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, head-butting the walls and feeling trapped.

What is bipolar like?

Bipolar used to be called manic depression. 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. Your voice and responses become slow and lose inflection.  The tiredness infects your bones yet somehow you either cannot sleep or you sleep excessively but it’s never 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 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. The dark thoughts take hold and you take risks and gambles due to the negative intrusive thoughts.

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. 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.

Signs of mania

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. I get faster and more erratic until it is beyond control. I may hear noises or voices or see things that aren't there. My lack of inhibition can lead to risky behaviours. I can spend and act completely out of character, both physically and verbally.

Once this happens, you're at a tipping point where you need either 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 through a world filled with painful light and sound. Therein lies the allure of mania. 

Remember 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.