#FOWC: Euphoric

I haven’t felt really happy for longer than a few minutes at a time in a long while. I mean, yes, sometimes I laugh out loud and feel pretty good for a few moments. Overall though, I feel irritable.

I have never experienced an euphoric mood as far as I know. Then again, in mental health, euphoria isn’t seen as something positive. It is one of the manifestations of the (hypo)manic phase of bipolar disorder. The other, dysphoria, is not as commonly recognized as a bipolar or mood disorder phase.

I’m not bipolar. I never experienced mania or even hypomania. I do however experience dysphoric symptoms. In fact, I’m almost always irritable.

Back in the day when the DSM-5 was being drafted, the term for what is now called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, was temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria. Neither term feels right to me, as someone who may’ve been diagnosed with DMDD as a child had it existed in the mid-1990s. I feel mood dysregulation disorder with dysphoria would be a better name. I mean, yes, of course these kids are disruptive, but the focus should be on their unstable mood. DMDD is characterized by the occurrence of frequent mood outbursts combined with a generally irritable mood even when the child isn’t experiencing dysregulation.

Thankfully, irritability was added to depression’s mood criterion in DSM-5 too. Before then, it was only a criterion in children and adolescents. I, however, have always experienced dysphoric depression. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m diagnosable with persistent depressive disorder.

This is one reason I might want to experience a bit of an euphoric mood at times. Maybe I do get it, but usually it happens at an inconvenient time. I mean, I occasionally experience an extreme flow of ideas combined with an urge to act on them. Usually this happens during a night I cannot sleep though, so I cannot act out my impulses immediately. Then often the next day I’m back to my usual, irritable and slightly depressed self. Even though I know that it’s not an entirely positive thing, I wish I experienced euphoria for a longer while at times.

Remembering the Onset of My Temper Outbursts

I have been a member of groups on the topic of disruptive mood dysregulaiton disorder (DMDD) for the past year or so. DMDD was introduced to the psychiatrist’s manual with DSM-5 in 2013. It is a condition in which a child or teen is irritable or angry most of the time and has severe temper outbursts on average at least three times a week for a period of at least twelve months. The diagnosis cannot be made in a child under six or a person over eighteen. This being the case, I’m not in these groups because I currently think I may have DMDD, but because I think I may’ve had it as a child.

According to my parents, I was just a little immature emotionally until the age of around seven. I switched schools, transferring from mainstream Kindergarten to a school for the visually impared, when I was nearly six in 1992. In 1993, I started to learn Braille. This is around the time my temper outbursts started. According to my parents, I wasn’t even regularly irritable up to that point. They describe me as a relaxed, cheerful child.

My own memories are hazy. Of course, I remember temper tantrums from before age seven, but what child doesn’t have those at times? Between the ages of seven and nine, my mood got worse and worse. I remember being suicidal at arund the age of eight.

So was this DMDD? We will never know, as the diagnosis didn’t exist back in 1993. Was it, like my parents believe, a way of expressng my frustration with the fact that I was going blind? Was I being manipulative, also like my parents think? Trying to elicit care from my parents and professionals by acting out? Or was it a form of autistic burn-out? Had neurotypical developmental expectations overwhelmed my autistic brain?

Like I may’ve said, my parents don’t believe I’m autistic. They believe I have some traits, but not enough to impair my functioning or warrant a diagnosis. They say I’m just blind and of genius intelligence. And oh, the rest is just me trying to manipulate people for attention. They don’t seem to realize, then, that I, too, suffered from my irritability and anger outbursts.