I have bipolar disorder, and I have experienced many manic or hypomanic episodes. I cycle at least once a month, and events and moods can trigger mania. I have to be careful to not get too excited.
I used to flip to mania at every party, then crash into depression when I got home. The higher my mania escalates, the worst the depression is after the crash.
Some people enjoy mania. I never have. I feel out of control. I don’t like feeling out of control.
When I’m manic, I am overwhelmed by racing thoughts and ideas. I think all of my ideas are great. Feeling impulsive, I struggle to think things through. I have this intense manic energy with wild emotions and desires. Feeling very sexual, I have difficulty controlling my romantic impulses.
In the past, I would meet men online, go out with them, declare my love for them, agree to everything they asked me, and wake up in a deep depression, damaged and hurt. I would drive recklessly, feeling like traffic laws didn’t apply to me and I couldn’t control myself.
I sometimes had hallucinations of angels and demons talking to me. After talking to the voices, I would excitedly tell everyone how I was chosen or being persecuted.
Often I dissociated, losing touch with reality, sometimes even losing time. I would speak very quickly and loudly and act bizarrely. People would look at me strangely and I never understood why.
I always felt out of control. I would feel like I could not keep myself from speeding, keep myself from blurting out whatever was in my head, keep myself from obeying all of my impulses… That has been my experience of mania.
Since I have been on medications, the manic episodes have been better. The hallucinations went away and my behavior became less extreme.
But the episodes were still a problem each time. Even on medications I cycle between depression and mania at least once a month.
Thankfully, mania is no longer a problem for me due to the coping techniques I have put together.
In order for my method to work, I have to detect the manic urges extremely early. If I don’t detect the mania very early the techniques won’t work.
So I have to constantly monitor myself. Am I just happy or am I getting excited? Am I excited or getting manicky? I try not to let myself get too excited.
I can tell when the mania is barely starting; there is this rush of energy inside of me and I start talking quickly and loudly. My mind begins to fill with racing creative thoughts.
I feel like there is this intense spirit within me that compels me to share my ideas with the world. As a feverish energy builds inside my body, I start fidgeting and struggle to stay still.
As soon as I notice the manic energy beginning, I put my coping skills into action.
I parent myself. It has taken me a long time to build up the inner strength and self-discipline in order to parent my manic self, but now it works.
I set boundaries. I tell myself I am only allowed to talk to a handful of safe people. If I say bizarre things to these safe people, they understand it’s the mania talking.
I try to stay home and avoid driving. If I do have to drive, I spend the whole time lecturing myself on how I have to follow the speed limit. If I feel the manic energy building, I play music very loud and roll down the windows to let off steam.
At home, I don’t allow myself to do things that “feed the mania.” So I can’t create weird art, or dance around the house to loud music, or do bizarre things. I can’t do anything risky online. These are things that I would usually do while manic, but I’ve decided these kinds of things make me more hyper and manicky.
Instead I force myself to sit still and do monotonous things. I might create art but force myself to paint realistically. I talk to my safe people so I stay grounded and don’t dissociate or talk to voices. I force myself to get some repetitive chores done. Or I make myself run up and down the stairs until I get tired. I don’t allow myself to make any decisions.
I hate parenting my manic self. I feel miserable doing it. It takes an incredible amount of willpower to force myself to follow those rules. But by using these techniques I’m able to control my manic episodes.
Even while on medication, my episodes used to last days and disrupt my life. Now they only last an evening and are just an annoyance.
I never do risky things anymore.
I will be manicky for a few hours in the evening, and wake up depressed.
If I can control the mania, then the depression isn’t as deep and doesn’t last as long. If I can control the mania, then I don’t regret things afterwards.
While manic, I’ve lost friendships. I’ve done bizarre and embarrassing things and lost people’s respect. I’ve been deeply hurt, over and over again.
I hate parenting the mania. But it is worth it to avoid the risks of mania. Mania can be fun at times but it never lasts. My techniques keep it under control.