No two people with bipolar disorder are the same — just like not everyone experiences mania — an elevated mood characteristic of bipolar disorder — in the same way. That was abundantly clear when we asked our mental health community: If you live with bipolar disorder, what’s one thing you don’t want to admit about experiencing mania?
One commenter was offended we asked this question. (“I hate this question you posed. It immediately implies that there is something wrong with us. The implications of mania [are] very negative for some people. Where is the question where you ask what do you celebrate about having bipolar disorder?”) Another said reading the answers made her realize she wasn’t alone. (“Wow reading these comments make me feel like I’m not alone… Thank you for sharing.”)
We hope this diverse mix of answers acknowledges the diversity in the community — and that at least one or two of them shines some light on your experience.
Here’s what people don’t always admit about experiencing mania:
1. “I like it. Mania makes you feel like you’re a superhero. You can do anything, be anything, go anywhere and take on the whole world. When mania goes away because my medication stabilizes me, I miss it, even though I know it’s always followed by the devastating effects of a depressive state.”
2. “The hypersexuality that comes with mania is not a subject that is spoken about openly but affects so many. The consequences can be so humiliating and embarrassing and may pose potential health risks. Feeling elated and ‘sexy’ for a few days isn’t worth it [for me]…”
3. “Mania is scary for me. I feel out of control. I’ve consumed a lot of alcohol and done unmentionable things I regret later.”
4. “I was crushed when someone said I was more fun and sociable when in mania. A depressed person doesn’t need to hear that.”
5. “I don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s over. I legitimately think I’m finally doing OK, stable and happy. Until suddenly one day all of the destructive behaviors and the consequences of them smack me in the face once it’s too late.”
6. “I like mania, especially when it takes me a bit to realize I’m in mania. But when I realize I’m in the manic stage, I then become overwhelmed knowing the depression and suicidal thoughts are moments away, and I’ll lose my mania.”
7. “My consciousness is infinite. I travel to galaxies far far away with multidimensional beings and learn the secrets of the universe. I also can write the most profound pieces of literature with six storylines being created in my head simultaneously… for me mania is 100 percent a gift.”
8. “If you learn how to control your mania and your depression, bipolar can be a powerful gift. That’s just my experience though. I’m not ‘crazy,’ I feel enlightened.”
9. “Mania for me makes me extremely reckless. I don’t care about the repercussions of my actions and have a ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ attitude. I lose interest in things super quickly and can’t concentrate no matter how hard I try. My mania always makes me want to try things I know I shouldn’t, whether that’s different drugs, driving unsafely, different sexual partners. Mania feels exciting when it’s happening. So much energy. But when it passes, whether that’s after days or weeks, I feel exhausted and disappointed in myself.”
10. “I crave it and dread the end when I crash and burn, all of my goals and projects mocking me in their perpetually unfinished state.”
11. “Mania is like that feeling as you reach the crest of a roller coaster. You look out and you see as the land meets the sky. You feel like you are flying. You could do anything, no one could stop you. The sun setting in the sky scatters an array of colors so beautiful. Like a burning fire. Then suddenly you drop. Your stomach falls and you feel overwhelmed, a scream building in your throat but the wind cutting it off.”
12. “It can get to the point where psychotic symptoms start. Usually people associate hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t there or feeling things that aren’t real as being ‘crazy’ or ‘psycho’ and just don’t understand or run for the hills away from you. It’s honestly so scary. Those having to witness it and finding it scary should think, ‘How must it feel for them?’ It’s not just a high mood for me. It’s destructive, scary, a total out-of-control feeling.”
13. “It’s an eye-opening experience that is so much more preferable to the depths of depression. I see the world in completely new, exciting and inspiring ways in mania. I’ve never been more creative than when I’m manic.”
14. “All throughout the manic period you can feel the dark clouds of depression hovering just behind you, and you feel like you’re having to run away from those clouds to avoid going back down into a depressive state. Mania is exhausting. You’re constantly trying to prolong all of your energy before being sucked back down into a dark hole.”
15. “I love it more than anything and fear it more than anything, at the same time. You can see every tiny molecule that makes up the universe, yet also not see some of the things that matter the most to you in life.”
16. “I enjoy mania. I know it can become destructive and even dark quickly, yet I still enjoy it. I sometimes crave to become manic again. Mania is an amazing high — the world even looks brighter, louder and more beautiful during that euphoria — and I do truly miss it.”
17. “It’s nowhere near as fun as it looks. Once it wears off you realize you’ve lost all sense of self-control and you now have to deal with the consequences.”
18. “The one thing I wouldn’t want to admit about experiencing mania is that I prefer the depression that tells me what’s ‘real’ or not and what’s possible. Most people want to feel unbeatable, but that scares me more than anything because feeling invincible tells me that something is really wrong.”
19. “When the mania is in the driver’s seat, I’m tied up in the back.”
20. “I feel like a malfunctioning robot with glitches in my system that cause an overload of information, stimuli and thoughts that make it near impossible to function. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never experienced this kind of thinking.”
Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.
What would you add?