Tag Archives: Mania

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?

The Manic Voice

Image in the public domain.

Image in the public domain.

Jenny gets me. Like, totally. Jenny totally gets me. God, that sounds dumb the more I say it, but I don’t know how else to get the point across: Jenny understands the freaking weirdo who types these words better than anyone should know anyone, regardless of relationship. Case in point? Apparently, she can hear my “Manic Voice”. That’s a big deal, people.

The Manic Voice is the part of my head that fills in the gaps. Let’s say I know ABCEFG about a subject. My brain is really good at adding the “D” in there.  There are a lot of little factors that go into the “D” factor. Here’s list:

  • My knowledge of the general subject.
  • My perceived knowledge of the general subject.
  • My knowledge of similar topics.
  • The number of times I’ve discussed this topic before.
  • The number of people I’ve discussed this, and similar topics, with.
  • The level of my mania.
  • The level of my anxiety.
  • My self-esteem that in that moment.

Jenny, the miracle of a person she is, has learned to hear something in my voice that indicates that the Manic Voice has joined the conversation. Sometimes, I’m right, sometimes, I’m wrong. Always, Jenny is willing to chime in.

I discussed this with my new case worker today, and she told me to tell Jenny that she is a miracle. I have to agree. Jenny is my reality check, and that makes my life just about perfect. Except, you know, when it’s not. Whatever.

Now, I bring all this up, because I have learned to retro-actively apply a filter to some conversations and situations in which my Manic Voice was doing the talking. It’s been eye opening, and is kind of fun, dissecting my life in a whole new way. I might learn some new stuff about myself. I might even remember to tell you about it.

How novel.

Question Everything. Mania Makes You a Liar (kinda).

Says so little.

Says so little.

This weekend, I did a lot of cool stuff. I made bread. I hung out with people I don’t see often. I generally did stuff. I also said a lot of things, and made promises.

Monday night, I came to the realization that I had been manic. Sometimes, it sneaks up on you!

The problem here is that I have to question everything I said over the weekend. For example, I had to question whether I was going to make fresh bread every week. While manic I was like, “Every week from now on. Forever.” After my crash, I had to look at the huge bag of flour we bought at a warehouse store, and decide whether I am actually going to be making homemade bread for the rest of my adult life.

Answer: HELL YES. Oh, my God, homemade bread is amazing. Also, it’s healthier. It’s like mana from Heaven, but with all the carbs of real food!

I’m glad I still want to make the bread. But it could easily have been the opposite. Jenny would have killed me, but that wouldn’t have changed my mind on whether I will spend 6 hours every weekend making bread. I’ve changed my mind on so many things, I’m amazed Jenny still lets me make decisions.

Also, neither of us trusts me to manage money because all the planning in the world goes right out the window when I have-to-have-a-soda-right-now. How much worse can it get, right? Wrong. I have spent thousands of dollars of student loans on stupid shit. Once, I bought an XBOX, a PS3, a Wii, two new computers, with 27 inch HD TV monitors.

I had a thousand justifications for it at the time, but what it came down to is this: I live in two worlds. I have normal life, and then I have a world that has different physics, laws, thrills, consequences, etc. It never ends.

I like some people more when I’m not medicated. Those people usually include assholes. Those times are also when I’m most likely to be an asshole. I don’t love people enough, and I treat good people like crap. I have made it my goal for the last year to not burn any bridges while upset. It allows me to not regret when I let a friendship lapse. Either I don’t want it to continue, or even better, when I do want to reinvest in a relationship, there are no hard feelings. I just say, “sorry we haven’t talked in a while, I’ve been bonkers,” and we move on with our days, happy to have talked to each other.

One day, I will think I have it trumped. And that will be the worst symptom of all, because I’ll want to go off of my meds. I pray that day only comes when I have Jenny to kick my ass. I will need it. There are two things I know will be true for the rest of my life; I will love Jenny until I die, and I will always need medication.

Until next time. Don’t let your mental illness lie to you, and don’t let it make you a liar. Think before you follow your compulsions, and love everyone all the time.

Without Mania

Image from NAMINH.org

Image from NAMINH.org

Today, we went to our NAMI walk in Phoenix. Jenny and I did the 2.9k walk, with hundreds of others. The walk raised $134,250 as of today! It was a great experience, and a big thank you to everyone who donated, volunteered, and walked.

Jenny and I also talked to dozens of people, and we got stories for and took pictures of dozens of people for The Face of Mental Illness. I also learned something about myself.

I can still “turn on” my manic behavior. I can present with good energy, confidence, and a friendly demeanor. But I don’t have the chemicals to back that up. I used up all my reserves, and now I’m just plain wiped out!

Tomorrow is an exciting day for The Face, though, because we got some awesome pictures to share, including Miss Arizona International! I’m so glad to be part of this awesome new project.

I’m going to go sleep now. Yes, at 2:45 in the afternoon. I’m running on empty. I just wanted to check in with you guys, because I know you care. Carry on!

Non-Manic Frenzies

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter that I’m not manic. I’ve been dealing with it for so long, some of the behaviors are just, well, habits. It really sucks, because there’s nothing my meds can do to fix this stuff. It can only come with therapy, and behavioral awareness. It will take time, but I can do it. The real bitch of it is that sometimes, I make these super ambitious plans that are totally not realistic. It’s not that I’m manic, and I think I can actually finish them on time. It’s that I think I should have big goals, because I always have big goals. I then have to follow through on them. And, I’m kind of terrible at that part.

Image from memegenerator.net

Image from memegenerator.net

Right now, I’ve got sewing projects, embroidery projects, doll making projects, you name it. On top of that, I’ve scheduled a group cooking session, and I have dance lessons this afternoon. Oy. I keep myself busy! Oh, and did I mention, I have to have the sewing project done by Friday morning? Yeah, that’s not super likely to happen. So, my only choice is to sit back, take a deep breath, and re-prioritize. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

We will see what I get done this week. It may all work out. Then again, I just remembered that I have to pack for a trip this weekend. So yeah, that sewing project isn’t getting done. Oh well. Good thing I didn’t promise anyone that it would be done. Or, you know, that I was going to do it at all. /yay.

So, What I do about this is look into my own brain. I think about things like “are my thoughts racing?” or “Do I feel invincible?”. This lets me think critically about why I am doing something, and I can view the current project with a more critical eye. This allows me to consider more realistic options, and form realistic goals. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s totally worth it. We will see what I can get done this week. Maybe I will surprise myself. If I do, it will be because I have lowered my expectations for the week to more manageable levels.

Thanks for listening, dear reader. Carry on.

Problems Are Problematic. Or Something.

Temper: Happy. Doll and Photo: Rory Stark

Temper: Happy. Doll and Photo: Rory Stark

I do so much in the effort to not be offensive. It hurts a lot when someone starts drama. It seems like no matter how hard I try, people think I’m just out to start crap. You know what it boils down to? Honesty.

I’m serious. I’ll be completely honest with someone. No judgement, just the truth. Person A gets offended by my candor, and runs to Person B and tells them that I was inferring something outrageous.

That’s just not the case. The truth is, if I think you are doing something wrong, I will tell you. If I am mad at you, I will tell you. If I seem distant, or just not as overwhelmingly friendly as normal, please just bear in mind that I may be having a bad day, damn-it!

Sorry, had to get that out there.

On another note, my meds have stopped working. I’m not depressed, or suicidal, thank God. I am, however, manic. And I don’t just mean “slow down you are talking to fast” type manic. I mean the “I haven’t slept in a week, why are you talking to me, and oh, by the way, why are you in the personal bubble I grew 5 minutes ago?!” type of manic. It’s hard to focus for too long, and every little interaction is strained.

Sorry if the editing isn’t the best, I’ve already corrected over 50 errors. 53. Okay, I’m going to stop counting. 55. Okay, really, I am stopping, this is ridiculous. (56)

On the plus side, I’ve been getting a lot done, and (mostly) enjoying myself. I’m a bit oversensitive, and a little more socially awkward than normal, but, thems the pits, buddy. I am trying to go a few days without any caffeine to see if that helps me slow down, but so far, no luck.

On an unrelated note, I’m tired of being an uptight prude on the blog that is supposed to be my outlet, so here goes: FUCK!

*giggle* Yes, kids, this blog may now be nsfw.  You have been warned.

I’m Still Dying, I Promise

Sitting here, crying my eyes out, I wonder why I haven’t killed myself. I have dreamt, wished and planned. I have tried. But I’ve never succeeded, thankfully. But it occurs to me: Why am I not dead yet? It struck me today; I participate in the slowest, most painful form of suicide possible. Living.

I don’t mean to sound like some broken emo song. Though, I would probably be a good song writer, if it came down to it. It’s just that, thinking about the world in terms of my life shrinking every day helps me deal with the fact that I’m still alive.

It’s funny, because for most people, thinking about their long life makes it easier to die, but for me, thinking about dying someday helps me deal with the fact that I am physically healthy. Of course, this comes with the caveat that if I do anything to improve my health, then I am actively working on living longer.. and gosh, that’s depressing. It is, however, a bitch of a hard spot to be in, since living healthier is one of the best treatments for any mental health issue.

I do little things that fall somewhere in between. I make sure I eat a balanced diet whenever I can, but I never agonize over an extra taco, or a TastyKake (btw, they are better than Hostess.. try them out). I also excuse it when I eat a pan of Jell-O for breakfast, by adding fruit juice to it instead of water.. more sugar, more vitamins (kinda) what could be wrong with that, right? At least I’m getting enough calories in my day. These little things make it so that, no matter how healthy I am, I am always doing something to shorten my miserable existence by a fraction of a minute at a time.

Of course, I do have bursts of awesome happy super energy, but those can be a bit rare, and are always sporadic. Mania seems to help me not want to die so much, but I spend that time hating my life instead, most of the time. I don’t really want to die when I’m manic, but I sure am ticked that I have to deal with living!

I’ve honestly run out of points, although I know there was more to it when I sat down. I just wanted to say thank you, to you all. I write here for myself more than anything else, but I have gotten so much feedback recently. I want you all to know that I appreciate it when you like my posts, or share them with your friends. Some of you might have noticed that I’ve hit 150 likes on Facebook, and this is possible because of you, my loyal readers. You sharing my work with others has made it possible for me to reach so many new people. I have followers in over 50 countries! I know I am helping people, because you all let me know when I’ve made a difference. Thanks again for helping me love what I do.


Insomnia on a Hot Night

I hate the heat. I hate being manic. I REALLY hate being manic and hot at the same time. Tonight I’m angry at everything, tired, and just plain fussy. Even cuddling with my Jenny isn’t helping.

Sometimes I wonder if my world is going to be ruled by my mental illness, and I despair. Then I remember: yes, yes it will. And that’s OK! I just have to do my best to adjust when needed. That’s all I can do. On that note, I’m going to medicate, and try to get some rest, as I have important grown up things to do tomorrow, and Jenny won’t be here to handle stuff. Grr, I wish I didn’t have to be responsible sometimes.

Energy Swings

File:50pman medical imaging.svg From Wikimedia Commons

File:50pman medical imaging.svg
From Wikimedia Commons

Everyone knows about mood swings. They are those awful, awful things that can take a grown man from glowing with pride to bawling of embarrassment all in one moment. But there’s more to mental illness, particularly Bipolar Disorder, than that. The worst thing of all is what I like to call “energy swings.”

Energy swings are when the wind goes out of your sails for no reason, or when you are super excited about something that was boring moments ago. It’s not that you are happier, or sadder, or more/less interested… It’s that the body has decided to have an irrational chemical reaction to the world around you. It feels like an extra dose of adrenaline, or taking a sedative.

My mania is often like this. No mood change. Just an energy shift. All of a sudden, the world is more alive. I see better, hear better, hell, I even breathe better. Foods taste better, and I can do anything. The world is easier, and I don’t have to try so hard that day. People tell me that I seem “on the mend” or “so much better.” It’s heartbreaking to have to explain to people how temporary this is.

My depression is often just the opposite. It’s harder to remember things. It’s hard to focus on what I’m hearing and seeing. Every kind of food in the world sounds like poison. I just loose the ability to commit to what I’m doing. I just don’t have the extra energy it takes to give a crap. People think I’m lazy, which, I guess I can’t blame them for. But it’s not like I choose to leave all my energy in a ditch somewhere. It just happens. Trying to convince people that I’m not sad or angry is nearly impossible. I don’t need cheering up, I just need space, and time.

So, I hope that helps. If you have a friend that’s depressed, remind yourself that it may be their energy that’s gone, not their sunny disposition. And if your friend is manic, or just in “too good a mood,” don’t reward it, or encourage it. Just talk to them about how happy you are for their good day. Never, ever congratulate someone for “getting over” their mental illness. It doesn’t go away. It just lessens for a time, or takes a break. It will be back, and that’s what it is. Don’t make your loved one explain it to you. It hurts to talk about it, especially when they are working on it.