For many years I facilitated weekly support group meetings for folk living with bipolar disorder. On several occasions I through out the topic concerning the loss of the highs and euphoria with recovery. Not once did the meeting end before a majority spoke of times of wishing for the "fun part" of mania. Of course, these individuals quickly spoke of the great value they held for their recovery and wellness without the destructive manic episodes.
Missing my mania
By Laura Yeager, bphope.com
Everybody thinks relief from severe mood swings is a wonderful thing. It is, but sometimes, remission does have its drawbacks.
People can be sick with bipolar disorder for years. Spending three years in a manic, delusional state, I thought people knew who I was everywhere I went. It was tremendously hard to go to places (even Kmart) because in my mind, people were tracking my every movement.
I knew what Britney Spears feels like, and I’ve never made one record.
As you can guess, when I finally got my mania under control (thanks to daily medication and time), I was free to go places “anonymously.” No one followed me any more. My life became that of a normal, middle-aged, Mid-western woman, who lived in the suburbs, and who could go to Kmart without thinking a thing of it. No one would know me there.
I was a nobody again.
This was marvelous for about two years. I relished my “normalcy.” I baked cakes. I changed diapers. I bought boxes of Clementines for $6.99 at the grocery store. I had little parties—barbecues and family dinners at Thanksgiving. I made my husband his favorite foods and graded papers from my teaching job at a local college. God, was I normal.
But then, I started to notice the drawbacks of remission. They do exist. Here are a few of mine:
Folding clothes is enjoyable.
There’s nothing wrong with folding your clothes, but should one really enjoy it? Gone are the days of hopping a plane to New York City to eat bread sticks with butter and drink beer in bars. Now, it’s just me, the laundry, and my patio door window, looking out onto a world that I never anxiously venture into any more.
I feel unpopular…
Mania makes you feel like the “it” girl or boy. But in remission, you’re just another pudgy neighbor on a quiet cul-de-sac.
Worse, since I’m not depressed anymore, every day I must put on shoes, makeup and clothes…
It was so much easier staying in my nightgown. Life was uncomplicated. You get used to the sound of your own breathing. You almost like the smell of your dirty body. You’re in survival mode, no more, no less…how simple…
I can no longer crank out three magazine articles a day.
Mania brings energy! I can’t stay up all night. I’m so sluggish when I’m in remission. It’s the sluggishness of the average man and/or woman. I’m Average.
My psychiatrist is no longer a scintillating, love interest.
When I’m sick, my doctor becomes so cute. He knows my deepest darkest secrets, and he likes me still, for who I am. When I’m in remission, it’s not as fun to go visit him. He’s just a guy who prescribes my meds and who is paid to watch over me. Not very romantic, is it?
Sleep, sleep, sleep…8 hours a day is oh-so-predictable, and I miss the all-nighters when shut-eye was the last thing I wanted.
Now, my sleep is like clockwork. There are no extremes anymore. Life is perfectly ho hum…
The celebs on TV don’t send me secret messages.
I especially miss Regis Philbin who told me his deepest, darkest secret. I was so proud of knowing that. But, Regis has stopped talking to me through the TV.
I’m out of excuses. I can’t blame my mania.
Yes, you’re well now. You must take care of business. Go out to lunch. Pay bills. Buy gas. Read the newspaper. It’s called living responsibly.
When I take some time to think, I can only be so wistful about my mania; after all, it landed me in a psych ward.
Being sick with bipolar disorder is a great leveler. It strips most everything away, leaving only the most primitive elements—fear, grief, anger, lust, euphoria, thoughts of genius. There’s something satisfying (in hindsight, maybe) about living life on the edge. We may romanticize at times, but ultimately we strive for health. Would you really will the extremes of your illness back into existence, even if you could?
In the end, wellness is “where it’s at.” It’s peaceful and quenching and healing.
I’m in remission.
I pray you are, too.