Thursday, February 11, 2010

Addicted to mania

I was watching an episode of celebrity rehab when Dr. Drew said that addiction was the only disease you had to convince people that they have. My first thought was "not true". It took several manic episodes before I was convinced that I was bipolar. I decided it was all just due to insomnia. Then, after a bit of reflection, I realized it really was kind of an addiction. An addiction to the mania.

I liked the mania. It was fun. It was exciting. I wanted to learn to feel like that all the time. If only I could figure out how to behave in a manner that didn't freak people out while I was experiencing it. Two things changed my outlook. One, was my first bout with depression. It lasted a full year. If that's the other half of this thing, I don't want anything to do with it. The other was the realization that my wife was not going to tolerate my little brain experiment indefinitely. If I didn't get my head out of my butt, I was going to be a very lonely manic.

That's when I really started taking the whole thing seriously. I still wanted to learn to handle it as drug free as possible, but I was going to handle it. And if the thoughts started racing, I wasn't going to try to hide it. I was going to get help.

I came to realize eventually, that it wasn't really the mania I was enjoying. It was the thoughts, ideas and awareness that came with it. Unfortunately it also came with a total loss of control of moment to moment judgment and behavior. I didn't go berserk or anything, but I obsessed about things and had to express every idea as it came up and they never stopped coming up. I didn't want to sleep because I didn't want to stop thinking and since I felt an urgency to express everything I was thinking, I never stopped talking or acting out my ideas, no matter how bizarre.

There's nothing wrong with bizarre ideas or lofty thoughts. I just didn't need to be sharing them all or acting on them. That's what I focused on. Now I make sure I get sleep, every night and if I'm having trouble, I don't hesitate to reach for the over the counter sleep aid, although I do mix them up so I'm not taking too much of any one. I probably average one or two doses a month over the course of a year.

It's been several years since I've had an episode, manic or depressive. But I have no delusions that it can't happen again. However, I am no longer a willing host. If/when it comes on again, I'll be wary and I'll combat it, with all the help I can muster. I still enjoy thinking, observing, discovering, pondering and the occasional epiphany, with the euphoria it can bring. But I can do all that without forcing everyone around me to participate. Everyone's got their own thing going on in their head and I'm not going in there uninvited. That's not sharing, it's just rude.