I’m A Rapid Cycler, But I Don’t Own a Bike


I’m special. Not only that, I’m special amongst the special. To top that I’m actually special amongst those who are special amongst the special.

What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about percentages.

Statistics and percentages are a tricky thing when referring to the mentally ill. Considering the vast number of homeless who are mentally ill, and those who fear to speak openly about their mental illness because of the stigma involved, it’s hard to get good, firm data. After doing a lot of research I’m going to use the most prevalent numbers I’ve found out there.

I have bipolar disorder. The percent of the general population diagnosed with bipolar disorder is only 4%. This makes me special

The percent of of those with bipolar disorder who are rapid cyclers (which I am) is only 15%. That makes me special amongst the special. I’ll explain rapid cycling in a moment.

Finally, I am a man. Women are three times more likely to be rapid cyclers than men. That is why I’m special amongst the special who are special

What is Rapid Cycling? Rapid cycling, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, occurs when a person experiences four or more mood swings or episodes in a twelve-month period. However This definition is not well received amongst many psychiatrists. Personally, I think it’s a load of crap. I don’t know of anyone who has bipolar disorder who doesn’t have four or more episodes within a year. Not one. If we go by this definition then everyone is a rapid cycler.

Definitions state that rapid cyclers can have mood swings as much as each month, or each week or even within one day.  Most of my cycles were within days. A couple of episodes each week. However, it was not uncommon for my cycles to be all within one day. Depressed in the morning and manic in the afternoon. Or vice versa.

You never knew what kind of mood I was going to be in each day. That didn’t make things easy on Maurice, that’s for sure. Maurice, on the other hand, is excellent at determining my mental state. Looking at me , and especially in my eyes, he always knows what kind of space I’m in and what kind of space I’m transitioning to. Usually way before I do.

I was diagnosed as a rapid cycler long ago, but I learned a new word today. Ultradian. Ultradian mood cycling is characterized by cycles shorter than 24 hours. Before we found the right meds for me, this happened all the time as I said above. I just didn’t know there was a word for it.

So now I know I’m a rapid cycler who is ultradian. I guess that makes me special amongst the special who are special amongst special amongst the special who are amongst the special. Like most people I usually enjoy being special. I like my individuality, but for Gods sakes, even I have my limits. This is ridiculous.

12 comments on I’m A Rapid Cycler, But I Don’t Own a Bike

  1. Throw in being an INTJ and you’re even more unique. Look out – they’ll be dissecting you in a lab if you get any more exotic.

  2. You mean there’s a word for having multiple shifts in a day?!?! Holy crapamoli!

    I never thought I fit with just “rapid cycling” because I have multiple within even a day, sometimes within the hour!

    Fascinating. 🙂

  3. I’m a BP2 with rapid cycling. I know how special you are 😉 Did not know that it’s less common in men – you are unique!

    1. You must have missed it, Charlene, I mentioned it. Women are three times more likely to be rapid cyclers. I am unique much to the relief of many.

  4. Brad, you really do an outstanding job of matching information (percentages, medical terms) with your personal experience. I come out of each of your posts feeling like I’ve learned something and I understand you better.

    That is wonderful that Maurice is so in tune that he can look into your eyes and see it all.

    1. Thank you, Alana. Helping people understanding is why I started this blog. As for Maurice, I couldn’t imagine how I would have handled the worst times without him.

  5. Ah the comfort of a name. I was relieved when I learned the word manic because I had no way to describe what was going on with me. Then when I was diagnosed with Cyclothymia I was relieved that I could express what was wrong with me and that I was a little “special” (not the complete nut job my family told me I was). Great post & I wish you all the best with your progress and treatment. Sending extra special blogging blessings your way!

  6. Very good article. I have had the unfortunate experience of seeing a psychiatrist who, believe it or not, did not know about ultra-rapid cycling! When I tried to explain that I had been very manic he did not believe me because I was crying. He told me my symptoms were not in the textbook! I had already found the info online and I knew what I was experiencing. He told me that I had anxiety. Granted anxiety can resemble mania but the difference is that you feel “high” and the speeding thoughts in your head are not anxious thoughts. Ugggh..he tried to give me a tranquilizer, instead of a mood stabilizer. That was my one and only visit with this guy. He happens to also be the only psychiatrist in the only hospital that has a mental ward in my area. That is good enough reason to make sure that I don’t end up in the hospital again!

    1. OMG, Mary, what an awful doctor. Mine was the opposite. He told me he’s never seen a textbook example of someone who is diagnosed as having bipolar. He said his feeling is that if the meds are working then who cares what it’s called.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: