MindTrip Crossfire: Mania

A section where I take one topic and hit it from two different perspectives. This is the place where we encourage you to join in on the conversation, share your experience, and let us know where YOU stand.

MINDTRIP CROSSFIRE: BIPOLAR EDITION
ON MANIA–Contributors: Dori Owen & Nicole Lyons

Mania: Go Way and Don’t Come Back

Before I understood that my bipolar episodes actually had a pattern over a length of time, my life seemed to be a chaotic string of unexplainable behaviors and events. For many years, well, most of my life actually, my bipolar was the boss of me and I was its willing accomplice in endless adventures and predicaments. I soared above the stars. Sleep? Not for me. I ran on overdrive. I was a super nova burning brightly, but as these stars do, I would quickly burn out. And therein lies the rub. In my newly found perspective, I began to recognize that these bursts of mania, although brilliance embodied for a creative person like me, quickly ended in long periods of dark isolation. By comparison, my depressive states began to last longer and longer. And I learned two things. One, I did not recognize when I was manic, and two, I did not have the skill or knowledge to ask for help to escape.

I’d love to erase most of my mania from my memory, because it always involved self-destructive behavior and I left a hurricane behind me of overspending, rages, neglecting my health, paranoia, and occasional bouts of hypersexuality. I often say there is a basic physics to bipolar. What goes up must come down. I was Icarus taunting the sun, and I flew down so hard that living became a tedious chore that only the truly depressed can understand. It’s funny, I’m able to embrace my depression because for some reason. I understand it more and it comes in super slow motion style that I seem to be able to control easier than mania. Depression seems like an old friend, I suppose, and I always know that eventually it will take leave. So when I hear people say, “Oh, I need a little mania to help me clean house today,” I cringe a little bit inside and say not for me. Mania–go away and don’t come back.

dori–Dori

Mania, I Miss You.

Since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and being fairly stabilized on medication, I have to admit, I miss my manic moments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about full on psychotic breaks or the irritability and agitation that comes with mania. I’m talking about the hypomanic stage–the sweet spot. The place where colours are brighter, sounds are crisper and even the energy around you sizzles. I miss being “on.” Walking into a room and owning it, knowing without a doubt in my mind that I could not only charm the pants out of anyone in there, but probably leave with a pair or two as well. I miss the times when I could go for a couple of days with very limited sleep and feel completely energized. I was efficient and productive. Like Dori so eloquently stated, brilliance abounds. I am at my most creative peak during this time. Ideas flow at warp speed. My mind is racing, rushing to keep up with the most spectacular ideas and plans. Oh what a thrill it is to see how much I can actually accomplish in 24 hours. Time management, ha! I’m your girl.

Organized chaos is how I would describe my hypomanic moments, and you know what, it worked for me. Until it didn’t anymore. Without fail, every single time I would either continue to go up into a frenzied state of paranoia and delusion, resulting in erratic behaviour that led to some of the poorest decisions I’ve ever made. Or, I would crash hard and fast and believe that depression was slowly going to drown me. Wishing myself into oblivion or out of existence was not where I wanted to spend my time. Neither of these scenarios are what I strive for, obviously. It’s the sweet spot I miss. If only I could have a little taste, but sadly, as Dori stated, “what goes up, must come down”…or keep on going up, up, up and away.. Give me a little hypomania any day of the week.

IMG_8600–Nicole

We encourage you to join the conversation and share your experiences. Please let us know in the comment section where YOU stand.

7 thoughts on “MindTrip Crossfire: Mania

  1. The closest I’ve ever come to mania has been that related, but generally considered normal and desirable (except by some philosophers and sour pusses) state, falling in love. The symptoms are virtually identical to Nocole’s description of hypo-manic, except for the focus on one person. In my work in mental health, I’ve encountered it and found myself and the system playing “catch me if you can” with clients, usually until the crash and burn or some grand adventure of poor judgment. I remember one client who taught me the full range. She was about 50 years old and bipolar. The first time I saw her in the ER she was depressed to the point of immobility, limp and barely responsive. Looking at her, I would have guessed her age as at least 70. The second time I saw her in the ER she was manic. At first, I didn’t recognize her. She looked no more than 30, and was dressed more like 14, and not a demure 14 at that. It was difficult to keep her in her room because she wanted to visit all the other patients, which did not endear her to the ER staff. It as the physical transformation that struck me most. These states are not just mental, but engage the whole being. Thank you both, Dori and Nicole. Re-blogging..

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    1. Bob, this comment reminds me of a time when I went to my Dr, and he tugged on the strap of my shirt and says, “Is someone manic?” Turns out I was completely inappropriately dressed. He informed me that if he saw me walking he could tell which way I was headed by my appearance.

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      1. Oh, yes. There was another woman at that clinic whose mood level we could measure by how complicated her hair do was, basicly by counting the number of non-hair objects included. At another job, one client’s (a usually very sweet older woman) previous case manager told me to watch out if she dyed her hair red. The patterns can be so hard to see from the inside and so obvious from the outside.

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  2. I have been diagnosed now for two years and I’m still not completely stabilized due to financial situations and med changes. But I have to agree that if I could stay in the “sweet spot” you refer to, I definitely would. The part where suddenly everything becomes clear, where everything makes sense, where I can do a puzzle in a record amount of time, where my house is so clean you could eat off the floor (I swiffer a lot during mania-at least several times a day)…I miss it. But I know following it is the part where I go down…into irritability, rage, anxious, stressed, isolative…the part where I can’t let my kids or anyone else touch me, or I can’t focus enough To read two lines in my favorite book, or the smallest thing is so catastrophic that I want to die…I don’t miss that. So I’ll take the boring part of me, the part that is stable and safe.

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  3. Nicole, the way my meds are calibrated, I still have mini hypomanias within my ‘well cycle.’ everyone is different. My med combo is tricky. I’m very flat without an antidepressant. That’s just me. They figured that out in 89 when I was first hospitalized, put on lithium, allergic reaction to it, then Tegretol. Now it’s Tegretol, Clozaril (I have tardive dyskinesia and it’s the only atypical I can tolerate) Clozaril, Teg, Lamictal all together and still, I feel like my best self except when racing thoughts PM keep me awake. I hate that.

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