- Mental Health
What Mania Feels Like
I have schizoaffective disorder. I sometimes go through periods of depression, and sometimes mania. The manic periods are much shorter than the depression, usually lasting days to weeks.
I am in one right now. It helps to write it out and share my experience. My manic periods are supposedly regulated by my meds, but I don't feel that happening. I know when I am manic. It is really easy to see. I tend to obsess over things, with the constant urge to be doing something. I tend to sleep less, and want to be awake all the time.
When I am stuck at home, there isn't a lot to do. I have to create things to do. Hobbies aren't just for fun, they are a life-saver. I write a lot because it is practically free. I wish I had more money for craft items like rubber stamps and polymer clay. That would keep me really busy. But I have to make do with what is cheap, and what I have. I have a lot of paint, so that will keep me busy for a while. I would like to go to the thrift store to find some more materials for my spirit dolls, like interesting fabrics, beads and fibers. But there is only one thrift store open on Sunday, my partner's only day off work.
But I digress. I need to focus on what it feels like to be manic.
It is Overwhelming
There is really nothing that eases the feeling of mania. It is overwhelming at times. Obsessions don't go away until the mania passes. It is almost a physical feeling. Like a tightness in the chest. It is right there in your face, all the time. I pace around when I can't use the computer to write.
I tend to get focused on a few thoughts, that I keep going over and over again in my head. For me, it is normally esoteric topics or religion. I can obsess on the fear of immortality for hours, and not be able to get to sleep. It is the opposite of having scattered thoughts. Usually it's one thing at a time, sometimes for weeks. I spend hours and hours researching certain topics, whatever is on my mind at the moment. I get completely focused to the exclusion of all else. Even to the point of forgetting to eat.
It is Constant
It doesn't let up. From the moment I wake until the moment of sleep, I obsess. I have to be doing something constantly. I cannot relax, no matter how hard I try. It is much harder when I am consciously trying NOT to focus on certain topics. I have to force myself to do other things. I write a list and stick to a strict schedule.
I feel like I am constantly on edge when I am manic. The brain can't relax. It is going, going, going.
Luckily my manic periods only usually last a few weeks. I don't think I could handle longer periods. Often it is just a few days. At it's worst, I have stayed up manic without sleep for three or four days at a time. These episodes always lead to hospitalization, because the delusions and hallucinations start.
Getting Through it
One thing I know about being manic is it doesn't last long. I know it will be over soon. So I just try to get through it the best I can.
My main way to get through it is to keep busy. I clean, I try new recipes, I take the dog out for a walk, I write, I work on art projects, I organize things. I also talk to family members on the phone.
I try to relax but it just doesn't happen. So I try to be productive. I know there will be times when I am depressed and don't want to do as much. So I take advantage of my extra energy. Lemonade out of lemons.
Distraction also helps, when I am obsessing over things. It is one of my few coping mechanisms. If I knew more I would use them. For now, I'm doing ok with what I have to work with.