A woman, living with bipolar disorder, describes what it feels like to be hypomanic and manic.
Personal Stories on Living with Bipolar Disorder
"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."
This is a cumulative commentary of episodes I have experienced while manic and hypomanic or in a mixed state. I tried to paint a decent picture of what these states feel like. I have rapid cycling so there are many episodes. I have presented a cumulative overview.
I feel joy juice surging through my veins. I'm drunk on life! A colossal "high" has found me. I'm witty, charming, quick, talkative and effervescent. Everything becomes deeply fascinating and brilliant. Euphoria is an understatement. I want to share this feeling with everyone so I compulsively call people randomly on the phone while chatting on the computer. I call psychics or get an online consult because I know they can guide me ending up spending countless dollars. I have several windows on my computer open at once as I multi-task. I'm chatting with strangers, shopping for things I don't need, researching for my web site, writing letters and more. Even though I am easily distracted, I can still do all of this because I'm ingenious. I spend hours on-line looking at meaningful quotations that I can connect with and perusing through my CD collection browsing for profound lyrics. Music becomes especially meaningful and touches my soul. Songs repeat over and over again in my head with fleeting swiftness, as I continue to change the CDs quickly in succession. Laughter is infectious, I crack up at everything and find humor in moronic things and I expect others to laugh with me as well. I feel seductive and sensual thinking I can take lovemaking to a new height. I'm running around my house with almost nothing on right in front of the windows. I can clean with lightening speed and get dazzling results. I have little time for sleep because I'm too absorbed with activity. At times irritability creeps in and I'm easily annoyed. I quip at small and senseless things. Eventually the mood changes and it becomes something else.
It starts out with that hypomanic elevated feeling and progresses into a monster of it's own.
Before I was diagnosed:
1985: Agitation and Irritability
I haven't been to sleep in three days. I'm buzzing down the road erratically and much too fast behind the wheel of a car I have no business driving. I'm having a seriously heated argument (about what I don't know) with my fiancÃ© (now my husband). My irritability is off the Richter scale. My mind is racing, things are jumbled, and I am not making clear conversation. The pressure is on for me to keep yelling regardless if it makes sense or not. Thoughts that come out of my mouth are disconnected and don't have any rationale to them. The faster I speak, the more agitated I become. I am distracted by everything around me. Greg is alarmed by my behavior, but doesn't say so. I am screaming and yelling...he says very little. I pull over to the curb and summon him out of the car. He stares at me with bewildered tearful eyes and eventually gets out. I squeal the tires and zoom down the road, leaving him 100 blocks from home with no money to catch the bus. He walks all the way back to my house.
1987: A Grandiose Trip
I'm think I am thinking clearly today even though I'm a bit racy and my thoughts are accelerating quickly. Flights of ideas are fabulous. The cogs are turning. I am overwhelmed by everything that surrounds me. I think I'm well off. No, I know it. I can afford anything I want. Payment plans were created for me! I'm planning a vacation to Mexico. After all, I deserve it. Feeling extremely animated, I picture myself drinking exotic libations under a cool palm tree and feeling the romance of a far off and wondrous place. Xtapa/Zihuatanejo sounds perfect! The travel brochures speak to me! I impulsively book a an expensive vacation and put it on a credit card and tell my husband afterwards. He wants to please me so he agrees because he has no idea at this point what is wrong with me. The trip turns out to be a $6000.00 mess.
Manic episodes for me start out like a powerful rush of ecstasy. One experiences certain bravado and elevated esteem. I feel creative, intuitive, and giddy. I've functioned on a level of working 12-hour plus days with little or no sleep for long periods of time because I have "projects" in my mind. Sleep eventually ceases for the most part. I become much more chatty then usual and will converse with just about anyone. The need to be heard is exhausting. I've become so intoxicated on occasions that I have "blacked out" and had no memory of my actions. I do remember one episode when I was manic that I drank to excess and played a piano at my place of business (hotel) until 5AM in the morning. The funny thing is, I don't play the piano. I ran the risk of disturbing sleeping guests and being fired. I have spent thousands of dollars on trips, cars, clothes, etc., etc. My energy is monumental. I'm a seductress with an alluring grin. My discretion is reckless at best. I can't even keep up with all the ideas floating around in my head. This level can continue for a good period of time...then things change.
Thoughts begin to race faster and faster; speech becomes jagged and disconnected. People look at me funny because I can't connect my thoughts to my utterances. Then it really gets bad because the irritability and anger come into play and sometimes violence. Merriment ceases altogether I start to lose touch with reality because nothing I process is accurate. I think my medication is poison so I refuse to take it. Paranoia creeps in and things turn into frightening thoughts. My brain deludes my consciousness and things become very alarming. Arguments become extremely intense, possessions get destroyed, and I become completely out of control. I have seen spider like things crawling in my foot and a large creature from a sci-fi movie moving around in the light in my bedroom. The horror of this is immense. I am entangled in my mind. The next thing I know I crash and wind up in the hospital or end up taking more pills of many colors...pretty yellow, pink, and white. My cycles are rapid most of the time.
I'm coming out of my skin. I am so depressed and hopeless that I can't stand it yet I can't turn my brain off. I have racing thoughts and am ruminating about suicide. I'm sitting in bed with my laptop multi-tasking with many windows open, tearfully looking at the screen. I have a cornucopia of emotions swirling around in my mind. I can't concentrate and am very frenzied. I have it in my thoughts to clean, but I walk aimlessly around my house from room to room and am not able to function. I just can't clean anything. I can't sleep, don't want to eat and am busy busy busy. I am so incredibly agitated and irritable. I snap at my husband for no reason at all. Everything is completely out of whack! I'm in an emotional overload and I can't control it. I hold my hands to my ears and shake my head back and forth to try and silence my brain. The disorganization in my mind is too much to bear! I just want to escape but I am not able to. More pills or a nice trip to the fruit loop factory.