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A Journey Through Mania and Back

My name is Nicole, but most people call me Nic. Mostly because it’s easier and faster to say, but also because Australians are fond of a nickname!

I have bipolar disorder Type 1 and am presently recovering from another lengthy manic episode. I could try and put a timeline on it all, but it would be unreliable. So, the best way to describe where I’m at presently is that well-worn in between place. No longer acute but nowhere near well, wrestling daily with medication changes and mixed episodes. I wait eagerly for the medication to find that ever changing groove.

As I lie here sleepless due to a change in antipsychotics, I am considering what to write as a first time contributor. I think it is best if I write the story of how I ended up here this time, how the mania manifested itself and ultimately took me down.

First and foremost, bipolar is insidious. Once kicked off, it extends its arms to me like a lover calling me to dance, and it is irresistible; a strange dance that grows in intensity every day. When this happened for me this time, I’m not entirely sure, but there were some triggers.

About four months ago, I lost my first job in three years after only two months of working again. The reason given to me was a generic one. Regardless, this lead to serious self-doubt, and I was convinced it was my illness to blame. In reality, this is quite possibly what happened. I will never know.

The process of being “let go” sent me almost immediately into a state of shock, and within hours I was becoming increasingly agitated internally; my mood elevating rapidly. The next day, the repetitive behaviour began like it always does, and at first it soothes me. For me, it’s listening to music. I will wear noise cancelling headphones and will pump music almost all day long, often listening to the same track over and over for a week straight before a new track appeals to my mood. My music collection is extensive, and I have go-to tracks for every bipolar occasion.

The musical arena becomes my bipolar world, and I do not like to be interrupted or extracted from it regardless of the reason. Put simply, it irritates me further.

Unfortunately, blocking and feeding the mania with music was only the beginning of my journey up. Before long, my inhibitions switch was flicked off and I began to behave in a risky and unruly fashion. For example, constant raving about absolutely anything to anyone with no filters, no consideration, no stopping. At some level I believe I knew this was happening but was unable to gain control, and in all honesty, I don’t think I wanted to.

Alternating periods of euphoria and dysphoria followed, deepened isolation, and then the rage found me. Interestingly this time, issues from complex post-traumatic stress disorder came to the forefront and served to feed the rage and mania. Those memories came out during my limited sleep, and vivid recollections featured throughout each day. The result was devastating, and in hindsight, this was the precursor to me finally fracturing.

By the time I reached the pinnacle, months had passed. A particular family issue lead to me finally snapping, and I recall at that point I experienced a moment of clarity where I realised exactly where I was at. I can still recollect that moment, and the realisation terrified me utterly. I was back there again. I searched my mind and scrambled to work out what had happened, though the result was total confusion.

I was so unwell my friends and family lead me to treatment, and a month or so later, I am early on the road to recovery once again. One month ago I would not have been able to write this blog, so things are improving.

As a side note, during the mania I remember someone telling me that bipolar was not real and that I should snap out of it. By that stage, my bipolar world was so complete no one could interfere with it, not even the ill-informed.

For the record, bipolar is as real as it gets.

The manic experience I have described has been on the wash and repeat cycle for me for quite a few years. Each episode erodes my sanity and memory further. As such, it has never been more crucial for me to become and remain well. Like us all, I do not have the luxury of time as I have a 2-year-old daughter to care for.

So it is time I give my illness the respect it deserves.

I’ve made myself a list of things I must do each day, and it is up on the fridge in bold lettering:

1. Take your meds

2. No headphones

3. Have a shower and get dressed

4. Eat well

5. Get to bed at a decent hour

This list may seem basic, but at the moment I need to employ what tools I can to get on track.

Although I am navigating the change of medication path once more, ultimately, I am hopeful. I think this is due largely to the fact that I have reached acceptance about having bipolar.

We can survive this illness, even though it is breathtakingly difficult. We can fight to find that balance that eludes us.

It is out there, I just know it.

Read more of Nic's posts here.

Comments

Nic, you are amazing. You blog is so real, raw and honest. I know you, admire you and take comfort from your words, as I too have Bipolar. The universe gives the hardest battles to the best soldiers. You are living proof. Much love and always here for you, Marita xx

Thanks Marita, we have so much in bipolar common lol
The friends I've made through hospitalisation are some of the best I've made in my life
Here for you too xxoo

Nic- that was breathtaking. I was just diagnosed about two months ago and I am so scared. Scared of losing control and hurting myself...... Of going into hypomanic risky behaviors without control..... I have three children and a wonderful husband and I am terrified of this illness. It is all consuming at this point and I can barely focus on anything else. One. Step. At. A. Time. Thank you for sharing my friend.

Rebecca, how you are feeling is how I felt when I was first diagnosed. It is truly terrifying for all sufferers so the most important thing you can do is get as much support as you can.

I am still afraid of having bipolar, but I found educating my friends and loved ones to be invaluable. IBPF.org has an excellent publication entitled "Healthy living with bipolar disorder" and I encourage you to use it as a reference point or educational tool for your family and friends.

You will learn in time to manage your bipolar as best you can. That is all any of us can do.

Thank you for your comments on my blog,
Nic

Hi Nic,

Firstly, thank you for contributing your story and sharing useful tips. Your honest testimony is truly helpful in coming to grips with this condition.
All the best with finding the right balance of meds.
I am back on lithium again(about a week)after not taking any meds for the past 3 years, realising recently that if I do not gain control of my bipolar and come to accept myself and more importantly love myself regardless of having this, then how can I expect others to love and support me.
Diagnosed only in 2010, after two suicide attempts and then some pretty embarrasing and erratic out of control manic behaviour..looking back at my childhood, I now realise that I have had this condition all my life and have always felt different or as if there is something wrong with me. Our family having a history of mental illness on my Mother's side, have had quite a bit of experience with this illness, however my Dad was always reluctant to label or stigmatise his daughter..always pushing me harder to achieve great academic results. Our home was always extremely well structured and organised and routine orientated..thanks to my Mom's severe OCD. However, as you all can imagine when disorganisation and chaos strikes
I was never in her good books!!
This still feeds my depressive states till this day..thinking I am not good enough/worthy. Always trying my best to do better at planning, improving my organisational skills etc.
Just seems my working memory and executive functioning is turned off when I need it most lol!!!
The cycle continues, as my 10yr old daughter(whom lives with my parents) also has hectic OCD levels.
Struggling putting my disorganised thoughts into words at the moment..please bear with me. Hope all reading this understands.

Bottom line is this.. If I can show my children and others how to manage and control and accept a possible diagnosis one day.. I will be satisfied that I have contributed, however miniscule to society.
Just like any Mom, I want them to be happy and to live balanced and healthy lives.
To be able to say the following...I have Bipolar...Bipolar does not have me, is already a step in the right direction. Changing your mindset from a victim to a victor mentality.
This has taken me all of my 33years to figure out..hopefully, I am now in a position to positively help others accept and love themselves too.
Kindest regards,
Carla

Your life is like warm slippers I know exactly what you are saying and I like your list very much Its 10.43 pm & I just got up thank you

Warm slippers, I like that, I am so glad you could relate. But I am thinking we could probably both use a change of slippers lol
Nic

Thank you Nic for sharing your story. I too have bipolar 1 mixed and rapid cycling and ptsd. It's a roller coaster ride that's for sure. I've been on the med roller coaster many times and finally landed on Latuda about a year ago and it worked beautifully then I became hypomanic and thought I got this I don't need my meds anymore. I can manage with diet, exercise, and self care. Ha! I crashed hard into a very deep depression and attempted suicide and finally went back on my meds but now the Latuda isn't working so they are talking about putting me on lamictal. I'm having mixed episodes and rapid cycling and I'm hypervigilant. I'm exhausted. I also just got approved for my medical marijuana card. While we lived in Colorado I tried high CBD edibles and flower and it had amazing results on my non medicated bipplar and ptsd. But thank you for sharing your story. You have inspired me to keep going and fighting against my mind that believes death is the best option. I have come to the conclusion that sharing our stories and speaking up about our illness helps. It helps others, it helps us, and it helps destroy stigma that sadly the cause of suicide. Thank you.

Brenda.

Hi Brenda thank you for your comments. In Australia we don't have the medical marijuana program due to legislative restrictions but I'd be very keen to hear from you on whether you think it helps with your bipolar.
Kind regards
Nic

This is good information. I hope it reaches all to help them understand.

Thanks again.

Just a big thank you. Good to read similar experiences. Been diagnosed bipolar and PTSD for about 13 years and still always trying to maintain possible balance and have two kids. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much especially with other health problems!

Just curious but why no headphones?

Hi someone else asked me the same thing recently. It's because wearing noise cancelling headphones and listening to music repetitively only serves to keep elevating my mood. In addition when I get lost in that world I tend to isolate further so for me using headphones is pretty damaging. Odd I know but unfortunately it is all too true.

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