I wrote something similar to this a little while back about depression, I had resolved to not write anything more about my experience with mental illness symptoms, but I think I might have been copping out a bit, in retrospect. You see, Depression is easier to deal with for the outside world. Depression is full of positive images in the media. Attractive people looking mournful. It has a lot of people who speak out on it who are accepted as brave for publicly speaking out about it. That’s great. I’m seriously glad that the general public have a greater understanding of what depression is, and I hope we start getting beyond that frustrating ‘Well, why don’t you just snap out of it, then?’
Mania, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. It’s not so pleasant or docile.
I got a bit of grief when I wrote the Depression piece, suggesting I was attempting to suggest my experience was a universal description. Which was slightly annoying, but in my constant attempt in Life to try to be actually understood without somebody misreading a sentence, deciding I’m trying to say something offensive and then bang on regardless about how offended they are.
Thus far, at time of writing, 2 Days.
So, since I have more than enough shameful examples of Mania in my history, I will say from the off-set, this is only my life I’m talking about. I don’t have the audacity or arrogance to speak about anyone’s life experiences and make them public without their permission. Eve then, I’d be very wary about doing it even with their permission. I’ve been pretty ashamed of the way my mania has taken control of my life and am more than aware of the amount of burnt bridges and subtle shifts of people on my Facebook silently becoming ‘Add Friend’ Sometimes that happens because people hear a story without taking in both sides.
Just my thoughts.
So, Mania, then. (And I don’t know if this is quite the correct medical term, but I’ll use it for me and if I need to amend it as someone suggests that what I’m describing is closer to something different, I will.) For me, a Manic Episode is essentially when I lose both perspective and control of myself. I get the taste of copper in my mouth, some veins in my head start to throb.and the …Other takes over, is the only way I can describe it. There’s a few minutes of stability and then literally nothing is sacred. I’ve kicked in bus stops, doors, snapped at strangers, done other things that I still have problems assuming I’m not damned for.
And then come down. It might be minutes. It might be hours. Usually it stops for falling asleep. That’s the nice way. The not so nice way is finding your foot covered in broken glass and you snap out of it. You look around at the damage you’ve caused. The best analogy for me is always going to be Bruce Banner turning into The Hulk and back again. So, basically, I’m going to assume if you’re reading this and you’re saying in your head ‘But why? Why do you have to do these things? Surely you can control yourself and, you know, not essentially treat all the structures of your life as a series of bowling pins to be knocked over>’ then, really, I have to just ignore you at this point. wait for your understanding to evolve. There really isn’t time to be wasted justifying an illness to the likes of you anymore. You are like someone shouting ‘Stop Coughing!’ to somebody with tuberculosis.
But, just to save any future questions aimed at myself: ‘I’m 35 years old. I’ve managed to piss away all the money I ever earned or was given to me, I’ve destroyed a great many friendships and currently live off the dole, living on my Mum’s sofa. All I really value in the world these days is time spent with the mates who have either A) Been good enough to stick with me, understanding that I do mean well underneath the bad days. or B) Haven’t seen me at my worst. As much as I’m grateful that I’ve divested myself of most of my desire for the commercial world’s trappings, do you honestly think this is what I would have chosen to do? That I would have chosen the guilt, the knowledge of being a burden on friends, the paranoia of knowing you’re being discussed? the realization that I’ve been quietly abandoned by people who’d told me they’d stuck by me no matter what? the unanswered texts and emails? The decision to not get too close to anyone, not because you don’t like them, but because of the fear that they may see you essentially mentally shitting yourself in public? Does any of that sound like a life someone would choose to go through?’
Also, for those of you who are related or in a relationship to someone who’s affected by this kind of mood swing, I’m not going to lie to you. Yes, it’s going to be rough, and certainly my improvement can be described as glacial, really.Don’t expect easy ‘Go to Doctor’s, Doctor presses F5 Key and Loved One is magically better/’ Even if, by an almost Lottery-like chance, your G.P. prescribes the correct drug 1st time out to bat, that drug will still take time to begin taking effect. If you truly intend to be any kind of support system, you need to have realistic and informed notions of what to expect.
So, Manic Types. This is what I’ve learned. I hope it helps in someway. It assumes you’ve had at least one Manic and destructive episode in your life.
1) You are going to be totally burnt out.
So, it’s happened, you wake up, all the energy has gone from your body, maybe there’s sick in your hair, maybe your knuckles are gashed, maybe you were awakened in the 1st place by a barrage of texts from someone demanding to know why you dared to get off with their girlfriend last night, or there’s glass embedded in your foot. Plucking the sliver of glass suddenly triggers the memory of last night.You are now racked with incredible guilt, possibly suicidal amounts of self-hatred all lovingly wrapped up in a feeling of utter exhaustion. It is literally more work than you can deal with to adjust the pillows, let alone get up to make a cup of tea. So what do you do?
First Off, Try to sleep.
I know this sounds incredibly selfish. There is a checklist of apologies and such that you’re going to have to deal with. But unless you need to get medical help, let someone know you’re actually alive or something equally important (Which does NOT include getting a series of justifications via email or text.), get some sleep. Everything else can wait.
Then you start saying you’re sorry. And mean it. Yes, you have an illness that literally takes you out of your right mind. This isn’t anybody else’s fault. Explain as much or as little as you like about your state your efforts to deal with it, but you have to apologise and mean it. The thing to remember is that the apology won’t (Or shouldn’t.) be any less true whether it’s said at 9am or 2pm.
Mania is Not an excuse to be a cunt.
There is not a thing I wouldn’t sacrifice to be secure in the knowledge that I will never, ever have an episode again. Nothing. Everyday of my life is series of checklists. Have I eaten right? Have I made sure I’ve tried to keep in contact with people. Constant vigilance on how I’m speaking and making sure I’m aware enough of how what I say could be taken the wrong way. Having a miswired chemical in your brain or mislearned behavioural reactions is not free license to be rude or mean to people and pass it off as an episode if it isn’t real. That behaviour is an absolute slap in the face to people who are trying to live day-to-day with this. Some of us make it. Many don’t, and I’ve buried too many friends to tolerate ‘anyone taking the piss.
Keep away from Trigger People.
When I first started having episodes, I put it down to all kinds of reasons. Coffee, Alcohol, Sugar, Energy Drinks. I cut them all out. It’s not fun, especially giving up caffeine. Which tends to leave you with totally skull crushing migraines in the 1st few days of cold turkey. But I did it, anyway. Yay me! Lap Of Honour and everything. Gold Star. Didn’t help though.
I looked back on when I’d have Episodes when I had time on my own to think about it. And that made me realise that, for whatever buried reasons, how much I might wish otherwise, there are just some personality types that trigger me. It’s not their fault. At all. I can’t make that point clear enough. I’ll probably never be able to say sorry enough to those people I hurt. But the fact is, that kind of personality is one I just have to stay away from for the rest of my life. Luckily, I can spot them pretty early on, and as I’m pretty reclusive nowadays it’s pretty easy to avoid them.
Some people are just who they are. If, however, you’re having to deal with someone who actually drives you crazy, you (Like I did) can meditate on it, you can go to a 12 Step group to rationalize the incident, why it’s your own fault for letting them get to you and laugh it all off. All good. Peace Of the Universe resides within you.
Then tomorrow, it all happens all over again. Grumpy McWanker does something else. And you do have to decide if that’s something you’re honestly ready to deal with, or maybe do something to just get away from them. Yes, you may have to move around a bit. I’m sorry. I didn’t say it was going to be easy. It might be the difference between staying alive or not, though.
(Speaking of exits,,,)
Some People Aren’t Going To Get It And Will Leave You.
This, trust me, isn’t fun. it’s not easy to deal with. It’ll break your heart. Losing someone close to me used to halfkill me for a month or two. Now, I take it as a good week if someone doesn’t bail on me. It’s never ‘I can’t deal with this anymore.’ It’s the quiet unfollows, the non replies to texts, the realisation that it’s been 6 months since you spoke to that person.
It probably is going to haopen, and I wish i could tell you there’s an easy way to deal with it. There isn’t, but the pain subsides and you move on.
I’m really, really sorry.
You Are Not Your Illness.
This si something I wish someone had said to me a long time ago. Maybe I wouldn’t have an inch long scar on my forehead from headbutting the shit out of a bus shelter window from the night I realised just how much my episodes and inability to deal with them had actually cost me. It isn’t fair that people recognise physical ailments and be entirely sympathetic to them, but won’t accept that mental illness is a real thing. I’ve been given no end of guilt trips (Usually after being burnt out after an episode, when I was too drained and ashamed to make a counter point.) and each time I wanted to say ‘That wasn’t me! That was the illness. I don’t want to have to have the illness, but i do. If i had Incontinence, you wouldn’t write me lectures explaining that i was a terrible person for shitting all over the place !’
There’s too much damn shame involved in this world, too much ostracization. And all you can do is try your best to not have an episode. I haven’t had one today. That might not sound much o you. To me, it’s a victory It’s not much to you, maybe. To me, it’s the world.
I know. You’ve probably heard that a million times before. If you can, if you feel the rage coming over you, just do as much as you can do to be still, to relax and be in the situation you’re in. Most of my Episodes have been:
Crash, Smash, Destroy, etc
Try to Walk Away, and Breathe Slowly. If you can do that, just for that occasion, you win.
It’s not much, but it’s better than the alternative.
Talk to me, if you need someone to listen, no matter how irrational or angry you feel. I don’t really sleep anymore.
Breathe for a second.
And to you two, who either couldn’t take it anymore or cut me out for whatever reason. I’ll probably never speak to you again. if you need me to be a demon, that’s fine. But i need to move on with my life now.)
Thanks For Reading.