Not a lot is written about mania and what is tends to be about elation, grandiosity, spending too much money and having far too much ill-advised sex. Mania is difficult to write about and for me, is hell to live through. People find the manic me someone they’d rather never see again and she is impossible to feel empathy for. If depression and mania were twins then mania would be the evil twin.
I have always been predominately depressed. Depression came first and, on the whole my depressed episodes have been longer and more severe than my mania.
Around about the time I was diagnosed as being manic depressive (a much more descriptive term than the bland and often misused bipolar disorder!) I had been manic for about a year and I carried on being manic for another two years. I had boundless energy and worked long hours in a very demanding job. I had no time to eat and when I did cook nothing would cook fast enough. I’d look at the clock to see how much cooking time was left and time appeared to be standing still. I’d fill up on chocolate and takeaways though even the fast food didn’t appear fast enough for me at times.
Eventually something has to give and, quite naturally in this case, it was my mind. I woke up one morning and felt as though my head was plugged into the mains. Electricity was running through my brain at a rate of knots and I could do nothing about it. I had an emergency appointment with a consultant psychiatrist within a couple of days and began to take large amounts of anti psychotic medication that should have stopped me in my tracks but I was so wired up all they did was slow me down. It took months to get to a point where I could start reducing the dosage.
I had big patches where I could remember nothing at all and there is still eight days of my life that I can’t remember at all. I have the physical evidence of that time but I have no memory of it. It is terrifying. And people think mania is about elation, fun and lots of sex.
Mania distorts my good points (I can get a bit too honest and forthright), enhances my bad points (I swear far too much, I get shouty to the point that it makes me a danger to myself and heaven help you if I think you’re one of the fools that I don’t suffer gladly) and reinforces all my insecurities and fears (I am going to die in my sleep, I am going to lose the few people that I love, I am going to lose my home, my animals will die, I will set my home on fire, I will kill myself.)
I have zero tolerance of people who overstep boundaries. The internet is a bad enough place for that anyway but when I’m manic I react and overact constantly.
I tweet about how I am and what is happening in my day a lot. I never ask for advice and I don’t want any – I leave that for my glorious inner circle because they know me. People do like to give me advice and they like to do it a lot. I think they genuinely believe that they’re being supportive and that because I can become fractured and delicate of mind then I’m somehow incapable of soliciting help. I feel as though I’m being treated like a brainless child and I get very angry about it.
Mania is part of a mental illness I have, it is not an absence of intelligence. I am as clever as I always am but, because my mind is over full and speeded up it takes me longer to do things. I start one thing and then in a second my minds jumps and I start another chore and so it goes on. They all get done eventually and they all get done as well as I would do them anyway.
The key to helping anybody with a mental health problem is to think – have they asked for help? Do they actually need help? Can I help anyway or am I just providing unsolicited advice? Am I pressuring a person with an already overloaded mind in my eagerness to suggest things?
I love Twitter and I love Facebook. They’re obviously different beasts but I love them both. What I don’t love though is the boundaries that people who are strangers or are almost strangers feel that they can cross. They feel obliged almost to interfere and almost demand that I take their inappropriate advice and when I react (badly and loudly) they are astounded at my lack of gratitude. Would you butt into a conversation between people in the street and offer advice about a subject you know nothing of? When I’m in a depressed state I find it easy to ignore these well meaning people but when I am manic it’s a bit like setting a bomb off.
Mania is misunderstood. People, in general, cannot cope with the reality of it. It changes me beyond recognition and I hate the woman that I become. I damage relationships, I offend people, I want to physically harm a lot of people and I want to die. I desperately want to die. I don’t want to stop living but I have an aching need to stop the pain that is presumed to only come from depression.
My behaviour when I am manic is misunderstood. I am written off as rude when I am desperately trying to maintain a level of control and my social skills (dire at any time) become non existent. I am responsible for that behaviour and I will apologise if I can (and if I remember what I did) but also I am a puppet being jerked around and I can’t stop no matter how hard I try.
Do I sound elated? Am I running round looking for a lot of men to have sex with? Do I behave with grandiosity? (A bit.) Do I fit the lazy stereotype of mania. No.
Mania is a desperately lonely madness. Be glad you don’t understand the half of it.