People ask me this a lot.
In short, the difference is, bipolar disorder also includes mania.
The next question is, “What is mania?”
This is harder to explain. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “mental illness marked by periods of great excitement, euphoria, delusions, and over-activity.”
This is an acceptable surface-level definition. However, it still cannot encapsulate the feeling and experience of this phenomenon.
Angry and Manic
Mania can manifest in different ways. One of the ways that the definition does not touch on is anger or irritability.
Most people think of mania as being a happy, enthusiastic state. It does take different forms.
When I am experiencing mania in a bad way, I am not someone you want to deal with.
I am agitated, rude, explosive, and an all-around smart mouth.
I can even be insulting.
I am not proud of the way I act when I am dealing with that kind of mania. I don’t want to be a jerk; mania does that for me. I have had many people tell me I need to take responsibility for myself when I act this way.
I know it is not acceptable, but believe me, if I were not in the midst of an episode caused by illness; I would never say or do the things that I do.
When I am irritable-manic, my skin feels like it is crawling. My mind wants to jump out of my body and go somewhere else; but my mind is the problem.
I usually take a self-righteous stance. I am right, you are wrong; I am smart and you are stupid. This know-it-all attitude is common in a manic episode.
There is another form; an “innocent” mania. It arrives in the form of happy-go-lucky and overly excited.
Let the good times roll!
I call it innocent because it does not hurt or disturb anybody. However, during this type of mania, I like to spend money.
I know this is mania because I do not normally feel this way. Here is an example: I will go into a drug store and spend $50 on bath and body products I don’t need, just because I’m enthused about bath and body products and I think they will be fun.
I will buy my husband or myself gifts, even though I don’t have the extra money.
My excitement overshadows reality; when I am not manic anymore, I will regret that I spent the money.
That is the difference between being normally happy and euphorically manic; I would not make the same decisions if I were at my baseline.
Femme Fatale Manic
I don’t know which one is worse; angry manic, or femme fatale manic.
Both will get you in trouble.
When this kind of mania occurs, I am easily attracted to others. I can charm almost anyone with my “come hither” air.
When sexuality peaks in mania, some people are interested in having “risky” sex, perhaps with someone they do not really know, or with a person whom they normally would not engage.
Manic people put themselves in situations that aren’t typical.
This type of mania can and will attract men; that can be a good thing and a bad thing. It can be a good when you are looking for a new mate; a pretty, manic girl can be extremely alluring.
It can be a bad thing when you are not.
Again, once these euphoric feelings leave, the clouds part and there is often guilt and embarrassment for the behavior.
It may also leave a partner confused as to why the “magic” is gone. Others may think the manic person is “slutty”, damaging reputations.
Important Points and an Example
I am not implying that all manic women are unfaithful or lustful beings who cannot control themselves. We are not all evil tyrants.
Bipolar disorder is harder to explain than unipolar depression because mania does not get the attention that depression does.
It gives some people the impression that you are a very strange or irrational person, when in fact, it is a medical episodic event that is not anticipated.
How can someone be so out of control, only to regret it all later? People without bipolar disorder cannot easily wrap their heads around this.
Mania is just as automatic as depression, and although some people like the feeling, there can be lasting consequences.
Even though one feels “normal” when they are experiencing these manic episodes, when they “come out” of the mania, they often feel very different.
My friend was telling me an interesting story about when she was manic a few months ago.
She frequents the frozen yogurt store on the corner near her home.
Fearing that a larger, competing frozen yogurt store would put her favorite one out of business, she feverishly put together a list of marketing ideas and included her full name and phone number.
She delivered it to the staff at the yogurt shop, and went home and told her husband.
“You did what?”
That, in essence, is mania. We think what we are doing at the time is such a good idea, because we are so darn excited.
Then, later, we tell stories to our friends with bipolar, laughing at just how delusional we were.
It is all you can do—talk about it, confess it, and move on.
What strange things have you done when you were manic? Are there “other types” of mania you experience besides the three listed?
Photo via Compfight