After the post about how depression feels like, I got loads of requests to write something about mania. First of all, manic episodes can be pleasant as well as really unpleasant. Have you ever regretted what you did after you were so drunk you cleaned your hands with a fridge magnet? Well, that is how mania feels like. You act and feel like you are absolutely over your limit drunk or high on Coke, and not the good kind.
Not everybody experiences mania in the same way or extremity. Mania usually goes with being impulsive, promiscuity, talking way too much, you laugh and you kind of act like the Joker in Batman. Except your hair doesn’t suddenly turn green and you don’t get a kickass evil laugh or become a psychopath. Your mood is elevated and you have an amazing self-esteem, you feel like Beyoncé and act like one of the Kardashians. Also, you can still be enthusiastic with none or very little sleep and feel great and energetic. You’re also very goal-oriented and productive, so remember when you wanted to do that DIY-thing you saw on Pinterest? Well, go take some flats and glue two dinosaurs to the soles and make yourself some high heels.
And then there’s the bad part, you have the constant need to take part in pleasurable activities, activities that can lead to pretty bad consequences. Activities like swiping your credit card until you can smell burnt plastic, making stupid investments and doing things you don’t think through. Things like sexual indiscretions, where your manic episode leads to hypersexuality. Hypersexuality is pretty much what it sounds like, a sudden increase in sexual urges or sexual activity. Another symptom is extreme impulsivity, for example getting weird tattoos and piercings or coming out of a salon looking like My Little Pony.
But, like everything that has to do with mood disorders or mental health in general, it always differs. Even mania itself differs, you get hypomania and mania. Hypomania is the lesser of two evils and the symptoms of the manic episode aren’t that extreme. But, you still do stupid stuff, like getting a weird or hideous tattoo.
I remember the day well, I went with a friend who thought long and hard about her tattoo, and while holding her hand I decided I’m getting a tattoo as well. No, not my cool Project Semicolon tattoo that gets me through the day. No, moi got a Batman tattoo on her side-boob, and although I still love my BatTat, I can’t help wondering how weird it’s going to look like when I’m old – a raisin version of the Bat signal? Also, I was so anxious that Ben Affleck was going to mess this choice up for me.
So yes, you know the movie The Hangover? It’s pretty much like that, and you do wake up with a tattoo of Zach Galifianakis. When it comes to a manic episode you have unrealistic beliefs in your abilities and you feel indestructible. Some people even get agitated, furious and aggressive. Apparently, it’s a huge party in your head, like being on MDMA or VERY drunk.
But how does every out-of-control-party end? With regrets and a headache. And so does mania, after a manic or even hypomanic episode, you crash. You fall into that hole I’ve spoken so many times of before in my previous post, a depression episode. It can be days, months or even a year or more. Every person’s depression or manic state differs in length.
The relapses I have, like the one I’m experiencing at the moment, can be awful. I blacked out because my brain was trying to compensate for the state I was in. That’s how important those hormones are for a person to function. Side-effects can be awful, but at least you can sort of function normally.
So, I guess you can say I drink my meds to keep the party in my head low-key and stormless. Just the way I like my social festivities.
Please feel free to comment with your opinion or story. This post was originally written on 18 September 2016.