Controlling Mania – Even When it Feels Good

Learning to stop a manic episode in its tracks is an important skill for living creatively with moods.  Mania is a dangerous state, and failing to control it leads to worse and deeper depressive moods afterwards.  In order to gain more stability in the midst of mood swings, it is important not to give in to the call of the manic, but to take steps as soon as you realize mania is starting up again to limit and control the “high”.

Julie Fast, whose work we have highlighted in MoodSurfing before, has this to say about “saying no to mania”: “I realized I was not going to survive if I kept seeking mania in my life. I finally recognized that it put me in dangerous situations and made the depression more intense.”

Each person is different, and each person knows their own sign and signals of an impending manic episode.  Train yourself to take note of the signs, and make a resolution to always “say no” when you feel mania coming on.

Fast notes some factors from her own life and struggle with bipolar that make it imperative to get on top of mania and maintain your stability.  She notes four:

  • Hypersexuality: “I may love the feeling of being seductive and powerful, but I have taught myself that the aftereffects are awful.” Teaching yourself to say “no” even when you don’t want to is also powerful.
  • Overspending:  Controlling mania means never wiping yourself out financially because your spending was out of control.
  • Partners: Fast has interviewed “thousands” of partners of people with mania over the years and she says they all say the same: they don’t like it when their partner is manic.
  • Rapid cycling:  As she says: “mania leads to depression and managing mania automatically improves depression.

Some have heard that taking medication to stabilize mood may have a suppressive effect on creativity, but this has not been our experience.  Stabilizing mood allows you to use your creativity more effectively, and the constant “popping” of ideas that characterized mania is not the same thing as creativity as such.

Experimental apps to send early warnings of oncoming manic episodes have shown some promise, and are still under exploration.  The apps collect “metadata” from your phone and send you a text when signs such as increased typing speed, or increased frequency of texts and calls suggests that your mood may be shifting.

More Resources:

Spring Mania

Apps for Tracking Mood

Cognitive Issues and Bipolar