it for an hour Thursday morning and an hour Friday morning. I began feeling symptoms by Friday night. Before this, I was feeling low off and on.

I felt like I could FLY. Even now, I feel ELECTRIC. We, actually my husband, e-mailed my psychiatrist about what I was feeling/exhibiting. I couldn’t write it myself because at that point I couldn’t concentrate enough on stringing words together.

Before I received his answer this morning, I used the light box. When I got his reply, he said to see how the next few days go with or without it. If the symptoms don’t go away (which, according to the Mayo Clinic, they can ease up the more you use it), then stop using the light box and make an appointment to see him.

I finally went to bed after taking the screenshot and got 2 hours of sleep. But I still feel like I’m flying.

Have you ever felt hypomanic/manic because of your light box? Did you keep using it? If so, how long before the symptoms went away?

Photographs provided author

3 thoughts on “My Light Box & Hypomanic Symptoms

    1. Thank you. I’m calmer now, but my head is still buzzing. I had no idea a light box could trigger this. I’ve been using it for years, but always followed instructions. Lesson learned 😂

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