Why Are Manic Episodes So Chaotic?

(CC BY-SA 3.0) Phunk Studio

(CC BY-SA 3.0) Phunk Studio

If you’ve lived anywhere other than under a rock, you’ve likely heard horror stories of folks with Bipolar Disorder. Thankfully, they aren’t all true for everyone, and many are exaggerated. Each person with Bipolar Disorder has their own subset of symptoms and can’t be compared with each other. The most inconvenient manic trait I deal with is starting projects that I don’t complete. My to-do list ends up being extraordinarily long, as I begin project after project. But why? It’s simple enough. I feel compelled to become happy.

It always starts with the need to do something enjoyable. Crafts, video games, puzzles, and music are the high points. Crafts is the hardest, though. I will start a new project, perhaps a bracelet, blanket, or even a pillow. My manic mind is full of great ideas. They really are great, too. It’s not a matter of delusions. Rather, it’s a matter of enthusiastic optimism.

The problem comes in the finishing of the project. See, the manic mind feels compelled to seek further happiness. I could be listening to music, making a beautiful piece of art, totally happy. But it’s not enough. The longer the project takes me, the more likely that I’ll have another great idea, and start another project.

And that’s where the chaos comes from. My manic mind makes excuses for minor messes, even as they pile on. I have no qualms shelving a project, because I know I will come back to it. At least, that’s what my brain says. My desk becomes covered in projects I’m working on, and my pile of unfinished crafts grows.

Are there ways to make things less chaotic? Absolutely. The hardest, but most effective method is to limit myself to one project at a time. I make smaller things, so I can move on when it’s time. I also hold myself to a standard of minimum clutter. If things get too messy, I’m not allowed to start the next project until I’ve tidied and cleaned.

I also talk to Jenny about what I’m doing, and my plans for my project(s). Even taking five minutes to explain can save a lot of trouble. Jenny’s really good at poking holes in a plan, which means I’m much more prepared for trouble if/when it comes. Planning the project thoroughly means that I run into fewer complications that might make the project less fun. Also, it helps me realize when my plan is a little unrealistic.

Each person has to figure out what works for them, of course. Lists, companions, conversation, self-discipline, even meditation: These things all make my life less chaotic. Think about what helps you, and feel free to comment. Maybe you’ve got a nugget or two for me, too?

12 thoughts on “Why Are Manic Episodes So Chaotic?

  1. zooey

    Mania in its true form is not something I’ve experienced. I get severe depression instead. If I could choose, it wouldn’t be that to be sure. ❤

    1. Rory Post author

      YES. God, I feel you. I prefer it this way on a level that borders on obsession, but I don’t like it. It’s just better than being un-medicated.

  2. Megan Mahon

    I happened upon this blog today as I was struggling to find for a meme or something to put into words the mental wrangling I’m dealing with at the moment. Thank you for this blog, at a time where I’m beating myself up for not being able to complete my final assignment of the year! Instead of hiding in my closet, I’m on my way into uni for the final lecture and to talk to my subject coordinators (who I might add have been fantastic and very understanding so far). I totally get the masses of unfinished projects thing you’re talking about- anyone who knows me well knows I have a house full of unfinished/ half-realised projects! Sometimes I want to give up fighting against my bipolar because it can be so mentally and physically exhausting. The things that keep me fighting are my kids, my partner and my friends and family who see my struggles and love me unconditionally anyway. Thanks again for your blog- it’s made me feel less alone.

    1. Rory Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Megan. I desperately need to start writing again. You made my day, and bolstered me. Thank you, too!

  3. titleixadvisor

    Rory, as a fellow bi-polar, I relate to the feelings of chaos associated with mania, and the mess caused by starting project after project and finishing none. A point comes in a mania (or if it is shortly-lived, right after it ends), when I realize I am experiencing mania and have no idea how it will end or what pieces I will have to pick up after. That, to me, is the most frightening part of the mania.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and your honesty!

    1. Rory Post author

      It’s my pleasure, Alec! I really need to get back into the swing of things, here. I’ve just been so busy (and well medicated) that it’s hard to engage with TI long term.

  4. Jeannine

    I would give anything to be on meds. No insurance, no meds, bf calling me alcoholic since I’ve been off meds for two years. Want to give up. Help

    1. Rory Post author

      ❤ Check your area for free clinics. They aren't always available, but they are surprisingly common. Usually they are run by hospitals and churches.

      Please don't give up!

      If your boyfriend is calling you an alcoholic, there are many things that may be wrong. I won't pick sides, but I will point out the things I've struggled with.

      Sometimes, we drink too much and don't realize it because we see the world differently when we don't have medication.

      Sometimes, more communication is needed. Being open and honest with each other is important to both parties in a relationship.

      Sometimes the partner is an ass.

      These are things to think about. There are millions of things that happen in everyone's lives that can't be accounted for, but remember that you and your partner owe it to each other to try to work things out so that your life works for you.

      If you need help, seek it. Hotlines, churches, and so much more are available. Often, therapists and doctors have private practices where they can see you without insurance.

      I've seen a therapist for $3, because it's all I had. There is always hope, if you keep trying.

      So do that. Keep trying. When you feel like you can't any more, call someone. Leave me a comment. Go to a hospital. There are different ways of trying. Just don't stop.

      It gets better. Believe me. It gets so much better. Never give up. You are amazing, you are beautiful, and you are loved. Most importantly: You are worthy and deserving. Treat yourself well, you deserve it!


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