What I Miss About Being Manic

For those who aren’t bipolar, being manic sounds like a damn good time. Feeling euphoric, inflated self-esteem, long periods without sleep, increased sex drive, and increased drive to achieve goals. Who the hell wouldn’t want that? Mania may sound great, but all the things that sound wonderful can come with consequences – sometimes very serious consequences. It’s similar to drinking too much – a feeling of euphoria, but none of it real. The life of the party, but really annoying. The Mayo Clinic provides a good list of symptoms of mania, as well as depression.

Following are some of the symptoms of mania and how they affected my life.

Manic Spending

I love to shop. When I was in my twenties I had excellent credit and had multiple credit cards, two of them had $20,000 spending limits. I became a shopping snob. It was only high end retail for me. Being the life of the party I was always more than happy to buy drinks for everyone and always felt great doing so. Everyone was my friend. Wouldn’t you be?

What It Was Really Like:
A person in their early twenties with $40,000 just to play with? What fools came up with that idea? Those two credit cards were the last time I had good credit. I maxed them out in a very short time and after thirty years I’m still paying the price. Here and there I’d clean my credit up enough to get new credit cards with low limits and high interest rates and a couple of cars as well. Every credit card I’ve ever gotten wound up in collections. Twice I’ve had cars repossessed.

What Changed:
I’m still not great with money, but I’m trying, and it’s getting better. I don’t buy the best clothing or have the nicest things. (Thank God for Target and Old Navy) My husband and I live in a small one-bedroom apartment, but it’s home. I’m not going to try and fool anyone – sure, I like bright and shiny things as much as the next person, but I accept and am grateful for the things I have.

Manic Sleep

Talk about productivity. Being awake for days gave me the opportunity to get a lot done. Homework, business reports, cleaning house and more.

What It Was Really Like:
While some hallucinations could be fun, the ones caused by lack of sleep were usually nightmarish. The hallucinations weren’t anything specific, they were more like what I presume an acid trip would be like. Things twisting and melting in a frightening way. It was in a manic, sleepless state that I would decide to walk naked around the neighborhood. Luckily it was always at 2 am and I presume no one saw me.

What Changed:
Like most people in my family, I have a tendency to stay up later than I should. I try to stay up to get things done, such as writing blog posts, but eventually I fall asleep, whether I want to or not. When I do sleep I enjoy a healthy 7 – 8 hours of rest. Not only do I think I can concentrate and be productive – I actually can concentrate and be productive.

Manic sex

In the past, each time I had sex it was exciting. As soon as one partner would leave I’d call another and invite them over. I regularly had multiple partners in one night, much to the envy of friends and roommates.

What It Was Really Like:
The sex may have been exciting, but once a sex partner went out the door I had to call another because I felt empty, hollow, and unsatisfied. I would then find the need to pick up the phone and invite someone else over.

What Changed:
By choice I’m loyal to one individual and plan to stay that way for the rest of my life. Today I don’t just have sex…I make love. Unlike my past exploits, I don’t have an empty feeling after having sex, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Manic Knowledge, Ability and Drive

Probably one of the best things about being manic is the extreme “high.” The belief in stronger energy and ability. Feeling on top of the world like nothing could go wrong. Goal driven

What It Was Really Like:

Regardless of how goal driven I was, goals were rarely reached. I was easily distracted, had racing thoughts, and it would be physically painful to try to have a conversation – racing thoughts and easy distractibility made it too difficult.

What Changed:
My goals are smaller and usually achievable. It can still be painful when I listen to a long conversation, but I’m more adept at handling it. I’ve learned to meditate to help with the racing thoughts and I don’t get distracted as much by choosing to live in the here and now.

There are moments that I miss mania. Most of it has to do with what I wanted it to be rather than what it was. It’s a good feeling not being a debt ridden, sleepless, over-sexed, success-driven person. I am certain that seeing my pdoc once a month, taking my prescriptions, and seeing my therapist twice a month are all part of the success I achieve. Oh, I still get manic states that make it difficult to function and I also still get depressive states that make it nearly impossible to do anything. However, I don’t live in those states all the time like I use to. I hope that in my lifetime we’ll find a “cure” for depression and bipolar disorder, but until then, I think I’ll be okay.

What do I miss about being manic?  Everything….. and nothing.

20 comments on What I Miss About Being Manic

    1. You hit the nail on the head. Regardless of how your mania may feel there’s always that crash lurking up ahead.

  1. Having Bipolar Type I with Psychotic features (rapid cycling, mixed manic and depressive episodes), I can really relate to this post. I had a late diagnosis at the age of about 32 which allowed the disease to progress quite nicely. I was treatment resistant; nothing seemed to work on me until one psychiatrist thought about using a combination of two anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety meds, and Adderall because he determined that not all of my brain bouncing was due to mania as I continued to have difficulty with focus and concentration; I also had Adult Attention Deficit Disorder inattentive type). Makes sense since meth always made me calm instead of speedy like most users get. I am wired completely differently from everyone I know.

    I went through the same pattern with shopping (although I still spend more money on things than I ought to ~ now it happens when I am depressed), I can’t get any credit that doesn’t end up in collections, I had to have myself declared totally medically disabled to discharge my student loans as living on disability prevented me from paying them, I don’t even know how many accounts I have in collections; some of them more than 8 years old, I have declared bankruptcy once, and barely keep the creditors from causing a second bankruptcy.

    I was the same “life of the party” which is completely opposite of my “normal” tendency towards introversion. I had to be going out or to a party at least 3 or 4 times a week (and this was while trying to go to college full time and work full time) or I didn’t feel like I was popular enough. Something had to go, and that was sleep; and thanks to a healthy meth habit, I did quite well in school and was a very good waitress. Until I crashed and burned. That first table waiting job would be the first in a succession of failures at work.

    After college, I went into payroll and human resources, and I lost both of those jobs due to some infraction. One was because I failed to input bonuses for the case managers at the hospital I worked for, and the other due to the nuclear meltdown that led me to seek treatment for what would eventually “identify” me as Bipolar. I had apparently had the illness for quite some time (late teens) but my alcohol and drug abuse disguised it as something entirely different.

    I had reckless sex. I didn’t have multiple partners in the same night, but I had multiple partners in the wings so to speak. If one person wasn’t available, I would try another until I found someone wanting to “party”. It was actually pretty sad. I didn’t feel whole either unless I was in somebody’s bed. That has most definitely changed. Now I feel strange if I have sex with somebody I barely know. Back in my 20’s I didn’t care. Now I care whose bed I am in or who is my bed.

    Now, that I have been “stable” for about 5 or 6 years, I live between episodes of mania and depression with my most common mood state being a combination of both. Everything depends on which state is more dominant at any given time, and they change during the course of the day. I have full blown episodes of either mania or depression about 4 or 5 times a year, but now can feel them coming and can work with my psychiatrist to head them off (I will not take any extra medication other than my main 4: Abilify, Seroquel, Klonopin, and Adderall. Occasionally, I will add Welbutrin to that mix but only for about 3 months because if I take it longer, I begin to cycle, and sometimes I add a small dose of Halcyion to the seroquel if I am having problems sleeping). I will not allow any doctor to add or subtract from that cocktail. If a doctor is going to fix me, the doctor has to work withing those parameters, even if I am hospitalized.

    Do I miss extreme mania? Not so much. I completely ruined all chances of having a “normal” life due to unchecked mania. It sounds like a lovely thing, but only to people who aren’t Bipolar. Anyone who has experienced it more than twice and crashed are not so eager to go back to that place.

    Thanks for a good post! That is a question I have asked myself before (although being on Adderall is similar to being manic, it isn’t the same thing, and I can decide whether I take or not). Mania is great for about the first two days, and then it just starts to suck and all you want to do is come down and you can’t.

    1. We sound like two peas in a pod in many ways. My pdoc thought I might be ADD for all 5 minutes until she remembered how speedy my life would get while on meth. I find it curious how it has different effects on different disorders.

      1. For the very few years (Thank the universal deities) that I used it, it made me a little faster as far as physical movement, but my brain became very focused and calm. It was the exact opposite of what you see in most people like on some rather mind numbing reality TV shows.

  2. With bipolar II, I’ve hardly ever had the mania. I thought it would be great. I could get something done instead of being immobilized by misery. Then I met someone with truly manic episodes and saw that it was not such a great thing – flurries of hyper activities, starts on new projects, redoing something halfway through. Never any accomplishments or completion or satisfaction. I would be trading one kind of accomplishing nothing for a different kind of accomplishing nothing. I won’t say I counted my blessing, because bipolar depression isn’t, but I stopped seeing green grass at the other end of the continuum.

    1. Mania always sounds great from the outside. It’s nothing but worthless energy that leads to a series of no accomplishments followed by a deep dark hole of despair.

  3. Bradley, you’ve done a wonderful job educating me on the manic phase of bipolar. I’ve dealt with clinical depression most of my life and several therapists told me they thought I was bipolar–that was WAY too much for me to take since I’d resisted taking on the label of depression! I quit the nasty therapists that told me that. In reading your description, I’m afraid to say I see much of myself. It’s always been an extreme excitability, what I’ve called “productivity”, until days later, I crash and burn. I don’t want to talk about the personal “relationships” . . .Makes me wonder what life would have been like had I not resisted help so much.

    1. I’ve played the “if only” game a lot, Mandy. It doesn’t get you anywhere. If you think you may be bipolar, I’d still suggest speaking with your doctor. It’s never too late and it literally saved my life. Big hugs

    1. Thank you, kat. I always appreciate your comments. Unique hell is an excellent way to describe it.

  4. I miss the goal directed activity. My problem is the mania always fizzled out before any of the goals were reached!

  5. You nailed it, Bradley. Your blog article could be very useful for someone to print out to share with a loved one to explain what it feels like and what they are experiencing. Thanks.

  6. I love being manic, soo much that when I’m in that state I will take several doses of 5htp a day to maximize the duration and intensity for as long as possible. For me at least mania is a free high that I can only describe as a spiritual experience. I’ve also learned through discipline to Try and not fly off the handle or make so many irrational choices. I remember the last time I went cold turkey off my meds the next month I was manic for over ten days straight it was amazing. I didn’t hear the “usual voices” in my head during the mania and I still was able to sleep

  7. I become so dumb on the drugs. I’ve Givin up drinking and sex and spending money.My family thinks I’m completely insane and just wants to lock me up because what my dreams and goals are. Yeah i want to go to mars one day but i study material physics in my free time which is needed to go to mars. Not sleeping blows you are alone a lot. I tell everyone i meet i have bipolar and what its like for me. So they can understand me if they can’t handle who i am i move on. And of course I’m writting my life story for the 700th time it calms me down.

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