I'M SO INSPIRED!!!... Oh No, Am I Manic?
Earlier this week, I wrote about how it can sometimes be difficult to assess whether or not depression is indicative of your personality. Um... that's it. That's the tweet. It was a thing I did.
Today, I'd like to talk about the flip side of that - assessing whether or not a burst of inspiration and energy is a sign of a manic, or hypomanic episode to come.
What is the difference? Well, since I'm no dawcta, I'll just plagiarize something I googled:
Mania and hypomania differ with respect to duration, intensity, and functional impairment: Duration: In mania, an elevated or irritable mood lasts at least one week.In hypomania, symptoms last for at least 4 days. Intensity: In mania, symptoms are severe, and in hypomania, they are mild to moderate.
I've experienced both in the past. It's almost always hypomania, which is much more manageable, and... sorry to say because I don't want to celebrate something so many people struggle with... kind of nice. One day, I'm lying in bed, wishing a crane would come crashing through my window, and the next day I'm up at 7am writing a screenplay in a coffee shop. It's almost like my body goes to the store and exchanges the rotten apple for a shiny, new apple that slaps. (I just learned the term "slaps".)
I've written about this before, but what the hell, let's run it back!
While depression is a godless cesspool of bedridden misery, I feel like mania, in all it's shapes and forms, can be more dangerous, because it usually feels good. It's like drinking a lot of coffee and not getting jittery. Till I drink 11 cups of coffee to keep the high going. Then I turn into fucking Sonic the Hedgehog.
Mania would manifest itself in the ugliest of ways when I was a doorman. Unmedicated, I would slug like four cups of coffee before my shift, then power-trip my way into getting into viscous fights with every cabbie who refused to take my guests to Penn Station. I was an asshole. At the time, I thought I was just an asshole, which I was. What I didn't understand (and, more honestly, refused to acknowledge), that I had some chemical shit going on in my body that was causing me to lose control. I was in a toxic situation at that job, for sure. But I was bringing... like, more toxic chemicals... to the toxic... thing.
While it initially pissed me off, I now understand why one of the first things a psychiatrist will ask is "do you consume alcohol and/or caffeine?" Alcohol is a depressant. Caffeine is a stimulant. (Very good, Chris.) Are those two substances the cause of my bipolar disorder? No. Do those two substances open the pandora's box of those two little trolls that live inside me? You betcha. For those two shades of my moods, coffee and alcohol slaps. (Ugh.)
Okay, I'm getting off track. Am I inspired, or am I manic?
I find that, for me, the catalyst of this switch in my mood usually comes from some form of catharsis, usually a burden of sorts that becomes resolved. It's a release of that thing is usually what keeps me in a depressive, or stressed, state of mind. Once I am freed from said stressor, it's like removing a bend on a garden hose. My inspirational, productive, self-assured thoughts come flooding out... like (don't do it)... sperm (Jesus Christ, you coulda said water).
Sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with. In the last ten minutes, I've bounced around between writing this post, scrolling actors access, googling directions to a town in upstate New York, paying a bill, donating to a crowdfund campaign, checking movie times, and, of course, checking social media. I hit each of things at least twice. Some might call that an attention issue. It might be, but to be honest, I'm not sure I have the fucking energy to take on a new possible diagnosis.
For me, I'm reading it as in "riding the wave." I have all of this energy and am cashing in. I don't know if the next time I hit a wall will be tomorrow or two years from now. That's the motherfucker of this thing I live with. It comes and goes as it pleases. Except for winter. Winter sucks. Depression hibernates in my brain in the winter.
So, yeah. Mania can be super destructive for some people. It definitely has been for me in the past, especially when I was doormanning. It also came in the form of going on Bumble dates with my credit card for two years when I didn't have a pot to piss in. Or a window to throw it out of. Or a person to throw the pee on (oh my god, stop talking.)
I won't sit here and say it's a good thing. Because it isn't. I've worked hard to better understand my moods and triggers. Most of the time, I'm aware of it, like today. So I'm going to run errands while I have the energy. That didn't happen overnight. It took years of work in therapy to figure all of this shit out.
So, to answer the question I posed in the title of this here post... I have no fucking clue. Probably both.
If you are struggling with your mental health, there is no shame in getting help:
If you are in immediate crisis:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
Crisis Text Line: Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling
Disaster Distress Helpline: CALL or TEXT 1-800-985-5990
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Black Mental Health Alliance – (410) 338-2642
Therapy For Black Girls: https://therapyforblackgirls.com/
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association: https://www.naapimha.org/
Inclusive Therapists: https://www.inclusivetherapists.com/
Indian Health Services: https://www.ihs.gov/communityhealth/behavioralhealth/
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 – TTY
Alzheimer’s Association Helpline: 1-800-272-3900
Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), then select 1, or Crisis Chat text: 8388255