The Insane Guide to Living with Mental Illness: Mania

I’ve covered depression in part 1 of the Insane Guide to Living With Mental Illness, so now it’s time to cover nature’s way of telling you that you’re number one.  I find mania harder to write about; it’s side by side with mixed episodes as the most destructive part of my illness.


You’re manic! Fantastic. “Mania” is Greek for “feeling fantastic”. And I bet you do! Don’t listen to anybody who tells you otherwise. What do they know? They’re just trying to bring you down. You’re better than them, anyway. You’re better than everyone. You’re special, you’re chosen. You’re a genius. The world has been waiting for you. If only you could keep that anger under control!

Becoming manic can be sudden or slow. Sometimes, when people experience mania they also experience “psychosis” (just a diagnostic label to belittle your uniqueness). In this chapter, however, we aren’t going to discuss psychosis because you’re not that mad. In fact, you’re not mad at all! You probably have to battle to keep your thoughts o- hey, are you listening to me?

1. Eating and self-care

2. Social etiquette

3. Hobbies

4. Sleep

5. How to deal with those around you, who may not be so excited about your insanity as you are! Includes lovers, friends and the medical profession.

6. The future

1. Eating and self-care

Who needs food? Food takes time to prepare and eat and time is something that you don’t have. Everything is so slow! Why on earth do people take so long cooking something? If you have a microwave, put everything in there at once. Have you ever wondered if you can iron chicken to make it cook? Now’s the time to find out! It will make it cook faster.

Alternatively, you may be feeling more hungry than usual. In this case, sweets are best, or, even better, go out and eat in a fancy restaurant! Even though you’ve been spending a lot recently, you’re not worried, the money will come from somewhere.

The place is a mess, everything must be perfect. It might be 4am but get that hoover out! Now, what else can you do? Those CD racks are a mess. Maybe you should go for a walk or do some exercise. You have so much energy these days.

And my, you look delicious at the moment. Slap on some extra make up and the less clothes, the better! You’ll turn heads whereever you go! You’re gorgeous and sexy.

2. Social etiquette

You know your friends want to see you, you’re so bountiful and charming. They are fascinated by you- who wouldn’t be? Drink as much as you like, you’re dazzling! You have so many stories to tell, such wisdom to share. They might be looking at you oddly but it’s only because they’re jealous of your wit! And your friends, they seem so sparkling tonight. You feel as if they’re all your soulmates, all you want to do is kiss them.

Every man and woman in the room wants you. You can seduce anybody you want. You can make new friends, everybody loves you. You find yourself on a man’s knee while your boyfriend watches. You know that you look so beautiful and sexy that nobody can resist you. Your boyfriend walks away and you feel a swell of rage rise up in you.

Try not to get impatient when people are set on staying in one place. Coax them to your way of thinking, let’s go, go somewhere, anywhere.

3. Hobbies

You love writing, you’ve been so great at it lately. You have so many ideas, you just wish you could hold on to them for more than a few minutes. You’ve been up all night and are surrounded by pieces of paper with scribbles on them. You decide to use the computer and you write four chapters in half an hour. But there’s loads of things to look at, too- you find yourself fascinated by the extinct creatures of history.

You try to read, but you can’t focus long enough. You pick up book after book, then find yourself obsessed with one passage. It seems to have a special significance for you- almost as if it was written just for you.

Music is poignant, unbearably so- you can only listen to a few bars before the beauty overwhelms you. You put on CD after CD- many of them new. There is plastic wrapping all over the floor, you tear through it to find more music to listen to.

You try to watch a film but you can’t stop talking. Your partner sits next to you, asking you to be quiet. But there’s so many interesting things to be discussed. Eventually, the film is turned off and you’ve been talking nonstop for two hours…

4. Sleep


5. How to deal with those around you, who may not be so excited about your insanity as you are! Includes lovers, friends and the medical profession.

There is no such thing as “too much”- you wish your doctor would stop asking you to take the medication. It’s a waste of time, all it does it dull you and make you depressed. You’ve flushed all those pills away and you’ve never felt better. Nothing is wrong, nothing was ever wrong.

Your friends are apparently concerned, but they’re just jealous. They say you seem to be reckless and uninhibited, which isn’t “normal” for you. You dismiss them- you’ve just been having fun. Your partner is exhausted, but you know they’ve been having fun too. They just want quietness and sleep but you wake them up time and time again to talk about things. You snake your hands to their chest, trying to seduce them, knowing how gorgeous and sexual you are, but you’re confused and angry when they tell you to leave them alone. Some people are just killjoys.

Your boss has had a word with you after you sent a five page document detailing ideas you had about your company to the director. He said you were overstepping the mark, you’re only an admin assistant and that you’ve been working much too late recently on projects that aren’t even yours. You leave work and hit the shops and bars, meeting people along the way. People- they walk away from you, but you follow them, determined to make them listen.

6. The Future

Achievement, stardom, success, magic- but you’ve started to feel a little bit strange. People are commenting that you seem angry, they say you’re picking fights. Your thoughts- once so fast and furious- start to get confused and jumbled. You have a hard time keeping them straight, you find that you get stuck on one word that skips like a faulty record. You’re starting to feel paranoid; everybody seems so hostile to you now, unappreciative of your specialness. You forget to eat, your stomach burning with anxiety. And nothing, nowhere, feels safe anymore…

Next: Psychosis

23 Responses

  1. stupid mania.

  2. I think you probably hate mania more than depression! Or at least, dislike me more when I’m manic than when I’m depressed.

  3. Oh mania how I do not miss thee…

  4. I just about ended my self with the guide to sleep.

    Hypomania is just fine and dandy but the to echo yourself and Robot Dancers the full blown mania is the suck.

  5. this is very useful writing that explains the symptoms through the eyes of someone who went through it. thanks for writing this, it will be helpful to others to get that insight of what’s going on.

  6. OOOOOOOOOOOOOH how I DETEST mania! A very good post, yet again 🙂

  7. There’s lots of bit I recognise in there (ie the 5 page improvement ideas, the non stop ideas, etc) – but I have to say mine is much milder – hence I prefer the manic episodes much much over and above the downers.

    The downers are frightening me at the mo, I’m afraid of what I’m capable of – I don’t like it there at all. I’ve been having too many recently, maybe it’s all the freakin rain – I feel like I’m the non stop freakin rain.

  8. Teaching whilst manic is… interesting.

    Kids certainly seem to enjoy the lessons more!

  9. Perfect description

  10. Pa ha, I stumbled across this blog when I was trying to find out about closed eye hallucinations. Unfortunately, it all seems to be on what happens during drugs.

    Do you know what they’re called? Or what they are? It’s basically where I close my eyes and see vivid images. When I was unmedicated it was really intense. I’d see things like people drinking out of dog dishes full of blood or ripping each other’s throats out or pulling their face open like it was on a hinge…

    I can’t find anything on what they actually are. If I miss one pill or even take it a few hours late they come back. They’re harmless, like me being in a shoebox with background music right now. (The voices in my head are new).

    Anyway, I’m seventeen. Bipolar II (I’ve had some pretty severe manias that I think go beyond hypomanias though, including one where I became convinced that the guy I liked was secretly gay and dating a guy online. He’s straight. He’s told me that. I don’t know if it counts as a delusion. Ha ha, I couldn’t even TYPE during that). I used to wander around WalMart wanting to stab people too. I also have PTSD, fibromyalgia (I think. It might be a side effect of the bipolar disorder), insulin resistance, degenerative disc disease, and probably a bunch of other crap I can’t remember right now. I was kicked in the loony bin once, where this guy who tried to shoot about twenty kids in his school would try to flirt with me.

    Sorry that came out so long. There’s really no one who understands around here.

  11. (n1*n1)+(n1*n2*20)+(n2*n2) – that’s how you can work out the square of any two digit number in your head. I should know, I’ve been practicing it all night.

    See, 52 squared =
    5 x 5 x 100 = 2500
    5 x 2 x 20 = 200
    2 x 2 = 4

    2500 + 200 + 4 = 2704 = 52 x 52

    Three digits are a little harder. I haven’t worked it out yet.

  12. Hm.
    I do this stuff all the time… and then decide I’m the ugliest most worthless person in the world and sleep for days on end.
    And they tell me I’m not Bipolar.
    Ah. people are funny. =)

  13. thanks for that numbers game – I’ve been experiencing insomnia for 4 nights now. This is usually the time when I fall asleep with exhaustion somewhere inappropriate like the 43 bus and wake only when the kindly bus driver shakes my shoulder andvibrealiseci am at the airport. Again. But i’m still awake, mentally so this will provide me with something to do to fill the hours. So thanks xXx

  14. Squaring three digit numbers, eg 573
    there is still a pattern but you have to add six numbers…

    a=5, b=7, c=3

    10000 * a*a
    + 100 * b*b
    + 1* c*c
    + 2000 *a*b
    + 200 *c*a
    + 20 *b*c

    10,000 x 5 x 5 +
    100 x 7 x 7 +
    3 x 3 +
    2,000 x 5 x 7 +
    200 x 5 x 3 +
    20 x 7 x 3 +

    I can’t do that in my head though!

  15. Thanks pb, I figured that out about 15 mins before I looked here 🙂 You can group those steps in a different way so you can focus on the 2 digit way of doing it, get that answer, then do the other 3 steps and you only have to remember 4 numbers to add. I saw a video where a guy could do 5 digits in a fraction of a second, amazing mathematician. There are patterns everywhere in numbers. There isn’t a single number that doesn’t have some kind of interesting property.

    Very sorry Seaneen to derail your comments. I need to go do my own blog post on numbers… but at last, I’m tired and feel able to sleep. So i’m going to do that right now.

  16. Speaking of math, there is a pretty good documentary out there about a math/physics whiz named Percy Paul, from Canada, who also happens to be manic-depressive. I thought it was pretty well done…

    BTW, great post on the mania. Mania is awesome…that is until you peak-out and then start slipping over the edge into that 15-hits-of-acid-mixed-with-crank-overdose-like agitation…then it’s like, “Oh, shit, here comes HELL again for another few months while I plunge back into depression and then try to recover from this insane high.”

  17. this is that girl named michelle by the way.

    for me my “illness/moods/whatever
    are completely and utterly random
    somedays i i’ll be depressed the whole day and nothing at all will change it. somedays i it’ll be switched with mania and psychosis.
    all of which can change every hour, every minute of every day.
    Somedays it’ll be timed
    i’ll be manic and psychotic all day and then when the evening comes around. i’ll be knocked out and calm and easy to talk to.
    somedays i’ll just be psychotic. i’ll be “ripping my hair out” stressed with dreams and thoughts of death, and apocalyptic things. i’ll be panicking about how i live on a planet and how i need to get off of it immediately. i’ll be paranoid on top of my natural reign of paranoia and i’ll have to go past the doors and windows several times to be 100% sure there locked and that no one can get in or i’ll be asking my friends and familly a dozen times or more if they love me or not.
    the same is with depression i can be at the bottom of the universe but when the evening ( or mourning, it depends) i will be amazingly happy and euphoric and then get angry that no one is awake when it’s around 4 o’clock in the mourning ( or whatever time it is at that time).
    somedays my “pyschosis” will have a mind of it’s own. my dreams and thoughts will have a schedule they’ll have their own severity at anytime they want. sometimes there go away for years then come back fiercely. the oddest time being in the summer when i’m actually starting to relax. then i’ll be longing for school again.
    the same with depression. sometimes i’ll have a euphoric depression, a vibrant depression a “screaming cry” depression. or it’ll be triggered by something then brought down and down and down each moment then brought right back up for no reason at all. Also somedays can be every single mood all at once, like having 14 heads that are all having 10 seconds to say something that’s be itching at them all day. and somedays…it’ll be me or what i think is me.
    what i’m wondering though is do you recognise this?

  18. if you could start writing the one on psychosis that would be excellent.
    i reaally need it right now.
    i don’t actually follow the rules on this since it’s the insane guide, but i reallyyyy need a reference.

  19. Thanks so much for this post.

    My mother has had manic episodes throughout her life, including one two years ago. This has given me a real insight into what she was thinking.

  20. Dear madnessmanifesto,
    That documentary sucked. It was a waste of time to watch….

  21. lol, very well presented, you are very funny, but then you are bi polar and we are all so very very witty and freakin brilliant, creative, and ever so pupular and in demand. yup yup.

  22. […] charming energy.  They make you- or, to be specific, make me- a total fucking pain the hole.   I wrote about it here, in the Insane Guide to Mania,  you really think you’re the shit.  When I’ve been manic, I have thought that I am […]

  23. Read the post and alot of it sounded so familiar. The insomnia drives me crazy. I overdose on anything I can get my hands on around 12 at night just to be able to get a few hours of rest and that usually goes with vast amounts of alcohol. I am on medication but it makes me feel emotionless. I am sad but I can’t cry; I am a caring type of person but don’t give a damn for the guy in the street that might need money alot more than I do – I’d rather go and spent lots of money on things I don’t really need.

    I lied to my people at work today about being ill, I even went to the doctor, got an injection and a sick note just to be home for two days because I am so depressed.

    Yes, there is help for all these things but it doesn’t seem to be worth it when, like me, you don’t want to get close to anyone because you are too afraid that they might find out about you and that you are a freak and have all four seasons in a day and have to take meds for everything…

    Thought I’d leave a note…

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