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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