The Push and Pull of Mania, Depression and Me


Before I understood my bipolar diagnosis, I just thought that mania was the creative, determined, hardworking, albeit irritable me and that the depression that came after was the sad, tired me. Depression, I understood. All too well. We are reluctant friends who do not like each other, yet find comfort in our quiet. Mania – well, she was new.

Mania comes in, kicks the door down and says, “I’m here to party, bitches!” But after a while everyone around gets tired of the party. Mania wants to work all day, fast, wants to plan projects and jobs without thinking it through. Mania wants to watercolor at 11 p.m. When everyone is sleeping, Mania wants to listen to music – real loud. Mania says, “Don’t go to sleep, you’ll miss out on all the fun.” Mania thinks three hours of sleep is sufficient. Mania talks back to people and snaps at strangers. Mania says no one else does anything as good as me so I must do everything for everybody. Mania says I’m witty. Mania says I tell the best stories and that I really can do karate in the backyard at 8 p.m., when I really know nothing about karate. Mania says I’m skinny and that my skin has never looked better. Mania wants to talk to strangers and make new friends. Mania wants to paint the house at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday. Mania tells me that the people I love are annoying and that I don’t need them. Mania tells me I don’t have to talk to my partner about decisions and says I’m better off alone. Mania says I don’t have to answer to anyone. Mania tells me to buy the expensive jeans, just don’t tell anyone how much they cost. Mania likes me…. until she doesn’t.

Then depression decides to move in, carrying more luggage than necessary to do the job. Depression is like an old coat that no one likes. Wool. Scratchy. Ugly. Smelly. Sad. Depression always overstays its visit. Depression is constantly unpacking baggage. Depression tells me I’m tired, sad and lonely. Depression sulks and cries for no reason. Depression tell me I’m worthless and that I haven’t lived up to my potential so just give up. Depression tells me that no one likes me. Depression tells me I’m fat and my face is looking old. Depression says not to smile or laugh. Depression tells me it is better to stay in bed. Depression tells me I’m a bad mom to my kids. Depression says I have ruined them. Depression wants to be in the dark, keep the shades closed. Depression cries with me and sometimes I even find comfort in Depression.

Just when I feel consumed by that old coat, dark and lonely, sad and uncomfortable, there’s a knock. Mania kicks the door down and announces her arrival. Depression packs up slowly over a few days, sometimes weeks. Mania calls more and more and I start to go out. And one of them leaves while the other one takes its place. I again am alone in this house with one of the two of my constant companions. I never know how long each stay will last. Weeks, months. Some longer than others. I do know this – it won’t last forever. One will go, one will stay. In those moments, in between — when one is coming and the other going, I can almost see my own reflection. Just me. Without one of my constant companions. Just me. Staring back at me. And then one walks in and I know it’ll be awhile before I’m alone again.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Bipolar Disorder

mother and daughter hugging

To the Mommas With Mental Illness Having a Tough Day, Week or Month

This week was tough. I fell into my first full depressive episode since I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.  Being aware of what was happening and not being able to stop the cycle was frustrating to say the least. I have felt it coming for a couple of weeks now, but I was fighting [...]
mid 30s woman standing in front of window with red cup of tea or coffee

Why Living With a Mental Illness Gets 'Boring'

It gets boring when I don’t get better. It gets boring when the same horrendous thoughts travel through my mind at 100 mph — the same thoughts that made yesterday so difficult claim my today as their own to ruin. It gets boring, saying to the same friends, who I let down last week, that [...]

Why It’s OK That You Can’t Help Me Through My Bipolar II Episodes

Bipolar II. That’s what I have, what I live with, what I have lived with for the past two years and will live with for the remainder of my life. Most of the time, it’s not so bad. Most of the time, I am OK. I am disconnected from it. It doesn’t permeate my thoughts. [...]
Professional woman, view of shoes

The Difficult (but Worthwhile) Thing I Did to Pull Myself Out of Depression

When I decided to go back to work after being off on mental health leave for seven months, I was terrified. Not only because I was worried about the stigma around my mental illness, but because at the time I had gone from dealing with mania for months to battling severe depression. My days were [...]