I Am Mania, Hear Me Roar!

I Am Mania, Hear Me RoarRelax. I’m not manic right now. But is it bad for me to wish that I was just a tiny bit hypomanic? I can assure you that my husband’s answer would be “YES!” Because, although I think that I always have things under control, he knows better. He knows, and in all honesty I do too, that hypomania can quickly escalate into something that no one can control – full-blown mania.

Even our doctors struggle to manage it. First they up this medication, then they add that medication. But eventually, they exhaust all of their resources. So what happens next? They throw us in the psych ward to contain it. That may sound a little dramatic and unfair. But, isn’t it true? It’s for the safety us and others.

At its worst, mania can be dangerous. It can cause psychosis, where we lose all contact with reality. It makes us feel invincible and grandiose, like we’re capable of much more than we are.

One of the several times of which I was in the psych ward, one guy thought he was Jesus. Another time, this lady wouldn’t quit screaming that she was the “Queen Bee.” And that was way before Beyonce stepped onto the scene. Now, did they have bipolar disorder? I don’t know, their psychiatrists failed to share their diagnoses with me. But bipolar mania is absolutely capable of causing such delusions.

Fortunately, I’ve only experienced one full-blown mania episode. And believe me, one was enough. I was undiagnosed at the time, so it certainly got everyone’s attention. I honestly thought I was going crazy. In fact, that’s exactly what I told my doctors. My therapist assured me that “crazy people don’t think they’re crazy.” -HA! To cope I turned to alcohol, and eventually became a full-fledged alcoholic. This combined with mania’s grandiosity and hyper-sexuality eventually led to the separation of my family.

I can now look back on parts of my history and joke and laugh. As I think it’s important to keep a sense of humor about things, it helps us heal. But I’m only able to do this because my family and I beat the odds. We somehow managed to make it back together, which baffles my psychiatrist to this day. But there are some things that will never be funny, no matter how I look at them. Mania has left lasting scars on my family and I; and perhaps on others I’m not even aware of.

When I first got sober, I’d get these PTSD flashbacks of things I did while in active addiction, while manic. As I healed, they lessened. But I’d venture to say that I still have a slight degree of PTSD going on. There are parts of my city that give me extreme anxiety, one in particular. Luckily, I don’t have many reasons to go there. But ever once in a while I’ll find myself there, and it’s usually in the car with my family. I then have to try to conceal the fact that I’m freaking the “F” out! Panic overtakes me. Tears well-up in my eyes and my body starts to tremble. I’m suddenly hot all over. Bad things happened there that I’d just like to forget. Hmm, sounds like I have some work to do in therapy, eh?

manic eyes

And then there are smells. There’s this one smell that keeps re-emerging in my house lately. Where is it coming from?! It’s a clean smell, though that doesn’t comfort me. I can’t pinpoint the memory, I just know the timeframe – MANIA! When I get a whiff, the same panic ensues, only not as intense.

Hypomania, while typically not as destructive as mania, can still wreak havoc. As it shares many of the same symptoms. Over the summer, I came dangerously close to forking out thousands of dollars on an online program to become a personal trainer. Yep! I had it all planned out. And I was trying to get my husband to do it too, so the expenses would have been doubled. My plan was to start our own personal training business. There were lots of problems with my idea, but the most glaring was the fact that I hate to exercise. That probably wouldn’t have been too great for business.

After all these years, I still tend to get myself into trouble when hypomanic. Grandiosity makes me feel like I can take on the world, so I try! I make all of these commitments and take on projects. Then weeks or months later when I’ve stabilized or crashed, I’m liked what the… ? How on earth am I supposed to do all of this?

Bipolar disorder is exhausting on so many levels. I’m still working on becoming more self-aware in this regard. This is a perfect example of when we shouldn’t necessarily trust our thoughts. When my mind is saying, “Say yes! You can do it all!” I need to learn to differentiate between “hypomania” and “Krista.” I know that in itself sounds crazy, but I promise you, it’s not. It’s me separating myself from my disorder, in the same way therapists say to separate yourself from your anxiety. In fact, I think this plays a major role in helping those of us with mental illnesses keep our sanity!

SYMPTOMS OF MANIA

  • Feeling unusually “high” or optimistic.
  • Irritability.
  • Grandiose or unrealistic beliefs about one’s abilities.
  • Decreased need for sleep, despite an increase in energy.
  • Fast and/or pressured speech. It may be difficult for others to keep up.
  • Racing thoughts, jumping from one idea to the next.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Distractibility.
  • Impulsivity and impaired judgment.
  • Increased goal-directed activity.
  • Reckless behavior, with little consideration of consequences {e.g. spending sprees, sexual indiscretions}. This behavior is typically out of line with the individual’s normal character.
  • Psychosis, hallucinations and delusions. {in severe cases}

Share your thoughts on mania and hypomania. Especially humorous experiences, as we can all use a good laugh! When manic, how do you differentiate which thoughts are yours and which thoughts are stemming from your mania?

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer


4 comments on “I Am Mania, Hear Me Roar!
  1. Kimberly says:

    Oh My Goodness… You had me at “is it bad for me to wish that I was just a tiny bit hypomanic?” I have never experienced actual Mania, but oh, now, hypomania… now that can be my best friend, as I actually get more stuff done. Thankfully, I have a husband who tries his best to keep my feet as on the ground as practically possible. Thanks so much for sharing this <3

    • Lol. Kimberly, I’m also lucky to have a husband to help me stay grounded. I was actually just telling him the other day that if it weren’t for him I’d be a hot mess. I’m still trying to get him to blog here ever once in a while, but he still won’t do it. I probably wouldn’t be happy with what he had to say anyhow.

      But yes, I wish hypomania was my normal. Unfortunately, it’s more like moderately depressed. And that hypomania comes with a price, every time a brutal depression follows. Ugh. Anyhow, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad that you too have a patient husband to support you through this turbulent journey. It makes a world of difference. Take care =-)

  2. Jim Buchanan says:

    The funniest (and also one of the least funny) things I did while manic was to go into the shower one night non-psychotic, but rather manic, and come out believing that I was a prophet. I tried to tell my wife (now ex, surprise…) about my mission as a prophet. I scared her so much that she locked herself in the bedroom. I remember the next day at work when I was standing on a desk (one over from mine for some reason, I’m sure the resident of that cubicle was excited…) preaching to a growing crowd of people. All this in s staid fortune 50 company .(I no longer work there, surprise…) The next thing I can remember, from this vantage 13 years later, is locking myself into a computer server room with a knife about 3 days later. A friend found me and talked me into going to the hospital. I’m still amused thinking about what my co-workers thought (except the poor guy who talked me out of suicide), and mortified at the same time. I’ve not been psychotic since then, but I’ve been right at, maybe a bit past, the line between hypo and full mania fairly often, most recently most of December and the first week of January.

    • You prefaced that comment perfectly. It was funny, and then NOT funny. I so appreciate you sharing this. And I love your sense of humor!! I’m still laughing as I sit here and type this comment. But goodness, that must have been so scary, all the way around. I’m glad you’re still here with us to tell the tale!

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