Before Christmas, I did an overview of Bipolar Disorder and what it means and what it causes. Being Bipolar/Manic Depressive means you not only have depressive episodes; but also manic ones.
In my life, the depressive episodes have far outweighed the manic ones. But allow me to let you in on how some of my manic episodes have gone.
When I’m manic, it’s not just that I feel happy. My brain runs 10x faster than it usually does and thinks pretty much everything is a good idea. There have been some bad outcomes to this, but also some good.
On the bad side, I tend to want to spend money I don’t have. This has resulted in me racking up a boat – possibly one of the few things I didn’t buy – load of debt. I didn’t always buy big things, but I would buy a lot of small items, and those little things mounted up. I’ve managed to pull myself out of this now, and it’s something that I don’t want to get back into. However, when I have manic episodes, I still have the urge to spend money I don’t have and need to spend some time talking myself out of it, thankfully I’m able to do this much easier these days, but it’s still hard. However, it’s something that always preys on my mind as I’m aware of just how easy it would be to slip back into it.
The other thing I get when manic is the urge to be creative. This has ranged from setting up online shops with various products – I’ve done a few of these that didn’t last long, although one of my t-shirt shops is still going over on Cafepress– to things that I actually stuck with for a long time like my animated YouTube series Todd the Zombie. Even my first book, Creatures, started as a need to get through a manic episode.
Todd the Zombie is something that I thought up one day when I was on my way home from work and had a need – like years later with Creatures – to get out of my head. The series is based around a zombie IT guy that worked at a large company, not unlike Apple – but shhh- a vampire security guard, a dumb receptionist, a ghost delivery girl, a devil accountant, and a totally inept boss. All done in an isometric 3D style, with a lot of game, movie, and TV references, sometimes the animation changing style to match the references.
Eventually, it would lead to me asking my brother to write some scripts, and I also had some friends that worked on it with me, either by doing animation or some of the voices. Soon I would end up meeting several other people online that would become part of TeamTodd. Sadly, after 4 years and 2 series, I kind of fell out with the process, everyone went their own ways, and Todd ended. But it’s still available online over on YouTube, and it’s website www.toddthezombie.com. I still hope one day to pick it back up and do more episodes.
Even though it started from a manic episode, it was something that I enjoyed and something that was positive. After years of only making mistakes when manic, it was a welcome change having something tangible come out of being manic. The people I met along the way also helped me through some of my worst depressive episodes, so I’ll be forever grateful to them and for all that they did.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that for me, manic episodes can be just as bad as the depressive ones, but they can also lead to good things.
I’d say that one of the worst things about the manic episodes I’ve had, is that feeling I get when I know I’m manic and I become painfully aware that one day it will end and I will end up going the other way. The problem with that is that I don’t have the capacity when manic to do anything about what I see coming. It’s like running on to a train track as a speeding train comes straight at you, unable to move because the bright light transfixes you.
In my experience, it’s challenging to get a diagnosis of Bipolar. I would only seek help when I was in a depressive episode, so that would be all doctors or therapists would see. When I’m manic, the world is a beautiful place filled with shiny objects and pretty colours; I don’t think anything is wrong in my life. It’s also the time when I decide that taking my medication isn’t a thing I need to do anymore, and the urge to just stop them is overwhelming. Whereas when depressed, I know something is wrong, and I may need help with something. Although it’s still hard to go and get the help I need.
The manic side also doesn’t really catch the attention of other people. You’re seen as “the life of the party” or maybe just a bit “weird” or “random” as opposed to seeing a person that is struggling with a mental health problem. But when you’re in a depressive episode, people just see you as “grumpy” or ” angry,” or you’re just told to suck it up and get on with things; if only that were possible!
There is still a stigma around depression and Bipolarity. So the people that genuinely need help are either unable to get it or are too scared to ask for fear of people looking at them differently.
I’m still at the start of my journey of being able to talk about these things, so forgive me if all this is a bit rambly or disjointed, but it’s still hard for me to talk about some things, although I feel better for having done so. I’m also not trying to get preachy; I’m just trying to explain how my life and the lives of those around me are affected by the two sides of the Bipolar coin that flips in my head. Luckily it’s standing on the edge at the minute, but there’s no telling when it will tip to one side, and to which it goes.
I hope these posts help people, even if it’s just in some small way, with the knowledge that other people are struggling too. Thanks for taking the time to read.