Before reading this article you may like to find out more about me as a person.
Having recently been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I wanted to give a personal insight into how this affects me personally, obviously I am speaking from my own perspective and you can take from this what you want or need.
Everyone is different however those living with bipolar share similarities and traits, Lets start with the best part:
What Is Mania and how does it affect me?
Firstly I want to say that sometimes I really like it when I am manic, why you ask?
I remember a Public Health Advert called know your limits from a few years back, The ad was about feeling Superhuman and being able to take on the world and focused on Alcohol.
I feel like the Superhero a lot when I am Manic unlike the advert I don’t need drugs or alcohol to feel like this having Bipolar means I have a ‘natural high’.
I come up with so many great ideas, I would even go as far as saying often entrepreneurial, I remember a few years back devising a business plan for a fruit and vegetable Box Scheme, long before some of todays major players. We sold 1000’s of units on our first day of trading.
When I was at Sussex Cricket Club, I often got frustrated because I would have these creative ideas that would revolutionise the events aspect of the club, the unfortunate challenge was that the club wasn’t a Premier League Football Club with millions in revenue from TV deals, they rely on the income from members and the English Cricket Board.
The Life and Soul of the Party
I am quite optimistic, I always try to see the positive side to all situations and this is a great trait to have, I like to make people laugh, I hate awkward silences and often fill these gaps with funny stories, practical jokes and even arguments, its literally all or nothing.
I can stay up for days on end with very little and sometimes no sleep, my mind is in overdrive I can actually feel energy rush through the synapses of my brain, I am always two conversations ahead and have trouble when others can’t keep up.
I am very creative during Mania, I make music, write lyrics, come up with grand plans to improve the lives of others and develop campaigns.
As they say though ‘what goes up must come down’ no living being can function in a constant state on mania, the amount of serotonin I use in Mania means that eventually I crash and burn out.
The Angry Beast – this aspect of my personality was more active in my early 20’s, I remember the simplest thing would make me flip. Partner being late, I have it when people are late or cancel.
One vivid memory which best describes this was when for no reason at all I picked up a traffic cone and launched it into the front car windscreen of some innocent driver at the traffic lights waiting for the lights to turn green. I simply have no control over my actions that day and whilst I massively regret doing that, it wasn’t my fault, luckily no one was hurt this time.
I’ve had physical fights and pushed loved ones away because of this anger. I’ve never been voilent in a relationship, unless in self defence.
Recreational Drugs – Obviously now at the grand age of 32 I know who I am and what my illness is, but this was only diagnosed a few weeks ago. Before I had the correct medication I used to self-medicate,the symptoms of bipolar looking back didn’t surface until my early 20’s, before this I was alcohol and drug free.
Then I discovered recreational drugs, first it was ecstasy, the drug of euphoria and love, during my depressive periods these helped me loads…. so I thought! in reality they simple fed into my illness and heightened the effects. Ketamine helped to bring me down from the hypomania as did cannabis.
I have had really long periods in my adulthood whereby I’ve abstained from drug use, I’ve stopped for years in the past and even stopped smoking, however when the mania comes back I relapse and thats the hardest thing to control.
Friends and Family – Being around someone who is bipolar as i’ve said before has its benefits, feeling down? We will perk you up! but what does it feel like after days and days of mania. I’ve been described as being ‘too much’, ‘high maintenance’, ‘irritating’ and ‘annoying’ to name a few, obviously i’ve been called much worse which I wont say.
I’ve lost friends and family through my actions and part of me blames myself, however I do now feel that following my diagnosis that I have a duty to explain who I am and why I do the things I do in the hope that people can forgive me and move forward. I live in hope!
Finances, Money and Spending – During Mania I spend like a trooper, I am very generous and often give much of my money away, however in the past I have been got myself into debt through uncontrolled spend sprees that feed into the mania.
As I have said before I have PTSD as well which is an added element to my illness which makes the bipolar effects slightly different in my case, but with the right medication, counselling and support I can beat this illness.