Oversharing

A common symptom of bipolar disorder during hypomanic or manic phases is oversharing. For me, this presents as a strong desire - a compulsion, really - to share my thoughts with others. For instance, I will share my current obsession or project with anyone who will listen, whether they asked about it or not, and generally I will not pay any attention to their response. I just need to blast out my thoughts to others. I’m incapable of keeping it inside.

A related symptom is pressured speech, where I feel compelled to keep talking, usually very quickly. Silence feels uncomfortable! I must fill up the silence with words, probably oversharing.

Sometimes I convince myself that I am trying to help others - like sharing my experiences in a blog like this - which may or may not actually be true. Sometimes it’s just a visceral urge to vomit a word-salad.

Some examples of my oversharing:

  • When I was in high school I shared practically every aspect of puberty with my parents. Remembering some of these conversations now makes me cringe
  • In talk therapy sessions I will get off track and tell my therapist all the details of my current projects. Although he is there to help me, does he really need to hear about the intricacies of how transducers work in piezo pickup circuits? Or all the methods to brew Belgian farmhouse ales? Or an overview of the history of 20th century avant garde music?
  • I will make idle chit-chat with random people like cashiers, wait staff, people standing in a line with me, anybody who happens to be in my vicinity
  • I will create a new blog to fill with posts about whatever my current project is
  • I will post to social media frequently, sharing every little thing I’m working on
  • This post you’re reading, right now!

I think normally this oversharing is received somewhere between vague interest and mild annoyance. After all, I’m only talking about myself and generally not being a good listener. In the moment I am completely oblivious to this. It’s only later when I think about these conversations that I realize what was happening and cringe. Sometimes I overshare way too much and regret it later; that bell can’t be un-rung.

After my diagnosis, research, and therapy sessions, I am more aware of this oversharing when it is happening. I can’t always act on this insight to slow it down or stop it entirely, but it can sometimes be hint that my mood is getting elevated. It’s a warning sign that I need to slow down.


Last modified on 2021-11-21

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