10 Surprising Things People Do When They're Manic
When you hear someone describe bipolar disorder “mania,” what do you immediately imagine? Sure, we might think we know what mania is really like — feeling super happy, or having a ton of energy — but in reality, mania and hypomania are far more complex than society believes. Mania is multifaceted and can, at times, be dangerous for the person struggling with it. The only true way of knowing is to ask those with bipolar disorder directly.
That’s why we talked with our bipolar disorder and mental health communities about their experiences with bipolar mania that one might find surprising. From hypersexuality to an unexpected change in something we all tend to do every single day, we hope you find their answers enlightening or, for those bipolar warriors reading this, that you realize your experience isn’t all that unusual.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. Develop a sudden love for crafts and other unusual activities.
“I pick a certain craft or activity, and I go way overboard at full speed. I go out and buy supplies like a pro would and do online research for hours. It always leads to me never finishing anything. Crocheting, painting, journaling, cooking, upcycled furniture projects, bath bomb making, sewing — the list goes on and on. Never finished any of them.” — Apryl T.
“This is a strange one but when I’m manic, I do really complicated algebra. It’s usually at 3 a.m., when I can’t sleep. It keeps my mind occupied during the night when I am the only one awake. I was never very good at algebra in school, but when I’m manic it all makes sense in my manic brain. When I’m not manic, it’s just a bunch of numbers and letters on a page.” — Beth-Anne E.
“It doesn’t surprise anyone I know but people are generally surprised to find out I have hypergraphia during manias. I’ll write an entire novel during a mania (and then take a year to edit, because editing sucks). I don’t sleep, eat, communicate with anyone or leave the house; I just write.” — Shayla F.
“Puzzles. Dozens of them. I put them together and listen to dozens of audiobooks. When the mania subsides, so do the puzzles and they are left unfinished with missing pieces.” — Bailey S.
2. Clean even when it isn’t necessary.
“I clean every spot of my whole house. I’ll take clean dishes out of the cabinets and wash them again. I take laundry out of dressers and refold them. I’ll organize bookshelves, paperwork, my son’s toys. One time, I organized his LEGO bricks by block color then shape.” — MaRanda S.
“Clean, clean clean! I also find music that makes me clean more.” — Art D.
3. Overspend and shop for luxurious items.
“Shopping. Spending way too much money and feeling amazing when I do so. Then, a few hours later, complete guilt followed by a downward spiral.” — Candy S.
“I dislike shopping, but when I’m experiencing mania, I want to go shopping to change everything in the house, from curtains to pillows and so on. It’s usually about the house — nothing for me. I feel very irritated if someone interrupts me while I’m cleaning the house and changing all decorations.” — Griselle F.
“Buy cars. Only good thing about screwed up credit is that it’s prevented it from happening again. I’ve bought three on manic highs. I’m always buying crap. I buy gifts for other people then get pissed when they don’t appreciate them.” — Andrea G.
4. Have more energy than is “normal.”
“I actually seem to thrive when manic. I’m energized, need less sleep, no hunger, make plans and set goals. On the outside it may look like I’m living out the scene from ‘Legally Blonde’ after Emmett dumps Elle and Elle turns into her own hero — all go go go! But, I’m a total mess on the inside. My mind races so fast that my mouth can’t keep up; body starts to turn on me without food or sleep. Worst part though: the crash. Actually, the fear of crashing back into my depressed state. It follows me around while I’m manic, doing my best to avoid the depression, until mania taps out and takes my energy, drive, hope and ability to feel or see anything light.” — Shelley A.
“I have so much frustration and energy with nothing really to do with it… so I sing and jump around, just running in a circle. I look like a little kid but it seems to be the only way I can get out all my energy without being destructive to others or myself.” — Jey S.
5. Develop suicidal ideation or become more at risk of suicide.
“When I’m manic, I’m more likely to attempt suicide. This is surprising because I seem like I’m on top of the world, but any little mistake could bring it crashing down.” — James T.
“I’m really impulsive. If it’s a mixed episode, I am more likely to try to attempt suicide or I have to be hospitalized for being actively suicidal.” — Zoe S.
6. Become easily irritated by unexpected things.
“I have disproportionate responses to any little thing that may agitate me. For example, foot tapping could cause me to yell at them to stop.” — Tim M.
“I get very short fused. Anger has always been tied into my mania. Not to mention the reckless behaviors and overspending way too much. I’ll be productive, but the moment someone asks me to do a chore or another task, I flip out.” — Samantha G.
“I pull away. If I don’t talk to you or interact with people, it’s not that I don’t like you; it’s that I don’t want to fly off the rails on you.” — Jeg G.
7. Become impulsive and feel unstoppable.
“One month and three days after meeting a man, I convinced him to marry me. I once destroyed my kitchen and bathroom thinking I could do home renovations like a pro. I also volunteered to interpret in a language I hadn’t used in 17 years, thinking I could quickly relearn it via YouTube. So, I guess you could say I am impulsive and overestimate my abilities. In the end, 16 years and three kids later, my husband and I divorced, I did manage to relearn the language but it took way more than a week, and my kitchen is still unusable four years later.” — Jessica P.
“Tattoos. I have an extremely high pain tolerance when I’m manic and spend money recklessly. I have 10 tattoos and only one wasn’t from a manic period.” — Ali P.
8. Talking more than usual or talking loudly.
“I tend to speak loudly without meaning to. I’m already a loud person, but my voice goes beyond my control.” — Scuro A.
“I talk really fast and talk a lot when I’m usually quiet and only really speak when spoken to. I get wicked hyper when I’m usually very calm. It’s weird. It hasn’t happened in a while, thankfully.” — Jackie A.
9. Suddenly lack empathy for others.
“It surprises people that, when I’m manic, I’m not very empathetic. I’m usually so caring and loving, but if I’m manic and someone comes to me with their problems, I have to try really hard not to tell them to suck it up and I can’t bother with them. It’s awful. I love the people I know and I never want to treat them like that.” — Morgan T.
10. Changes to handwriting.
“Is this a common thing for anyone else? For me, my hand writing changes; it gets really erratic and at times illegible. My husband can always tell when a manic episode is coming on that way.” — Shannon H.
What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo by Rhand McCoy on Unsplash