Can I Tell if I Am Manic?

Someone asked me – “When you are manic, is it was possible to tell if you yourself are manic, or do you just think you are acting normal.”

It is a good question.

The answer is – yes, it is possible for me to recognise the symptoms of mania while I am manic. But like everything else, it is a bit more complicated than just that. Continue reading Can I Tell if I Am Manic?

Monitoring Yourself for Manic Depressive Signs

In order to cope with being manic depressive, you have to learn how to monitor your moods and know if you are manic or getting manic. Same goes for depression. If you don’t know how you are feeling, you will not be able to understand why you are doing silly things, and you will not know how to adjust your actions (and perhaps your medications) to compensate for the mood swings.

The first thing you need to do is to recognise what are your signs (indicators) for being manic or depressed. I have listed the indicators for what it is like for me to be manic or depressed as well as the official signs for depression or mania.

We will not all show the same signs, and we will manifest them slightly differently; so while your signs might look a lot like mine, they will not look exactly like mine. For example, someone told me that they walk faster when they are manic; which is something I don’t do.

You will need to make up your own list of indicators for mania and depression. Don’t forget to write the list down.

Of course you need to know if you are manic or depressed in order to notice the signs. It is a bit of a chicken and egg process – you have to realise you are depressed to notice you do one or two things consistently when depressed. But once you know these one or two things, then you can start using them as indicators that you are becoming depressed.

The monitoring thing comes with time. I didn’t suddenly know when I was hyper or when I was slightly depressed. Also, I didn’t suddenly realise all in one day that all the indicators on my list were related to my mood swings. It took many many months of observation to realise when I was up or down and to notice which things happened fairly consistently in which mood.

You won’t always get your signs right. That’s okay – it took me about two years to realise that some of the signs I thought were indicators of mania were actually indicators of depression. Even now I don’t always get it right. But have confidence in yourself, and don’t worry about getting it wrong sometimes. That’s life and you can always add or remove things from your list of indicators.

The advantage of having indicators is that they can warn you if you are becoming hyper or depressed. By getting an early warning signal, you take some kind of action to delay the onset of the depression, or stop it from happening, or close off what you are doing gracefully, or at least warn people around you of what is happening.

For example, I know that a tense jaw is an indicator that I am getting hypomanic. Once that starts happening, I can take try some things to make me relax more (which delays the onset of the mania), or I can take Tegretol which will prevent me from becoming hypomanic. And I can warn people to expect me to be irritable and snap at them at the littlest thing.

Or if I realise that I am starting to get confused about what I am doing, a sign of depression, I can tell my office mates that I will be working a bit slower than usual, or I can tell C. to expect me to act a bit uncaring or distant. It isn’t a perfect solution, but at least C. doesn’t feel snubbed.

Not all of the indicators are negative. One of my indicators is the ability to talk fast and play with language. Once I am at speed I can win any argument or presentation against anyone on any issue, and I can charm the socks off anyone when I am ready. I’ll be damned if I consider this a nuisance.

Another of the major reasons I learnt to monitor myself was so I could get rid of my bad “habits” and learn to relax. Take for example the irritability. I snap at people more often when I am hypomanic. It’s not a nice thing to do, and I’d rather not do it. So I monitor myself, and if it appears that I am more annoyed at people than I feel is typical, I say to myself, “Jinnah, recognise you are overdoing it again – calm down and approach things a with a little less emotion and a bit more common sense.” And sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn’t. But I try.

All this is really no different that a “normal” person trying to get rid of stress and bad habits. Us manic depressive persons just have a bit more incentive to do so.

At the end of the day, I monitor myself because (a) I don’t like my bad habits and I do want to change them, and (b) I hate being on medication, and will do anything to reduce my dosage to a minimum. I’m finding out that monitoring myself and taking action to stabilise my mood swings can help in coping the problems of rapid cycling and does actually allow me to reduce the medication, particularly those that deal with mania.

Things that might Cause or Trigger Manic Eposodes

I am of the opinion that generally the mood swings happen on their own, following a pattern or cycle based on your body’s internal rhythms.

I also think that these cycles is fairly resistant to external events or triggers. So the stuff happening in your life is generally not the cause for your mood swings. Rather your mood swings are what are causing your life to go wonky.

Here’s the fine print though. Continue reading Things that might Cause or Trigger Manic Eposodes

Knowing When You are Becoming Manic

In order to manage being bipolar, you have to be able to monitor your moods. Of course that is easier said than done. After all, what does monitoring mean? What do you look for?

Let’s just start with mania. Here’s how to know if you are becoming manic. Continue reading Knowing When You are Becoming Manic

Dealing with this manic episode

One of life’s little benefits is that you can use your mania to control your mania.

Here’s why. With mania, you tend to have high productivity and lots of manic energy. It turns out that you can channel some of the excess energy to monitor how you are feeling and what you are doing.

And then, armed with this information, you can then use your energy / productivity to take action to calm yourself down and reduce your mania. Continue reading Dealing with this manic episode

If You are Very Manic

If you are very manic, you MUST seek assistance from a psychiatrist.

There are no choices in this matter. Your decision making capabilities will be substantially impaired, even if you don’t think so, and even if you think you are functioning normally. You will not be able to sort this out on your own.

If you are very manic you will be doing some or all of the following: Continue reading If You are Very Manic