When someone becomes manic, it’s very obvious to spot; they will be grandiose, agitated, have a pressured speech and experience flight of ideas and racing thoughts. The contrast between mania and being normal is like night and day. Mania is what is necessary to be diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. Think of a flat line on a piece of paper that represents your normal mood when you are not manic or depressed; depression is like a really deep pothole on the line and mania is like a really steep hill.
Bipolar patients’ mood can fluctuate from the pothole all the way to the top of the hill where they become manic; they are now on top of the world! Many manic patients will feel euphoric, as if they are naturally high; they don’t want to come back down the hill because it feels amazing to be on top of the world. Unfortunately, manic patients cannot survive at the top of the hill due to the nature of their illness.
When patients are manic, they often lose their job because they become nonfunctional and overly-distracted. Unless they work in a creative industry such as making music or acting, most manic patients cannot maintain their job; they are just too hyper, talkative and a distraction to themselves and others around them. Their grandiose ideas also get in the way, coming up with big business ideas and sometimes even burning thousands of dollars on unrealistic objectives. Many also go on wild spending sprees!
Depending on whether they have insight into their illness, patients either know that they are manic but don’t want to get treated for it, or have no idea what is happening to them. When they do have insight, they often don’t want to get treated because they love the thrill of the experience. Think of your body on steroids; you have so much more energy to lift that extra pound of weight in the gym as opposed to being natural. Now think of your brain in the middle of a manic episode; you have so much more mental energy to get things done throughout the day, but not necessarily in a productive manner.
Mania is like steroids for your brain. You can sleep three hours a night and still feel like you have just consumed five cups of coffee and it’s only 3 am. You wake up in the middle of the night with unlimited energy while the world is fast asleep. Is that normal? Of course not; it’s a mental illness! But for manic patients, mental illness or not, they love the joyride and the last thing that they want is a psychiatrist telling them, “You have to take your medications to be discharged!”
Oh no . . . that is definitely not something that they look forward to and so they avoid a hospitalization at all costs. It’s usually a family member that ends up calling EMS or bringing them into the local emergency room because they have gone completely bonkers at home. Even though mania might sound fun, trust me when I say that it’s not a mental illness that you want to experience; this is based on the patients that I have personally seen and treated!
Do you know anyone who suffers from mania?
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)