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The 5 Steps of My Bipolar Mania ‘Comedown’

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Having bipolar disorder can feel like I’m “coming down” when mania filters out of my system. It wears off and I’m jittery, anxious, depressed, feeling worthless and needing that mania again, but I’m unable to obtain it.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

After my mania wears off, I have to go through my own personal version of a comedown, recovery and prevention of relapse. These are the five steps of my mania comedown.

1. Guilt.

I feel the guilt of when I called my mother names from acting out, saying things I never would in a rational, calmer mindset.

2. Worthlessness.

The worthlessness makes me feel that I, as a person, must not be deserving to live when these things are what I’m contributing to the world and to my family. It isn’t who I want to be seen as, but it’s a part of the picture my illness painted.

3. Regret.

The regret might become dull with time and I might be forgiven, but I don’t think I’ll forget the way I’ve felt every time the guilt from the rushing mania reality has come slamming into my face.

4. Embarrassment.

Ah yes, embarrassment. When manic, I don’t have a filter of what is “appropriate” to say and not say most of the time. I talk too personally about things no one asked about or say things that, after I’m baselined, I’m embarrassed about. I act in certain ways that I never, ever do when I’m stable. This has to be the biggest cringe-worthy part of recovery.

5. Fatigue.

It’s exhaustion, my mind coming to a complete halt. My brain went from going fast-paced and on top of the world to crashing to a stop so unpredictably, it was dizzying.

My Mania Recovery and Mood Relapse Prevention List

1. I can’t skip a single dose of medication. 

They have to be taken on time at the same times of the day repeatedly. This alone takes 2-3 days to feel my brain’s chemicals re-balance.

2. Stay on a predictable, consistent daily routine.

This is just as challenging as medication. I have to get myself dressed when I feel like I should be lying in bed wasting my unhelpful life away, and eating when I think I shouldn’t. I have to remind myself I’m worth loving and I have to move forward so I can contribute in the ways I normally would want to.

3. Getting enough sleep by going to bed/waking up on time, with the aids of music, self-care and even natural sleep aids.

If in the middle of mania, this is a big struggle. When entering recovery from mania, it is either really easy or just as challenging. My mind will either welcome shutting out the world and my own storm cloud of self-loathing so making myself sleep is A-OK, or my mind is so exhausted and tapped out that shutting off and sleeping, my mind almost won’t let me. It can be exactly like mania, but with less music and dancing around the house at 2 a.m.

4. Honest communication.

This might be me, but I practice a “total truth” after mania because I’m prone to lying or avoiding talking about things I shouldn’t be doing to my health when I was manic, such as: “Did you get X amount of sleep? Oh yeah, totally,” or “Did you skip any meds? Who me? Psh, no.”

To recover, I’ll admit the truth to things like this so I can get back to baseline. Communicating is key. Lying for me can be a bipolar trigger and send me back on the road to mania, and this recovery will start all the way back to square one. Not worth it, in my opinion. 

5. Apologizing to those I felt I did wrong.

This probably feels cathartic to me. Admitting the wrongdoings my manic mind wouldn’t admit feels almost like I’m undoing some of the damage. I open myself to forgiveness from others but also forgiveness towards myself and that, I think, is really important.

6. Monitor moods and triggers with a daily mood tracker.

I use the app Daylio, but there are multiple great and free mood and symptom trackers for Apple/Android smartphone and computer users, along with free printable paper ones as well.

This is essential for future prevention of mania or depression. Keeping track of symptoms and possible exposure to triggers can aid in tracking if the mood will elevate or drop, and helps me adjust myself if I know I’m becoming manic or depressed so I can prevent having to enter a “recovery” stage altogether.

7. Ask myself the following questions to identify mood triggers.

These questions were taken from

Are there signs I’m getting sick due to a current situation? 

Am I letting excitement get in the way of reality?

Am I really seeing the whole picture?

Are people telling me to be careful?

Is the person or situation I’m attracted to causing mood swings?

Am I walking into a situation that made me sick in the past?

The struggle with any “addictive” feeling, such as mania, is resisting the highs it promises. Even if I can remember the consequences from when I’ve “fallen off the wagon,” there are still times I don’t keep myself on the straight and narrow and fall for the trick of how “happy” I might feel. It can feel really great for a really short amount of time.

Mania isn’t just feeling really happy and confident; it can cause recklessness or impulsive behaviors, serious irritability and anger, and can warp how you view things. You might want to to try risky things that might be, at worst, life-threatening. The consequences of submitting to being manic aren’t worth the energy and inflated self-esteem trade-offs, and sometimes, I don’t even get the inflated self-esteem. I’m just anxious, moody and have my mind racing so fast I can hardly keep up.

Bipolar recovery and staying “clean” is a daily requirement to staying truly healthy and happy. Some days are easier than others, but as long as I keep trying and stick with it, I’m able to enjoy a more “normal” semblance of happiness and be more content with my life. Being stable is and always will be better than the highs of my mania.

Photo by Jasper Graetsch on Unsplash

Originally published: May 5, 2018
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