I was thinking of doing a post on Bipolar, and still will, but I think mania and hypomania deserves a post of its own.
Mania is a state of mood associated with an elevated energy level. The polar opposite of depression (not withstanding mixed mood episodes) it is often distinguished by heightened irritability, rapid speech and racing thoughts. Hypomania is the term given to a milder occurrence of this. Those in a manic episode are often wildly productive and creative. There is a feeling of being able to take on the world and a heightened sense of self-esteem. Sleep often falls by the way-side. Another hallmark of mania is indulgence in high risk activities – hypersexuality is an example of this.
As well as these features, a manic episode is defined as lasting over a week continuously and causing a negative impact on the persons’ ability to conduct day to day living. This would include causing difficulties at work and in social situations.
Mixed mood is defined by co-existing symptoms of mania and depression. One of my favourite words in the English language is ‘dysphoria’; think of it as the high of euphoria with the hopelessness of depression. Dysphoric mania describes a mostly manic state with depressive symptoms. The other version of a mixed mood episode is agitated depression – a major depressive episode with hypomanic symptoms. Mixed mood is associated with higher incidence rates of suicidal actions, as the mania imparts a motivation to act on ideation.
My experience of manic and mixed episodes has always been characterised by the perception of the world as ‘high-definition’ and ‘Technicolor’ – the world becomes like a movie in the cinema where the volume is too loud and the screen is too bright. Sleep becomes an elusive thing; during my first episode of mania I not only didn’t feel I needed to sleep, I also didn’t want to as I saw it as wasting time. Thankfully I never sought risks whilst I was manic, but I did turn to self-harm as a way of coping with the overwhelming, racing thoughts and energy.
Mania is a wicked beast. It brings great feelings and low insight. I’ve written a bit on here about the way I would insist I was better than great whilst in a manic episode. It took the people around me paying attention to the warning signs to get me help.
I would welcome comments on how mania has effected you. Or connect with me on Twitter @dontsayimcrazy.