Editor’s note: The following is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.
Mania is the “up” part of bipolar disorder. When I’m experiencing a manic episode, my self-esteem is higher, my plans are more grandiose and my actions are impulsive. For a long time, I let my mania control me and got into a lot of trouble. I would be promiscuous, spend frivolously and try to accomplish tasks that were completely unrealistic. Since then, I’ve learned how to keep myself out of trouble when I’m manic by doing seven things that keep me safe.
1. Take my medication.
Often times, when I’m manic, I feel really good. And this distorted view of reality leads me to believe I don’t need my medication. So, I skip a few days, or stop taking it completely, and then suffer the consequences. Now, I take my medication because I know without it, I would be unstable and unpredictable.
2. Don’t miss or cancel psychiatric appointments.
Like my medication, when I’m experiencing a manic episode I wrongly believe I don’t need the help of my psychiatrist or counselor. I forget that without their help, I would be worse off and experience mania in a more intense and destructive way.
3. Abstain from sex.
Mania turns me into a young woman I don’t like very much. She dresses and speaks provocatively, doesn’t respect her body and doesn’t respect others. I choose not to engage in sexual activities when I’m manic for the sake of my body, mind and heart. I’ve learned to protect those assets because if I don’t, I’ll regret it when the episode ends.
4. Don’t drink alcohol.
Alcohol clouds your mind and impairs my judgment. So does mania. Combining the two would not only be foolish, but it could be dangerous. I’ve taken my past experiences with alcohol and mania and decided the temporary high I feel isn’t worth the possible trouble or dangerous situations I could get myself into.
5. Pass off my credit cards.
One of the symptoms of mania I have the most problem with is acting impulsively. Normally, this is seen in my spending. I spend money I don’t have on items I don’t need. When mania strikes, I give my credit cards and extra cash to a trusted friend or family member and ask them to monitor my spending so I don’t overspend and end up broke when the mania leaves me.
6. Get plenty of sleep.
Mania feels like a high I don’t want to come down from. I don’t want to sleep, and don’t feel like I need sleep when I’m manic. This can turn into sleep deprivation, which can cause me to make bad or foolish decisions. When I’m manic, I set alarms for specific sleep and wake up times and ask a friend to encourage me to follow them.
7. Talk through it.
I am not a good listener when I’m in a manic episode. I don’t listen to the pleas of my friends and family when they ask me to slow down. I ignore their requests to think things through. Instead, I’ve asked my friends and family not to do the talking, but to let me talk through my manic thoughts and feelings. That way, if my plans are unrealistic or I’m thinking impulsively, they know first hand and then can encourage me to slow down.
Untreated mania that is not acknowledged can be dangerous and lead to serious trouble. Had I not begun following these seven rules for staying safe, I’m not sure I wouldn’t be in jail or worse. I am not myself when I am manic, and if I don’t keep my body and my mind safe during an episode, I always regret it. My health comes first, especially when I’m manic. I protect myself when I’m manic so the me who isn’t manic doesn’t live in pain or regret when the mania is over. I owe it to myself to stay safe, and I owe it to those who care about me.
The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.