“Mania can be characterized by a strong sense of euphoria, but this euphoria can switch to anger or hostility very quickly. Someone who seems deliriously happy one moment can become irritated in an instant, for example.”— Dean A. Haycock
I have shared in past blogs that I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar is a mental illness that is characterized by highs and lows. On a couple of occasions, I have blogged about the face of depression. I believe it is time to talk about the face of mania. I struggle more with depression than mania; however, every few years, I experience a major manic episode. I do experience less severe episodes a couple of times a year.
My mania manifests itself with the following behaviors:
· I am extremely happy.
· Talk a mile a minute.
· I cannot concentrate.
· Flight of ideas – a rapid continuous string of superficially related thoughts and ideas. It manifests itself in hurried speech with frequent abrupt shifts in the topic.
· Spend money – When I was experiencing a severe manic episode, I bought a Lexus sports car.
· Lack of sleep.
· I am agitated and have no patience with others.
· I already have control issues, but when I am manic, I think things must be my way or the highway.
Do you know a person that fits the above description? Have you ever wondered what is wrong with them? Below are some issues a person in a manic episode might display.
· Feeling very happy, elated, or overjoyed.
· Talking very quickly.
· Feeling full of energy.
· Feeling self-important
· Feeling full of great new ideas and having essential plans.
· Being easily distracted.
· Being easily irritated or agitated
· Being delusional, hallucinating, and disturbed or illogical thinking.
· Not feeling like sleeping.
· They are doing things that often have disastrous consequences. – such as spending large sums on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items.
· They make decisions or say things out of character that others see as risky or harmful.
At the beginning of an episode, I love the way I feel. I know everything and believe I am one of the most influential people around. I can be annoying. Unfortunately, my mood changes into anger, irritation, and jealousy. Most of my manic episodes are mild, and others may not even notice. I work very hard at holding it together while in public and, for the most part, am successful. It is exhausting. Over the years, I have learned coping skills to deal with my symptoms and know I need to talk to my psychiatrist when I lose control. The problem is I need to get to the psychiatrist before I lose control; sometimes, I do not recognize when I am losing control. That is when I need a friend or a professional to confront me and push me to get help. It has been years since I have been in the psych hospital, but if I don’t get help in time, that is where I end up.
One of the scary parts of dealing with those of us that struggle with bipolar is that most of us don’t like our medications. I am responsible and take my medications, but I don’t like how they make me feel. Most people diagnosed with bipolar are taking mood stabilizers, which keep us even-keeled. Unfortunately, many of us like our highs and feel the medications prevent us from becoming the “best we can be.”
You may wonder how to help someone who has bipolar, but you don’t know what to do. The following are ways that you can support someone experiencing a manic episode.
· Spend time with your loved one.
· Answer questions honestly.
· Don't take any comments personally.
· Prepare easy-to-eat meals and drinks.
· Avoid subjecting your loved one to a lot of activity and stimulation.
· Allow your loved one to sleep whenever possible.
If you have a friend or family member that is dealing with bipolar and is either in a depressive or manic episode, learn about the illness, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and continue to support them. I know that, at times, our behaviors are challenging and sometimes inappropriate. It is ok to step back until we get help. When we are in a full-blown episode, we may show anger and make derogatory statements. It is essential to let us know that you care but take care of yourself first.
This blog was hard to write because I feel very vulnerable, but I believe it is essential for others to learn about mental illness and understand that we are good people too.
Enjoy the rest of your week!