“Up” periods of mania used to happen several times a year. I didn’t know what was going on. I wasn’t aware of what it was that was happening.
I felt happy. I was excited. I couldn’t sleep well. Sometimes I couldn’t fall asleep for hours. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep.
I thought that it was just something that happened. Ebb and flow of life.
It doesn’t just happen. At least, not randomly.
Caffeine (usually coffee) stimulates my mood. I noticed that if I have more than the usual amount of coffee (2-3x) in a morning, I’m all but guaranteed to feel over the moon within an hour or so. The world if full of possibilities, I’m accessing new parts of my brain (like Limitless’ NZT or Bourne Legacy’s Blue Pills).
New ideas are also a powerful drug. If I spend a few hours with someone who spurs interesting, new ideas, I’ll come away in a much more positive mood. Commonly such discussions can happen in the presence coffee, so this is a powerful mix.
I can’t pin it down much more than that. But recognizing that it is something that has triggers and knowing two of them is powerful. I can avoid these, or mix them in carefully. Or use them when I need them.
Or switch to decaf.
Often, feeling manic feels good. Sometimes really, really good. I sometimes think I want more of it. And mania definitely beats depression. If I can only pick one to experience forever, definitely the mania.
But it is also problematic. If it’s a low boost of energy, then it can be relatively easy to control. But when it interferes with sleep it can start to become a problem.
Waking up at 4 am one night isn’t the end of the world. Even if I’m awake for an hour. And often, that is the only sleeplessness a manic period will cause.
But if I wake up every night for an hour, in a few days; I’m in trouble.
Or, when I am awake for 4+ hours, then it is disruptive.
Like tonight. I’m past the three hour mark at the moment. I’ve now been awake more than I’ve been asleep “tonight.” I have a meeting in the morning.
Do I cancel?
Do I just get very hopped up on caffeine to make it through the meeting?
Do I try to take the minimum caffeine amount and then get a nap later?
Rescheduling isn’t a problem. Drinking a lot of coffee tomorrow sounds good right about now.
The problem is that this won’t be the first instance where I have to decide between skipping a meeting or straining a mix of sleep and drugs to get through a day. Because this mania isn’t going away today or tomorrow. I’m on about day 2/3 so I know that, for me, I can expect another 3-5 days of this.
I often avoid morning meetings because of this. I worry that people think of me as lazy and I try not to call attention to my eschewing morning commitments. I’d happily schedule a 7am call – if I felt I had control over whether I’d be alert at that hour and, after, how many nights it would take me to not have days that were sapped of energy.
Obviously, mania is better than depression. But mania still messes with being normal and interacting with people.