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Mania

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Edited by Annie Storkey, Friday, 27 May 2022, 11:53

I have just blogged about my recent depression but now I want to tell you about mania, as I guess most people don’t really understand what it is like.

I consider hypo-mania, that is, low grade mania, a normal part of my every day life. When I am hypomanic, I have constant racing thoughts in my head, like a dialogue with myself (just to be clear, I’m not hearing voices; I’ve never had auditory hallucinations). I have a heightened awareness of my surroundings, of colour and noise, and it is often an enjoyable experience, though the discourse can cause anxiety when you replay conversations and mistakes from 30 years ago.

It is hard to say when hypomania tips into mania, I think it is when I start feeling tipsy and my thoughts become more grandiose. My internal discourse contains grand speeches where I share my words of wisdom with the world and everyone hangs on my every word. I see myself as charming and engaging, with my eyes twinkling like diamonds (and I can understand how someone with psychosis might be deluded enough to imagine they are diamonds). I am excitable, wanting to engage with the world, to run down paths with my arms outstretched. I am lucky that I have a lot of insight and control when in a manic state so I don’t do anything to embarrass myself in public; this is how I manage to continue as high functioning within society. I’m also lucky to have seldom experienced psychosis, though I understand and appreciate the thin line between reality and delusion in mental illness.

I can tell my moods from my shopping habits; I told my GP when my depression started by looking at my PayPal account. When I am manic, I shop more and buy frivolous items or several pairs of identical shoes in different colours. This morning I started browsing for colourful tops for my summer holiday, yellows and corals. My Mad March Mania is very late this year.

If you want to read a book about experiencing bipolar disorder, I recommend Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, an autobiography of a manic depressive written by an academic expert on manic depression. I don’t agree with everything she says from a medical perspective but her descriptions of her emotional states and behaviour were very recognisable to me, as well as the vulnerability of academics/medical professionals declaring their mental illness.

Annie


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OU Mental Health and wellbeing Conference

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Edited by Annie Storkey, Wednesday, 12 Jan 2022, 10:32

Wednesday and Thursday I was at the the OU Mental Health and wellbeing Conference and what an amazing event it was. There was a wide range of interesting speakers with different perspectives, some great opportunities to share ideas with colleagues and the atmosphere warm and supportive. It is so encouraging to see hundreds of colleagues getting together to discuss how we can improve the health and wellbeing of staff and students. I really enjoyed attending and hope this event becomes an annual one. Many thanks to the organisers, speakers and participants for making it an enjoyable and worthwhile event.

However, 2 days of discussing mental health, with the anxiety of presenting my own work, has left me exhausted and hypomanic, with racing thoughts. This is hardly surprising after such intense activity. So I decided to opt out of the AL conference today and tomorrow (I knew this was a risk when signing up) to give my brain a chance to settle down and I might skip the mental health workshop next Tuesday. You can have too much of a good thing.

Annie

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March mania

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Edited by Annie Storkey, Friday, 12 Jun 2020, 12:04

Having blogged about the February blues a month ago I thought I'd speak about the antidote now. For whilst February is a dark month for me, March is an altogether different thing. You see, there is a recognised rise in hypomania amongst people with bipolar disorder in March.

This shouldn't be surprising as many people with bipolar disorder also have seasonal affective disorder. But I think it goes beyond just having longer days with more sun. March is full of bright new things; the flowers are out, the blossom is on the trees, the birds are singing, the days are warmer... and people prone to mania tend to react to stimuli. I love March, I love walking in the sun and looking at nature in bud all around me. I find walking both a grounding experience and a joyful one. My love of March is matched by my love of September, 6 months later, when the seasons again go through a dramatic change.

The clocks will change tomorrow and British Summertime begins. Rejoice!


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