Mania is something that many people think they understand, but they only know what they’ve seen in media portrayals. Mania takes on various forms for different individuals. Much like not everyone experiences depression in the same way, not everyone has the same type of manic episodes. Mania isn’t all shopping sprees and rapid speech. It isn’t always thinking you can fly and taking on the world. In this blog post I’ll be describing how mania/ hypomania looks on me.
Let’s start with how it physically feels. I want to rip off my skin. It’s as if I can feel the blood circulating through my body and every individual hair on my body moving at once, with every physical sensation heightened. And not in the everything feels amazing type of way, but in the everything that touches my skin makes me uncomfortable type of way. The physical sensations alone are overwhelming. Then I have to deal with the emotions and personality changes.
During a manic/hypomanic episode I exaggerate my own abilities. Not in the sense that I all of a sudden believe I can be president or that I’m smarter than I actually am. But I believe I can do more and then take on more than I would normally. I don’t say no to invitations to events, I volunteer myself for projects, I set goals for myself that are just not attainable. I rarely finish what I start when I’m manic. Mainly because I can’t stay focused on one task long enough to even make a dent in it. It’s actually pretty amazing that I’ve been able to blog fairly consistently for this long. My draft column on my WordPress dashboard is almost like a calendar entry of manic phases. A title here, a paragraph or 2 there, and no memory of what I actually wanted to say in them.
Another thing that happens to me, which I don’t talk about often, is that my sex drive increases. I’ve described myself as a dog in heat during these times. And with an increase in sex drive and lowering of inhibitions I’ve made some questionable decisions and hurt people along the way. There is no real fun in it either. It’s like having a mosquito bite and scratching the itch, only for the itching to come back and increase in intensity. Once a manic episode passes, I’m often times left with feelings of guilt and regret.
Being carefree with money is one of the more common signs of mania and something that people do commonly associate with these episodes. I have thankfully never gone into debt or negatively affected my credit score but this is very common. I often count on some win fall of money randomly coming through when making purchases, giving no thought to my limited income and tight budget. Although I am not in debt, I have a very hard time maintaining a savings account for emergencies. I’m often pulling from my savings account to pay off purchases I’ve made while manic. The real head trip though is that I handle money in the same manner when I’m depressed. Shopping online or going to the grocery store and splurging give me short breaks from wallowing inside my own miserable thoughts and I use it as a coping mechanism.
Mania also makes me an asshole. I can go from calm to stomach turning rage in seconds. My filter shuts off and I say some hurtful things. I’m quick to throw people away for what can be seen as minor disagreements, but I see them as an attack on me as a person. My anger when manic is loud and expansive. While my anger when depressed is quiet and turned inward. I’ve hurt some of the people I love the most while manic and lost their trust. It’s something I’ve never really forgiven myself for.
Mania, like depression, is complicated but I think it’s discussed a lot less. Possibly because many people have productive, while still harmful and disruptive, manic episodes. It’s not seen as much of a pressing issue for this reason. But we really need to see and discuss the various negative effects it creates, both short term and long term.