Mania is a condition in which you have a period of abnormally elevated, extreme changes in your mood or emotions, energy level or activity level. Hypomania is milder form of Mania and may only last a few days.
A feature of my Schizoaffective Disorder diagnosis that I have experienced is Mania and Hypomania. Sometimes the Mania has led me to a episode of psychosis, other times I have had psychosis and the lack of sleep plus sheer terror of it all has led to some Hypomania.
Mania feels like bliss. When I have been manic I have mostly felt happy and confident. Mania makes me feel powerful (sometimes I have felt like a Marvel character!). It is like being drunk without the side effects of blurred vision and unsteadiness. It can for me also lead to agitation. I particularly get more agitated with other people. People seem slow and miserable.
Mania leads me to become obsessive and highly productive in a particular interest. Like most Autistic people I have special interests that I have intense focus on. Between 2017-19 my special interest was Running. The interest became very intense where I would run 4 to 5 times a week. I ended up completing 3 Marathon races in 2019. The Running though helped exhaust the agitation (a feature of autism as well) and it prevented the medication I took from making me gain weight. What I discovered with the Running was that it gave me a high which had the feedback loop of making me more hypomanic or manic at times.
The COVID pandemic and subsequent sections in psychiatric hospitals led to my medication doses being changed. I lost interest in Running and felt too sedated to Run. I became obsessed with a new special interest which was an Autism App I invented called NeuroSchemas. My new obsession led to a lot of high productivity in building this App. I spent far too much money on it, some of which was my inheritance from my Stepdad. I learnt a lot of new IT skills and a better understanding of how Autism affects me.
Since I have been on a depot injection of Paliperidone from April 2022 I haven’t experienced Mania like before. When I had a brief episode of acute Psychosis in May 2023, I seemed to hear a voice (like telekinesis) and was delusional. I was somewhat energised by the fear and panic of it all. I haven’t though been hugely productive or obsessed with anything and been on the more depressive side. I seem more equipped to deal with the down moods than I was before the ECT for depression in 2015. This year I was baptised. Acknowledging my thankfulness and gratitude to God in daily prayer, like declaring all the things (e.g. a home) I am thankful for seem to put things into perspective. I have also been more prudent with money in the last year.
I have to say I do miss the Mania but not the consequences of Mania. Experiencing joy and happiness are wonderful feelings but not necessarily helpful when it’s not realistic. I feel a lot of wellbeing when I am productive on a project but the obsessiveness causes me much agitation and consequences to the rest of my life. When I was Running and working on my App I wasn’t taking care of myself. Excluding the issues around money I didn’t invest in self-care. My home was often dirty, the kitchen and bathroom were a mess and I wasn’t keeping up the washing of bedding and towels. Washing up, cleaning and hygiene always took a back seat. When I was studying a PGCert in Mental Health Recovery from the University of Hertfordshire in 2019-20 at home sometimes I wouldn’t sleep for 2 or more days to write my essays.
These days I am more sedated and lethargic from my medication. Especially in the mornings. I prioritise my health and my home first. My home for the most part is clean and tidy. It is a sanctuary. I keep a record of my cleaning in my calendar so I can remember to maintain the home regularly. It has became a ritual to wash my bedding and towels each week. I recently bought a counter top dishwasher to help me keep my kitchen clean. I am going to my first dentist appointment today in years. I have even managed to save a little because I am much better with money. I don’t have the bandwidth for special projects at present, though this blog which is therapeutic, has evolved into a continuing interest of mine.
I could very easily stop the medication and be more functional at a pursuit that holds my interest. If I become obsessed with it then I will become highly productive in it. I have had previous jobs when that has been the case and been greatly rewarded for it. In the end I just burn out and breakdown. If not experiencing an episode of psychosis before I burn out.
I think its really hard being me. I wouldn’t wish these kinds of challenges on anyone else. Most people don’t understand. I realise now I have to be a lot more careful and measured before deciding what I do in life. Stability is very important to me and something I now greatly value. I just hope the future doesn’t lead to the rug under my feet being pulled.