Severe Manic Phase

I've been hospitalized for mania three times in the past ten years, the last time in 2010. This post is an account of a mania that occurred in 2002. I chose to write about this manic phase because I happened to have my camera with me a lot, and I took pictures that may help you to understand what I was going through. 

In this picture, I'm standing on a beach of  Lake Michigan in Chicago. I had recently started a new job and was hanging out with my ex-boyfriend a lot (didn't make much sense). Anyway, he was gearing up for a really busy time at work and wanted to visit Chicago before he became swamped. 
We decided to go to Chicago for the day and drive back late at night. It was a ten hour drive round trip. I know that lack of sleep can trigger mania in me, so I always try to make sleep a priority. For this reason, I was afraid to make the trip since it seemed unlikely that I'd get enough sleep, but my ex-boyfriend said, "Don't worry, you can sleep in the car on the way back," and I stupidly agreed to go. This picture was taken shortly after we got to Chicago, and I was feeling very happy and even-keeled.

I ended up staying up all night in Chicago and didn't sleep as my ex-boyfriend drove back to Louisville. When I got home, instead of sleeping, I decided to drive to my favorite part of town, park, and wander around. I didn't have any plans to go anywhere specific or meet anyone. I just walked around talking to strangers and taking pictures.

The people below are a very nice couple I met and chatted with at a coffee shop. I'm a friendly person, and I often make eye contact and smile at strangers, and even exchange pleasantries when appropriate. This was beyond that. I was engaging people in long conversations. I'm not sure what they thought. I'm lucky that people in Louisville are polite compared to many of the other places I've been.



After I left the coffee shop, I hopped on a trolley where I spoke with these young men.
 

When I got off the trolley, I met this man on the sidewalk.



I had quite a long conversation with these two guys, although I don't remember what we were talking about. The one with the beret asked me out for ribs. I got in his camouflage truck and he drove me about 30 miles from my parked car. We had fun eating ribs and drinking beer - by then I was fully manic and didn't take the "no drinking" advice from my doctor seriously. I don't recall any wild drinking, but I remember having a couple of strong microbrews.

After the ribs and beer, he invited me to his apartment and off we drove. When we got there, he put on some 80's music and started dancing. As I was taking everything in, I noticed he had a lot of knives on display. All of a sudden, I felt uncomfortable and realized that I wanted to leave. I asked him to take me back to my car and he did. I'm really lucky that he was a nice guy. 

You may notice that, in this picture, I'm still wearing the outfit that I was wearing in Chicago. I tend to wear the same clothes for days when I'm manic.



I thought this young girl selling candy was really cute.



The next day, I returned to the same neighborhood for more roaming. I was having some religious delusions that I can't remember very well anymore. For reasons that made sense at the time, I decided to walk into my church. The door was open and I found a few friends there and had this picture taken with one of them. I was wearing a t-shirt that says, "City of Louisville - 1778." I remember that it meant something special to me at the time, besides it being the year that Louisville was founded. It seems like everything becomes an important symbol when I'm manic.




After I left the church, I walked to a park with a large fountain. I left my purse on the ground and jumped into the water, completely immersing myself and imagining some kind of self baptism. I got out sopping wet and wandered over to a picnic area where I started talking to random people and families.

The family below was really nice. Reflecting on the situation now, I'm sure they assumed that I was mentally ill, homeless, or both. They were really soft spoken and gentle and offered me food and drinks. I stayed with them for a while.




When I left the park, I walked back to my car, which was parked several miles away, and drove back home where I made some potato salad to take to a party. I'd been up and active for many hours, but I still had energy at the party and remember having a good time.

I don't remember how I landed in the hospital, but I did. I was in for a week. I almost lost my job, since I had just started a few weeks earlier, but I talked them into giving me a chance to work, and I ended up working there for two years until I completed my master's degree and began teaching.

I asked my mother if she could remember how I ended up in the hospital in 2002. She said, "No, it all runs together for me." Hearing her say that made me realize, yet again, how hard it can be for family members to deal with the instability that bipolar disorder can bring, and gives me another, in a long list of reasons, to keep my commitment to staying well.

Although I don't remember how I ended up in the hospital, I can tell you that most of my manias have degenerated into hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, irritability, and uncharacteristically aggressive behavior. For an account of that, see Relationships. I'm sure the lack of sleep and drinking alcohol contributed to this mania, and I'm sure I missed some doses of medication during the days I've described.

20 comments:

  1. Wow... reading all that made my heart race just knowing what I went through with my 20 yr son who has bi-polar. You were very lucky that you weren't hurt just jumping into a car with a man you didn't know.

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    1. Yes I know. I've been very lucky to have stayed safe considering the things I've done while manic. I hope your son is doing well!

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  2. This post struck a chord for me.
    Keep writing. :)

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  3. Thanks. That's the plan. :)

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  4. Thank you so much for posting this!! My husband is bi-polar and it's so hard for me to understand what's happening sometimes. I look forward to your next piece.

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  5. I'm glad this is helping you to understand what your husband is dealing with. I've also written a lot about things people with bipolar disorder can do to maintain stability. I've had to change my medication and my lifestyle, but I feel that now I will be able to live either free of episodes or with fewer and less serious episodes. I wish you and your husband all the best!

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  6. Wow! I can soo relate to much of this.

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  7. It's good to find people who can relate. Mania tends to be poorly understood by people who haven't experienced it...I think it scares friends and family a lot more than depression.

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  8. Anonymous3/15/2012

    I quit drinking all together in 2001. i knew that with the meds, it definatly a no no. however i still have alot of mania. dr upped my lamyctol and still manic. i have appointment on march 19th, may have to be hospitalized for med stablelization. thx for sharing! lily

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    1. Good luck with your hospitalization. Lithium is the best antimanic that I've taken. Atypical antipsychotics also prevent mania, but I feel like a zombie when I take them. I wanted to share that with you, but everyone is different. I hope you find a combination of medications that helps you to remain stable.

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  9. Wow is right! Adding the pictures to your story simply helps to make them that much more vivid. I can relate to the delusions. I frequently had them whenever I was in a manic phase. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome. I'm glad to find so many people who can relate to this. For many people, it's very hard to understand.

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    2. Anonymous3/18/2012

      Thanks for sharing, Andrea. My young adult daughter is bipolar, off meds, dropped out of school, and won't have contact with us. It is very hard for us not knowing where she is and how she is. Keep writing, please - you give me hope.

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  10. I'm sorry that it's hard for you to stay in touch with your daughter. I became somewhat estranged from my family at times but I never completely cut off contact with them. We are close now and they are extremely supportive. I didn't realize, when I was younger, how hard it was for them to deal with me at some times. I've been going to support groups regularly for the past five years. Most support groups have a separate meeting for families. If you're not going to a support group, going might give you some ideas about how to maintain contact with your daughter. My parents said going to NAMI meetings helped them a lot.

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  11. Anonymous3/19/2012

    Thank you - I have been to support groups in the past, but am not currently involved in one. She has made it clear when we have tried to see her that she wants no part of us, unless it is financial support. It is just very difficult when you don't know where she lays her head at night. I hope and pray that we can have a relationship again some day.

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  12. I'm very sorry. I'll hope for the best.

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  13. I've been diagnosed with manic depression myself, so I stumbled upon your blog while I was researching medication.

    Despite the very serious results of mania's aftermath (and your hospital visit :( ), I must admit that a chunk of this made me laugh out loud... which is not an easy feat, considering how gravely depressed I am:

    "The family below was really nice. Reflecting on the situation now, I'm sure they assumed that I was mentally ill, homeless, or both. "
    Thank you for offering a bit of twisted cheer to my day.

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  14. I'm glad you liked it. Having a sense of humor has helped me a great deal in my life. The best part is that I have drawn other people with good sense of humors into my life, and we are able to help each other out a lot, while laughing and having fun!

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  15. This also resonated with me and the things I do when I am manic. My husband finds it so hard to deal with me and I just had a seven week hospital admission for the mixed/depressed phase but ended up a bit manic here and there. Thanks for writing this. Look forward to hearing more from you!
    Sarah

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  16. It's always a relief to find people who can relate to this type of behavior. So many people don't understand how you can be a 'normal person' and then have stuff like this happen from time to time. I hope all is well with you now!

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