14 September 2013

Mania: The Flip~Side of "Manic~Depression"

Fortunately I have not had to deal with this excessively so for the past few months.  I have done a fair amount of self~monitoring and have been able to pace myself appropriately.  Or at least I think so.  It's hard to tell with Mania, cuz there are times when hypo~mania occurs, unnoted.

This is because hypo~mania is the preferred state of many who deal with manic~depression.  It's a slightly elevated state of euphoria when you are firing on all cylinders, optimistically juggling multiple tasks and deadlines, lots of ideas springing forth, and the flow of creativity seems effortless. Most people like those who are experiencing this level of mania.  Cuz these slightly off folks are gregarious and charming, they seem energetic and pleasant.  They're peppy and upbeat and joyous and eccentric.  They're artistic and a fount of wonderful suggestions and problem solving solutions.  They're just far enough off average to be outstanding, but not so far off they seem crazed.

Is it any wonder why most manic~depressants love, Love, LOVE hypo~mania?  It's a no~brainer why folks do not want to take note that this might be a sign that should be noted, cuz it might be a warning that just after this state is the mania, the true mania, the hyper~mania, the mania that passes into frantic frenzies and racing thoughts and impatience with folks who cannot conceive of the amazing ideas that have occurred to those in the throes of mania.

For many, depression is the most dangerous aspect of manic~depression.  It's crushing.  It's draining.  It's painful and true despair settles in and sucks your very soul in depletion.

For me?  Mania is the most dangerous aspect of this delicate balancing act.  For many years, Rapid Cycling {even ultradian} was a way of life for me.  It quickly becomes exhausting, it accelerates at such velocity that I would dash right thru the hypomanic, optimistic stage and tumble right into the Red Shoe Syndrome {I dub it that, cuz it's appropriate; but you'll not find it termed such in a medical text or the DSM V}.  Are you familiar with the old tale about the girl who wants to be a dancer and so she is given a pair of red shoes with the caveat that once donned, they may never be removed...until death.

The Red Shoe Syndrome is when I can't stop dancing at death~defying speeds, twirling and spinning, flinging myself from task to task, unable to slow, momentum feeding the dizzying rush til it scares me and everyone around me.  There is no relief.  There is no choice.  There is no slowing down.  There is no jumping off the cyclone~go~round.  There is no "take a break".

Unlimited irritation, rage, frustration, sharpness, violence erupts within my head, out my mouth.  Frantically, I'd try to contain myself, knowing that I am accountable for my actions at all times, and yet, I was sure that I was bursting from my skin.  Hyperaware of every single thing.  Unable to tone down anything.

For years, I'd cycle thru the range so quickly, so rapidly, that within five minutes, I'll have gone from tears of despair to the other extreme end of elation and back again.  Days on end of no sleep.  Those days adding into weeks, my heart on the verge of giving out, my brain exploding into horribly vivid nightmarish slashes of screaming color that howl and sharp shadows whose edges cut into my vision with such precision that I was sure blood was leaking from my eyes for all to see.  Anxiety ridden moments stretching into hours of panic attacks that physically, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, take a toll an every aspect of my life from being a grad student, to relationships, to being able to complete any task including brushing my teeth without turning the toothbrush into a tool for scrubbing my entire kitchen floor.

After years of this, I ground haltingly to a smoking stop.  My resilience shattered like an aged frozen rubber band that was dipped in liquid nitrogen, then dashed to the jagged glass embedded concrete.  I crumbled into a million pieces that would never be put together, I would never be restored to a complete whole.  The dust of me blew away in the savage gusts that ate holes into my life.

Then began a loooooong, arduous rebuilding process.  The process itself either so exhausting that I would sink into depression or so demanding that it would trigger mania and I'd spin out of control only to crash again.  And again.  and again.  yet again.  again.  and each time, I'd try again.  Cuz the alternative was not viable.

So now, where am I now?  How am I now?  I'm good.  I'm usually better than ok.  I'm sometimes in a bad way, but very rarely do I reach the extremes of either pole.  I stay in the mid~range as much as possible.  I know I need lots of rest.  I know that anxiety is a sign.  I know that what are some common triggers for me.  I monitor myself, all the time.  I have an amazing support system, made of an awesome husband, wonderful care givers like a counselor who I've seen for years and a general practitioner who has seen me in every single situation that is possible, a mother who continues to learn more about me, and a community that allows me to be me, within bounds.

I will not attempt to describe in detail the healing process here.  Except to say that it takes a team of truly committed folks to have a hope of moderation.  And it takes a deeply intimate knowledge of self to know when to say when.  I've reached my limit for today.  Perhaps I will discuss the reconstruction process here some other time.  Or not.  It depends on too many uncertain elements at this point.

Today, I am good.  And that's the best place to be for now.

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