Hello, my friends! It is safe to say that, at least for now, I have begun to emerge from a deep, two-month-long bout of depression. I am hoping for some butterfly wings after the long dark of that cocoon.
I will say that’s the one beauty of bipolar disorder. When I get to fully reemerge now and then (not just come up for air), everything feels like it’s ten times as beautiful. The luster and shine on the world is like I am seeing it all for the first time again. Every breath is rife with possibilities and every thought brimming with the wonder of a child.
…After reading over what I just wrote, I am a tiny bit concerned I am about to, or am already, in the wonderful, terrible, glorious wilds of mania. I have only experienced full-fledged mania four times, so I am hoping this will be the “milder” version I normally experience: hypomania.
I’ve written a lot while in the throes of depression to give you a glimpse into my mindset while I’m in the deep, but I haven’t written about mania while I’m in the midst of it yet…
Well. This should be interesting.
(I am hoping this post will not be one of those, “don’t drink and text” moments, where what I write seems perfectly normal at the time, only to read it later and be mortified… But I suppose that’s what I got myself into by starting this blog in the first place.)
This is the point where I change the title and accept this post is not at all what I’d initially intended it to be.
Just a moment.
In my case, hypomania is characterized by a massive burst of creativity, euphoria, irresponsible spending (like randomly buying seven plants at once, or pulling the kids out of school to take them to the zoo, or suddenly deciding to take a three day weekend to drive the kids up to Austin so we can visit museums and parks and eat interesting food and explore the city and…spend an obscene amount of money we don’t have…), and “delightful” insomnia. I say delightful because it’s the opposite of the insomnia I exeperience during depression–rather than desperately wanting to sleep, I want to stay up; and instead of feeling like my body is beyond exhausted, I don’t feel tired in the least. I feel electric. Almost to a painful level, but not quite.
If I were to try and come up with an example for how I feel during this time, I would say it’s similar to a constant rush of adrenaline, but not the kind induced by panic attacks and mixed moods. It’s the kind I would assume cliff diving or a free solo climb would elicit. Death-defying act? Why, yes! Sign me up! I just survived weeks of despair. And now I am dangling from rapturous heights of elation only dreamed of by the rest of humanity!
Lord Byron, who was famously bipolar, described mania in his poem, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” like this:
Yet must I think less wildly:–I have thought
Too long and darkly, till my brain became,
In it’s own eddy boiling and o’erwrought,
A whirling gulf of phantasy and flame
Fantasy and flame! Yes.
For me, the only real difficulties during mania are to surrender the debit card (mentally at least), force myself to sleep, and continue to pursue the Lord like I did when I was depressed.
During hypomania, I’m like a Brave New World version of myself. I experience the “negative utopia,” as Huxley called it. The pleasure and happiness I feel dulls my desire for the Lord. In essence…I don’t need Him anymore because I’m not hurting, so I don’t want Him.
I cringe to write that, but it’s true, friend. I feel I have to fight more for my relationship with the Lord now, than when I’m in the pit. I’m like an anti-fair weather friend to God.
I’m only His friend in the storm.
It’s almost as if I were eating cotton candy and nothing else. It’s delicious and gives me a sugar rush, and since I keep eating it, I’m never hungry for real food, for what I actually need, because I’m too full of empty calories.
Not that happiness and pleasure are bad. God created those things. They just shouldn’t be the only things.