Annalisa takes to our Pendulum blog to write frankly about the allure of mania and why it can be just as damaging as depression.

Having had three severely hypomanic episodes and one full blown manic episode (discounting mixed episodes), most people, I imagine, would be hard pressed to see its appeal. After all, the last bout landed me in A&E, hearing and seeing things and headbutting the walls through feeling trapped.

Bipolar used to be called manic depression and therein lies the rub. For the euphoria of the mania, you have to bear the darkness of the depression. Depression is a slowing of the soul. You see in grey and you move through treacle. Even your voice and your responses become slow and lose inflection.  The tiredness infects your very bones yet somehow you either cannot sleep or no sleep is ever enough. You either have no appetite or the lack of feeling moves you to seek comfort in sugar and carbs. Everything hurts; the light, the noise, your body, your very hair and bones despite the fact you are hardly moving. Tears either come in floods or sit in your chest unable to find release despite the aching pain. Everything seems too much work; talking to a friend, walking the dog, washing the dishes. And the dark thoughts take hold and you take risks and gambles due to the negative intrusive thoughts.

And then, just sometimes, along comes mania. In a twisted way it can feel like the reward for the depressive times. With boundless energy, you can clean and plan and juggle multiple tasks at once. Your mind comes alive. You move quicker, you think quicker, you speak quicker as your speech attempts to keep pace with your ever increasing train of thought. I have stood outside with arms outstretched just marvelling at a summer breeze and the feel of my t-shirt moving. Nothing feels better than a manic mood. You laugh expansively and sing and make jokes. Sleep is no longer required and is often a distraction. You have the body of superman, pain free and able to go forever. And though it's an embarrassing side effect, most of our partners often reap the rewards of our boundless energy and enthusiasm.

It seems all too easy at first to ignore the danger signs. The paranoia; I've accused friends of wanting me to feel tired and in pain and depressed when I am having fun. The grandiose thoughts convince you that you can do anything. The irritability convinces you that anyone who doesn't agree with you is opposed to you.  In my case I swear extensively. As time goes on it begins to snowball. You get faster and faster and more and more erratic until it is beyond control. You may hear noises or voices or see things that aren't there. Your lack of inhibition can lead to risky behaviours. You can spend and act completely out of character, both physically and verbally.

Once this happens, you're at a tipping point and can end up needing hospitalisation or intensive mental health support. Once the mood is treated it can easily cause a massive crash into depression before it finally levels out; the mood people dread as the treacle oozes back around your body. Your mind turns black and once again you're in pain, exhausted and trying to navigate though a world filled with painful light and sound. Therein lies the appeal of mania, the addiction. 

The thing to remember is like most addictive things, mania comes with destruction. Try not to be sucked into its inviting allure. If out of the blue you're mesmerised by the wind on your skin and filling notepads with random to-do lists, disjointed thoughts and ways you can change the world, it's probably time to seek some advice. Don't allow the addiction to take over.

The Bipolar UK Mood Scale and Diary are useful tools to track and manage your moods. Download the Mood Diary and the Mood Scale via our website.

For practical information and support about bipolar, get in touch with our Support Line.