I think last night might have been the closest I have come to a manic (more like hypomanic) high in a very long time. The best thing about it is that I recognized it and made a decision that I did not want to go there.
I was up because pain and IBS were bothering me and I started to clear things off in my former craft room to consolidate them into our now shared small office. After clearing off the next furniture to be moved I realized what was happening and stopped. I went and made myself some whole wheat toast with cashew butter and some peppermint tea. While I had my snack I did some writing and then went to bed. The shock came when it was almost 4:30 am!
Thankfully I went to sleep quickly and did not wake up until noon. At that point I felt the farthest thing from mania…without becoming depressed. I felt like a truck had run over me and not come back to finish the job (an old saying of my mother’s).
My awesome hubby let me sleep and I woke up just before Kay called to tell me about her morning appointment. Hubby had fed the fur-kids and I had just enough time to make his main meal and sandwiches for work.
Am I worried about this nocturnal burst of energy? Well, considering the fact that I totally forgot to mention it to either my hubby or Kay, I guess not.
So why am I mentioning it here and now? Because I think it is important for people with or without bipolar to realize that while you always have it, there is a possibility to control or even channel it once you understand, accept and become stronger than the illness itself.
There are times that I almost wish I could conjure up a manic episode when I am so sore and fatigued from my physical ailments. Mania is not all bad. When it can be dangerous is when it is undiagnosed, untreated, or worse, ignored.
I had bipolar for probably 18 years before I was diagnosed. I had clinical depression for 6 or 7 years before that (8 years old). I remember being very relieved when I got each of these diagnoses because I knew I was going to be treated. That didn’t mean there weren’t a lot of pot-holes along the way, but it was a start.
What I was not prepared for was the stigma that a diagnosis of mental illness would bring you in the 1980’s and 90’s. I had to take time off work and when I needed to pick something up from the office my boss met me outside to save me the “embarrassment” of seeing everyone. I was not embarrassed. I was getting well. I missed all my work friends. Though when I did come back I learned I didn’t have many real friends there. I was treated with kid gloves and could tell people were walking on eggshells around me. This led to a second episode and eventually after the third leave of absence I was gradually eased out of a job. This was in the government!
Even family members were not totally comfortable with my diagnoses and behaviour. They did their best, and I know that they worried about me even through their embarrassment.
What I would like to say to them and to the families, friends, co-workers and anyone in contact with a person suffering or coping with mental illness is – we are people just like you and the more we are treated like we are different, the more different we will be.
I recently found a wonderful interview with Patty Duke from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). She is one of the first stars to come forward about their illness and to work towards relieving the stigma. If you have not heard this, I do recommend giving it a listen. I have read both her books and the first one, “Call Me Anna”, went a long way in helping my mother understand me better – me too for that matter.
So, as I sit here looking at all the work that needs to be done to get this place ready to sell, am I regretting my decision to shut down my manic spurt of energy? Not in the least. Things will get done in their time and I will stay healthy doing it.