One learns a plethora of information when one becomes diagnosed with a mental disorder. When your brain is at stake it becomes important to know the difference between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with psychotic features; but that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to explain what mania is or rather what it truly means to be manic. While informing you of what mania is, I hope to also inform you of what mania is not.
I tend to agree with the following definition from a popular psychology website:
“Mania is sometimes referred to as the other extreme to depression. Mania is an intense high where the person feels euphoric, almost indestructible in areas such as personal finances, business dealings, or relationships. They may have an elevated self-esteem, be more talkative than usual, have flight of ideas, a reduced need for sleep, and be easily distracted. The high, although it may sound appealing, will often lead to severe difficulties in these areas, such as spending much more money than intended, making extremely rash business and personal decisions, involvement in dangerous sexual behavior, and/or the use of drugs or alcohol.”
In my opinion this type of behavior can only be considered mania if it exists for a period of at least 3 days for lack of sleep and a week or more for the other behaviors.
Mania in its early forms feels great. It feel fantastic. I mean there are so many more hours to be productive when you only feel the need to sleep for 2-3 hours at night. During one manic spell I would only sleep while I played the movie 8 Mile in the background. I would fall asleep during the opening scene and wake up while the credits rolled and I would feel so well rested it was amazing. The result of mania doesn’t feel good. Once you come down you have to live with the things you said to people when you felt so free to speak your mind. When you snap out of it as they say, you have to either pay off those maxed out credit cards or face completely ruined credit. For some mania might mean that they have cheated on their spouses. That is probably part of the reason why the divorce rate is so high among people who have bipolar disorder. Now that I think about it, I could probably write a book about mania; so this blog post is only going to skim the surface.
Because of the horrible decisions you make while manic it is c0mpletely understandable that your loved ones experience anxiety in this area. My husband seems to always be looking for signs that I am manic and I must admit it sometimes drives me nuts. Of course, in a way, I’m already there.
There used to be a time when me spending money on unnecessary items = me being manic. Now that my shopping has become a long term problem I no longer think it is a sign of mania but rather a sign of a deeper problem. I think my husband is starting to understand this but there was a time when I couldn’t go shopping without him saying “your manic.”
I don’t know if there is anything I hate worse then hearing those words out of his mouth whether they are deserved or not. I wish there was a kinder way he could say that maybe things are getting out of hand.
I guess the point of all of this is that some characteristics of mania for some people are actually just normal for others. So before you go telling someone “your manic” you better make sure you know them really well.
For some people being manic means substance abuse. However, having a drink at a holiday party does not the manic madman make.
Chain smoking and drinking caffeine can exacerbate signs of mania, however some people would do this regardless of their mental state.
Being happy and energized may just mean you are having a good day, it does not necessarily mean that you are manic. It might be safe to say that a person is manic if they are so euphoric that they believe they have the power to heal people with their words or with the touch of their hands. Then again isn’t there a religion where people believe that shit?
In the end, I guess this could mean that mania is normal behavior taken to the extreme. I believe everyone at some point experiences at least a low grade form of mania at some point in their life. Usually this is due to fortunate circumstances. For bipolar people it can be triggered by a change in the weather. In any case, make sure you know how someone behaves normally before you categorize their behavior as manic because not all manic behavior is actually mania.
If this didn’t make sense, I suppose I will blame it on hypomania. Hypomania is a completely other blog post or perhaps book.