Here’s What It Feels Like To Experience Bipolar Mania, Because It Isn’t Just ‘High Energy’

While I’ve reached mania — I overspend, talk loudly, and experience hypersexuality, mainly — I tend to hang back and reach hypomania when the medication is working. The depression is what comes to my mind most with my bipolar. In fact, it was hard to believe I actually reached mania — I didn’t believe I was invincible, I didn’t experience psychosis, I was in touch with reality — until the past weekend.

When I first imagined mania, I imagined somebody who was ecstatic — the yin to the yang of depression. Once I experienced it, however, I realized my perception was slightly off.

It started creeping up on me before I could notice it.

I was sleeping less, I was working on tasks I’d previously neglected, I felt happier than usual. I started projects, lyrics, cleaning my room; I had never felt more productive. When I did notice it, it was a night I couldn’t sleep at all. I was having hot flashes, racing thoughts despite taking my anti-anxiety medication, and I was hyperaware of everything around me. Cooped up in the car on my way to Anaheim for a music convention, I managed to keep calm, and I looked forward to sleeping off my mixed feelings.

But I couldn’t sleep. Again. This was my first experience of peaking mania.

Three songs raced through my head at the same time. I was hot. I imagined drawing, something I don’t do. I was cold. I created images in my head that weren’t connected to anything I’d seen or experienced. I lay there, staring at the ceiling, realizing that even though it was 5 in the morning, I could run a marathon. I was nauseous. I felt terrified. When I did drift off, I had nightmares; I was only able to come out of them by calling out for my mother to wake me up. Part of this was my own fault — I had forgotten to take my bipolar medication and downed a double dose of anti-anxieties and Tylenol PM instead.

Despite the onslaught of sleeping pills, when I finally woke up to my alarm a few hours later, I didn’t feel an ounce of tiredness. I was ready to go, ready to see people, ready to have fun! As I put my makeup on and ran my mouth a mile a minute, my mother, Siri, gently put her hand on my arm. “I say this out of love: talk slower, talk quieter, and let other people get a word in.”

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