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The Mania Guy

T/W - Suicide

Mania has never been as devastating as depression for me. Sure, I have highs - lots of time, it's in the creative sense. I'm one of those people who will get zinged with "inspiration" and say "let's make a fucking movie!" and actually make the damn thing. I'm pretty-sure it was the mania voice who told me to quit my job and pursue acting on a whim, which turned out to be the best decision I've ever made. (He also ran and hid when the $15,000 worth of credit card debt as a result of this decision got slapped onto the table.)

Today's entry explores the less-talked about side of my bipolar disorder, mania. (Oh, look at you, TED Talk voice).

Per WebMD: (Yeah, click on your slides, TED Talk Guy.)

"Hypomania is an abnormally revved-up state of mind that affects your mood, thoughts, and behavior, and is a potential symptom of bipolar disorder, particularly type II. It actually may feel pretty good because your mood is up and you have more energy than usual, but it’s not out of control.

The problem is that for someone with bipolar disorder, hypomania can evolve into mania. Or it can switch to serious depression. And you can’t tell which one might happen, because the pattern isn’t predictable."

Here we go again… more of this "we're not sure why" language that you find all over the internet. I skipped a step in figuring out which mania specifically affects me, hypomania, because it's something I've already explored and, to be honest, it's the bronze medal of my mood disorders. But that doesn't mean it doesn't still pose a threat to me. As it says there, hypomania can switch to serious depression, which is right up my alley.

Depression was always where my pendulum swung the furthest. The best way to describe my individual mania, is that friend from college, who texts without warning when they're in town. And not the one who says "hey, I'm staying at the Marriott Eastside, can you do dinner this week? I don't know if I'll ever be in the city again but no worries if not! (Ugh)."

No, not that friend who will drunk-text how much you disappointed them six months later.. I mean the one who says "Hey, bro, surprise! I'm in town for just this one night. I'm downstairs and I'm 6 beers deep, let's go to the fucking TITTY BAAAAAAR."

Then I get to the titty bar (had to say that twice, didn't you, Chris?) and that friend acts like a raging animal and pour shots down my throat and I secretly have an amazing time even though what I'm doing is irresponsible but holy shit I'm having the time of my life and I only live once but then as the night goes on I slowly realize how un-well my "fun" friend has become and then… the next morning I wake up to my friend crying, sadly sober, saying he's ruined, asking me for money. I'm hungover, may have shit my pants, and now I'm Venmoing half my checking account to help fund my "fun" friend's Ponzi scheme (enter credit card debt).

The REALLY bad mania manifested the worst when I was a doorman. It showed up in a slew of toxic ways - the thrill of getting into a fight with a cabbie, how I would marvel in confrontation, starting conflicts with people on the street for no reason. The revolution of this bullied kid at heart finally sticking up for himself, as I would continuously justify it, would send adrenaline coursing through my veins. Then I would drink COFFEE. Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee. Let's back this here gasoline truck, into this here factory fire!!!

If there's one thing my mood stabilizers have eradicated - it's the mania guy. He hasn't come out to play since I became medicated. As bad as the depression monster can be, it's the mania guy who scares me the most. Because he wears a nice suit, smells like cologne, and is really, really persuasive (and has LOADS of credit). He feels good at first - like the Copacabana long-take scene in Goodfellas. He's confident, doesn't take shit, and loves to throw his money (credit) around. What mania guy is hiding is the last 20 minutes of Goodfellas, where everyone is coming down from the cocaine high and getting into serious trouble.

I've mistaken the mania guy for "new found confidence" more times than I care to admit. Again, taking mood stabilizers has been aces at handling him. What happens now, thankfully, is when I get inspired (usually creatively), I get really energetic and want to create more stuff. I might text a friend or two and talk about a potential project. My energy is channeled into positive outlets. What can get really fucked up for an artist, like myself (twirls mustache like asshole), is once you've pinpointed your struggles with mania, feeling inspired can be scary. A new voice in my head that I had to learn to deal with, was the one constantly asking "am I being creative, or am I just crazy?"

I recommend The Artist's Way to anyone who can relate to that - morning pages specifically. Hand-writing three pages into a journal, as soon as you wake up, before you check your phone (gasp), is a fantastic exercise. It's an amazing way to balance and work out real-life feelings while nurturing the creative force inside. After my suicidal episode in 2019, I turned to The Artist's Way and it was crucial in my recovery, both psychologically and creatively… then the pandemic happened (fuck me, right?)

If my depression monster is the one who will push me to the suicidal brink, the mania guy is the one who will pull up in a muscle car to drive me to buy the rope. With the help of therapy, medication, and having a deeper understanding of my moods and triggers, I've been able to set a boundary with him.

I've blocked his number.

And by "blocked his number", I mean "200 MG of Lamictal per day, taken orally."

If you are struggling with your mental health, there is no shame in getting help:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

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