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.