My family and I got on the topic of crazy stories tonight. As a bipolar person, I have some good ones.
See, people always expect depression to be the worst part of bipolar disorder. It’s not. All depression can do is kill you. Mania is far, far more dangerous. Mania can feel good, and it can make you do anything, that’s what makes it scary.
Let me put it into perspective for you. Scientists have taken the same chemical we produce when falling in love, and have upped it in humans. What do you get? The basic symptoms of extreme mania. Grandiose feelings, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia. Mania is both scary and intoxicating, because everything you’ve ever wanted to be true is true, all your feelings are correct, you feel everything on a tremendous level, and all your worst dreams and nightmares become your reality.
It’s like living in a surrealist painting. All the things that don’t confirm your reality become unimportant, and all the things that do confirm your reality become extremely important. You feel everything on an extraordinarily keen level – love, hate, fear, anger, joy, sexual needs. Everything.
Take the woman who rammed her car into the White House gates because she thought President Obama was telepathically communicating with her, for example. Do you remember her? She probably didn’t feel particularly important, and wanted subconsciously to feel connected to the most important person of her race in America at the time.
Well, mania provided that for her. That’s what mania does. It’s so intoxicating, and makes you feel so intensely creative – all your ideas seem like brilliant ones – that some people, artists especially, stop taking their bipolar meds just so they can experience mania again.
Mania can make people do crazy things. I’ve heard stories of people spending all the money they’ve ever made and overdrawing themselves, cheating on spouses they’ve never had any serious problems with. I once heard of a usually totally sane man who went to a nice restaurant in a three piece suit – he jumped up on top of a table, leaped at the restaurant chandelier like Tarzan, and began swinging from it like a gorilla.
I’m not that bad. I’m type two, which means I’m usually hypomanic, a milder form of “typical” mania. But I still have some bizarre stories. All bipolar people do, and they usually start with “I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea at the time.”
Once, in a college dorm, I started singing at the top of my lungs at two o’clock in the morning. This was on a weeknight and everything. People from all the way at the other end of the hall came knocking on my door to tell me to shut up so they could get some sleep.
Here is the most extreme example. I need a great deal of freedom. I have considered becoming a vagrant, but I’ve never considered staying in one place and station in society for my entire life. That is one idea I couldn’t tolerate, even sane. Well, I was really bad once, in the middle of a horrible episode. I wanted to return to college for the coming semester, and my parents told me – in so many words – that there was no fucking way I was leaving their home in the state I was in.
I stormed off without telling anyone where I was going (I do that a lot when I’m manic), essentially running away from home, and that is the time I have most seriously considered becoming a homeless person – which a lot of mentally ill people actually do. I wandered countless streets. I accidentally wandered onto somebody’s property and got kicked off of it. Finally, I didn’t know what to do. I knew I wanted to talk to someone about what I was going through – I was heavily suicidal at this point – but I didn’t know who to call. I was in my hometown, and I had gone to college away from home, so I was at that point where I could still call people around town technically but it would have been really fucking weird if I had just randomly called anyone and told them I was suicidal.
I didn’t have my doctor’s number and I didn’t want to put up with medical bullshit anyway, and there was only one other number I could think of off the top of my head that was for people who needed help. I called 911.
I could tell the first responder had no idea what to do, hearing someone ramble about suicide. She responded to her fear with anger, asking demanding questions, demanding to know the name and phone number of my doctor. I didn’t like the sound of her questions, so – are you ready for this? – I hung up on her.
I was on a cell phone, so she couldn’t trace where I was and nothing came of it. But that is probably the craziest story I have as a mentally ill person.
Where crazy stories are concerned, mentally ill people are usually king. We run into the area of stories “so crazy they’re not even funny anymore.” I kinda get the feeling most people don’t want to hear those stories, which is why I don’t talk about them more often. At some point, any person wakes up from mania and realizes what they’ve done. That’s not a pleasant experience.
And that’s what I mean when I say mania is more dangerous. Depression can kill you, but mania can fuck up your entire life and that leads to depression which then kills you.