Bipolar and the allure of mania
When the good times don’t last
Having had three severely hypomanic episodes and one full blown manic episode (discounting mixed episodes), most people I imagine, would be hard pressed to see its appeal. After all, the last bout landed me in A&E, hearing and seeing things, head-butting the walls, and feeling trapped.
So why then do I still miss it at times.
To break it down…
Bipolar used to be called manic depression. For the euphoria of the mania, you have to bear the darkness of the depression. Depression is a slowing of the mind, heart and soul. You see in grey and you move through treacle. Your voice and responses become slow and lose inflection until your voice and affectis utterly flat. The tiredness infects your bones yet somehow you either cannot sleep, or you sleep excessively but find it’s still never enough to stave off that bone crumbling weariness.
You either have no appetite or the lack of feelings and emotions moves you to seek comfort in sugar and carbs. Everything hurts; the light, the noise, your body, even your hair and bones, despite the fact you are hardly moving. Tears either come in floods or sit in your chest unable to find release despite the aching pain. Everything seems too much work; talking to a friend, walking the dog, washing the dishes. The dark thoughts take hold and you take risks and gambles due to the negative intrusive thoughts. Your risk of harm or suicide becomes very real the further down the path you go.
Then,sometimes, along comes mania. In a perverse way it can feel like the reward for the depressive times. With boundless energy, you can clean, and plan, and juggle multiple tasks at once. Your mind comes alive. You move quicker, you think quicker, you speak quicker. Your speech attempts to keep pace with your ever increasing train of thought.
I have stood outside with arms outstretched, just marvelling at a summer breeze and the feel of my t-shirt moving. Nothing feels better than a manic mood. You laugh expansively, sing, and make jokes. Sleep is no longer required and is often a distraction. You have the body of a superman, pain free and able to go forever.
So how is this a bad thing?
It seems all too easy at first to ignore the danger signs. The paranoia and delusions; I’ve accused friends of wanting me to feel tired and in pain and depressed when I am having fun, I’ve been convinced I could run a whole Accident and Emergency department despite hearing radio static in the air and being convinced there were bug in my hair. The grandiose thoughts convince you that you can do anything. The irritability convinces you that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is opposed to you. In my case I swear extensively and I text so fast and frequently I’m three texts on before a friend can answer the first one, and speaking to me one to one is often not much better due to streams of machine gun chatter.
As time goes on it begins to snowball. I get faster and more erratic until it is beyond my own control. I may hear noises or voices or see things that aren’t there. I suffer from hallucinations both auditory and tactile. My lack of inhibition can lead to risky behaviours. I can spend and act completely out of character, both physically and verbally. I’ve gone to a store before and come out with an electric guitar and amp. I didn’t know how to play the guitar…I still don’t. And now the guitar is in the loft.
Once this snowball effect happens, you’re at a tipping point where you need either hospitalisation or intensive mental health support. Once the mood is treated it can easily cause a massive crash into depression before it finally levels out; the mood people dread as the treacle oozes back around your body. Your mind turns black and once again you’re in pain, exhausted and trying to navigate through a world filled with painful light and sound. Therein lies the allure of mania.
Remember, like most addictive things, mania comes with destruction. Try not to be sucked into its inviting allure. If, out of the blue, you’re mesmerised by the wind on your skin and filling notepads with random to-do lists, disjointed thoughts and ways you can change the world, it’s probably time to seek some advice. Don’t allow the addiction to take over.
First shared on Bipolar UK at https://www.bipolaruk.org/blog/the-allure-of-mania