Mania can seem like the best high in the world. Mania is all intoxicating. Mania can make you believe and buy into fantasies of all shapes, sizes and forms. During a manic episode, you can transcend historical points of reference and religious symbolism/iconography prescribed by your belief system and find yourself incorporated into it despite anachronistic markers which should signal there is a problem with your perception. In this case, mania will, in fact, create a new reality, if only for the moment, and shift your guidance system into a space which will seem like anything is plausible when there is something very wrong with your affective regulation.
What is Mania & Hypomania: Identifying a Manic Episode
I have experienced first hand manic episodes in which I have been awake for weeks at a time without sleeping or need for rest. I have witnessed other people so dysregualted from mania that they would do somersaults across the floors of the psychiatric ward floors just to find out their bodies would later feel the shock of the poorly planned acrobatic theatrics. With certain diagnoses, manic symptoms become more difficult to identify. People carrying diagnoses which include psychotic symptoms should pay even closer attention to their moods because psychosis can worsen with extreme elevations of mood, which, then complicates a persons insight and judgment into their symptoms further. For most generic mood disorders, extreme euphoria, decreased need for sleep, hyper-sexual arousal, & religious ideation are the usual suspects when manic symptoms present. Should these symptoms activate in a subclinical or mostly unproblematic manner in your life you may be working with hypomania.
Implications for Self-Management:
In terms of self management and self regulation, there are several options for reducing the harmfulness of a manic episode on your interpersonal life and capacity to execute activities of daily living without incident. These strategies are dependent on the manner in which mania was activated and how severe your symptoms are to control. Stimulant and drug induced Mania is just as dangerous as organically driven manic episodes. Considering substance abuse treatment for cases like this will be an important step in managing your symptoms for the long haul. Like most people, even minor stimulant use from caffeine can trigger an episode. Living a chemical free lifestyle isn’t for everyone but it can provide a baseline, at least temporarily; to gauge further consumption of foods and beverages which might trigger an episode. For non chemical induced episodes, internal and external barometers are essential for knowing your affective state baseline. Listen to your friends and colleagues. Maybe there have been recent complaints about your behavior. Or maybe, you feel like it’s hard to maintain a balanced mood. Begin to create markers in your living environment and for your internal guidance system to signal that there may be a potential problem.
Living with Unresolved Episodic Mania
There will be times when you have to live with Unresolved symptoms. Creating a plan for friends and family will greatly reduce the risk of potential harm from an episode. This means making friends and family aware of your symptoms and triggers so they can help you avoid the ups and downs of mood dysregylation and even helping you make decisions if your judgment and insight are too impaired for rational decision making. I send emails to friends and family when I feel like my moods may be impaired or have impaired my decisions and or might in the future harm others. Preparedness and attention to details are always essential when managing an illness. Surround yourself with supportive people and allies in your recovery. You should never feel embarrassed by your behavior but you always need to accept responsibility for it. That’s how recovery works: acknowledging that change is necessary and moving forward in the process of adapting our behavior until it serves our purposes.