Here’s What It Feels Like To Experience Bipolar Mania, Because It Isn’t Just ‘High Energy’
Bipolar disorder — originally called manic-depressive disorder — is not as common. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that it affects almost 6 million adults in the US. It tends to develop in the late teens to early twenties, and there are two types: bipolar I, and bipolar II. People with bipolar I tend to experience full-blown mania — more on what that’s like later — whereas people with bipolar II tend to experience hypomania, and more often experience the lows of the disorder.
I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar I when I was 20 (I experience swings more than four times in a year). It did not come as a surprise – I had been experiencing mood swings several times within a month, and the nearest available appointment with my psychiatrist was three months out. (Thus, I swung back and forth between mania/hypomania and depression more than 10 times before I was seen.)
While I’ve reached mania — I overspend, talk loudly, and experience hypersexuality, mainly — I tend to hang back and reach hypomania when the medication is working. The depression is what comes to my mind most with my bipolar. In fact, it was hard to believe I actually reached mania — I didn’t believe I was invincible, I didn’t experience psychosis, I was in touch with reality — until the past weekend.
When I first imagined mania, I imagined somebody who was ecstatic — the yin to the yang of depression. Once I experienced it, however, I realized my perception was slightly off.