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Figuring Out How to Live Again After a Manic Episode

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I don’t want this story to be a dark one, but I don’t want it to be dishonest either. I have been released from a psychiatric hospital where I stayed for over 40 days a few weeks ago. I had to withdraw from a semester worth of classes of a masters degree that I genuinely enjoyed and I had to move back from where I was attending school to my home country. At age 27, I am now living with my mother, contemplating the meaning of existence daily whilst trying to refrain from eating too much but rapidly gaining weight nonetheless. My searches on the internet, trying to find some solace to my crises, brought me to this page, and I’ve decided to try this time to speak about what I’ve been through, in the hopes that someone else might come across my story and have a few minutes of solace themselves.

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This was my second manic attack. The first one happened when I was 24. It ended with me being hospitalized twice for a total of two months. I relapsed immediately after my release, and then tried to die by suicide. The ambulance came to my mother’s house, where I was released to, again, and took me back to the hospital. I remember how I told the doctor at the hospital that I thought by dying I could take all the evil in the world with me. I realize now, after my second manic attack, this is an undercurrent theme in my episodes.

As do many people who experience mania, I identify with God, but I also identify with the devil. I believe I am the root of all problems as well as the solution to them all. In my first mania I didn’t sleep for a week, danced a lot while listening to music playing on YouTube, and believed the order the songs played, or the songs suggested to me by the computer, were signs to me from some power. I wrote responses to the song lyrics on the YouTube search bar. I still don’t remember exactly what made the police officers and the ambulance come to my house to take me to the hospital that day, but I never felt as alive and as suicidal as I did, until the second time mania hit.

This time I was more controlled. I realized that it was coming about a month before it did and I emailed my psychiatrist, asking him if I was manic. I had become over-sensitive to the evils of the world. The injustices of life that many people have become accustomed to made me feel like dying, and I felt there was something that needed to be done about it. This in itself is not too far off from how I normally feel. I believe in communism, and humanism, and I am a good person in general. I strive to make things better all the time. In what I later realized was the hypomanic state though, images of a genocide that happened years ago could bring me to tears in an instant. I don’t understand how it could have happened, but no one realized I was about to go full manic until I actually did.

In a rally I attended, I was able to sell books to people I believed were from the future who traveled back in time to save the world. I was able to write essays that got good marks at a decent university. In the end, however, I exploded. I went into a store and yelled at the people who were peacefully at their business. I was then taken by the police, once again, to the hospital. I was released again, relapsed again after two nights out, was taken in again. This time, it was because the residential advisors called the mental services after they visited me at the dorm. I, having just gotten out of the shower, dropped my towel and yelled at them, “Is this what I’m supposed to be ashamed of?”

Manic episodes are interesting journeys that not everyone experiences in the same way. I found I become a hyper-real version of who I am normally when I’m manic. I am a sensitive person, and I am deeply aware of the injustices that I both experience and observe. When I’m manic, the pain I normally feel becomes so engulfing, I feel the need to react to it. I want to yell at the songwriter about how much I hate that he objectifies women. I want to shout at the consumers about how they’re consuming this thing we live on, along with themselves. And when I’m manic, I think they will hear me. I think they will because I need them to. The urgency becomes overwhelming because the pain itself is so overwhelming.

My psychiatrist told me that a manic person is sometimes a caricature of who that person normally is, with the edges sharper and more deadly. I am now working with a psychotherapist to work on the pain I’m feeling normally, to reconcile it a bit, so that if and when mania hits me again, I will be more prepared. I am trying to show myself self-compassion so that I don’t identify with the devil again. I am trying self-compassion so I don’t believe I am God again and try to take on all the suffering of humanity. I am writing a lot, and crying a lot (some of it is due to the weight gain), and I’m trying to tell myself that it’s OK, and that there is someone, myself, who cares about my pain. It’s difficult, but I think my manic episodes made me aware of the path I should be taking, which is about easing the pain of myself as much as I try to ease the pain of the others.

Getty image via korionov

Originally published: April 28, 2018
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