The Eagle Has Landed: Anatomy of a Manic Episode

…..and she landed softly, instead of crashing. Thank God.

This morning I felt completely normal when I woke up to get ready for work (even though I maintain that 5 AM shouldn’t even be on the clock), and have continued to enjoy the sensation all day. This is what it must feel like to NOT be bipolar… wake up each morning and not have to run a self-check for symptoms, to go to work and stop by the store for a gallon of milk without picking up a new car on the way home. (Well, I’ve never done that exactly, but I did drop a wad of cash in Wally World last summer that could have sheltered, clothed, and fed four of their employees for a week.)

Now, for most people that statement would prompt a response along the lines of “Yeah, so what? I feel normal too, just like I do every day.” But for me, it’s nothing shy of a miracle…….especially after soaring as high as I did this time.

This was far from the worst manic episode I’ve ever had, but I still let it get pretty out-of-hand before I called my p-doc to put a stop to it. And once again, there are lessons to be learned; this time, I did better at getting help before things escalated to the point of no return, but I could have, and indeed should have called sooner.

Why, I ask myself after each go-round, do I think my will is stronger than the disease? Have I ever been able to contain a manic episode by simply wishing it away? And why, oh why do I still enjoy my hypomanias so much when I know they will almost always progress to full-blown mania, turn on me, and bite me in the ass?

Already, much of the past two weeks has faded into history and there are large blank spots in my memory, which are entirely too much like the alcoholic blackouts I used to experience. I’m thankful that I was able to recall most of my two-day orientation to the long-term-care hall at work, because I was able to carry it off on my own today without forgetting TOO much of what I learned; however, I barely remember making the decision to call my doctor, and significant chunks are missing from the days following the med change as well.

What’s more, I was just reading over some of the posts I made during the episode, and I don’t even recall writing them for the most part. THAT is how jacked-up I get sometimes; by the time I get to admitting that I might—just might—have a little hypomania going, I’ve crossed the border into manic territory. I think this last time I coined the term “pre-hypomania” to describe what I was feeling, but looking back I realize that I was already hypomanic then……and things only got crazier after that.

As I think I’ve stated elsewhere, mania is in many ways as intoxicating (literally)—and as attractive—as alcohol. It’s also every bit as dangerous, because when I’m in that state I do not CARE if I annoy people, spend money I don’t have, upset my family, or make a scene in a restaurant. Oh, maybe once in awhile a little common sense may slip through and make me stop short, but it’s only a minute or two before I go back to doing whatever it is I feel like doing. And the hell of it is, I don’t get scared about ANY of this until I’m through it.

So this post is more than just another blog entry; it’s documentation of what happens when I let a ‘high’ get away from me, and a cautionary tale I can refer to the next time I’m tempted to let the sweet madness wash over me.

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

5 thoughts on “The Eagle Has Landed: Anatomy of a Manic Episode

  1. re: As I think I’ve stated elsewhere, mania is in many ways as intoxicating (literally)—and as attractive—as alcohol.

    Yep – this is why I avoid it like the plague, to the point of preferring a low level of depression – or even a LOW low level of depression. To me depression causes less harm (I am sure this not as true as I want it to be lol) – again, like you, thinking I can will myself over the disease…


    1. I am not sure what a low low depression looks like for you as it’s different for everybody, but I’ll take anything else over my low low depressions. 😀


  2. “Low-low” depression for me is when I don’t even care enough about myself to brush my teeth on my days off. I don’t shower, I stay in my pajamas all day, and when it gets really bad I have suicidal ideation. I can still get out of bed and go to work, even though I do tend to isolate as much as I can, and I’m not as warm-and-fuzzy as usual. I cry a lot more than I normally do, and listen to sad music so I have an excuse for it.

    Most of these I just have to suffer through—my p-doc won’t increase my antidepressant because the higher dose flips me right into hypo/mania, but he increased the Lamictal last winter which pretty much kicked it, and other than that horrid mixed episode in May, I haven’t been depressed since.


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