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15 'Red Flags' People Noticed the First Time They Were Manic

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The interesting thing about bipolar disorder is how different it is for every person who experiences it. For some people, like me, the first time they noticed the ‘red flags’ of mania might’ve been subtle — so subtle that it was easy to deny it was even mania. Then, for others, their first ‘red flags’ could’ve been so severe that they completely lost touch with reality.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

The spectrum of mania is broad, and the first ‘red flags’ of mania is no exception. Because mania can show up in so many different ways, it’s helpful to learn more about what this looks like whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been living with bipolar disorder for awhile. We turned to The Mighty’s bipolar disorder community to ask what symptoms they noticed the first time they were manic.

Here are some of the replies:

  1. “I thought my parents were trying to poison me.” — Heather J.
  2. “At the time, I didn’t realize. But I was very irritable and my patience was always thin. I would be up all night needing to keep busy because my body was just so full of energy, I would actually clean the house at 2 a.m.! I would need to show the world how much I loved them, buying gifts for people. Making donations to every charity that I could think of. ” — Anita A.
  3. “Thing is with mania, [especially] the first time, you don’t realize anything is wrong.” — Lauren H.
  4. “Wide awake for three days straight — I mean ZERO sleep during that time — but [tons] of energy still. I had no idea what was going on that first time…just euphoric!” — Natalie W.
  5. “Rage. Something that was a minor inconvenience would absolutely infuriate me to the core.” — Lindsay M.
  6. “I didn’t [notice] until I had a breakdown.” — Genevieve J.
  7. “I think I’m psychic. It sounds ‘crazy,’ but when I feel like I can speak to the dead, it’s a manic episode.” — Megan B.
  8. “I was up at 2 a.m. cleaning like a ‘madman.’ The only thing I hate more than getting up early is cleaning.” — Marcie R.
  9. “When I felt so fearless and invincible that I was drunk, up on apartment garage rooftops and didn’t see the problem with jumping from one to another.” — Megan H.
  10. “It took me years to realize working for several days straight without eating or sleeping, with no deadline or special reason, was not a ‘work ethic’.” — Andrew P.
  11. “I Googled why do I feel like I am on drugs but don’t use them. And mania came up.” — Samantha T.
  12. “I thought that I was controlling the weather.” — Julie R.
  13. “The first time I realized it was mania was not the first time it happened. The first time I was aware it was starting was picking up oddly a physical sensation in my teeth. My mouth and especially my teeth’s cells just start to ‘sing’ the more my energy went ‘up’.” — Melanie M.
  14. “I started social drinking again after seven years sobriety and found I was interested in sex with people other than my husband of 25 years. I honestly thought it was a shameful, horrible midlife crisis. I knew something was not right, but I blamed age, hormones, menopause. Six months later, after a terrible depression, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1.” — Anonymous
  15. “I had a mad rush of energy and elevated mood I haven’t experienced before BUT recognised it, I then a couple of days later, felt this euphoric high then realised… I need to call my psychiatrist right away.” — Batoul I.

The first time someone experiences mania can be scary, because most of the time, you don’t know it’s mania. For many people with bipolar disorder, it takes years to fully recognize when a manic episode is coming on. Not knowing why you feel so different is why many times the first episode of mania is the most confusing. And, as some of our Mighty community members mentioned, it can take multiple experiences with mania to even recognize there are “red flags.”

What are some of your mania “red flags”? Let me know in the comments below!

Header image via skyNext/Getty Images

Originally published: September 10, 2020
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