Spring and Mania
Gosh, I’ve been in a good mood lately. The sun is up longer, work seems easier, and I’m accomplishing everything I need to get done around the house. My lists are getting crossed off, my hair is glowing, my eyes are sparkling, and feeling as though I’m living with Alice in a type of wonderland called my life. During the Spring I feel as though nothing can touch me, I’m invincible. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it, don’t we all want to feel like that? The problem that attaches its long octopus tentacles to those feelings, the only purpose of brightness and joy in this moment can only mean one thing… I’m manic.
“Spring is natures way of saying, let’s party!” – Robin Williams
I remember when I found out Robin Williams was bipolar, it made so much sense to me. His constant high energy, what outwardly seemed like pure happiness, and how he transformed from character to character within a swift second. He was the greatest of all time. I remember people saying he had it all, he was so happy, how could he have suffered? Isn’t it funny that being more creative, inspired, put together, even physically glowing could mean someone is, for lack of a better word, sick? Yet he too suffered from lovely manic episodes.
For me, Spring time can only mean one thing, mania is peaking her lovely little head from behind the curtain and it’s time to up the meds. Last spring, I felt on top of the world. The sky was a heavenly blue, the lyrical melodies of songs spoke to me, and the amount of energy I had led to a jammed packed schedule of adventure. This lasted for weeks and these are the times I love myself the most. I’ve been told my hair shines brighter and I radiate a level of happiness and excitement rarely seen throughout the rest of the year plus I’m just completely hilarious 🙂
Spring brings out, the only way to describe, a euphoric feeling that radiates throughout my entire body.
But as we all know what goes up…must come down.
While you were outside flying kites, enjoying nature, or basking in the sun a year ago almost to the day, I was sitting in a hospital bed rocking back and forth. That day I was taken from work by an ambulance upon my request. The entire right side of my body went numb, face and arms. My throat became restricted and that dreaded elephant heavily stomped its way to my chest and sat its large a$$ down. I remember saying over and over that my heart hurt, never bringing my hand away from my chest. They looked at me blankly. They weren’t understanding that the physical pain was actually there. This all probably sounds a little strange to you but the only thing running through my head was the idea of a heart attack or stroke. I was scared just as any would be.
There I was, sitting in a hospital bed staring at the wall blankly. I couldn’t talk without stuttering, painfully trying to get my words out. The crazy thing to me was that I wasn’t crying, mad, or raging out of control. My normal symptoms that I’m used too. Now my eyes started moving back and forth, right and left quickly like a clock on crack. My mind was spinning out of control. I was full of fear yet empty and numb. They performed 2 MRI’s that day and 1 cat scan searching for an answer. I begged and pleaded with the nurses and doctors to keep testing. I knew something was wrong with me, last week I was too happy, I was too perfect for this. Please, I begged over and over, this couldn’t be in my head. I’ve never felt out of control like this before.
All my tests came up exactly how your probably thinking…perfect. This was actually all in my head. The stutter, the numbness, it was all part of a severe anxiety attack that I caused. That I triggered because I didn’t understand the consequences of what I was doing to myself. My anxiety attack had even manifested it’s self into physical pain as it tensed my back and throat for a full week resulting in a hoarse voice and stiff movements.
I struggled very hard with that event. For weeks and months after it happened. I thought for years that I finally had it under control, I knew my triggers, I had a self care plan, I knew all the signs. How could’ve I gone wrong? Afterwards, I sat in denial for weeks. The weeks before, when I was so happy and blissful, how couldn’t it have been real. How could a personality for weeks not be who I truly am? If that wasn’t me, who am I really? Who is Lauren? What is my personality and if I ever find out, will anyone like me? Will I like me?
After a few weeks of fear engulfing my body and the lack of strength to get off the couch. Something clicked. Maybe my manic state was over but why was I letting this take over my body? Let alone my mind? Get up, gather yourself, and live. LIVE. Bipolar is a mental illness and yes it can at times control your emotions but it doesn’t take away your soul and what makes you, you.
Spring has sprung now and I’ve noticed my speech getting faster and my mind racing with new ideas every few seconds. But the one thing I can take from my experience is how to notice the signs and how to handle them. I’m now a huge advocate for self wellness. I’ve been studying how to control these next few months and to live as easily and normally as possible.
The signs I know all too well now and I can pin point them on myself or anyone in a second.
These are the signs I missed and the one’s I look out for each Spring:
- Fastened and slurred speech. Your brain can’t catch up with how fast your lips can talk.
- Your brain is spinning like a hamster wheel on drugs. Millions of racing information, thoughts, and “brilliant” ideas coming through your mind at once.
- Unable to sit still. You feel the need to constantly be doing something, never being able to stop moving around. This goes together a lot with the slurred speech.
- Staying up later than normal but waking up earlier because you are still full of energy. Having maybe 3-4 hours of sleep and make like the Energizer Bunny, never needing to slow down.
- Feeling overly confident. Almost arrogant .
- Excessive spending.
- Irritability and random burst of anger.
- Obsessing – I find something I like and obsess over it, spending all my time doing it. Until eventually I crash.
Now, let me tell you, these are only the symptoms I’ve experienced. Their are a handful of many more and everyone reacts differently. Also having some of these signs does not mean you are bipolar nor manic.
My personal techniques for self wellness when mania hits or is about too:
- Exercise! – It’s no secret your body needs endorphin’s, so hop to it!
- Fresh air – it gets your blood flowing, clears your head, and enables you to think without being disturbed.
- Practice breathing techniques – Calm is my favorite new app that teaches you new breathing techniques to calm you. Hence the title calm 🙂
- NO CAFFEINE! This will only help your heart rate faster and your mind lose more control than it already has.
- Go to sleep earlier than normal – This is a huge one for me. I completely adjust my schedule to get more sleep than normal. Sleep will help your mind shut down giving it time to even out.
Self wellness is key to controlling anything in your life. If you are not taking care of yourself and you focus on others, you’ll have nothing left to fill your bucket to keep you sane. For those of you reading with an illness, watch your triggers, realize when something doesn’t feel right, and seek help. Medication does NOT mean you lose your creativity or personality (which I always thought it did) but it made me more…me. Ending this blog post for me is more difficult than I thought it would be. I’ve written things and deleted it multiple times, re-reading what I’ve written above over and over again. But the thing is, like in my post Beautifully Bipolar, explaining what a bipolar person is going through is like explaining color to a blind person. Wondering to myself if this is even worth posting, if anyone will actually get what I’m trying to convey.
Now to end it, I’ll be bluntly honest. I’m scared of Spring. Petrified. I know when it’s coming, I know I’ll be exhausted till summer and I know no one will understand. My mind will race, my lists will get longer, and my personality will be loudly screaming from the roof tops (picture Fran Fine from the Nanny). All of the things I like about myself will jump out of my body times 100% and live my life for the next month. Mania during Spring is known to end around May 1st. Until then self care and awareness will be my best friends.