On the nature of mania

By aemetha · Apr 22, 2016 · ·
  1. aemetha
    People often ask what being manic is, and it's not a state that's well understood by people that haven't experienced it. To be honest I think it's probably a little different for everyone that experiences it, but I'm going to try to relate my experiences of it here.

    First off, it feels great. Really really great. People often have trouble understanding this because it is so often equated with being out of control, but the truth of the matter is you don't really feel out of control when you're manic, it's only after the episode ends that you can really comprehend your behaviour in that way.

    Being manic is like having a cloud of awesome draped over your life. Someone could tell me "You're a fucking dick and I hate you" and I'd quite honestly respond "Thanks mate, I love you too". It's not that the words are difficult to comprehend, but rather the intent is interpreted wrong. Good things are really good, and bad things are at worst okay.

    Another thing that happens, is everything is much faster. One of the best ways to identify when someone is having a manic episode is that they talk very quickly. For me I'm aware of it only when someone points it out. I talk quickly because my mind is moving very quickly in this state, and to me it seems perfectly normal to be talking this way.

    Thoughts fly though your head and you make grandiose plans for the future, almost always unrealistic plans but they don't seem that way at the time. Here's an example of the type of phone conversation one might have with a manic person.

    Me: "Hey mate, I've come up with a plan to solve traffic congestion in Wellington"
    Friend: "Ummm, okay, what's that?"
    Me: "We need to build a six mile bridge over the harbour, can you get it done by next week?"
    Friend: "I don't think you can build a bridge in a week mate"
    Me: "Really? There has to be a way, I don't think we can wait much longer than that, I worked it out and its costing the economy 3.8 billion dollars a year"
    Friend: "Dude, I'm sure its a good plan, but why are you telling me?"
    Me: "Well I need someone on the inside to get it moving"
    Friend: "...I'm an accountant though, I don't know anything about building bridges"
    Me: "Well it's all math isn't it?"
    *Line goes dead*

    Humorous as that may seem, it's exactly the sort of conversation and thought process you experience when manic. You can get stuff done too, you work faster, you think faster, you don't need to sleep as much, and your brain multi-tasks like you wouldn't believe.

    But here's the catch. As good as it feels to be manic, and as productive as you think you are, and as much as you think you relate to people so much better, it's an illusion and there comes a point when you realise this. And that's one of the worst pain's a person can experience, in the space of a second you go from mind numbing high to soul crushing despair.

    You've alienated friends, messed up at work, abandoned your family. Done things you'd never have considered doing if not for the lying cloud of great that was hanging over you the whole time. And the worst part of it is, although you know everything was misinterpreted, you also remember how good it felt at the time. You crave the feeling just like an addict chases that first high. Ever wonder why so many bi-polar patients go off their meds? Now you know.

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  1. the elusive eye
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Apr 24, 2018
    mania can be approximated like a really good, strong high on meth for people who haven't experienced it otherwise - while you're riding high, you feel invincible. you take even insults as compliments, because hey - you're not doing anything wrong, you don't need to defend yourself! you're goddamned right i'm an asshole, i'm the best goddamned asshole there ever was, and you're just jealous you're not as good of an asshole as me!...that kind of thing. and the unpredictable crash is made worse by realizing just what an asshole you were, which mortifies you with embarrassment...yeah. it's vicious shit. only with bipolar it's worse, because the crash isn't just a crash, it's all the way to the other extreme, with the mortification on top of that.

    it takes a LOT of patience to live with, care for, or be in a relationship of any kind with someone who is bipolar, even the rare one who is compliant with meds and well-maintained in their disorder, and it takes a lot of understanding...and it's nearly all because of the delusion of invincibility and infallibility and greatness that mania induces.


  1. detoxin momma
    aemetha, you did a great job explaining the thought process.it does feel great when you reach that level of mania, everything seems so clear, and obvious....like, why dont other people think of these things!
    because its not really that simple, thats why.

    can you imagine 2 manic people making plans for the future, that'd be interesting to say the least.

    i did a great job alienating my family on my last episode. actually, its the only one ive ever had.
    and it did scare me, still does.
    i got so highly wrapped up in my own mind, i traumatized myself, and my head still hurts.

    only difference for me is, i'd be terrified to go there again, the comedown is brutal, heartbreaking almost.
    so, i wouldnt want to go off my medication. my mania resulted in awful headaches, and my family walks on eggshells around me now.

    i wish i knew if this would've happened to me had i not been detoxing tramadol.
    that is the question for me.i really dont think so, but noone believes me, so i take the meds...noone i know believes tramadol could effect someone so greatly. oh well.

    but i still wouldnt risk going off my medication. i have too much at stake.
  2. afriendoftina
    This may sound strange but, it seems like the experience of mania includes:
    • Initial euphoria
    • time dilation: moving quicker, time flies
    • The world feels awesome
    • Lucidity, not feeling out of control
    • Talking faster even though you yourself think you are talking at a normal pace
    • Feeling like you can do everything and get stuff done
    • Getting wrapped up in your own mind
    • Thinking faster
    • Don't Sleep as much
    • Relating to people better (according to your own perceptions)
    • On reflection, you see your behaviour very differently
    • Brutal soul-crushing despair afterwards
    • Alienation of friends and family
    Of those symptoms, here are the ones that don't apply to Meth highs/binges:

    [intentional blank space]

    I'm so surprised, it's like reading an experience report from a meth binge. Every single thing matches up with my tweaking experiences. There are a couple of addition things missing from the later stages of a meth binge like shadow people, paranoia, crank bugs and picking...but these are for serious binges. Other than that it's uncannily identical.

    Are any other meth addicts thinking the same? What do you think Aem?
    Can anyone compare?
  3. aemetha
    @detoxin mama

    Yeah, there was a time in my life where I would crave the feeling of a manic episode, but I've had enough of them now and am aware of the consequences enough to not go off my meds either. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my experiences.

    @ afriendoftina

    Although bipolar isn't particularly well understood medically, we do know that during manic episodes dopamine has increased transmission, and that this causes an increase in dopamine mediated G protein-coupled receptors, which causes the depressive phase when the dopamine transmission returns to normal. So at a very basic level the same brain chemistry properties as meth, but with different causes.
  4. detoxin momma
    afriendoftina, no, i wouldnt compare a manic episode to any meth binges i had in the past.
    on meth, i knew i was high on meth so i never really felt intelligent on it. i was a focused,calm tweaker.

    during a manic episode im like a tornado full of great ideas, and they come on sober, so that makes things seem so 'correct'...
    yes i have hallucinated greatly from meth, but it was very different. never religious.things we KNOW arent real, like werewolves and dancing toys.
    very easy to brush the high off as meth induced.
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