Disclaimer before we even start, frens: This blog post is my personal experience, I am not a trained medical person but I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder for eleven years and have been through a range of treatment plans. The aim of this post is to give suggestions based on what I’ve found helpful over the years. That cool? Let’s go.
Sometimes, when you describe mania and manic episodes to people it can sound rather thrilling; the constant rush of energy, the excitement about everything and the ability to act on things you wouldn’t normally like buying that £500 necklace you’ve been lusting after or saying yes to the fifth night out in a row. However, mania is so much more than that and it’s the manic feelings which I believe cause the most damage to my 99.9% level life.
I was fourteen when I was (wrongly) diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it would be another thirteen years that I learned that mood disorders can go in cycles and sit alongside but not necessarily be part of my – correct diagnosis of – Borderline Personality Disorder.
As a result of dealing with periods of both mania and depression, I’ve come to work out exactly what manic episodes look and feel like for me and the things I can do to help calm mania.
Here are the three things I notice that are usually a sign of a manic episode:
- My laugh changes; it might sound odd but it’s a very quick way to spot that I’m either going through a manic episode or about to. I’m certainly not a shy wallflower but my laugh has a very unique sound and changes when I’m manic, going from pretty girly and giggly to more hefty and very, very loud.
- I can’t focus; a pretty obvious one for anyone who is familiar with the basic signs of mania but, despite this, it can be hard to pick up on. Who doesn’t have days where they’re more distracted or tired? Or times when you just can’t get your head into that blog post you’re writing or video you’re editing? However, I notice I have too much energy for even the biggest projects and things excite me so much that I can’t focus on one.
- I talk – a lot. Again, I’m not one to keep quiet and luckily I have a great circle of friends who will put up with me chatting sh*t for hours (thanks, you lot!) but it’s different when you’re in work or environments where you have to be a little more reserved. Talking a lot to me means going into more detail than I would normally (“I had a great weekend, thanks. I went out for dinner with my friend Sam and we went to Pho, had great food. Sam wore a blue tux and I wore red lipstick and then and then and then…)
And here’s what I do to calm manic episodes:
- Too much stimulation is never a good thing. Now, before you get all pervy on me, I don’t mean sexual stimulation (although it may count, I’m very very single by choice right now). What I mean is, I avoid getting into social situations where I have the potential to embarrass myself; I don’t mind admitting that I avoided a work drinks evening because I wasn’t feeling great. Being around a lot of people, especially where alcohol is involved, can make my mania soar even higher. When I’m manic I also try to avoid busy areas like shopping centres because too many sights, sounds, colours and movement have the capacity to make my brain go into even more overdrive.
- Avoid caffeine. Look, I love a flat white as much as the next boring-middle-class-wanker but caffine is never a good thing when you’re going through mania. Instead of a morning cappuccino, I go for a decaf Americano or a herbal tea and I make sure I drink plenty of water.
- Slowing things down… a lot. We live such busy lives that it can be hard to take some time out and just step back from it all. However, when I notice my mania is rife I tend to make sure I have plenty of time at home doing the things I love such as cooking, watching Casual on Amazon Prime or pinning Shoes-I-Will-Never-Own on Pinterest. It’s cheesy as fuck but self-care and forcing yourself to relax is a really vital part in controlling and managing manic episodes.
It might sound like basic advice but it’s solutions that absolutely work for me and help me get back on track so I can live a calm, fairly stress-free lifestyle. Manic episodes happen around three to five times per year for me and have been getting increasingly less volatile in recent years but this isn’t to say that will always be the case.
Hopefully sharing my experience will give you some ideas about what you could do to either calm mania or begin to point out the early signs.