If you have bipolar, you’re chasing the unicorn that is management if you haven’t already tamed it. Everyone jumps to talk about how they manage the depressive episodes that strike.
But what about the manic ones?
We work to avoid all episodes of mania, but the battle for management comes to a truce at best. A ceasefire that has no set time limit and can end at any time. We may find ourselves depressed or manic or in the danger zone between without much notice.
It’s no surprise there are few tips for making it through an episode of mania. They’re difficult to navigate for ourselves and even harder to relate to others.
Level of control varies.
Some have more control than others. Others have very little ability to assert control, and it is no fault of their own. It even varies between episodes for the same person.
So, when it comes to mania, we’re on our own. It’s the frontier with no guidance. Maps are useless, so no one takes the time to draft them.
I stand on the peak of mania now.
It is my worst manic episode in years
It’s the height of both delight and terror.
The day I noticed it, I took the most critical step.
I called my doctor to notify them and to discuss a temporary medication change to help end the episode quickly. I caught it very early.
That one call can be the difference between a downward spiral caused by the upward mind. It’s not an easy call to make. Mania feels good in the beginning or, even worse, it may not also be noticeable.
I made it, though.
So now, I grip myself tightly and work to stay grounded. The medication change takes time. It’s impossible to let your guard down till the change takes effect. It’s a challenge to hold on, but it must be so.
Lives can fall apart in the space of the week a change may take.
I have noticed a thing about my manic episodes.
There seem to be three phases that I can filter between during the episode.
The first is elation.
It is a general sense of up and extreme happiness. There is very little that can keep me down when I’m here. It’s a baseline and the constant through the episode.
I love to talk to people. I mean really love it. I am full of ideas. I feel like I float from room to room and task to task. It is intoxicating. I don’t want to remember that it’s not natural and not what I should be feeling.
It’s time I need to make the call and the time where I want to see where it takes me. Ride it out! My mind yells. That mind can’t be trusted. I can’t exercise much control over my feelings, but I can affect hw my mind embraces them.
A full embrace of elation makes it all the more difficult to resist what comes next.
The next step is the land of the grand.
I am the best there ever was, and everyone knows it. They’re all talking about it, and I’ll be on the local news soon. No, I’ll be on national talk shows!
I’ll have the answer to the unanswered soon. My abilities are limitless. I know that others know it. I can’t talk to them about it though. They’re jealous.
There is no high like a moment of grand.
It hurts, but the grand must be defeated. It is the most pivotal moment in a manic episode for me because they are the gateway.
If I find a way to swing the gate shut, to defuse the manic grand thoughts, I return the land of elation that is still connected with reality.
I use logic to stop them.
Much of it I have devised in the time between episodes. Some of it I come up within the quiet moments of delight when I get a slight break.
I know myself, so I know where my ego and desires will run. So I build reasonable arguments of what is happening to contrast my beliefs. It took time to craft the logic in a way that worked, but it does.
It turns “Yes!” Into “oh yeah…”
It’s crushing. It’s demoralizing. A defeated grand is the only thing that drops me below euphoric in mania. I force myself to trade between ever-increasing highs and lows that are below normal.
The depressing contrast makes it harder to apply the logic. Grand thoughts feel so good that it’s so hard to let go. I know exactly what happens when I stop them.
If I don’t? The land of destruction.
Where reality is far away, and the possibilities are endless.
And the things I can do! I want to spend, to go faster, to indulge every desire because there will be no consequences. I can do it. It will all be okay.
It will be better than okay. I am a giant. My intellect is incredible. I am bulletproof.
It is where life falls apart.
It’s where family members are hurt. Addictions are started. Memories slide away.
I’ve been there, but I don’t remember it. I don’t even remember the effects beyond “it hurt them.” There are blank spaces in my memory that I can’t seem to face.
I gloss over the details and tell myself that it wasn’t that bad.
That is the place I can’t go.
It’s why stopping the grand thoughts is so important. They are my key to managing a manic episode.
The grand thoughts lead to disconnects from reality if left to run free. That disconnect from reality is all it takes to enter the land of destruction.
So I use logic.
So I deny myself the wonders of me and do my best to live in the land of euphoria.
I can tell that I could feel better. I yearn for the cool drink of mania that would save me.
I deny it.
Over and over and hope that the medicine kicks in soon.
Until then, I’ll ground myself.
I have control with the use of measured emotions, and I will maintain it.