Well, it’s back; the dreaded beast known as mania. I’m in the midst of a relapse and I’m so upset about it. I know exactly how it happened this time. I got sick with the flu and bronchitis about a week and a half ago. And because I was so overextended work-wise, my body took a long time to heal. In the meantime, the physical ailments took their toll on my mental health. I stopped sleeping and eating, and I had constant migraines. It was too much for my brain to handle. All of this brewed together like a perfect storm to produce my own personal tornado. Mania. It started slow, as a hypomanic event. But over the last week, it has exploded into a full blown episode.
When I’m manic, my judgement is extremely skewed. There are no boundaries, personally or professionally. Everything I think, I say. And everything seems like a fantastic idea. No matter how outrageous or out of character it may be. I don’t feel any fear. Thankfully as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown out of the extreme behaviors I used to engage in during mania. Gone are the days of tattoos, self-harm, addiction and self-medication issues, dangerous endeavors, etc. Now I usually just stay up for days on end, talking online or watching movies.
This episode is challenging. My brain is moving a million miles a minute. I can’t stop talking and yet I can’t seem to talk or type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. It’s dizzying. I’m so tempted to say certain things to people that I’m guessing might be inappropriate, so I’m choosing to refrain. But it’s so hard. I just feel like blurting everything out, consequences be damned. I mean what’s the worst that can happen, right? Except I remember my therapist telling me that I may not realize it, but I do have some level of control when I’m like this. He wanted me to tap into that self-reserve. I don’t really want to, but academically, I know he’s right. I’ll hate myself when this is over if I’ve offended or alienated anyone because of my behavior. I’m trying to remember that.
At least I have my actions somewhat in check but there still is a complete lack of self-care that is happening. I just don’t feel like doing anything to help myself. I feel as though everything will eventually work itself out. I know what I should be doing to get better; however I’m just not motivated to do it. It’s almost like a game of chicken I play with myself. I think, “How long can I go on like this until I end up in the hospital?” The thrill is intense.
It’s funny. I just told a friend that I could sense something was coming my way. I wasn’t sure what it was but I had butterflies and a sense of foreboding. My premonitions are always like this. I have them mostly in a mixed state or in full mania. But they’re rarely wrong. It’s such a strange phenomenon, and I have yet to meet anybody who mentions this as a symptom of relapse. It’s happened to me several times over the years. It’s like I’m vibrating on another emotional frequency during these episodes. I know that sounds supernatural, but I don’t mean it that way. It’s much the same as when I’ve described how my skin and eyes glow during mania. My body just changes in a variety of ways when I’m like this. I might pretend it’s enticing, but really it makes me feel like an alien. I don’t recognize myself.
I’m upset that I let allowed this relapse to happen. I knew beforehand that if I overscheduled myself and wasn’t in optimal physical health that something like this would occur. But I forged ahead anyway. It’s like I was daring my brain to keep up with my frenetic pace. That was ill-advised in hindsight and yet I couldn’t do anything to stop it. But now I’m wondering if the way in which I pushed myself these last few weeks was a symptom of my mania and not a cause. Only a doctor would know I suppose. And right now, I’m not willing to see one. I’m determined to muscle through this alone.
*What I just described is how I was feeling the last two days with my relapse. However, I’ve since decided to nip things in the bud and be responsible. I’m taking my meds and have scheduled a few days of rest for myself. I know that if I get ahead of this, I should be able to recover quickly and without incident. I provided that essay as a look into how I feel when I’m fully manic. I wanted others to know what I go through and to be able to relate to my symptoms. I’m nervous to expose myself in this manner, and yet I know it can be of help to those going through this without help or information. And for that treason I share my story.
I am an African American Muslim woman living with mental illness. I’m a mental health blogger and advocate for families in my area. My goal is to bring mental health awareness to both my local and online communities. In doing so I hope to help erase the stigma towards these illnesses.