At my psychotherapy session today, my psychiatrist asked me to recount my journey with my disorder, starting with my first manic episode. Talking about my manic episode and the hypomanic episode that happened a few months later was hard for me to do. I try not to think about it because being manic is a scary experience and not being in control is terrifying. When I went to group therapy sessions a few years ago, some people would say that they liked being manic. That they were more creative when they were manic. More productive. More energetic. I can see where they are coming from, as I did feel all of this, but mania is something I never want to experience again. Unfortunately, bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and I am bound to have another episode whether it is next month, next year, or ten years from now. Theres no way around it.
Some people have asked me before what its like to be manic. Its difficult to explain because you are not yourself when you are manic. I slept for one hour a night for seven days straight and I felt fully rested. I didnt eat for a week; I lost 10 pounds that week. I wrote about 50 pages single-spaced about life. Most of it didnt make sense and was very disconnected. I wrote an email to my dad that I dont even remember writing that he later said made him cry so much because of what I said. I wrote another email to my favorite professor with similar results. My mind was racing. Thoughts would jump from one to another without completion of the first thought. I was having delusions. I thought the TV was sending me messages and the people on TV were out to get me. I thought I was a prophet, here to change the world and save everyone. Everyone irritated me. I could barely drive a car, I remember driving about 20 miles in the wrong direction, not knowing where I was going or if I was even supposed to be going somewhere in the first place. I think of myself as a humble person, but mania gave me delusions of grandeur, thinking I was the greatest thing ever. I was drinking heavily. I was spending money recklessly. I honestly thought I was going crazy.
That is what I can remember from my first manic episode. I know it lasted at least a week, but I dont know how much longer before that that I was manic. That whole summer after graduation was a blur. The scariest thing about my bout with mania was that I was so adamant in trying to make myself believe that nothing was wrong with me. It wasnt until my family noticed something wrong with me during my going-away party did they send me to the hospital. Even in the hospital, I didnt want to admit anything was wrong. I yelled and screamed at the nurses and doctors that were trying to help me. I kept saying that all I needed was sleep and I would be fine. But it was obviously more than that. And that began my journey with bipolar disorder. I went through another hypomanic episode, a less severe type of mania that doesnt require hospitalization. I then suffered three depressive episodes after that.
The brain is an amazing organ. When I think back to my manic episode, I think it is simply incredible that your brain chemistry changes so much that you basically transform into a different person until the episode passes and then you go back to normal or cycle into depression. I heard from so many people in group therapy say that they lost loved ones and ruined relationships because of their manic episode. I hope that anyone reading this, if you are ever faced with a manic or bipolar person and it is more common than you think, know that the person in front of you is not the person on the inside. Its something they cant control, and they truly believe everything they think and say. Even when they think they are a prophet. I believed it. And even though I thought I was going crazy, I hope next time you would be more empathetic towards the crazy people you see on the streets, realizing that their illness is something they cant control.