Friend or foe, on one hand being manic can make me super efficient, driven, focused, and determined, yet on the other hand it can make me talk a million miles an hour, interrupting or talking over people, it can make me argumentative, makes me drink to the extreme, and at times has led me to self-harm, and at times psychosis.
I can already hear you saying why is it a choice between a friend or an enemy, but there is no choice, they come together in a nice little bundle along with severe depression.
My Psychiatrist diagnosed me with severe depression, and bipolar disorder. At the time, I wasn’t sure about the bipolar side of my diagnosis because, while there were times when I would feel manic for maybe two to four days I wouldn’t feel like I could conquer the world or anything. However, with my increasing knowledge of my mental illness I have recognised some of the past events as not things that happened but things that happened because in fact I was manic, hyper, running a million miles an hour, out of control heading for a collision that usually resulted in pain.
Being manic has come to the forefront since I returned to the workforce after 18 months off from a major depressive episode that nearly took my life. I went into my new job with more trepidations than excitement. I didn’t know how I would manage my exhaustion, how I would hide my depression from colleagues, and how I could maintain the life of a full time employee. At the time I didn’t think that being manic would enter into the equation, after all it had never influenced my work life before, except when I produced more work than the average person, which I thought for me was just normal.
Starting a new job after more than a year of hell caused by severe depression was a major big deal for me. It was starting over, it was a new challenge, and it wasn’t just something for me, it was a big deal to our little family. I had fears, lots of them, mostly they evolved around not wanting to fail, not wanting to fall back into severe depression that would lead to another episode and stays back in the psych hospital. I dread these fears every day, they don’t leave me despite being on my road to recovery, they will always be apart of me, and are apart of my ‘I will fail’ kit.
It’s been just over four weeks since I started my new job. The first week flew and I felt really good. Not only did it feel like I was breezing through my days, getting the work done, thinking up new initiatives, I would come home feeling good too. I even found time to write at least two blog posts a day, something I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue with. Week one done and dusted and it was all good.
Remarkably, and even to my own surprise each week following the first went just as well, only I started getting praised by management and my contractor about how good I was, how they wouldn’t be able to manage without me, I started exceeding targets and milestones, and with such positivity my mood increased.
I would reach Thursday and need to sleep from the minute I got home until morning, this seemed to tie me over for another day. Mid week of week four I started to really struggle, I was exhausted, lethargic, and while I got everything done it got harder each day. Thursday came, usually my crash day, and I felt like I’d crashed before I even woke. I was completely drained of all energy. I left at lunch time unable to return to finish the week. Thank god that was the start of the Christmas/New Year break and I didn’t have to return until the 6th of January.
For nearly a whole month I was existing on mania, I was extremely manic, which after four weeks caused me to crash head on into a semi trailer, wrecked and burnt out. Exhaustion took over me like a tsunami, I didn’t have any strength left to fight it, and I felt like I was drowning. While I felt flat, and a little down the Black Dog had not yet invaded my personal place, I could hear him pacing looking for the gate to come through to bring me down, but as yet I have kept him at bay. What has happened though, my mania has stayed away and is off somewhere refuelling, but exhaustion has consumed me every day in an attempt for my mind and body to recover from a four week period of extreme mania. Eight days later I am still searching for relief from complete exhaustion.
While I have ways to calm my mania at home, these are not things I can do at work. I can’t lie down, take deep breathes in and out, while listening to meditation music. I can’t sit and knit, sew or embroider to keep my focus away from being manic. I am left trapped being manic in a workforce who know nothing of my mental illness, and working well above my means mentally.
I see my psychiatrist next week, I am hoping my medication can be adjusted to keep my need for flight under control, but if history serves me correct, mania my friend and foe will appear again on the 6th as I travel into work. I will be sent into doing work at a million miles an hour, everyone will think I am brilliant and efficient, they won’t see my struggle to keep everything under control because I will be too busy and good at shielding myself with a mask, not just hiding my pain but my mania as well. I just hope my mask is sturdy enough to stay in place, without breaking because once that happens my fears will all come true.