When lockdown began, I wrote a blog about my feelings and depression /suicidal thoughts. (You can read that here https://motherwellcheshirecio.com/2020/03/29/covid-19-and-mental-health/) Today I want to give you a view of the other side. The manic side of Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder. This is also sometimes referred to as being ‘high’ (like a euphoric high, not drug induced)
The term ‘manic’ when i first heard it made me think of the word ‘maniac’ which to me at the time suggested something dangerous, scary and uncontrolled, but mania works on a spectrum of sorts, ranging from mild symptoms to psychotic. At the worst end of the scale you have people with visions of grandeur, conspiracy theories and sometimes auditory and visual hallucinations.
I want to talk about the mild to moderate mania that I’ve experienced. This can sometimes be referred to as hypomania, as it isn’t quite as severe as someone who is in a manic stage. Just as a titbit of information, Bipolar Disorder used to be referred to as ‘Manic Depression’, as this was describing the 2 polar opposite feelings people exhibited.
Mania is like the feeling of having an awesome idea, all day long, and trying to expand on this good idea, before minutes later having another amazing idea. Your mind is constantly ticking at a pace faster than you’re used to. This can make you appear more productive because you want to get stuck in and you have more of a belief that you can do things that you didn’t think possible. You spend hours thinking over ideas, whether they be things you’re going to do, blogs you’re going to write, things you’d like to learn. You get lots of tasks done around the house like baking, sorting your paperwork out, finding things you remembered you had but aren’t sure what to do with it. It’s browsing on Amazon just for something to buy cos money is burning a hole in your pocket and you have a new fad idea for a hobby, or a new diet you want to try and you want the latest gadgets/equipment to tackle it. You stay up late, ideas constantly popping in and out of your head, with no thought to the next day and how you will get through it on very little sleep. A problem to be solved another day! Sounds good so far? Many people say that they’d love to have a bit of mania in their lives to make them more productive, get more ideas written down and feel happier in life. It may seem like a bed of roses, but believe me, with the good comes the bad.
Mania, is like an adrenaline rush, and as we all know, with every adrenaline rush comes the crash afterwards, and the realisation of things you DIDN’T think of when you were living it.
Mania is EXHAUSTING because you’re constantly on the go – but you can’t sleep. The thoughts are swimming around your head keeping you awake (as i write this now it’s 1:38am) giving you the rush so your mind and your body can’t close off, so when you come down off the high, your body crashes and you could sleep all day and night for a month just making up for the lost time. With mania you find it hard to sit still. That some part of your body needs to be moving. Whether it’s shaking you leg, tapping your fingers or constantly fidgeting in your seat.
You’ve not been as productive as you’d thought you were, because actually all those ideas came and went so quickly that you didn’t get chance to write them down and slow your thinking to make it a real, tangible idea (hence writing this at such a late hour so I don’t forget what I want to say).
You get activities done like the baking, but you’re a tornado, sweeping around the kitchen, baking and cooking, but leaving a trail of devastation behind you that is ultimately picked up by someone else because your concentration to that task has already been replaced with another. This can put massive strains on your relationships (especially during lockdown!)
You get your new hobby items though the post, spend half a day messing with them and decide you can’t do it, so they get stuffed into the back of a cupboard somewhere creating more clutter for you.
The diet you joined will last a couple of weeks before it becomes too hard work, or you realise that actually it was just a con, you were just too high to read more in-depth about it. The splashing the cash leaves financial worries as well, have you overspent on your budget? Will you be able to pay the bills and the rent this month?
Things that would normally bother you, don’t really register on your radar, but once you crash back into a depressive state, these things bother you 100x more than they would have, it is simply a delayed reaction.
Mania is overrated. If you’ve lived it, you wouldn’t want it, however good it may seem from the outside. Being able to recognise the symptoms in yourself is a really important part of trying to manage your disorder effectively. Once you recognise the signs you can seek help, and sometimes (not always) being aware that you are manic can make you stop and think before making some decisions, creating a better exit strategy when you do enter the crash zone.