What it’s really like to be manic when you have bipolar disorder

I’m manic. Utterly and ridiculously manic. 

I have bipolar disorder type 1 – which means that, yes, I have ‘up and down’ moods, but that I experience mania more than I do depression.

For me, mania isn’t waking up in the middle of the night to run around naked.

It’s a constant guilty, adrenaline-filled feeling that I try to numb with anxiety tablets but refuses to leave until I reach stability again.

It’s my thoughts racing at a mile a minute, so much so that I can’t concentrate and I have to focus on one thing at a time in order to get things done.

It’s having ‘brilliant’ ideas that are either dangerous (i.e. spending £1000 in a week, which I’ll admit to) and feeling as though you’re invincible – which can also be rather dangerous.

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It’s suddenly becoming irritable and angry, because it’s not only the depressed stages that make you emotional.

It’s experiencing anger that’s almost uncontrollable – so much so that you often have to take yourself to one side in fear of hurting someone or saying something you’ll regret.

I was stable for around 8 months, and funnily enough, I thought I missed my mania. I thought the medication I was on had numbed me, that I was no fun anymore – just enough person in the crowd.

But since the mania has returned, I’ve realised just how much I hate it.

I hate it because it’s not me.

I hate it because I end up making decisions that I’ll later regret.

I hate it because I feel as though the decisions I make aren’t even my decisions. As silly as it sounds, when I’m stable, I feel like a totally different person has made those decisions for me and then left the real me to deal with the consequences.

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I don’t trust myself when I’m manic. I don’t trust anything I say, because I’m convinced in a few months, when I eventually lose the mania, I’ll regret it all.

Because of this, I feel the need to explain to those around me where my head’s at when I’m like this. Otherwise, I’m worried I’ll say the wrong thing and they won’t understand.

Personally, I feel this works for me. Not because I should have to reveal how I’m feeling mentally, but it puts me at ease knowing that some slip-ups can be forgiven.

It relaxes me and when I know that the person I’m with knows that I’m manic, I end up not really making any slip-ups at all, as I’m no longer focusing on the mania in that moment.

Luckily, I have amazing people around me who understand that sometimes, I’m just not myself. And to them, that’s alright – they accept me for it.

But I know there’s so many people out there who aren’t comfortable with their friends knowing what’s going on with their mental health, simply because they feel ashamed of it. And that saddens me.

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It’s also exactly why I’m writing this piece – to highlight just how mental illness can affect a person and how important it is to be surrounded by supportive people when you need the support most.

I’m also writing this piece for those who don’t understand mental illness. It can affect people in very different ways – whether they’re high or low. Being high doesn’t always mean thinking you have super powers, and being low doesn’t always mean not leaving your house for days.

Everybody deals with mental illness in different ways; and it’s really important we remember that – and acknowledge that because of the ways we deal with things, it’s not always obvious that someone’s struggling.

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