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What People Get Wrong About Mania

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People often have this misconception that mania is fun, that it is exciting, exhilarating and exceptionally productive. In reality, full blown mania is exhausting, excruciating and exceptionally chaotic. Hypomania, on the other hand, can be fun for me. So, for those of you who don’t quite understand the difference, please let me lay out for you what hypomania and mania look like to me.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Hypomania can be a precursor to mania. When I am starting to get hypomanic, I do feel good. My thoughts speed up, I’m productive and I have lots of great ideas. I can stay up late and wake up early. I enjoy planning things and executing those plans.

I make a bunch of dates to hang out with friends and get a little more daring in my daily life. I make rash and sometimes bad decisions, but they are based on reality in some way and not entirely out there in left field. I can cruise through books, write for hours and create beautiful pieces of art without having any symptoms of “writer’s or artist’s block.”

Hypomania seems like a good thing, right? Life just seems better, more efficient and more enjoyable. I am creative, alive and happy.

However, there is a catch. Hypomania is unstable. It can quickly turn into a deep depression, or, for me, it typically turns into mania or mixed mania. When I become manic, there are no more good ideas. They are out of control. My ideas come so fast that before I can act on one, I switch to another and another and another.

It gets to the point where sometimes I sit on the couch with my head clenched in my hands begging my brain to stop. Then, I get impulsive. I act without thinking about any thoughts for long. I don’t think. I just react to my mind. I get out of control and irrational.

In my last severe manic episode (thank God it was years ago), I slept with a few strangers a week. I tried drugs. I drank too much, sped too fast and bought too many things I didn’t need. I made terrible decisions, and I hurt people emotionally.

The entire time I’m manic, I know what is coming later. I can’t stop my mind from derailing. I am out of control. Yet, there comes a place in mania where you reach a turning point. Yet, there isn’t a “hypo-depression.” You don’t slowly fall out of mania and gently come back down. You crash, and you crash hard. Once the mania is through with me, it hurtles me into a deep depression. That is the other dark side of the coin.

Neither one is anything you would want to have. Both mania and depression are awful in their own right. I have often found people glorifying the manic side of bipolar disorder, as if somehow it is the opposite of depression, as if everything is great, fantastic and fun.

It isn’t. Mania is full blown chaos and catastrophe. I wish more people understood this part of bipolar disorder. When I say I’m manic or I’ve experienced mania, it doesn’t mean I’ve been on a joyride. I haven’t been to the epitome of happiness. No, far from it. Mania can be destructive and terrible.

Mania is not fun.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: October 12, 2016
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