Borderline Personality Mood Swings – Rapid Cycling

In some research, doctors talk about BPD and the propsensity to have rapdily cycling moods. Put simply: one moment you’re up, the next you’re down. Mood changes can be evident every minute, hour, a few hours, or daily. Sometimes external events, such as an argument, or alternatively, a very happy event, will make the BPD swing one way or the other. Personally, I have a tough time with these mood swings, especially since I am a bit isolated.

For example here is a breakdown of my daily mood swings ( somewhat accurate ):

12:00 PM Wake up – initially sluggish, sleepy, not really interested in the day. Slow to get out of bed and begin the day. I know I should exercise, but I don’t and go right to testing my blood sugar and taking my mental meds.

1:00 PM I’ve finished eating breakfast and showered for the day. My mood is up al little: I think the meds have kicked in and I’m ready to sit down at my computer for a few hours and work. The highlight of my afternoon is always checking my earnings, which lately, haven’t been so great – but I hold out hope for better days.

Along the way I consume 1.2 liters of Diet Coke ( 2 600ml plastic bottles ). This is part of my daily routine and the caffeine gives me an extra boost.

5:00 PM Now I feel down and sluggish again. The caffeine has worn off and my bladder aches because I need to expel all that fake sugar and chemicals from my body. My mind wanders off to negative thoughts: people who have robbed me, past failures, bad relationships, anger, etc.

At this point my eyes become heavy and I get very sleepy and immediately lose all motivation to do any more computer work.

6:00 PM I return to bed for up to a 2 hour nap. When I wake up on the other side, I feel tired, bored, and anxious to eat dinner – just because it will give me something to do.

8:30 PM I begin cooking dinner, and as usual get hung up on being a perfectionist. I try to tune my very modest electric stove to cook the perfect grilled cheese, or if it’s pasta night, to make the pasta soft, but not over cooked. My mood is generally neutral at this time – for the moment cooking distracts me, but I am consumed by trying to be overly efficient and perfectionist.

9:00 PM I put dinner on the table and watch CNN. I almost always watch Anderson Cooper 360, an amazing news show with very intelligent political commentators. Their election coverage on November 4th was unmatched by any other network, and was stunning with the speed at which they predicted the outcome and covered the various speeches. If the news is troubling, I usually feel down. If it is something that doesn’t bother me, I feel indifferent.

10:00 PM – 1:00 AMI watch regular TV after the news. If one of my favorite shows is on, I’m happy and look forward to being entertained for an hour ( especially if the shows are new episodes). I know it may sound pathetic, but since I live alone and don’t go out much, TV is actually a highlight of my day.

If, however, there are no good shows or movies on, I get agitated and feel extremely bored. This feeling gives way to frequent trips back and forth to my computer, where I try to assuage my boredom by randomly browsing the net, with intermittent trips back to the TV to see what might be on later.

If I’m watching late night talk shows, I usually only watch the monologs. The guests usually bore me – I like to hear actual comedy, not some actor promoting his/her new film.

After boredom sets in, the hopelessness and self interogation begins. What am I doing with my life? Why do I feel like Shit all the time? How crappy it is to be stuck in this apartment all day watching? How do I shake this boredom? How can I feel good about myself?

1:30 AM I start my bed time routine, a ritual of oral hygiene and bed time meds. At this point, I actually feel relieved that I’m going to bed, because this gives my mind something to do and I get some peace and quiet.

….and all again the next day.

I really wish my moods wouldn’t swing so much. It can make me happy and fun to be around one moment, but an hour later, I hate the people around me, get annoyed by loud music (if I’m out), and want to go home. I don’t get “second winds” at parties unless I’m unusually drunk.

Before I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, my mom thought that maybe I was Bi-Polar, and this was probably a good guess at the time. Unfortunately, with my BPD, I feel depressed more than elated – or euphoric as in Bi-Polar mood swings – and I cycle back and forth on an emotional yo-yo of sorts.

How can I feel just “normal” for the day? How is possible to feel positive?

I need to figure out how to regulate my moods, and, especially if I’m in a social situation, find coping mechanisms to get through the event and depart without giving people the impression that I felt uncomfortable, turned off, or irritated in their presence.

When I see my Doctor over the holidays, this will most certainly be one of things we talk about.

26 Replies to “Borderline Personality Mood Swings – Rapid Cycling”

  1. Don’t see anything wrong with your day, ‘cept maybe that your bored because you didn’t do much all day. Other than that, people do have feelings about things. Your day does not sound extreme to me.

  2. Hey there. I recently fully accepted a BPD diagnoses after being misdiagnosed for several years as various other less-fitting things. I’m pleased to have come across your blog and have put a link to it on my own, which I’ve just started to help sort through the emotions and facts and realities about my new dx. I can relate completely with everything I’ve read here so far. Right down to liking the monologues better than the interviews on late night talk shows.

  3. I believe the main culprit in your entire routine is the massive amounts of anti-depression meds and caffeine.

    Frankly, this is exactly how some of my days go as well. I don’t know if I have BPD or not, but I know one thing- even if I do- it won’t get me.

    A great way to do some personal psychotherapy is to write a diary about how you feel- but being imaginative about it. Like, when I say that I failed at something, I usually say it as if I am proud of the failure and the fact that I tried another thing after that. Don’t treat boredom as a test of self esteem, instead, treat it as the real truth- boredom is instinctive and respect it.

    Unless you respect your own feelings, you cannot treat yourself. Respect your boredom, respect your tiredness. Accept yourself for who you are. And then try to fix it.

    I love your blog because now I know that there are others who feel the same way as I do. Thanks!

  4. Hi Tanushree,

    Thank you for your very insightful and helpful comment. A diary is a great way to express one’s feelings. Putting pen to paper is also a meaningful exercise that helps pull one out of boredom and into a more creative state.

  5. hay there i have just read your blog i understand how you feel as i also rapid cycle from one mood to the next i do not know what is wrong with me. hope 2 find out soon

  6. I’ve had mood swings for years…I’ve had psychotherapy, counseling & meds for a diagnosis
    of dysthymia. Nothing has worked on a long term basis.
    Recently, I lost the job that I had worked in for 15 Years…It was kind of a relief, though… It had become quite stressful and I really didn’t enjoy doing it any more. My organizational skills had gone South and I deeply resented the way I was being driven & manipulated by my Company & their clients.
    I’ve been married twice… For reasons I don’t completely understand, things changed in an almost identical way even though each of them had different personalities.
    I’ve considered the possibility that I’m BiPolar.
    After all, my oldest sister has been treated for that condition for years. She went through the hell that the side effects of Lithium creates. She’s on another medication now…The difference was night & day. However, after 6 months, it looks like the old symptoms she had with the Lithium are returning.
    I have short-term memory issues and easily lose focus on things I’m doing. It takes a lot of effort to do things to completion – it’s very discouraging. I can go from feeling normal to being angry enough to scream at the top of my lungs or being depressed enough to cry and wishing the feelings would go away & leave me alone. Since I moved back to North Carolina, the frequency at which the mood swings occur has dramatically changed. It’s gotten to point where I’ve had them change within a 2 hour time span. I want to have a normal life and be happy like other people do!

  7. Hi Charles,

    Thanks for your comment. I too have issues with short term memory and concentration. It is very apparent when I’m doing tedious, repetitive tasks like programming.

    I would recommend visiting another doctor and doing a set of full blown psychiatric tests. The worst that can happen is that you find out you don’t have anything wrong, and you’ve spent some extra money.

    The best that can happen is that you gain some insight into yourself, and hopefully get treatment for your condition. When talking with the doctor, cite the fact that your sister is Bi-Polar. There is strong evidence that mental illness has some genetic components.

    At minimum, you probably have some form of depression, which is fully treatable and improves in time.

  8. I appreciate this blog. I’m a teen and I’ve had very intense and abruupt mood changes. For months its been blamed as being a part of a normal teenager stage. I already deal with major depression. But my counselor and I are beginning to believe that this is something different based on a few situations. Im scared and I keep crying for help but it seems no ones answering. I thought I was bipolar but my mood switches polarity two to three times a day. Im so lost!

  9. I wish my day were this consistent. It sounds more like boredom/depression than rapid cycling moods.

    During the course of today, I started crying out of fear after my partner left the house to drive his sister to the airport, calmly worked on some personal projects with attacks of random tic-inducing anxiety in between, had a therapy session (phone; agoraphobia got too acute this past year : /), started working on a cleaning project and went to take a bathroom break… couldn’t remember what “the point” felt like upon returning and couldn’t find the strength to continue. o_o It goes on like that for a few days and then usually evens out. Are you sure you’re not dealing with depression instead? 😮

  10. Hi Dana,

    I think you’re right: it’s definitely depression, plus my personality disorder.

    It’s weird though, sometimes I feel up and optimistic, and other times really down and hopeless. I’m not sure how to explain these drastic mood changes.

  11. I just read your blog post, and I definitely see similarities between your day and mine.

    I also saw the comments in which people said it seems “normal” or blamed caffeine – and it made me really angry.

    Who are these ridiculous people who claim to be able to fix all the misery in another humans life with misguided pseudo-science and the idea that the diet is all that matters?

    As for your lack of euphoric moods, they are the one bright light in my life.
    Mostly as a result of being bipolar, I am currently homeless, my ex-partner won’t speak to me, I haven’t slept properly in months and I’m currently considering suicide.

    I’m very possibly too stubborn to commit to it, or just too scared of it hurting.

    Anyway, you have my sympathies.

  12. I’m not yet diagnosed with anything, as yet. However my day, today for example is a little something like this.
    1. wake up and think to myself “oh i’m still here”
    2. eat, if i can, usually have to force myself
    3. start snappping and being angry with my family
    4. tell myself to calm down, doesn’t really work.
    5. my head hurts a lot, anxiety increasing.
    6. head out for shopping.
    7. constantly thinking that people hate me and want to attack me.
    8. feel like i’m having a panic attack for the entire day.
    9. head home, to seek some solitude from everybody.
    10. pick todays hobby to distract myself, if i can focus, concentrate or be bothered.
    11. Some days, particularly at work i have intense almost unbearable urges to cut.
    12. Tomorrow i could feel completely happy, or depressed, want to cry or feel irritable and angry.

    As an aside, i now keep a mood diary, on my phone, mostly because i can’t remember how i felt on a particular day or hour. But also to help me understand if there is some sort of cycle involved or not.

    Thanks for the blog, keep up the posts.

  13. I’ve been wondering what is wrong with me as well the last few years. I’ve got bipolar and schizophrenia in the family, depression and other mood disorders. I once managed to escape the “boredom” I am plagued by for several years, around the age of 20-24 or so, I thought I had somehow found a way to never be bored again. Then my mom died when I was 25, and I started abusing opiates daily for over a year. I got myself to kick the opiates, but I’ve felt burned out and worse than ever in some ways, while over the years since kicking them, I seem a little better everyday. Overall, I’d be okay if it wasn’t for my messed up mood swings between apathy, elation, depression, and regret.

    1. I wake up, dreading the fear I may have nothing to do or care about. I force myself to wake up anyways. Usually I force myself to cook something.

    2. I start to wake up. I am energized and filled with a sense of possibility, I start watching tv or reading the net and begin to get interested in things, but I know what’s about to happen 2 hours after I wake up or so.

    3. 2-3 hours later from waking up and feeling energized, the apathy is upon me. I feel like my head is stuffed with cotton, I can’t feel anything barely. I just feel “blah” about everything. Nothing works. Drugs and alchohol make me feel worse at this time of day. I usually have to “wait this out” for about 8-12 hours, I dwell on negativity and feel like nothing is ever going to change, though I know and tell myself it’s all dependent upon my mood and to just wait.

    4. 10-12 hours later, I am suddenly energized. I have a passion for life. Almost a mania comes over me, I am obsessed with things compared to the apathy of the day.

    I usually end up prolonging this passion as long as I can, and I end up staying awake for 24 hours, sometimes 30 hours, before crashing eventually and having to start the cycle all over again when I wake up.

    Some days are worse than others.
    I still feel like I never have felt as good as I felt from the ages of 20-24 or so, and I romanticize those days as something I can never return to but would pay anything to be able to.

  14. Ive been so discouraged for the past 15 years trying to find a doc. that can help diagnois me and im still searching. (thats DEPRESSING) Ive been told by different doc.’s that I have Clinical Depression, Anxiety Disorder,Panic disorder,Soft Bipolar and now generalized mood disorder. (which is it?)
    Ive finally decided to do my own research and see if I can come up with anyother disorder and thats when I came across info. on BPD. I feel like im reading my own journal. Maybe now I can get treated for the right disorder and actually feel normal (whatever normal feels like)
    Its really hard for me to express my moods because they change so fast, its hard to remember I cant stay focused, organized or complete tasks.
    My moods shift from feeling blah, depressed,paranoid,agitated,irritable,hopeless,bordem,resentful, anxious etc.
    I cant believe ive stumbled across your site and read everyones symptoms and not one doc. ever picked up on all my symptoms and diagnoised me correctly. I want to thank everyone that has posted and shared there stories. I completely understand and relate to you all. I hope one day they come out with a blood test that can help treat us all correctly.

  15. Hi, everyone…anyone… This is very uncomfortable and unusual for me…I hate sharing my feelings and talking to people…and especially random people about some deep shit that I’m confused and uncomfortable with just by myself…But..uhm…I’m twenty-one…The first time I truly wanted to commit suicide was when I was sixteen…I didn’t do it because my mother was in the next room…and I love her…I couldn’t hurt her…as I thought/think suicide might do… But ever since that night, I’ve contemplated suicide…It’s not all the time…Just when I’m very down. I…couldn’t tell you when these times happen…They just do…and I’ve never paid attention to the space between them…Some are worse than others…Some are almost unbearable. But whenever I pull out of that rut, I forget who that girl was that was thinking about suicide. I usually forget I was altogether. So, this makes all of this very hard to explain. Because…I can’t ever remember. I can only truly explain how I feel at the time. Lol, people joke with me and I with them that I have different “me’s”. Recently though…someone told me they think I have ADD. And then let me try their ADD medicine for a day… Yesterday. It seemed to help, I think. I was able to focus…and have energy…and I didn’t have any changes in my mood…I didn’t think about suicide…I wasn’t extremely happy like I sometimes can be…and I wasn’t irate like I sometimes can be. I was just…pleasant…and motivated. Two things that are so hard to come by. When I went to class…I actually learned. See, normally, when I’m in class…I try my hardest to listen to the teacher…but my thoughts always wander off…and eventually I give up and just draw in my notebook or write to myself. Last night, though, I didn’t even have that urge. I listened the entire time. And then at the end of the night…I think the pill wore off…and I started to finally feel tired. I mean, my day was from five am to ten pm…but I do that every day anyway. I don’t know if I should feel tired or just be use to it… Either way..I was tired…and I finally started to feel extremely unhappy that I was around people…. Which is how I usually am… I get uncomfortable around too many people… In fact…I don’t even like to go outside because I know there are people out there. They make me unhappy. Anyway. Experiencing the ability to focus and stuff…made me wonder if I was bi-polar. I mean…all my life I’ve wondered if something was wrong with me. I knew there had to be…cause I’ve always been so different than everyone else. No one ever understands me…I’m always thinking something completely different. But now…I have to know…am I bi-polar, or what? So today…I tried to remember to evaluate how I was doing. What was I thinking and feeling and how many times. In the morning, after getting five hours of sleep, I felt pretty energized. Even though I had a terrible dream. I shrugged it off. I’m use to nightmares. Then I became apathetic while at work. Next was normal to slightly happy/playful…Then I became super pissed off. And then apathetic again…And then normal on my way home…and then depressed while trying to get ready for school…. And now…right now…I don’t even know. My head hurts. I need to know what to do. I’m so tired of doing this. I have someone I want to be stable for…What the hell is wrong with me? Does any of this sound like a bi-polar person? Or…what?? I told a friend all the ways I felt today…and she said it didn’t sound like being bi-polar or manic depressive. I just don’t know. I’m tired of feeling like a different person all the time. I’m tired of not remembering anything. I just…wish I wanted to live my life. What do I do?

  16. i have BPD its very hard for me to have a stable day with anyone my mood swing r really all over the place and my family and friends have a hard time deal with me one min im happy the next im so mad that i cant clam down as quis tas i got mad

  17. This sounds rather normal. I would think being isolated, popping psych meds and drinking that much soda could be contributing to, if not actually causing, any problems you’re having.

  18. Dumbfuk u pissed me off blaming u have sum illness fuku. U drink ova 1 litre of coke a day what the fuk u expept kunt huh?? I dont do any soft drinks or drugs or alchol so there ya fukin go. My moods are totally tapped. Ur jus talk shit. Get off the coke for few wks to amth then u see how ur fake brain goes. Huh. Try my life been drug free and coke free. Wanker

  19. Hi All, I also don’t really know what’s wrong with me, but any advice would be welcomed. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 18 after a suicide attempt, since then there have been many others. I think in my 20’s I definately had times when I felt euphoric and seemed to have endless energy, always on the go, I was very happy then, but every now and then I would totally crash, it would come out of the blue for no reason at all, and I’d attempt suicide again. My consultant has said its recurrant depression, but I don’t think it is. Sometimes I plummet as something might upset me or more often I have no reason why. Its got much worse over the years, I’ve been in psychiatric hospitals 3 times all from suicide attempts, I actually don’t remember doing the things I’ve done and wake up in hospital not knowing why I’m there. I can be very irate with my family, have lost friends because I cancel plans at the last minute as I need to be on my own, I’ve gone from being a real ‘people person’ to not liking being around people at all, it makes me feel stressed. I wish I knew what was wrong with me. My consultant thinks I don’t have bi-polar as I don’t get the “highs” anymore, I’m usually happy and content (i’m on anti-depressants that help) but the sudden almost compulsive suicidal urges are happening more frequently, with no warning, and I have no memory of the attempts. I feel terrible that I’m putting my family through hell all the time, I think they have almost prepared themselves for the possibility of me not being around for much longer. I really need to get some help and a diagnosis for whatever is wrong with me. My father has bi-polar disorder and my mother says sometimes I’m just like him (not in a good way – paranoid, irritable, hostile) I think I feel like that just cos I’m so tired of trying to deal with all of the above. I’ve had 3 serious suicide attempts in the last year, overdose, slashed wrists and recently jumping out of a window with a rope around my neck – I don’t remember any of it and was not depressed at all beforehand. I’m now recovering from a broken spine due to the last episode but i’m frightened about what might be next as I can’t control it. Sorry for the essay but I’m just hoping that someone might have experienced something similar or know what it might be as I don’t know anyone that has these symptoms, I just think I must be abit insane and getting worse 🙁

  20. To ‘The Real Deal’ … I think you have more issues than you’d like to admit! That was a pretty harsh blow-out for someone who’s “moods are totally tapped”! You are trying to make yourself out to be something God-like just because you don’t drink soda or do drugs- yet you talk with such hatred and profanity. If you don’t have issues, then why are you looking up info on mood disorders? I would also suggest a better education. Not only was your statement very uneducated and just down right RUDE, you have a TON of spelling and grammatical errors! And “wanker”… really?! Are you even an adult? My seven year old could have written a better response! Speaking of 7-year-old… my son is 7 and is completely clean and sober, is not allowed to drink soda or eat junk food, yet he too has extreme highs and lows throughout the day, going from singing and dancing to throwing himself on the floor in a fit of rage, within a split second and for no real reason. So explain that Mr. Real Deal… Keep your mouth shut if you don’t know what you’re talking about!

    To the author: I sympathize with you, and the rest of the people having the same issues. My husband and I both have mood disorders. Usually we compliment each other, when he is down I am optimistic, when I am down, he is there to comfort me. However, we have had our days when our foul moods butt heads, especially in the morning hours, and the friction is enough to make us both want to dig a hole somewhere. Mood disorders are so hard to diagnose and treat. They are a HUGE burden to peoples daily lives and normalcy is only something we dream of. Life is far from easy for any of us, but the good thing is, there are plenty of people out there just like us! We are never alone!

  21. I hate to say this, and I’m not trying to say ,”my illness is worse than yours!” because suffering is relative- but that sounds like a pretty normal, if not decent day. Just today, In one hour I’ve gone from suicidal, to catatonic/ flat affect, to making jokes and laughing. Count your blessings that boredom and agitation are your idea of rapid mood cycling.

    1. You make a good point: some people have it much worse than others, even if it “feels really bad” in the moment. I think most doctors would agree with your viewpoint that some people have volatile mood swings that are objectively worse than those others experience.

      The inconsistent feelings I experience of the course of a day are really troubling: you wake up happy, go to lunch depressed, eat dinner angry, stay up all night watching TV buzzed.

      It’s hard to have a “normal” life when your perception of yourself is all over the place.

      Good luck with your treatments! Balancing moods is incredibly challenging, especially given your own personal experiences.

  22. Hi, umm. My psychiatrist started talking to me about BPD, so I think she’ll be looking more into it since I just turned 18 and need my diagnosis update. Currently, I’m under Mood Disorder NOS and psychosis NOS. My mood goes from hyper and what feels like “mania” to me — I stutter alot and my mind bounces from one subject to another, I signed up for 3 kittens and almost a Wolf-dog all at one time, so a little bit of impulsiveness.. I’m usually good at keeping a lid on my impulsiveness and I become very irritable, to feeling numb, wanting to hurt myself, thinking a lot about death, but not killing myself for my mom and brother, to feeling explosively angry, full of rage and feeling bitter towards everything. All of this happens in a matter of an hour, give or take a few minutes, several times a day. They are ridiculously controversial and it really screws with my mind. However, I don’t meet enough criteria for bipolar because my mood swings are hourly instead of monthly or bimonthly. It’s just so confusing. I recommend, if you’re up to the same stuff, to (and I’m guilty of this as well) drastically cut down on your caffeine intake–you’re probably addicted to it by now and it’ll suck, but it helps with getting so tired by the beginning of the evening. At least for me. I hope you’re having better luck with your mood!

  23. Hi,
    I have had for years severe mood swings. At times, it’s several times per day. Music, noise, my poor children, something spilled; anything can set me off. I am super sweetone minute like a perfect mom and wife and the next I’m an overbearing monster who can’t control emotions. I don’t trust my husband (even though he gives me no reason not to). I HATE when he plays his games and get really angry. I am clingy and needy!
    Ok, I just lost my sister 11 months ago and nmydad 3 months ago. My mom is 100% handicapped and I am her caregiver. I was in several abusive relationships (one in which I almost lost my life several times). My mood swings started real young (teens) and only worsened with age. My husband is on the verge of leaving, again. However, my oldest son has the same exact behaviors as I. I get all nervous and stupid when my husband gets texts, goes outside to say hi on the phobe to his folks. The reason being is only a few times he hung up when I came out for a cigarette, coincidentally at the time or near after I went out. I blow up at everything and hate it! I want to be happy! I want to be normal! I earned an associate degree with a 3.97 gpa, a bachelor degree with a 4.0, and a master degree with a 3.90 and all I said was “yay.” A lot of times, I feel as though if my ex had killed me, everyone would have been better off. I do not want to commit suicide and do not have suicidal tendencies. However, I do often think if ex would have succeeded…
    It’s not healthy to live like this! I have no insurance but I want help!

    1. Hi NoName,

      Thanks for your comment and sorry to hear about how BPD has complicated your life. It really ruins everything good that could come of what we do each day, and complicates relationships to the point of near ruin.

      Please seek a free DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) or community mental health group while you don’t have health insurance. If you live in the USA, realize that more people will be able to get insurance very soon once the Affordable Care Act goes into full affect. You can’t necessarily be denied for pre-existing conditions, although you might have to pay a higher premium.

      BPD often comes with addiction problems. In my case, it was gambling and occasional alcohol abuse. Joining a 12 step program like Gamblers Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous can be helpful for social support, even if it doesn’t address your central problems. For the time being, a band-aid is better than nothing.

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