Most Embarrassing Mania - It Gets Better

November 16, 2013

Today's prompt asks me what my most embarrassing moment since being diagnosed and I would say that it would be the times when I have not been able to stop talking during periods of mania.

I have bipolar II. Fortunately, my symptoms are pretty well managed now with medication and a regular sleep schedule, but this was not always so.  Bipolar II does not have the kind of mania that you hear about in the news or that makes for a good, dramatic movie-instead, it has hypomania, which gives you a nice kind of energy that can be quite beneficial.  Hypomania can be great, especially for someone who has periods of depression, because it gives one productive motivation and energy.  I've even had doctors that try to keep people with bipolar II at a slightly hypomanic state, so that they will be able to stay productive and motivated, instead of depressed and avoidant.

 I've often heard people that only know what depression is like remark that they wish they could experience mania.  I can understand why they would wish that, but there is a misconception among people that have not experienced it that mania is all roses and happy times and it is not.  At its best, hypomania makes one productive and motivated, but go a little past that and one is uncomfortably restless and talkative, with energy that embarrassingly cannot be stopped.  I can remember several manic incidents where I embarrassed myself and while they are funny now that they are over, they are a good reminder to others that no mental illness is to be envied.  

My Two Most Embarrassing Manic Moments:

I had many struggles with mood swings at Berry College, as that was when I was first diagnosed and so I was not on the right medication, had enough therapy, or knew how to take proper care of my body.  Plus, college is stressful.

1. There was the time when I first started working at food service and I was working with a guy who was very quiet-I had a mood swing and could not shut-up.  I had nothing of value to say to him, so I just kept on introducing myself ("Hello, My name is K.C.Jones, Hello, My name is K.C.Jones, Hello..." you get the point), which I knew was a stupid thing to do and so I felt very embarrassed-self-awareness was always the worst part of mania for me.  Fortunately, when I later told him how ridiculous I realized I had sounded, he said that it was fine, he thought it was funny, and he still liked being my friend.  From that time forward, I realized that it is better to be a embarrassingly talkative hypomanic than an irritable one.

2. There was another time when I started talking in rhyme-this is actually a common symptom of mania!  I remember I kept on calling this guy, who I didn't know very well, "kangaroo with a didgeridoo!" and laughing hysterically. And I had seen him play a didgeridoo a few days before, so I wasn't completely out of it, but he avoided me after that.  I still don't think he had a good sense of humor...

Many years later when I was attending a different college, I had a short bout of hypomania where I started talking really fast, laughing louder than usual, and rhyming a little bit again return.  Fortunately, I realized what was happening a lot sooner and as soon as I did I left the area. That way, I could be alone and wait out the mania until the potential for embarrassment passed.   I also immediately called my doctor and made an appointment to see what could be done medication-wise.  Regular hypomania is nice, but talking in rhyme is closer to true mania than I'd like to be.

That's what experience has taught me-a return of symptoms doesn't have to mean the end of the world.  If I notice a return of troubling symptoms, I call my therapist, make an appointment with my doctor, and talk to my sponsor or a close friend if need be.  Then I wait it out.  I use my DBT skills. I didn't always believe it to be true, but all things do in fact pass, even mania, and even embarrassment.

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