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24 Photos That Show What Mania Really Looks Like

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If depression is the “sad” side of bipolar disorder, mania is the “happy” side — or so people assume. The truth is, mania is so much more complicated than that. Yes, there can be joy in mania. There can be energy and creativity, and it’s not inherently all bad. But, there’s another side of mania we can’t ignore — one that involves impulsive or destructive behavior that may leave you feeling out of control.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Everyone’s experience with mania is unique. To get a snapshot, we asked people in our bipolar disorder community to show us a photo that represents mania to them. We hope these photos give a more realistic representation of what mania really “looks” like.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1.A couple months ago, I had an episode that included making a ton videos on the TikTok app, drinking a bunch and then I had a ‘photo shoot’ in my backyard. Mania messes me up more than depression. I had so much false confidence, I was bouncing off the walls with energy and sent some ‘risqué’ photos to a guy I knew would appreciate them. This photo seems like just a fun representation, but it’s hiding a Manic Monster.” — Autumn G.

2. “I took this just a few days before shaving all of my hair off. I get really gutsy with my hair when I am manic. I also get hypersexual which is also shown here. You will notice the bags under my eyes too. That is because I hadn’t slept in 36 hours and counting, all due to full-blown mania.” — Moon N.

3. “I literally dressed up as the anthropomorphic personification of ‘mania’ for Halloween last year (my also-bipolar significant other was ‘depression’). My manic episodes don’t get too ‘nutty’ since I only ever get hypomanic, but it’s a lot like the bright, clashing colors and patterns in my outfit. There are a million things going on at once and it’s hard to just focus on one. And I’m a lot like Tigger too, which is why he got carried around all night.” — Lissa P.

4. “My last hypomanic episode. This was after about two hours of sleep after a very long night of drunk impulsive decisions that left me in a state of self-destruction in the morning when I finally came home. My comment on this was, ‘Setbacks don’t stop progress,’ because in that moment I still felt amazing, even after self-harming and wanting to disappear only hours before. I was ready to take on the world again and nothing would stop me.” —  James T.

5. This was 15 years ago during my first hypomanic episode that ended up reaching full-blown mania. I thought I was hiding from the paparazzi. It’s been 10 years since my last manic episode and I never want to get to that point ever again.” — Laura M.

6. “See the bags under my eyes? I hadn’t slept in a couple days. I ended up at the mall with my daughter flitting from store to store. I ended up at the ER later that day.” — Tomma M.

7. “Wearing rainbow eyeshadow and rainbow clothes mid-hypomania after weeks of overexercising, lack of appetite, excessive spending, new and intense interests, hypersexuality, endless energy, needing no sleep, singing and dancing every day while cleaning or in the car, running around with my dogs and feeling way too confident. After coming back from a holiday to see my psychiatrist, I was wearing aqua eyeshadow and purple lipstick and demanded new medication and reeled of all the side effects, interactions, off labels uses, trials, etc. in an arrogant way. Now, I’ve headed from hypomania to a mixed state and I’m feeling all over the place and scared as I usually just go straight to mania.” — Jess B. 

8. “Bought that after I wrecked my other one. Manic both times. Purchase of first car, wrecking the first, and buying the second. Both the same cars. And driving 143mph in it. Now I can barely work up the energy to drive it.” — Brandon N.

9. “I joined a sewing and quilting club in August 2015. And after four months of experience and $3,000+ in supplies, I was completing a project that only well-seasoned quilters would take on. But the sleepless nights and hours of focused work led me to finish this quilt piece which in itself took about 30 or so hours of work.” — Morgan T.

10. “Ended up in Seaside Oregon with my ex both of us manic as hell. The picture really does speak for itself. Trip did not turn out well at all! I spent every single penny in my accounts.” — Nicole S.

11. “This is me coming down from a manic phase and realizing all the ‘dumb’ stuff I did and hating myself for it.” — Nikita W.

12. “It was 3 a.m. in a shopping mall that was unlocked because it was under construction. Thanks, BFF, for taking my photo instead of realizing that I needed help… oh well.” — Britt L.

13. “During manic episodes I tend to want to change my look; a haircut, new wild color, something. Last year I decided I wanted/needed a piercing… I ended up getting four of them… in my face.” — Tricia R.

14. “I love this little flower. When I took this picture I was right outside of my therapist’s office. I ended up being 15 minutes late because I needed to take like 200 pictures of that little flower. I love ‘beauty mania’ until it turns into ‘code mania.’” — Nicole S.

15. “Being so careless and reckless I don’t even know or remember how I got these bruises, and at the time I didn’t care either. I just thought they looked cool.” — Nikita W.

16. “When I was manic I decided to go to a carnival alone. I left looking like this. I was the only adult that got their face painted.” — Sarah G.

17. “Manic Thando. Her name is Tina and the orange wig seems to find its way out the closet every episode. She is hypersexual, hypersensitive and most of all full of an insurmountable amount of energy.” — Thando T.

18. “This is me in a psych hospital room after being admitted against my will by police with a manic episode. I remember doing that pose because I always told not to speak about my mental illness. I’m wearing headphones that quietly played music all day because it kept the intense thoughts at bay and was hard to hear them over the music that constantly distracted me.” — Sammy E.

19. “I have ultra rapid cycling mixed states with psychosis. Some days I can go from feeling invincible and full of euphoria to crashing into deep depression, over and over. My mania isn’t always fun, it is not always happy. My mania can fill me with terror, paranoia, constant feelings of uncertainty and absolute misery. I took this photo of myself during an episode because I wanted to see it from the outside. The beauty of my cycles is the knowledge that no matter where I am, it will pass. The curse of my cycles is that I never know when, or what’s coming next.” — Jordan R.

20. “I see everything in heightened color and tricks of light, as if energy wraps around everything. I experience mania in colors — the energy is pink and yellow. It’s like there’s energy trying to burst out of my skin. I get an idea to do something and can’t stop until it’s out of my head, like this painting. But I got bored towards the end and just wanted to finish it so it doesn’t have the detail I planned for the ground and I couldn’t even wait for it to dry to take a photo of it and post it on Instagram.” — Barbara W.

21. “This is during a manic episode where I became incredibly irritable with myself for carelessly sleeping with someone I know isn’t good for me. I stayed in the bath for hours and scrubbed my body until I almost bled.” — Tori H.

22. “‘Crazy’ eyed from the manic episode. Severe rash from one of the bipolar medications my psychiatrist prescribed to calm the episode. Short hair from the hair cut I got impulsively. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder is no joke.” — Amanda F.

23. “I go through periods where I endlessly draw. Sometimes it’s meaningful and depicts my mood/s. Other times it’s more random.” — Kim H.

24. “When I’m manic, I tend to want to get tattoos. I got this ‘Harry Potter’ one when I was rapid cycling. Oddly, the pain of getting tattoos is the clearest my mind has been while manic. However, it still seems reckless in that I wasn’t healthy and couldn’t afford them each time.” — Cody S.

What does mania looks like for you? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published: October 24, 2018
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