“I think you’re becoming elevated” are words that make the ground fall out from under my feet. When I hear someone even hint that I am unusually energetic, cheerful, speedy or irritable it feels like my grip on reality is weakening. I can picture my ascent into mania all too strongly as the times when I have been manic and out of control rise to the surface of my mind.
I notice my depressions before anyone else and I can hide them pretty well for a certain amount of time. However I still fail to be the first to catch when I’m becoming manic and whenever someone points it out to me, the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of this disease kicks me in the guts.
It’s always a battle between denial and acceptance because to me, I think everything is fine and it is the people around me who are wrong. Even when everyone agrees on the fact of increasing mania, I will still turn my head and look the other way. However in fleeting times of lucidness when I can see the signs of elevation, I am worried. There is a sense of unease because although the excitement, effortlessness and increased motivation feel good, the looming threat of immediate psychotic mania or eventual suicidal depression is ever present.
At the start if I am mildly elevated and still reasonable, I feel my hold on my control lessen and I second-guess my every action. Are my thoughts going too fast? What’s my talking speed like? – is it normal? Was it appropriate to fidget impatiently while I stood in line or when I was irritable about the slowness of other people? Would my behaviour be considered bizarre and how are people interpreting what I think are normal emotional reactions? Are people giving me odd looks or am I imagining it? I question myself every second of every day and it becomes so repetitive and tiresome.
However if my elevation is further along on the scale, I become argumentative and irritable because everyone is wrong and I am right and there is nothing in the world that could convince me otherwise. Everyone is so slow because I feel like I am a super human and superior to everyone else. Always repeating myself because I talk too fast or being made to stand still is enough to tip my temper over the edge. Having people constantly on my back about being manic when I think I’m not is infuriating. What is even more aggravating is being told to take extra medication or to have maintenance ECT when I think I don’t need it. Even though it’s extremely irritating to me, I know my family suffers the most because they’re always walking on eggshells when I am like this and it is anxiety provoking because we all know where my mania can go.
When I’m at my worst, I become psychotically manic and paranoid. There is no talking sense into me because I am functioning on a different plane. Even if I had the capacity to comply and understand, I would find it very hard to listen and process what people are telling me because they have to compete with my hallucinations. When I was hospitalised for psychotic mania, initially I refused to take any oral medication or eat because I believed people were trying to poison me. It was absolutely terrifying.
Now, even though I don’t like it when people are telling me I am elevated, I listen. I take the extra medication or consent to having maintenance doses of ECT, even if I don’t entirely agree because I trust that people can see the signs I can’t, and I can’t be bothered fighting. I know that even if I become moderately elevated it is going to be a tough time for my family because I am usually argumentative and am teetering dangerously on the edge of becoming non-compliant. The threat of psychosis is too great. So I listen, and try to keep a firm grip on my world so I don’t fall off the edge into oblivion.