One of the key features of a hypomanic or manic mood for me is the incredible 180 my mind takes when it comes to routines. Typically I am a homely creature; I like working regular hours and coming home to make dinner for my beloved. We go out, sure, but normally that looks like doing the pub quiz on a Wednesday evening – and even then we’re usually home by half nine. I tend to be satisfied with my job, with my status and income.
But wow, doesn’t that all change when my mood does. The idea of going home to routine sends me frantic (not exaggerating). The steady 8:00 till 4:30 of office work doesn’t challenge me nearly enough. The cups of tea by the fire I usually so enjoy when I have alone time are replaced with alcohol – not to excess, but enough that I feel like I’ve rebelled a little.
It is a mental rebellion of the strangest kind. The studies all say that bipolar mania includes risk-taking behaviours and I see that in myself when I am running fast. Thankfully I don’t seem to become hypersexual, I don’t turn to drugs and I don’t go parachuting. But the lust for change and excitement that lurks behind the need to take risks drives me up the wall.
It becomes a mental battle of wills. The aspects of me fighting each other – my intellectual knowledge that I really should <stay home>/<meditate>/<take a bath> vs the impulsive side that craves <a night out>/<a night-time walk>. And it is beyond frustrating; it often gets to the point that I am raging angry with the people around me who are trying to keep me safe.
Really, it’s no fun. Taking Freud’s model, it is classic Id vs Ego and Superego. My need to find adventure is contrasted by the sensible thinking me; the me that wants to keep within respectable, ‘normal’ behaviour as dictated by our respectable, normal society. Even writing this now I am finding it hard to describe the levels of annoyance that come with temperance.
I know it’s not just me who experiences this urge to ‘be bad’. Taking an extreme example; a study published on the National Institute of Health library site suggests that 8.4% of individuals with bipolar committed violent crime – this is contrasted to the control population study that found the incidence of crime being committed to be 3.5%. The brain seems to be the cause of this increased risk taking behaviour. A study by Manchester University last year found that there was a dominance of the brain’s ‘pleasure centre’ when assessed using fMRI scans.
Knowing the possible causes does not make things easier however. All I can do is attempt to channel the energy that comes with the impulses into productive activities; baking bread, achieving targets at work and exercising. Unfortunately being a good girl isn’t as satisfying as the acts of rebellion, and I have no idea how to get over this particular bump in the road.