mania and manic episodes

Five Tips for Coping With Mania

G.J. Gregory Community Member September 27, 2007
  • As I wrote in my last post, I just finished an exceptionally hard mixed episode. I personally define mixed episode as mania and depression combined. This may not be the textbook medical definition, but it does describe my feelings. I experienced mania that kept my mind moving a million miles an hour, with depression. Imagine sitting in one place, legs shaking, nerves on edge, racing thoughts, but without the energy or desire to move a muscle. That’s a mixed episode.

    I have listed 5 things that help me deal with mania, and the manic portion of a mixed episode. These work for me, and perhaps they may help you.

    1. Be prepared, and watch for the signs, triggers, and recurring episodes. For example, many of us face seasonal manias. Sometimes a mania might be weather related, or triggered by a moon phase, or by extreme emotion. If you mood chart you may be able to predict an upcoming episode. If you don’t keep a mood chart, why not? They can be extremely valuable in helping you recognize an episode. But no matter what, anticipating what is around the corner will allow you to prepare. Have enough medication, let your loved ones know it’s coming, perhaps even warn your friends or employers. The more information we have, and the more advance notice, the better prepared we can be.

    2. Sleep is the most important thing for keeping my mania in check, and sleep doesn’t come easily in a mania. The less sleep I get, the more the mania builds. Don’t try to tough this out, ask your doctor to prescribe sleep medication. Without sleep, it’s easy to escalate into a state where hospitalization may be necessary.

    3. Anti-psychotics are often necessary when things get unbearable. When the racing thoughts can’t be slowed, or when psychosis is threatening danger, an anti-psychotic may help chase away the danger. I don’t take Seroquel on a daily basis any more, but I ALWAYS have it within reach in case things get to be more than I can handle.

    4. Have something to occupy your mind and your free time. I can’t stress this enough. My last mania was a mixed episode, and my depression made physical exertion difficult, if not impossible. But this didn’t slow down my manic mind – it desperately needed an outlet. So to feed my mind’s need, I took a computer program I wrote a few years ago and completely updated it. It kept my mind occupied for the weeks I was manic. I didn’t quite finish it, so it will be waiting for me when the next mania hits. In the past I’ve built web sites, started businesses, undertaken large home projects, began writing books, and started many different projects. The operative word here is “started". I rarely finish a project I start when manic. So before you start that kitchen remodel, or begin rebuilding the engine in your only vehicle, think twice. When you crash you may crash hard. Having an unfinished project like this waiting for you will be detrimental. Make sure anything you start can be set aside when it’s no longer needed.

  • 5. Have an emergency plan. Write down the names and numbers of your doctor, your psychiatrist, therapist, spouse, kids, or anyone else who may have a stake in your wellness. Start from scratch, and cover the most basic to the most far-fetched scenario. For example, if you do “this", that’s OK, but if you do “that", seek medical attention. Remember, if you’re psychotic, you may not recognize the need for medical care, so others may have to act on your behalf. If 911 has to be called, make sure any officers sent are CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) trained. Specify which hospital. Specify what doctors should be called. Make sure everyone involved knows what meds you are taking, when, and in what dosage. Specify what meds you do NOT want administered. Spell it all out, and update it from time to time. Pull it out a couple times a year and review it again. Have your spouse or family review it and ask questions. The odds are at some point in your life you will need this, so don’t put off creating it for too long.

    How about others? Any suggestions you may have for living through a mania? Leave a comment and let us know.
9 Comments
  • Lisa
    Oct. 19, 2012

    I have been diagnosed bipolar for almost 20 years.  For the last two years I have been more stable than I ever have been before.  Last week and then again last night/today I am suffering a pretty acute manic episode for the first time in a long, long time.  I went out on the net to refresh myself on coping skills and found this site. 

     ...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I have been diagnosed bipolar for almost 20 years.  For the last two years I have been more stable than I ever have been before.  Last week and then again last night/today I am suffering a pretty acute manic episode for the first time in a long, long time.  I went out on the net to refresh myself on coping skills and found this site. 

     

    I just wanted to say thank you for your insight and everyone's willingness to share.  It has made a difference in my life today.

     

    Thank you, all,

    Lisa

  • onlylonely
    Oct. 08, 2007

    Hey G.J.,

     

    As usual, you have come up with yet another important and useful post.  I say "ditto" to all of your recommendations.  If only my husband had followed such a plan, he might still be alive today.  He just never could do the medication thing, even when I clued him in on the fact that he was starting to get manic. ...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hey G.J.,

     

    As usual, you have come up with yet another important and useful post.  I say "ditto" to all of your recommendations.  If only my husband had followed such a plan, he might still be alive today.  He just never could do the medication thing, even when I clued him in on the fact that he was starting to get manic. 

     

    That was one of the things we had agreed to do for each other:  let the other one know if we saw a manic/depressive episode coming on, so we could take action on the other's behalf.  It worked for me, but my husband rarely took his anti-psychotic meds, even after being prompted (oh so gently and not threateningly by me) to do so. 

     

    One other thought came to my mind when you mentioned having the emergency plan.  In my case, since I am the single mother of a 15-year old son, I have everything arranged for my son to go to my parent's home, should I become hospitalized.   However, my parents are getting to the point at which they are hardly able to take care of themselves, much less a teen-ager, so I now need to look at an alternative back-up plan for my son.  Neither of my two sisters could take my son at this point in time. 

     

    Does anyone have any other ideas for what they might do to take care of their child, in the event that family is not available?  This is of great concern to me, as I just went through a harrowing experience, and it is but for the grace of God, that I am still here, writing this post.

     

    Thank you for any thoughts you might have on this.

     

    Warm thoughts and hugs all around,

     

    Kay

    • Angie
      Oct. 08, 2007

      Hi Kay,

       

      I have a similar situation with four kids still in school.  Are there in neighbors that you know well enough to talk to about this?

       

      Or does your son have any friends whose parents you could talk to?

       

       Maybe the school guidance counselor might know of somebody, perhaps a special teacher for him to with for awhile?

       

      I'm...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hi Kay,

       

      I have a similar situation with four kids still in school.  Are there in neighbors that you know well enough to talk to about this?

       

      Or does your son have any friends whose parents you could talk to?

       

       Maybe the school guidance counselor might know of somebody, perhaps a special teacher for him to with for awhile?

       

      I'm just throwing out stuff here.  Again, I empathize with your situation.  Before my last hospitalization I couldn't get my crying under control and was suicidal.  My eight-year-old was on the floor working a puzzle as I was telling her I was sick and she would be staying at my father's house.  She wouldn't even look at me as she said "okay". 

       

      Right now I have a loose plan A and even looser plan B.

       

      Angie 

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Oct. 08, 2007

      Hey Angie!

       

      Great suggestion to talk to my son's counselor/advisor!  I don't know why I didn't think of that myself.  My son has an awesome advisor and he may very well know of something I could try and/or be willing himself to take my son in.

       

      Wow, you really have your hands full with four kids.  My heart goes out to...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hey Angie!

       

      Great suggestion to talk to my son's counselor/advisor!  I don't know why I didn't think of that myself.  My son has an awesome advisor and he may very well know of something I could try and/or be willing himself to take my son in.

       

      Wow, you really have your hands full with four kids.  My heart goes out to you. As far as neighbors are concerned, my only reliable neighbors are quite elderly and they wouldn't be able to watch after my son. 

       

      It is a very scary reality to be the bipolar mother of any number of kids.  Kids are a true blessing and my son is the light of my life.  I just hate those times when I cannot be there for him.  I could really relate with what you said to your eight-year old.  You feel so darn guilty, yet if you don't take care of yourself while the bad stuff is going on, you won't be there for any of your kids when the good stuff happens.

       

      Thanks again for the very helpful information.  I am going to check it out very soon.

       

      Have a depression and manic free day,

       

      Kay

    • Angie
      Oct. 08, 2007

      You are so welcome, Kay.  I'm glad I could help.  This is why I use this site;  we talk about practical things.

       

      Best of luck,

      Angie 

       

       

       

    • G.J. Gregory
      Oct. 08, 2007

      Kay - I wanted to ask my wife about your question.  She recommended exactly what Angie recommended, but also to check with your pastor or clergy if you attend a church.

       

      Tonight my mania is back, as bad as it's ever been.  The hard part is taking these rules and applying them when the need is really there.  

       

      Thanks for your...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Kay - I wanted to ask my wife about your question.  She recommended exactly what Angie recommended, but also to check with your pastor or clergy if you attend a church.

       

      Tonight my mania is back, as bad as it's ever been.  The hard part is taking these rules and applying them when the need is really there.  

       

      Thanks for your comment, Kay.

  • Angie
    Oct. 06, 2007

    I liked this article, GJ.

     

    I have listed in my address/appointment book that I always carry in my purse, a list of medications that I am taking, my doctor's name and number, and my hospital name and number.  I have red stars all around the info on the first 2-3 pages in case I am in an accident or cannot respond.

     

    Ooops, I just realized this...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I liked this article, GJ.

     

    I have listed in my address/appointment book that I always carry in my purse, a list of medications that I am taking, my doctor's name and number, and my hospital name and number.  I have red stars all around the info on the first 2-3 pages in case I am in an accident or cannot respond.

     

    Ooops, I just realized this was tips for coping with mania.  Here's one for me:

     

    Don't go shopping alone.  Take along a friend or relative that knows your history and can talk you out of buying those really cute sandals, matching handbag, and belt.  In every color.  Or Barnes&Noble where I'll buy every new psychiatry book.  Or gourmet coffee shops and luxury cigarettes.  I once spent $140 on some Nat Shermans and a silver case to keep them in so I could look like Katherine Hepburn while I wa in New York.

     

    And I agree 110% about sleep.  And it's really stupid that we always feel our best at 10 pm, when the rest of the world is getting sleepy.  I knew there was a reason I liked working the night shift so many years.  But now I have very little resiliance for it.  And the weird part is it may not show up for two-three days.

     

    UNDERSTAND CAMPERS?  GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP OR YOU WILL GET UGLY!

     

    signing off (slightly manic this week)

     

    Angie 

    • G.J. Gregory
      Oct. 07, 2007

      Angie - A great idea, highlighting an area of your address/appointment book.  On another sharepost, a commenter mentioned a type of USB drive contained in a necklace or bracelet that contained medical information.  The point is to make the information accessible to those who may need it. 

       

      In my case, I didn't have to worry about shopping,...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Angie - A great idea, highlighting an area of your address/appointment book.  On another sharepost, a commenter mentioned a type of USB drive contained in a necklace or bracelet that contained medical information.  The point is to make the information accessible to those who may need it. 

       

      In my case, I didn't have to worry about shopping, I didn't have the physical energy to get out.   The mental energy to power a mainframe computer, but not enough physical energy to walk to the mailbox.  

       

      Does Nat Sherman make cigarettes?  They make a mighty fine cigar, which is my tobacco vice these days.  although at $10 to $20 each I won't be smoking many of them...

       

      And the quote of the day:

      "GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP OR YOU WILL GET UGLY!"

       

      Gotta love it! 

    • Angie
      Oct. 08, 2007

      Ahhh, Nat Sherman makes great cigarettes, as well as the original cigar.  I like menthol, and when I was in NY visiting a friend, I wanted to try "one of those luxury ones".  So I went into their store.  It was so opulent!  One would expect to see Humphrey Bogart around the corner.  Upstairs the humidors were kept, and very...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Ahhh, Nat Sherman makes great cigarettes, as well as the original cigar.  I like menthol, and when I was in NY visiting a friend, I wanted to try "one of those luxury ones".  So I went into their store.  It was so opulent!  One would expect to see Humphrey Bogart around the corner.  Upstairs the humidors were kept, and very large, rich-looking people were going into the lounge.  Picture 7' tall basketball players, heads shaved, Armani suits, covered in bling.  I just asked to sample the Mint Naturals which held their flavor in the filter which tasted like honey.  And in a very elegant box.  It was an amazing sensory experience.  They also burned slowly, about 7-10 minutes, so I would only smoke them in a relaxed setting, ie: a quiet bench in Central Park.

       

      Well...that was a fun story.

       

      Too bad I'm giving up smoking.  I am using the patch, which is like putting the ingredients of a chocolate sundae on your arm.  You'll absorb the sugar and cocoa, but what about the taste and smell?  Sometimes I've thought of eating one wrapped in peppermint.