December 18, 2013
by Stephanie Byrne
Search the internet and there are all kinds of neat, negative, and positive feedback, blogs, and informational sites talking about Mania. I searched the internet this morning and found a site where you could take a test, with disclaimers of course, to see if you are indeed manic. Apparently I am extremely manic at this time and should seek medical attention immediately…. This led me to realize that a manic episode may, in fact, be less understood than I had previously believed. Let me tell you, those of us that have lived with someone who has had multiple manic episodes, would agree with some of this literature, but definitely not all.
Mania is described as many things. The most formal definitions is that it is a part of bi-polar disorder. A manic episode can be characterized by period of time where an elevated, expansive or notably irritable mood is present, lasting for a minimum of one week. The symptoms that arise from the manic episode for it to be diagnosable must cause difficulty at work, with friends and loved ones, and in school or at social events. For example, a person focused so hard and so long at finishing every task on their goal oriented to do list that co-workers take notice of the extensive investment of time and energy. Now this is a more socially appropriate expression of mania, however, there are also negative expressions that can happen during an episode. Sometimes symptoms may also be the result of the abuse of substances, however, in most of the cases I have seen this is not the case. Three of the following must also be present for potential diagnoses by a psychiatrist. People who experience all of the above and below listed symptoms will most often be diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. - Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity - Decreased need for sleep (e.g., one feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep) - More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking - Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing - Attention is easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant items - Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation - Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments
Mania is something that can be a very productive state of mind when channeled in a positive direction. Some of the most creative minds of our time were diagnosable as bi-polars; Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemmingway and Abraham Lincoln just to name a few (the list goes on). So the question begs; How high is too high? I guess it’s up to how high a person can tolerate going while still maintaining touch with the world around them, unless it means that we won’t have any new aspiring Beethoven’s or Abraham Lincolns that is! I grew up with a grandmother who suffered with undiagnosed bi-polar for years. What a woman though! She was strong, take-charge, and independent woman. The kind of woman I looked up to and admired. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of suffering she did in silence dealing with this disorder on her own. She was a creative hands on grandma that gave me more than I could ever ask for as a granddaughter. She gave me my capacity to dream big and go for it. Is this what mania looks like? Is this what bi-polar is? Then my goodness sign me up!
Psych Central. (2013). Manic Episode. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/manic-episode/