Bad Days and Bad Mania in Bipolar Disorder
I could feel the mania of my bipolar disorder begin, irritability bubbling up, about to explode, and I wanted to cry (Bipolar Mania And The Impact of Manic Symptoms). At 8:30 in the morning, my commuter parking deck on campus was already packed. Once stepping foot outside of the parking deck, the entire campus was crowded and packed with people and cars racing around the city.
I've been at this campus for ages, and this is only the third day of the fall semester. Of course it will be packed. It's time for incoming freshmen to get acclimated, explore, meet new people... Time for football (or basketball at VCU!), city festivals, and trying new restaurants... This should be exciting for me, but instead I feel the Bad Mania of my bipolar disorder coming on.
I've learned over time that I have two types of mania: Good Mania, where I'm more energetic and productive, talkative, and hopeful, and then Bad Mania, where I'm only overly irritable and explosive. These two rarely collide for me, and sometimes I experience Bad Mania more than anything else, such as on those days when I'm surrounded by rushing people and awful city traffic.
How do I know that it's more than just a bad mood or normal irritability? I just know. I know that my Bad Mania has arrived when I begin feeling as if everything is going much slower than I am. My mind is going a mile a minute while every one else is walking slower than I need them to. Computers aren't working quickly enough, traffic lights aren't changing in a timely fashion, others aren't talking quickly enough (The Relationship Between Bipolar And Anger / Aggression).
Sometimes I'm able to cope with this severe irritability, and other times, it feels as if it consumes everything -- every thought, every word that comes out of my mouth, every time I pick up my pen to write.
Ways to Cope
- Positive self-talk: sometimes I can make myself slow down for a second and pay attention to the people around me. Do they seem to be annoyed with the same things I am? If not, take a second to wonder why and tell yourself that everything is and will be okay (Change Negative Thoughts Into Positive Self-Talk).
- Take a second to breathe: This may not make the irritability go away, but it will make you feel better physically.
- Write it all down: Sometimes I write down what I'm irritated with and why it's irritating me. Most of the time I can't pinpoint why I'm irritated, and that signals to me that my irritability is most likely irrational.
- Go run around and exercise. As we all know, exercise can help pretty much anything and everything. Go run or take a walk, even for just a few minutes, and your irritability will subside.
Things to Avoid
- Caffeine. Wait, what? Yes. It's no secret that caffeine stimulates the brain, and it can increase irritability.
- Driving! If you can, avoid driving. There are very few things more irritating while in a bad mood than bad drivers. It's better to be safe than sorry.
- Spending. When I'm manic and irritable, I over-spend, and I feel like there is never anything I can really do about this despite talking myself through everything. I have found two things that do seem to make me stop and take a step back: Placing a sticky note that says "NO!" on my debit card, and to not carry any cash at all.
These things seem simple and obvious, but I have not been able to master them yet and it's much easier said than done. Do you have a Good Mania and Bad Mania? How do you cope, and what do you find that triggers you?
Poe, A. (2013, August 27). Bad Days and Bad Mania in Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/bipolarvida/2013/08/bad-days-and-bad-mania
Author: Alexa Poe
Oh yes, the driving and grocery shopping! It makes me anxious and irritated just thinking about it! Having someone to help you stay accountable is great, and I'm glad you have someone in your life for that!
Also, thank you, and I hope you have a good week as well!