The symptoms of mania can include a long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood OR feeling extremely irritable, agitated, “jumpy” or “wired.”

This might manifest itself as talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts, being easily distracted, taking on new projects, being restless, sleeping less, having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities, behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable, high-risk behaviours, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex and/or business investments.

A mixed state – which I sometimes experience – is when mania and depression overlap. For example, I can get tearful and emotional during a manic episode, but also have racing thoughts, irritability and agitation when in a depressed mood. The mixed states are problematic as the erratic nature of the mood disorder makes a person (certainly me) more susceptible to hitting the wine bottle and more inclined to having panic attacks. Apparently the risk of violence and suicide is also greatly increased but this, thankfully, is not relevant to me.

I am now so in tune with my mood changes that I no longer panic as much when I am cycling in between the two. The days of firing off emails to my psychiatrist or making urgent doctor’s appointments as soon as I experience an unpleasant feeling are thankfully in the past. I would be lying if I said that I was at peace with the illness as this is not the case but I do understand it and can adapt accordingly in most cases. This often means retreating privately.

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