It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new life
And I’m feeling good.
– Nina Simone
I knew something was going to happen because my eye kept twitching. Twitch, twitch, twitch for four days, like a ticking bomb. When I was in hospital the exact same symptom preceded my manic episode.
I didn’t even realise I was immersed in it until it was over. But let’s get the facts straight, this certainly wasn’t a full manic episode. I never lost touch with reality, I never believed to have magical powers. I didn’t put myself in danger. To the best of my knowledge I didn’t irritate the people around me. Infact, I don’t think even the people closest to me realised anything was any different to normal. Maybe it was the more discreet ‘hypomania’, which literally means ‘below mania’. Perhaps my symptoms were prodromal of mania. Perhaps it was just one of those things.
What I did experience was euphoria, and ideas, projects. Despite the fact that I was physically very unwell, I couldn’t sit still. I had to start these projects. The only thing was, while I was in the middle of one project, I would spy something else that needed to be done and would move onto that. My ordinarily organised life was becoming somewhat chaotic. Highly productive, but chaotic. I absolutely loved playing with my little boy, we laughed and laughed together. I felt confident in myself. I felt in control. I felt good.
Of course there were some down sides. I started experiencing psychomotor agitation again. All the pacing, twitching, jogging that I remember from before. I had amazing problems sleeping. When I went to bed my body suddenly felt like it wanted to run a marathon. I would get so angry at this that I would leap out of bed at 2am, storm into the kitchen and take two or three times my normal dose of medication just to try and get some shut eye. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. My thoughts raced, or sometimes I would just have one thought that would repeat over and over again in my head. I seemed to get bored easily, even when doing things I usually enjoy.
But all in all, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience at all. I think I enjoyed it. Nobody was hurt in any manner, and I did get an awful lot of things done. Does that make it ‘disordered’? Is it ‘symptomatic’? Or is it just pleasurable?
Why? I would say it was something to do with the fact that I was physically unwell. Lithium will only work if a certain level of the drug is maintained in the bloodstream. Too much will result in toxicity, too little will result in very little at all. This is why if you are dehydrated, such as during gastro, you need to stop taking the medication. I had fevers for a week, and became very dehydrated. I also took medication which interferes with Lithium. I suspect that my blood lithium level went a little awry and precipitated this experience. The lack of sleep would have further exacerbated the symptoms.
My ‘high’ ended rather abruptly one night in a rather humorous manner. I woke up in the night, sure that something had bitten my rear end. Envisioning all sorts of poisonous critters, I leapt out of bed, turned on the light and thrashed around trying to see what had bitten me. At 4am, Hubster was less than impressed, but still agreed to perform a thorough examination of the bed and my bum (have I mentioned that I love this man?). After, I lay in bed fuming. Now I had probably been bitten by something hideous, I’d have to go to the doctor AGAIN. Probably add another prescription to my collection. It was such a trivial thing, but I’d had enough!
Since then I’ve felt….flat. Certainly not depressed. But, it’s true, I miss the excitement and the euphoria and the energy. I miss being ‘high’. The colours just seem to have faded. And as if for illustrative purposes, the sunshine outside has bleakened into rain. Hubster calls this ‘the crash’. And in a day or so I will be fine.
I still feel like I am learning so much from this experience. I still don’t feel like I know the first thing about bipolar disorder, and my bipolar disorder in particular. I’m trying to chronicle and examine and evaluate what I feel. I’m trying to make sense of everything. Is it ok to enjoy the ‘highs’? Isn’t the high part of the problem? How can something that feels nice be a bad thing?
The mind, and the mind-body relationship fascinates me. Perhaps one day I’ll be a step closer to understanding it all J