Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I have been reading a lot about bipolar disorder online and watching videos of people's stories and I noticed something interesting. People seem very comfortable talking about the depression side of bipolar, but they hardly ever mention the manic side. They will go into detail about their suicidal thoughts, feelings of hopelessness, inability to work or care for themselves and others. Then they say, in passing, that they also have manic episodes.

Is this because depression is becoming a bit less stigmatized so it is easier to talk about? Is this because mania is the part that scares other people? Is this because mania is when we do really embarrassing or stupid things?

Mania is described as a feeling of euphoria, feelings of grandiosity, reckless actions such as excessive spending, feeling that nothing bad will ever happen to you, fast speech, and racing thoughts. In my experience, this is the part of bipolar that people are most scared of. No one wants you making a fool of yourself at a party, spending all of your savings, speeding down the highway, or Facebooking and texting while manic. We do not want this to happen either, and I think that is why we don't talk about it.

I was not diagnosed correctly with bipolar disorder until I finally told my doctor about symptoms that I was too embarrassed to mention. My mania is actually more anger than euphoria. I might speed down the street not out of a sense that I am invincible, but because I am so mad.

I noticed the other day that I was in a manic phase, but it was a bit different than what I was used to. I had turned up the music really loud and was dancing and singing with my son. I did feel euphoric and like nothing bad could ever happen. I also didn't notice that it was 10pm and the backyard speakers were on so I think the neighbors got a bit too much Selena Gomez and Black Eyed Peas when they were trying to sleep. Happy mania is new for me, and if it is controlled, can make for some really fun times with my son who laughs hysterically at me.

I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but I think that some of us may manifest mania as anger or happiness based on our life situation. When I was little, there were many things that happened in my life that made me mad, such as illness of loved ones for one example. Now life in general is better and I think my mania is changing as well.

I don't think either kind of mania is good because you are more likely to do stupid things when you are either really happy or really mad. Actually, excessive spending or excessive eating happens during either time. Or you might commit to things you really can't do, start a new businesses, or make huge life changes.

after manic organizing

I do have to admit that there are advantages to mania because this is usually when we are the most creative and the most brilliant. Medication takes that away for many of us and that is one of the reasons some of us stop medication. To me, mania represents the creative spark, and I don't really want to get rid of that. I would not mind if it was a bit less like a firecracker and more like a candle flame though.

Mania can be embarrassing, scary, extremely creative and productive, and no one wants to talk about it. However, until I did talk about it, I went misdiagnosed for seven years.

Mania is just part of who we are and part of what we have to manage.  I try to think of managing the manic phases as harnessing the power I have within me to make it productive and not destructive.


Rev. Katie


  1. I read this post a few days ago, and have been thinking about it ever since. I think some of my 'up' times have a bit of a manic character to them. I can certainly relate to the feelings of euphoria and grandiosity (I call it 'feeling Mighty'), and also the impulsive actions, which tend to be things like taking on far too much work/commitments at once. That's fine while I'm feeling Mighty, because there's also a lot of energy that goes with it, but I always forget about the 'down' afterwards. Fortunately, this hasn't got me into any serious trouble yet.

    Have you ever read Alice W. Flaherty's 'The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain'? I don't know why, but it popped into my head while I was reading your post again. It's a very interesting book about writing and the brain and how they affect each other, and it draws on the author's own experiences with hypergraphia, the compulsion to write. This has, I think, some of the characteristics of mania.

  2. Hi Camilla,
    I have heard that people can have really euphoric phases in their mood, but are not manic to the degree that it is really destructive. You are right, the down afterwards is quite awful!

    I will check out the book you recommend. I am really interested in learning more about hypergraphia. I had not heard of that before.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Rev. Katie