We know little about depression, but we know even less about bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by experiencing the polar opposites of emotion: depression and mania. Over the past two months, we have published articles about people’s experiences of depression. Mania is a symptom of manic depressive disorder (bipolar disorder) and today we will elaborate on it.
There are many different types of bipolar disorder and understanding all of the nuances takes time. We are in the process of developing a Bipolar Essential series to help you to learn more about it.
But how exactly does it exactly feel to be manic? Maria wrote to us a few months ago, and said she’d like to share her story of mania with us. And here it is.
After six long months of depression, I woke up one day feeling the happiest I have ever been. I felt like a unicorn. It was as if I had suddenly emerged through the end of the dark tunnel that was depression and leaped out into the sun. Everything looked so bright and there was not a single thing that bothered me. This was my first taste of mania.
“I am awesome. AND I JUST CAN’T WAIT TO BE KING.” I wrote in my diary. For someone who has always had low self-esteem, my diary entries showed confidence I never even imagined I could have. I did not simply write I was going to be king, but knew that I WILL become king: King of the World.
My diary entry on 28th July 2013 (Maria Chen, 2013)
My exterior soon started to reflect the confidence and euphoria I felt within. I started walking with my head and chest held high. I changed my usual look of relatively conservative clothing and lack of makeup: I believed I was so attractive that I had to showcase it to the world. I started wearing bold, colorful and revealing clothing, as well as much heavier make up.
How I felt daily during mania (Maria Chen, 2013)
I wanted everyone to notice how amazing I was. I remember dressing up in my favorite QiPao (Chinese dress) and putting on a lot of makeup for no other reason than to pose in a photo and show everyone how good I looked. When I was complimented on my appearance, I thought to myself: “Of course I look nice: I am the most attractive person”.
I want everyone to know how beautiful I am! (Maria Chen, 2013)
Mania, in my eyes, was some of the happiest times I have experienced: I felt like I was on top of the world. But it definitely did cause damage, which I could not notice at the time of my illness. Nearly every waking moment I spent talking, or worse, singing to people near me. I was living in a hotel with my family in Canada but I ended up talking and singing so much that they hurried up to rent me my own apartment so they could feel less agitated. Even when I was alone I called others to talk or just sang by myself.
I was highly sexual and looked for any chance to get closer to guys around me, despite already having a boyfriend. I also went on some crazy shopping sprees. Each day, my parents would give me money, and I would go out to buy a bunch of useless things including statues, bizarre bell-like instruments, strange looking clothes and more. I spent every single penny I was given, to the point I had to call my parents at the end of every day to ask them to pick me up because I was stranded downtown with five shopping bags and not even any money to bus home. Thank goodness I didn’t have a credit card!
Excessive spending during mania (Geoff Williams, 2015)
Despite all these drawbacks, I learnt an important lesson from my manic episode. Loving oneself and being confident makes life so much better. Of course it is ideal if you are not as confident as a manic person, but feeling that extreme confidence and happiness with myself really showed me how wonderful it was to be comfortable being me.