I take a prescribed Ritalin to prepare myself to study, to give me the energy to get through the remainder of the day. This last night before the final is the most important. I’ve had a whole quarter off, a whole 10 weeks plus winter break, because of my manic episode. It has given me time to finish a class that I took an incomplete in because I broke my wrist (but, in reality, it wasn’t so much the broken wrist, as much as it was my cracking mind that forced me to take the incomplete).
My dad comes home with food and the coffee I asked him to buy me. I start sipping at it and realize what’s happening. The ritalin is kicking in, the coffee is too. I’ve got too much energy racing through me. My thoughts are going off left and right like a firework finale. I’m agitated. I’m texting long rants to at least 4 people, I’m writing blog posts. I feel amped up, wired.
Sometimes these little mini-episodes happen to me. I think the Ritalin and coffee set me off. My therapist says that, since I’m so young, I may sometimes have episodes more like a child’s- rapid and short. And I do have these, quite often. I’ve also been told that these may happen when you’re stabilizing on medication. All I know is that they’ve always happened to me.
My day has been long. I had to wake up, go to psychotherapy, then immediately go to physical therapy, then immediately take my cat to the vet and then immediately start studying. But plans never go accordingly. I managed all the doctor’s visits fine, but it was the studying that threw me off. I tell myself I can relax a few minutes, but here I am- 5 hours later, and I haven’t studied. What went wrong?
Well, after the Ritalin and coffee kick-started me, I felt I had to run an errand. You see, I had an infection recently (of a nature I won’t describe) and I’m afraid it has come back. I already called the doctor to make an appointment, but I am impatient to know. I get the idea that maybe the drug store sells tests for them. I text my boyfriend, who manages a drug store, and he says they do sell those.
I figure maybe getting out of the house, getting the test, that’ll ease my mind. So I go, and I walk around the store, buzzing with energy. I look everywhere, my mind racing so fast it is hard to focus on the words on the labels. I feel lost but determined to find them on my own- which I do.
I get home and I read the directions, my eyes are glazing over as I read it. The words aren’t processing. I try to slow down. It takes a while, but I think I get how to do it. Which is ridiculous, I realize, because I used to conduct these same tests at my old job.
I come out positive, figures.
That’s over. But I’m still alive with energy. I realize it’s been long enough, the Ritalin has peaked in my system and I should be settling down, the coffee can’t possibly be keeping me this abuzz. It dawns on me that it’s the stress. The fact that I am unprepared for a test I had ample time to study for. I should ace this test (given all the time I had), but I know that I’ll barely pass it, if that. I was too manic over my break to study. I was barely able to do what I did. And now it is my last day- and I am so panicky that it set my brain off. The stress caused me to crack, to have a mini-episode.
I know I need to shower, that should calm me, right? Don’t they always say showers will calm your nerves? I hop in and the water pours over me. I put my hands to my face and run them back over my hair. It’s always this way when I’m manic- it feels like I’ve never showered before, the water is foreign. It is so bizarre. At first, it’s overwhelming, overstimulating. But then I get lost in my thoughts, consumed by obsessive thinking.
A thought pops out at me like a big red stop sign that’s been unusually placed in the middle of the road. I realize I am self-narrating. It’s a phenomenon I’ve never heard anyone else have or even describe, but I’ve never bothered to look it up to see.
Self-narrating is as follows: My thoughts have made a transition in their style. Instead of just thinking, I am writing a first-person story in my head. I am tracing my every movement, my every thought, as if I am writing it in a book. To put it simply, what you are reading right now is exactly what my thoughts are like.
It took me years to realize this is something I only do when I am very sick. I did it all throughout high school and never thought much of it, but I was also in an incredibly deep depressive episode. It wasn’t until my last manic episode, when I started self-narrating again, that I realized I had stopped for a while. It is now something I use to judge how sick I am. If I self-narrate, I am very sick or stressed out (although the two seem to go hand in hand).
I continue my shower, all while being obnoxiously conscious of my self-narrating. I wish I could write out what my self-narrating sounds like, but I can’t. It is literally what you are reading right now.
I may be a writer, but sometimes it is not by choice.
I step out of the shower and snag my towel. I put it to my face as usual, but I hold it there for a minute and let my tears soak into it. The moment passes and I continue on. I feel strangely calmer. Maybe it was the shower but I figure it was probably the Ativan I took before.
I’m annoyed with myself, I realize I am going to have to write this out before I can start on my studying. Sometimes the thoughts in my head get so built up that there is a pressure, an ache to get it on paper. It is not a want, it is a need. This is also something that only happens when I am very sick. In high school, during my depression, I would write obsessively. I was un-medicated then and if you ever look back at my writing, it is painfully obvious that I was a very sick teenager. After I was medicated, the writing stopped becoming a need, and soon faded into a past habit.
But I was inspired to start a blog and ever since then the need to write has engulfed me. When I had my manic episode, I not only wrote many long blog posts, but I also started writing a “book.” By the end of my episode I had over 60 pages of a single-spaced word document written. I believe that translates into easily over 100 pages of a standard size book? I’m not too sure though.
I am still not completely stable after that episode. I get these little spurts of mania, other times I get depressive lows. They happen almost every day, I am always a little up or a little down. But today I had an especially strong high.
And it is only now that I have written this out that I feel calmer. There is still an agitation residing in my heart. If I didn’t have to study I would be out, shopping or maybe hanging out with a friend. Just doing something.
Sometimes mania is described as feeling extra happy. But unless I am euphoric (which is brief but welcome), I am never happy during mania. Instead, I am incredibly agitated. It is not fun, it is frightening. I want it to stop, but at the same time I never want it to end- and I have no idea why. But that word- happiness- it does not define my mania. It does not belong in its definition. Euphoria may, but happiness does not.
Mania is incredibly uncomfortable.
But now… now that the thoughts are on paper, I can rest a little easier. I can study, I hope. All that remains is proof-reading this, closing the laptop, and sitting down with paper, pen, and notes.
I can do this. I can do this. I can pass this class. I won’t let my bipolar stop me. I will not fail, I won’t risk my dreams of becoming either a psychiatrist or psychologist be stopped by the fact that I had a manic blip in my day.
I can’t fail.
And it is that fact- I can’t fail- that drives me to feel such madness.