A manic episode can be destructive and even dangerous, but NOT being manic can sometimes feel like a loss.
When a person who has bipolar disorder reaches recovery, it means that the spectrum between depression and mania has been shortened enough to allow for “normal” functioning. In other words, there is no more bouncing between the extremes of god-like grandiosity and suicidal depression.
The average person understands that not being depressed (or, at the very least, not being as depressed) is a desirable outcome. What most people don’t understand is that removing the mania represents a loss. Mania is an important symptom to treat. It can be destructive and even deadly. As an example, I hurt more people while manic than I did while depressed. This is why it’s surprising to many people that many of those with bipolar disorder actually miss the manic episodes.
What is there to miss about bipolar mania?
I love it when people ask me why I miss bipolar mania, even if the only reason is that I can reminisce about how awesome it felt to be manic. It seems strange, even to me, that I would look back on such a destructive time in my life and feel good. That is all the proof I need that mania is a dangerous symptom. I know the hurtful consequences of my actions and I still think of the feelings somewhat fondly.
That is what I believe to be the single biggest issue with mania. During my highest points I actually felt good, even as I was causing so much chaos around me. The consequence free environment I had created inside my own head shielded me from having feel anything other than amazing. The grandiosity I felt can best be described as the final song at a rock concert performed in front of 60,000 adoring fans and I’m the lead singer. Cue screaming, clapping, and standing ovation. When I was manic, I had the power to change the course of human history . . .
. . . Or, at least, I felt like I did.
Mania and spending money have a lot in common. Buying anything we want feels good, and it is important to note that spending money isn’t a dangerous activity, in and of itself.
We spend our money appropriately not because spending is a reckless action, but because we are afraid of the consequences of overspending. The issue with bipolar mania is that the ability to think about consequences has been impaired, if not entirely removed. The more manic we are, the less ability we have to see past the present moment. Spending all that money feels great until rent is due.
Mourning the loss of bipolar mania
Mourning the loss of bipolar mania has a lot more to do with how being manic feels than what mania actually is. Mania feels fantastic. If you already have an engaging personality, like I do, it attracts more and more people, especially if you’re spending a lot of money or doing something incredible (like jumping off a roof into a pool).
This mixture of people, emotions, and euphoria, especially when weighed against the other side of the spectrum of suicidal depression, all mixes together to form an intoxicating blend of pure awesomesauce. When it goes away, something is clearly missing.
Many people living in recovery with bipolar disorder wish they could harness the mania, the parts that can be productive, creative, and engaging. We wish we could bottle a little of it, maybe for the weekend or New Year’s Eve. It is a great feeling, but it isn’t a healthy one.
The single biggest problem with being manic is that it feels good, even when the consequences are negative or damaging. It makes this symptom particularly dangerous and I hope to never, ever experience it again.
Even though I want to.
This article originally appeared on BPHope.com as “Bipolar Mania—Oh How I Miss You.“