Since my diagnosis, I have become much more aware of my body. I recognize little changes in mood and analyze the causes. So when I feel that familiar humming energy inside me, I know what’s coming: I am becoming manic.
A manic episode feels like when you drink too much coffee. There is an energy running out from your heart and building up in your finger tips. The energy is dying to be released by doing anything like maybe writing a blog post at 2 am when you should be sleeping. When I am manic, I get really bad insomnia and no amount of melatonin can put me to sleep. My body is tired, but my mind is constantly racing. It’s as if I drank 20 Red Bulls before bed and I now have so many wings that I simply can’t settle down in bed to go to sleep, there are far too many feathers. When I am manic, my body is bursting with boundless creativity. I am inspired to create a thousand different projects and do all of them. Right. Now. I am constantly jumping from one thing to the next like my mind is Mario trying to complete the levels and save Princess Peach.
Manic episodes bring with them a sense of confidence. My mind believes I can accomplish anything and nothing is beyond my reach.
Apart from the insomnia, this doesn’t sound too bad, right? I mean, being manic basically turns me into a nonstop creative machine who also manages to clean and organize everything in the apartment. It’s kind of like a super power as I become inhumane in my ability to accomplish tasks. But, like any superhero story, there is always the cost. Just like Superman and his kryptonite, Hulk and his anger management problems, Iron Man and his alcoholism, my superpower comes with its own set of side effects. First is obviously the terrible insomnia. There have been times where I spent over a week struggling to get by on the few hours of sleep my jacked up body would let me grasp at night. Second is the impulsiveness That sense of euphoria that comes with being manic and the invincibility it brings can cause you to make some poor, impulsive decisions. It’s difficult to think of consequences when you’re untouchable. Thankfully, the worst thing I’ve done is splurged on a $30 dress at Target. But some people make seemingly crazy decisions simply because of these impulses. Finally, the worst thing is the crash. Unlike actual superheroes, my body is not made to exist as a nonstop accomplishment machine. The higher the high during my manic episode, the worse the crash. Thankfully, my type of bipolar isn’t as extreme and technically I only ever have hypomanic episodes (less severe than full on manic episodes). However, the crash can still be pretty miserable. To make up for the lack of sleep during the manic episode, all I want to do during a crash is sleep. Basically, the low of the crash is the opposite of the high of the manic episode. Instead of constant creativity, I can barely force my self to do necessary daily tasks for a normal life. Instead of the overconfidence, I question every action I take and assume the worst possible outcome. When I am manic, I try to cope with it the best I can and use it to get stuff done while I have the energy. It is impossible to enjoy the high of the manic episode because all I can do is be afraid of what comes after. I am afraid of once again descending below the waterline to the murky depths where I transform into an existential zombie unsure of the purpose of my continued existence. It’s like the worst emotional roller coaster ever: never stopping as you constantly live in fear of the next rise and fall, never able to just rest and enjoy the ride.
Since I started on medication, my depression is not as bad, but the manic episodes remain. Unfortunately, medicine isn’t magic. We can’t just wave a wand,mutter a Harry Potter spell and make everything disappear. It’s a process and one that I’m still in the middle of. But hopefully soon, even though I will never be off the rollercoaster, it will at least become less bumpy.