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.


human101 said...

hey there friend.
i recently have discovered i am having the exact same feelings! I am in love with my manic half. i wish it would stay forever, and i am even willing to go through the terrible depression, knowing i will have some sort of happiness in the future. i feel as though i can achieve anything, express myself, create tons of art (or atleast come up with so many IDEAS..because i have no concentration what so ever..), i am more clever with words, i can entertain anyone and i feel as though i have all the time in the world! (sorry, i am in a bit of a manic state right now..) i always thought it was normal to go back and forth between emotions... but was clued in not to long ago that it is so not normal.. But really, what is normal?.. I know that is completely cliche.. but it is a very appropriate one to be used at the moment. i am just wondering.. how do you feel now, now that you are treating it? i am so scared and do not want to feel numb forever... even though i know i will be swinging back to that side of the spectrum very very soon... and probably go into some deep dark depression...what else have you done to help yourself? ways to keep yourself sane, and happy.... and feeling fulfilled??? i am thinking that is why i feel so great when in this state! it brings me fulfillment.. did you ever have that feeling??

thanks alot!

Twinsmom said...

Great post!

Captain Capitalist said...

Human, I just now read you comment from over a year ago. I hope you're doing well. My most recent post may be of some help answering your question. That euphoria you're addicted to is a combination of dopamine and adrenaline ( or something very similar). My most intense experience with it was in college. I felt like a rockstar and never wanted it to end. But it's just a buzz. It doesn't always just wear off, like a drug induced buzz, so you can't control the schedule. You don't get control of it until you convince yourself that it is a net negative. I chose not to go the medication route because the vast majority of the time my brain chemistry is fine. But when it's not, I consciously counteract it. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting sleep. Sometimes it's ignoring what my emotional state is suggesting. Your comment suggested you weren't ready to give up the mania. When/if you are, it can be done and you won't miss it. Don't take this as medical advice. I'm not qualified. Just sharing my experience for what it's worth.

bdoug89 said...

I'm glad there are people like me out there... damn... and human 101, story of my life and you were mania mad in that comment haha be safe