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Mamma Mia! - Manic Episodes

I like to write about the things I find are most misunderstood about mental health, such as my recent posts about anxiety.

One of the others I find most misunderstood is mania.  As most of you know, I am clinically diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. My illness varies between lows and highs.  The lows can be any level of depression, and the highs can be any level of mania.  My periods of mania can last anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days.  Others experience manias for a longer period of time.

It’s hard to describe manic episodes.  At least it is for me anyway.  I can remember being a teenager, before I was diagnosed, and experiencing these crazy highs where I wanted to change the world and really felt like I could do anything.  Little did I know, that these were manic episodes.

Mania makes a person feel many things.  Extreme sense of empowerment, inflated self esteem, euphoria, excessive involvement in pleasurable activities.  Personally, when I’m going through a manic episode I feel like I can accomplish anything, kind of like I’m superman.  I can’t concentrate on any one thing and I stay up for hours thinking of all the things I want to do.  Sometimes I become irrational and call people at all hours of the night or think I can get away with certain things that I can’t.

My manic episodes are usually coerced by something.  Maybe I haven’t gotten enough sleep or there’s big changes in my life or something stressful is happening (positive or negative).

Mania comes with irritability. I find that now that I’m on medications, I experience less of the above symptoms, but the irritability stays the same. I have learned to deal with the irritability with cognitive therapy.  I can become angry about the smallest things.  Anything that slightly annoys me can become a larger issue.  I’ve learned to step aside and take deep breaths until I feel “normal” again, then re-approach the situation.

Sometimes I feel like it would be easier just to be depressed and not have to go through the motions of going up and down all of the time.  Last week I heard someone say they wished they had Bipolar Disorder instead of just depression so they could at least experience something other than the low.  It reminds me of hair.  We all wish we could have opposite of what we have.  Straight hair gals want curly hair and curly haired gals want straight hair.

We've all have to deal with the cards we've been given.  And mania is just one of those things I deal with and I've learned to be okay with.

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