What Mania Feels Like

All at once, the mania is here. Hypomania, specifically, as I have bipolar disorder type two (the mood disorder aspect of my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder). First, my energy spikes. I’m excited and hopeful, but I’m irritable and angry. My head is flooded with ideas. I’m on my soapbox telling joke after joke, getting mad if someone doesn’t understand me and then laughing hysterically seconds later.

manic

Mania Is Hyperactivity, But Not Necessarily Productivity

I go through all my old papers, trying to sort writing and quotes and articles I’ve read for books I’ll probably never write. I go through my closet, finding old shirts to cut the sleeves off of and letters I saved from years ago. I paint and glue and glitter and cut and it’s all pretty much crap, but it looks amazing when I’m experiencing mania. Everything sounds beautiful when I’m experiencing mania.

Or everything sounds like nails on a chalkboard. My senses are heightened. Noises are louder. Colors are brighter. My body feels trapped in my clothes, the previously soft fabric like inflexible metal pushing against my skin.

Maybe I should get into running again. Right now. I decide to run around my neighborhood at two in the morning.

A song is playing. One, two, three, four… I’m doing cartwheels and running in place. I’m taping up more things on the walls and writing my ideas down in page after page. I’m breathless and excited and ambitious, and I run around the block again because I’m destined to be a runner even though I haven’t been in any races since 5th grade.

Psychotic Mania

The lights are dim, and the people are following me around town as I run, trying to catch my cold breath in my fists. My paranoia is here, another tell-tale sign of my psychotic mania. Christmas lights hang off the trees, and it looks like the most honest, beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The world feels so good. The air feels light and sweet on my tongue. Where have I been for so long?

mania

Hey! Don’t touch me. I don’t want to talk anymore. I don’t want to dance. I don’t want to paint. Everything is disappointing and uninteresting. I hate you, but more than anything I hate me. I comb my short hair until it feels just right, and then check my teeth for cavities instead of brushing them. The world is falling apart. What is everyone doing? I can’t save the world all by myself. Death is inescapable. So is pain. What is the point? It’s all so frustrating. Who is that following me?

Hours later, a day later, or a week later, and I come to, accessing the damage. Everything sort of slows down. The music skips and then stops. I can taste my bad breath. The dancing poinsettias that were keeping in time with the music wilt and fall to the floor. I notice the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, run a hand through my greasy hair, and look at the mess I’ve made.

What has she done now? What have I? What have we?

The house is a mess. The pages of writing I thought were profound are just scribbles. I no longer feel strong and unbreakable or righteously angry. Words hurt and I look in the mirror at the girl who remains a mystery to me, even after 21 years with her. I’m embarrassed by the things she’s said, of the things she’s done.

There are so many things I want to do, such as finish school, marry, have a career. But the main task has and will always be to figure out this beast behind my cold nose and dry eyes. She is the one calling the shots. I scroll through my Facebook memories for the day and lick my lips, finding her beneath violent words, profanity, and sentences that just don’t make sense. There she is, swooping in and out to call the shots since 2009, making me post weird, cryptic statuses that disturb me seven years later. It is different from just being embarrassed. It’s looking back and knowing that even then, my mind was splitting in half, fragmented by my mental illness.

About The Author:

August Blair is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media strategist. She is passionate about health and wellness, social issues, and the environment. She studies Communication at The University of North Georgia.

Recommended Reading:

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Madness: A Bipolar Life

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