Mental Health

Addicted to Mania

A manic episode is a mood state characterized by period of at least one week where an elevated, expansive or unusually irritable mood exists. A person experiencing a manic episode is usually engaged in significant goal-directed activity beyond their normal activities. People describe a manic mood as feeling very euphoric, “on top of the world,” and being able to do or accomplish anything. The feeling is like extreme optimism — but on steroids. ~  Manic Episode Symptoms By Steve Bressert, Ph.D.

This is an excellent description of who I used to be, the me I miss, the me I’d love to be again…if that also wasn’t the me that burned every significant relationship with friends and family down to the ground.

What so many people don’t understand about those of us who have bipolar brains, is why we have a hard time staying on the meds that stabilize our moods.

It’s hard to describe why being manic or hypomanic is so desirable. Let me see if I can explain it. In some ways it’s like being an addict. I miss my hypomanic/manic episodes. I crave them. Actually, I crave how they affect me.

I feel enchanting. I feel confident, self-assured. I’m fearless. I’m productive. My creativity explodes! My thoughts are like the starbursts of the fireworks celebrating the new year.

I LOVE feeling like that. Wouldn’t you?

Of course, it’s mostly illusion. Smoke and mirrors in my head.

It’s perilous because I’m fearless. I take risks I shouldn’t. I put myself in situations with people who are doing things looked down on by society at large. More importantly, they are forbidden according to my personal beliefs and morals.

The mania is a drug and I am addicted to it. I’m in recovery.

The pain of the broken and lost relationships is too much. The chaos and wreckage left behind in the aftermath of mania’s tornado drops me into the deep and dark hell of depression.

I don’t want to live like that anymore. I can’t.

So, I take the advice of my PNP and I faithfully see my therapist. I’m getting better about taking my meds.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

The drawback is that the me that I liked and enjoyed being doesn’t really exist anymore. I thought that creativity was gone for good. However, after almost two years on meds and fine tuning them, I’m starting to reconnect to that creative self. I’m starting to care more about myself and how I present myself to the world.

Some days, many days, if I’m being honest, are a lot harder than others to tap into that creativity, or even the desire to be creative. However, I’m pretty sure that ANYONE, regardless of their mental health, would be struggling with those things simply because of all the circumstantial stressors I’m dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

So, I’m learning that there’s a new normal for me where I can be emotionally and psychologically stable AND access my creativity. I’m learning to be patient with myself.

It’s kind of like learning how to walk again after being in a car crash and losing part of your leg. You’ve gotten through the surgery and been fitted for the prosthetic. Now, getting past what’s been lost and learning to live with what is has to happen in order to move forward. Hard work and time are the only things that give you a chance at being able to walk again.

I have to claim a victory at this stage in my recovery.

I started blogging a little over five years ago. It was my lifeline. It was imperative. It was compulsory. Writing was the only thing that was helping me navigate my life and my world.

Then, life started blowing up and getting overwhelming. The writing slowed, then stopped. I tried to get back to it a few different times and never sustained it even a couple of weeks, a few days was usually the limit, before the desire and ability drained out of me.

This is the beginning of the second month for this blog. I haven’t missed a day of publishing a post by me or someone else.

This project started off like many of my hypomanic projects have in the past. The big differences are that a) I didn’t get stuck in the planning stage and b) I didn’t give it up when the “shiny” wore off. I’m still here, still doing it, and still committed to keeping it going, regardless of what else is going on in my world.

This is victory.

The moral of this story is that there’s always hope in recovery.

2 thoughts on “Addicted to Mania”

    1. Tony,
      This is a legitimate concern. More than likely, it will happen. However, two things to consider:
      1) Does the cost of staying the same outweigh the benefit of making the change?

      2) All the things that make you, you, exist inside you, but are accessed and amplified through the mania/hypomania. Then, they get masked by the depressive lows. With the medication, you have to learn how to re-access and reactivate those aspects of yourself…and you’ll be able to do it all the time. It won’t have the same intensity and it will feel less than before. But, feelings aren’t facts.

      If you’re anything like me, the fact is that I’d rather have relationships with my children and grandchildren. Relationships are more important than my creative accomplishments or grandiose sense of self.

      Blessings,
      Lillian

      Liked by 1 person

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