you watched a loved one have a manic episode? Have you experienced
mania? I have. Mania is a symptom of bipolar disorder and
schizoaffective disorder-bipolar type. Mania can also be a result of
drug use. There are three types of mania: hypomania, mania and mixed
mania. Today I’m just going to describe hypomania and mania
(they’re more fun). I’ll touch on “mixed mania”
weeks ago I went to bed and never fell asleep. In fact, the longer I
lay in bed, the more ideas and more energy I had. I quickly became
bored. Something about staring at the ceiling only increased my
of clearing my mind, I began pondering the upcoming semester while
mentally planning the agenda for my quickly approaching correlation
meeting. As you can imagine, I didn’t fall asleep. I tried
boring myself to sleep, counting backwards from 1,000, and restarting
each time I accidently moved. That didn’t work either.
myself to stay in bed was annoyingly difficult. Truthfully, I simply
had too many fun things to plan, too many ideas to sort out, too many
projects to finish.
three in the morning, my boredom was getting the best of me. The
vacuum stashed in the corner looked more and more inviting. Initially
the only thing stopping me from getting up was my desire to let my
sweetie sleep. After all, waking up to a vacuum at three in the
morning isn’t conducive to getting the rest a normal person
needs to work all day. Gratefully, I could still recognize that.
in order to vacuum, I’d need to rid the floor of everything,
but it didn’t matter because I had enough energy to clean
everything including the fridge and a month’s worth of laundry.
In fact, I finally figured out how to finish that novel I’d
started years ago! My newfound energy felt amazing! I haven’t
felt like that in years.
knew I could let the energy take over, getting a thousand things
done, but that little voice of reason kept reminding me that giving
into this immense desire and ability to check everything off my to-do
list would only feed the insatiable energy. I was hypo-manic and I
knew it. Hypo-manic means not quite manic, but headed in that
direction. I knew how fun, fulfilling and productive it could be to
give into the hypo-mania, but I stopped myself on purpose.
the decision to stop mania is hard. The only way to stop yourself
from spinning out of control during mania is sleep. However, sleep is
nearly impossible without intervention. Perhaps you think, “Well,
just turn your mind off.”
odd as it sounds to someone who’s never experienced mania, a
bipolar mind doesn’t have an off switch. It’s all back to
that chemical imbalance that causes psychiatric disorders. People
without some form of bipolar disorder can turn their brains off to
sweetly slip into slumber because their chemicals are balanced. If
the chemicals weren’t balanced, they too could stay up for days
on end thinking nothing of it!
in the world chooses to clean out the entire house at such a horrific
hour? Who gladly and purposely gives up sleeping to vacuum? Who
willingly and eagerly does a month’s worth of laundry while the
population’s majority is fast asleep?
have friends who prefer staying up late to finish projects while
children sleep. However, they are exhausted the next day. Why? They
aren’t hypo-manic. I am. I was more alert at 4 a.m. than I was
when waking up the previous morning. In fact, as the second day of
wakefulness progressed, I only became more excited and happy about
longer a hypo-manic person stays up, the more alert and productive
she can become ̶ to a point. Hypo-mania can cause a variety of
different symptoms, one of which is an amazing amount of energy. The
problem is, if hypo-mania isn’t curbed, the energy intensifies.
Suddenly thoughts fly increasingly faster. Everything else slows to
an annoying speed equivalent to cold molasses. Once that happens,
hypo-mania melts into the background, launching into full-blown
manic, it feels like others can’t think or process thoughts at
a normal speed, causing extreme frustration. Manic symptoms can also
include a huge boost of self-esteem and excessive involvement in
pleasurable activities without thought to consequences. It’s as
if the brain makes decisions so quickly the concept of consequences
brain needs sleep to continue functioning properly; mania doesn’t
allow sleep. How can a brain function without sleep? It can’t.
Consequently, when experiencing mania, people can begin making really
bad decisions, not even recognizing them as such. For example:
driving at speeds over 100mph (annoyed that every other driver is
going the seemingly equivalent of 9 ½ mph), marrying some
stranger off the street (because he smiled at her), shaving her long
locks (thinking her new employer will be impressed by the
creativity), or perhaps enrolling in two doctoral programs at the
same time (initially doing well, but then unraveling midway into the
second semester when the mania careens out of control). These
examples are all from real people with bipolar disorder, and these
examples are the most benign!
think about it, if you are used to feeling like a sad, unproductive
slug with friends and family who berate you for your supposed
laziness, when hypo-mania kicks in, you reach up and grab it in an
effort to feel better and prove to your loved ones that you aren’t
guess my point is, if you recognize you or a loved one suddenly needs
significantly less sleep, becomes spontaneously more productive, and
is having trouble expressing thoughts because the thoughts are too
fast to explain, it could be a form of mania. It takes a lot of
self-discipline to willingly turn off the happy juice (mania), but
doing so before things swing out of control is vital. Mania almost
always crashes into deep, severe depression.
sure you or your loved one talk to a professional who can assist in
reining in the manic symptoms. It could mean the difference between
turning off the mania or losing control of it ̶ usually
plaguing you or your loved one with possible horrific consequences.
The choice is yours, and as I said before, it’s not an easy
Sarah Hancock is currently in her final year of studies at San Diego State University's
Rehabilitation Counseling Program (just voted 9th in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report)
with a psychiatric emphasis. A portion of her internship was spent as the Coordinator of
Disability Services Office for Alliant International University's San Diego and Irvine Campuses.
Having embarked on her own journey with a mental health diagnosis, she is passionate about
Psychiatric Recovery and teaching others how to strengthen their "Recovery Toolbox." Sarah
finds comfort in writing, having completed more than 29 journal volumes. She teaches
occasional recovery workshops using principles she learned from Recovery Innovations.
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Sarah served a Spanish speaking and ASL mission for
the LDS Church in the Texas Dallas Mission. She was graduated from Ricks College and BYU.
Sarah currently resides in the San Diego area with her husband. They have four teenage children.
She currently loves serving as Young Women secretary and ward missionary.