This is Part 1 in a 5-Part Series: “When the World is Too Bright: An Intensive View of Mania from On the Ground”
(Read Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 here)
This is my fifth mania in the nine years since I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, just because this is my fifth mania doesn’t mean that the experience hasn’t been rough this time around. I have been manic every year since 2013. Yup. 2013. 2014. 2015. And now 2016. My mania manifests pretty similarly each episode. I typically experience heightened creativity and productivity, a heightened libido, impulsivity, spending sprees, weight loss, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbances.
The creativity and productivity feel incredible. I feel an intense need to create when I am manic. During my third mania (in 2014), I started blogging about my mental health journey. During my fourth (in 2015), I began a memoir and founded two companies. However, this creativity and productivity are not without their share of problems for me. When I first started blogging, I encountered boundary issues with what and whom I wrote about. The two companies I founded set me back about $8,000 in incorporation costs and website creations. I also shop more. Over the life course of my disorder, I have charged around $30,000 on my credit cards. I am currently still in credit card debt. Thus, the temporary nature of my manic episodes have long-lasting consequences for me.
Yet, this is the first manic episode that did not result in a hospitalization. In the past, mania meant being hospitalized. My mania takes me so high, so quickly that in order to head it off at the pass, I check myself into the hospital. For my current manic episode, however, I am managing with Intensive Outpatient Program only. I attend IOP two days per week for 3.5 hours each day.
During this current episode, I got the idea to re-brand my life coaching company as a wellness company focused on promoting self-care. I stayed up all night, writing feverishly and researching best practices for self-care for the company. I became really excited because I discovered that I could turn what I once perceived as a manic financial blunder – starting a life coaching company in the first place – into a viable source of income. It was almost confirmation that my manic self knew something that my stable self did not. However, once I was not sleeping through the night, I knew I was in trouble.
I knew the excitement I was experiencing was more than just normal excitement. I was less vigilant than normal about having symptoms of mania because it was not springtime. All of my previous manias occurred between the months of February and June. Now, in September 2016, I exhibited symptoms. I didn’t know what to make of this change to my norm.
In response to the appearance of symptoms of mania, I increased the number of acupuncture sessions I received from once every three weeks, to two or three sessions per week. I also started taking my medicine consistently once again. Since the summer, I had been inconsistently adhering to my psychiatric medicine routines for various reasons – chief among them, I am just tired of taking pills. I have been a compliant patient ever since I learned of my diagnosis. With the exception of my first mania and my current manic episode, my manias are generally caused by medicine changes my psychiatrist ordered (e.g. one medicine caused liver toxicity so I had to come off it). However, this current mania is my fault and I can definitely say “lesson learned.” As a result of my veering from my medicine routine, I have added an additional year to my graduate schooling since I am currently enrolled less than half-time. There will be no more inconsistent medicine usage on my part.
This post originally appeared on Manic Monique’s Meanderings.