Acute Mania. What Does It Feel Like?

I’m being treated for acute mania until I start the next phase of treatment in 2 weeks. Yes that right, I’ll be in acute mania for awhile.  The online medical dictionary defines Mania as

“a period of predominantly elevated, expansive, or irritable mood accompanied by some of the following symptoms: inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, talkativeness, flight of ideas, distractibility, hyperactivity, hypersexuality, and recklessness.” 


I agree with most of that definition; however, I don’t agree with the “irritable” part being any part of the word “mania.” Based on personal experience, anytime I experience irritability, it’s because I’m experiencing mixed state which means depression is mixing with the hypomania or mania.

Hypomania and  acute Mania have so many levels and are elevated and expansive.  A primarily positive outlook.  More positive outlook than people without bipolar disorder.  Let’s say the definition supports the rule.  I am the exception, and I suspect a lot of other people are too.  I support the medical community and their guidance, but we have to stay vigilant and help them help us. I wish the medical community dissected mental health like they dissected cells and atoms, our treatment options would improve.  In my opinion, A person who has the bipolar disorder is a complex system but tends to be generalized.

Back to my acute mania.  This should subside next week on my current medication and then on to maintenance therapy.  After my 5 day depression and low hypomania passed on Sunday, I had to go back to work.  Yes, an actual job with a lot of people and lots to do.  Thankfully, I had the mental strength and fortitude to get this done because I WILL myself.

In this blog post, I want to add another understanding of acute mania in addition to the definition above.  Mania is serious, but the bipolar disorder is a multidimensional disorder.  Mental health is on a spectrum.  Health is on a spectrum as are love and life. Stop stigmatizing me. I got a life to live and passions to fan.

When I experience acute mania without depression, it feels like the moods interchange with high level hypomania so I’m still unsure of it but not all things can be completely categorized either –  a physical sensation occurs and everything in my visual field appear sharper and the colors more intense.  My taste buds lose sense so I won’t eat that much because food taste stale like crackers.  Even meat taste like stale crackers.  My caloric intake drops between 400 – 800 a day.  My skin becomes very sensitive, and I do not like to shower because the part exposed to air feels …. unpleasant (read my post “The Shower Screams”).  That’s the only way I can describe it.  It not prickly, or cold or anything like that.  It indescribable.  The sensation of the water on my skin is overwhelming, and I whimper like a little girl in the shower.  During these manic times, I use to not shower a lot, but now, I stick to a strict grooming schedule.  My skin is sensitive, and I’m hypersexual. Just rubbing any part of my body feels pleasant except for shower water.

Music sounds incredibly vibrant and more sweet sounding, but I tend to loop music more if I find a sound pleasurable because a variety of musical sounds is too something. Silence is soothing.  Television becomes incredibly uninteresting.   I can still read for pleasure. I can read music and strum my guitar but I can’t learn new music.   My creative writing flows, and I’ve written this entire blog in acute mania. Yet, technical writing becomes more difficult.  However, my drawing creativity doesn’t spike like when I’m in hypomania because acute mania seems more distracting.  In this state, I’m not delusional or paranoid.  Negative thoughts do not plague me and what I say is based on true “self”, a shared reality, is meaningful and true.

I suspect if I was forced to eat, take a lot of showers, listen to all sorts of music, watch TV or technically write against my will then perhaps I would be irritable.  However, people who act against their will would also be irritable.  I will tolerate things I’m not comfortable with; for instance, if I have to attend a luncheon, I’ll eat but it won’t be pleasurable.  There are nuances like there are with all things in life.

While at work, I felt elated and stable like after a really good exercise work out. Mentally, I’m zooming high.  I’m in a very good mood with the benefits of confidence and humor.  I have a nervous energy, but not because I’m nervous in a scared way. Just more hyped.  At lunch, I felt giddy and my taste buds started to work again, and I ate potato chips that tasted sumptuous.  Since I don’t have intrusive thoughts unless I’m in mixed state, I’m able to take care of business at hand.  I do have to focus my attention more and slow myself down, but since I know I’m in an acute manic state, I pick the type of work that I will succeed at.  It difficult to do work such as giving a presentation because I can go off on a tangent or act inappropriately, silly, and display mirth.  A colleague from Washington, DC was in the office and when we saw each other he extended his arms, and I gave him a bear hug bigger than I think everyone expected in front of everyone. LOL.  Oh boy.

In conclusion, a person experiencing acute mania without depression can also function at work and not be reckless.  But, the issue with bipolar is you can lose dramatic control of your moods and behavior and can become reckless (read Rattlesnake, Dreamer, Child and King).   I trust myself at this point at work if I’m not in mixed state, but I have to remain vigilant because overtime my defenses weaken.   This is why I have to take medication because bipolar disorder is progressive.  I was able to experience acute mania at work because I stopped taking my medication and sailed into another bipolar episode (read The Poop Story and Other Tales of Love).  This post is valuable because I can share with you this experience.  Now that I’m back on meds, I will not experience acute mania at work again.


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