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Mania: Everything That Makes Sense, Until It Doesn't

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Practicing self-care when it comes to Bipolar Disorder means that not only do I take my meds and see my doctor regularly, but also over the years I've learned a few "tricks" to help get me by. These are simple things that make my life, and the lives of the people in mine, much easier. My goal is to keep myself as stable as I can, with as few mood swings as possible. 

On Wednesday I felt myself starting to go up. I ended up at the grocery store on a day when I know it's not the perfect time for me to go. I try to plan these little excursions for when I know it's not going to be very busy. I knew it was a bad idea to go, but I went with my husband who just happened to have the day off from work. He thought that if I went with him, it would make it easier for me. Bless his heart, but that's just not how it works. 

The grocery store wasn't overly busy but I found myself there with no list and no idea what we were getting. This is pretty much how our conversation went down: 

Me: Why are we here? 

Scott: To get food. 

Me: Yes, but what? Where is the list? I need to know what we're having for dinner the next two days so I don't have to come back here again. It's like the seventh circle of Hell. 

Scott: I'm going to go get cereal. 

So off I went, shaking, sweating and cursing myself for allowing something as silly as grocery shopping to upset me so badly. When Scott and I finally met up again I mumbled something like: 

I forgot to get bread 

Scott: Well go grab some.

Me: I can't, I've gone too far.

Scott: You're kidding right?

Me: Nope. I've done the circuit. Get me out of here before I start to cry.

Scott: Go to the checkout, I'll grab bread. What kind do you want?

Me: Can't you just make a decision yourself?

We made it home and I apologized to Scott for my outburst, he took it in stride, like he always does. It didn't lessen my guilt, or my agitation. The rest of the evening I was miserable with a short temper, easy agitation, and unfortunately my family were the targets of it all. I finally decided to try to isolate myself for a little while and see if that helped.

In the morning I got my kids ready for school, dropped them off and headed out to see my psychiatrist. I spent almost an hour in her waiting room, filling out the GAD questionnaire because we've been charting my anxiety. This little exercise actually brings on anxiety, and I think this particular tool is as waste of time and useless, but I'm not a doctor and there is obviously a reason behind it. My doctor emerges from her office and tells me, "I'm sorry Nicole, I double booked, would you mind coming back at around 5:00 p.m?" My back is instantly up. Who does she think she is and why did her receptionist not inform me of this at one point over the past 45 minutes while I've been sitting there? I hand her my GAD form and walk out.

I was furious. I call my husband and I'm yelling and swearing. Instantly I switch to, "She doesn't want to be my doctor anymore and this is her way of telling me that." He does what he always does, "Nicole, breathe. YOU KNOW that this is not the case. You're angry, and you have a right to be, but you have an idea in your head, that is not true, and you're running with it. Go home, put on some music, and distract yourself." Oh, he's a wise one, but his suggestions fall on deaf ears. She's completely out to get me, I know this.

Thursday afternoon turns into Thursday night and I'm ramped up even more. Scott gets home from work and I'm talking a mile a minute, jumping from one topic to the next before ever completing a thought. He sits patiently, observing, and nodding his head at the appropriate times. (I must add that two years ago, my psychiatrist, Scott and myself sat down and came up with a plan of action for these specific times. We all agreed on what to do, and Scott was told to gently remind me of this plan before I got to non-compliant stage.) The problem here is that we never wrote this plan down, and I never signed it (not that it would be legal, but that it would show that I had previously agreed to the plan) and at this rate, I'm going up faster than we have ever seen. It's tricky to talk to me when I get like this.

After Scott listens to me go on about my psychiatrist and how I'm sure she hates me, he leans over, holds my hand and says, "Baby, I think it's time you take something to calm down." I've weaned myself (safely under supervision) off of benzos 8 months ago) "I HAVE NOTHING TO TAKE" I scream at him. "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I'M NOT THE PROBLEM” Scott is calm and solid, as he always is. This scenario is unfortunately not new to him. He tries another approach, "Do you think maybe it's time to go in to the hospital?" With that one statement I give in, "I'll call the doctor now."

It's just before 5:00 p.m. when I make the call. I get the receptionist. "Can you please have Dr. G call me right away?" I have no idea what I'm going to say to her. I'm still mad and completely paranoid. I figure honesty is best. Within minutes she returns my call. I'm crying, and hysterical, "Scott wants me to admit. I think you don't want to be my doctor anymore. I'm going up too fast. If everyone would just do what I tell them to do, everything would be ok." I manage to blurt something similar to these statements and her first response is, "Nicole we are a team. It's my fault that I double booked you and I'm sorry. Of course I'm your doctor. The hospital could be an option. It's been a really long time since I've heard you like this." "NO" I shout. She says "Ok then, I'm calling the pharmacy and I want you to start an anti-anxiety med tonight and continue it over the weekend. You are not to drive, Scott will pick it up, and I need you to stop doing everything you've committed to doing for the next few days. I will see you tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. in my office and we'll go from there."

Scott heads off to the pharmacy and about half an hour later I get a call from the pharmacy supervisor, "Are you ok, Nicole? Scott was in to pick up your meds and mentioned that you were having a rough time." The pharmacy supervisor is aware of my previous wean from the anti-anxiety med. I was touched by his concern, but more so by that fact that I was so important it required a phone call from the pharmacy supervisor. Yeah, mania is funny that way.

When I met with my psychiatrist the next morning we instantly dropped a med and she talked about adding another. I told her I would consider it. I see her again at the end of this week but have her on speed dial if need be. My husband is supportive and knows what to do if I become non-compliant. The hospital is at the back of my mind, but it's my last resort. I've done this before, I can do it again, with the support of my loved ones and some much needed rest.

Now I deal with the guilt of my behaviour and how poorly I treated my family. The snappy tone, and the way I spoke to Scott, my rock. He's amazing, and puts up with far more than any many should have to. I know I hurt his feelings, but he never gives up on me. He always has my health and best interest at heart, and sometimes I fail to acknowledge that. But, when I'm well, I make sure to let him know how amazing he truly is. I love him, not because he's always there, but because he is the most amazing person I have ever known. He is a loving father, a supportive husband and a good man. I am grateful for him, and wish that he wasn't the focus of my outbursts. I need to work on that. He doesn't deserve it, nobody does.

Comments

European stores must be smaller and less overwhelming. I always use the same one so I know where everything is.

But I identify with feeling snappy. I also have to guard against buying too much when manic. Sometimes I have a small Martini before shopping...

They're not in my experience! A two aisle store can be as bad as a ten aisle store.

Thank you for sharing your experience! I really needed this today! I also have bipolar and an amazing husband who has been putting up with me for the past four years. I know that I can get through these ups and downs with the support of my family, particularly my husband! This post reminded me that I am not alone in this struggle that I deal with on a day to day bases. Thank you again!

You are so welcome, Sarah. You are never alone. I'm happy that you have support as well. Take care.

I've a great supporting girlfriend that helps me through my bad days. It is a great feeling of help when your are down and things aren't going right.

Nicole,

This was so enlightening to read from your perspective. I have a 19 year old son who has BD, and I cannot get him to describe what he goes through when he's "going up". Our conversations are very similar to those you mention with your husband, but just saying the word hospital sends him deeper into mania.
I'm so glad you have the support of your husband, I hope being able to lean on loved ones helps, as I hope it helps my son to know he always has his family. And I think that is why we are the focus of the outbursts, it's safe.

You are probably right about your family being the focus of your son's outburst, it is safe. I do hope that when he is well, he lets you all know how valuable your are to him and his recovery. I would suggest a support group for yourself as well. It's nice to be able to talk to other caregivers who know how you feel. Take care.

Wow. Great post. You are so lucky to have such a great support system. We do not have such a great system for pysch care here in Tx. In our city of 80k, we currently do not have any available doctors taking on any new patients and my doctor of over a year still thinks my name is Melissa, it's Michelle. I constantly have to correct her especially on my prescription that she hands me on my way out of the door. But apparently, I am lucky to have her. I have never had a visit with her that lasted more than 20 minutes and I am not even sure if she looks at me when I speak. Your husband sounds like mine. We are lucky women to have such understanding guys.

I am so sorry that you aren't having the most positive experience with your doctor, but I am happy that you have your husband. Speak up at the doctor, be heard. You must be proactive in your care, and you deserve to be listened to. Take care.

Thank you for sharing. It's like you just wrote my life out. X

You're so welcome. Wishing you all the best.

Thank you so much for candidly sharing your personal experience! Tears filled my eyes, as I read it, and realized that I'm not alone in my experiences with Bipolar Disorder! Unfortunately, it was all too similar and so many parts of your experiences were almost identical to instances that I have gone through with my significant other and family and friends. Sometimes I feel so alone, like nobody understands me, or what I'm going through. Now, I realize that's not true! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! Even though every day is a struggle for us, we have to keep believing it will get better!
(If you would like to keep in touch via email or internet, my email is: purplemama24@yahoo.com)

You are never alone. I share my stories to let people know that they aren't ever alone and that someone gets it. You take care of yourself.

Thank you for sharing,this is exacl exactly what happened with me and my boyfriend last night. I was awake for 2 days and extremly irritable and I am at the guilt stage......do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the guilt? I know it is the illness but I feel horrible that my boyfriend who is so loving and caring like your husband has to deal with this anything will help tremendously. Thanks

The only thing I can suggest with handling the guilt is to acknowledge your behaviour, hold yourself accountable and keep trying to do better. We're not perfect, nobody is, but if we keep trying, and making sure to let our loved ones know how much we appreciate them, it gets easier.

I do not have a husband good or bad. My son and his dear wife watch out for me and so does my 11 year old granddaughter but nothing to the extent yopur beloved husband does for you. But hang onto him for life. He is truly your lifesaver. Bless you both.
I have a decent Dr now but last one spent 5 mins with me, charged a fortune and was flabbergasted when I fired him.. Clueless and sad!

Thank you, Nan. I'm happy that you have a support team. Keep talking and letting them know how you feel. I am blessed, thank you.

Such a great post! Having dealt with being bipolar most of my life, I still have a hard time understanding my mood states. I always associated mania with the awesome productiveness and the seemingly effortless ability to multitask and just get things done. This side though, the irritability, the frustration, is unfortuneately far more prevalent in my life these days, and learning to manage it or at least figure out what will help me and others through it is one of my biggest hurdles right now. I just had ECT and it worked wonders however now I'm starting to contemplate whether or not, I should give another go at some other medications to combat some of my symptoms. It's funny that in the hospital or therapy you learn of CBT or similar coping skills which I imagine work well with most people, but it always seems like My BP resists it alone without medication involved. I guess more study is needed hehe :)

Hi Jyreme, I still have a hard time understanding as well. It's tricky when our illnesses seem resistant. I wish you well and hope that you find something that helps. Keep talking!

My 18yr old son struggles daily as well,thanks for sharing it helped. I don't think he quit understands, I'm trying to get him to see someone.....

Hi Kim. I hope your son gets the help he needs very soon. I also suggest supports for you as well. It's tough to be a caregiver, but thank you so much for what you do. Wishing you both well.

Well, like a few of the others I too just walked through an exact scene that I have had with my husband as you were describing yours. The trippy part is my husband's name is Scott too. (I get such a kick at the littlest things sometimes lol).Honestly I don't know how anyone can put up with us. I've tried putting myself in his shoes to see what I would do and how I would react and my thoughts are not very pretty at all. When you start to list all the symptoms to this illness along with all the wonderful behaviors you rather quickly realize that you are describing the exact opposite of who you really want to be.I've done this and it has a similar effect that video taping an episode would have-very eye opening to say the least. Being diagnosed throughout the years with everyone of the mood disorders ADHD, chronic depression, bi-polar,anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD ext. I have attempted to do a lot of self help reading and the book that impacts me the most; and by this, I mean the one that I still reference to this day is DR, PHIL'S "Relationship Rescue". It is not about mental illness but it is about handling relationships which seems like us bipolars have trouble with anyhow. It helped me take a good look at myself and my actions and how hurtful I can be to others while not meaning to. That is what currently makes your scenario different from mine now a days is that I can't remember the last time I actually snapped at him. I realized I couldn't put up with this and why should he. I still get all panicky and have the need to rush on out of the store while mumbling the words of "I'm done." I can't do no more. I need air or something like that. The minute we're out and away from whatever triggered me I tell him how cool he is at handling himself during one of MY episodes. I truly wanna be like him when I grow up...I just wish it came as easy for me as it does him. But Dr Phil's book gives solutions and exercises that was the most helpful advice on behavioral issues that I've read to date. Hope this will help someone else. Please keep posting. Enjoy this blog a lot!

Hi Kimmy

Thank you so much for your book recommendation, I will be looking it up ASAP. I'm so happy that you've got a handle on your responses and reactions, it's so important to acknowledge our behaviours and try to better ourselves. Well done. All the best to you and Scott :) Thank you for reading.

Nicole

This story really touching me. I have bp2 and I hope someday I have a husband who is really kind, warm-hearted, and of course patient. Thank you for sharing your story

Thank you for sharing your story. My boyfriend is recently diagnosed bipolar and the shopping trip you described sounds a lot like our shopping trips. It's nice to know we're not the only ones who struggle like that sometimes. I've still got a ways to go, but I'm trying very hard to be supportive, learn his triggers and recognize his episodes as what they are rather than just taking it personally and getting offended. I'm also trying to find ways to suggest he take his meds when he's manic without upsetting him, and it's really hard. When he is in that frame of mind it upsets him when I even mention the medication. Any advice for a partner who is brand new to this and just wants to help all she can? Thank you, and again, thanks for sharing.

Thank for sharing your experiences, you the very blessed. I wasn't so lucky, my husband was like yours the first 5 years of our marriage unfortunately the last 2years have been hell. I recently left him and now on my own. I pray that you are luckier than i.

I can so relate to this, I have emailed it to my wife for her to read, my wife is amazing with me although sometimes I find it difficult to share how am really feeling, your blog has summed up my feelings, massive thank you:)

We have a relative with bi-polar who we love very much, its been a struggle on the outside to know whats going on and understand how to support them, but your honesty is just pure joy to us, as it helps us into your world and theres, It helps us know and understand how to be more supportive.
Not many could off opened up like you and helped us see so clearly how your life is,not one of us has a perfect mind tho, we all have quirks,I'm not sure I could open up about my quirks and share to help others, blogging is your gift to us and I thank you dearly for this insight into an illness we often want to understand , to be able to best support our loved one..
You,like us all, are so worthy of special love and care, we all just need to find our Special landing place,you can see its your partner and his landing place is you, because via this blog (from your heart) the whole world knows he's a good person to..
Sending you a hug from a stranger..a grandma..a mother of four..a mother of a daughter with Ptsd and Bpd..and a mother in law to a loved one of bi-polar2..

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I've been there many times and I thank God I have a wonderful husband and understanding family and friends. Like you said, I think all is fine with me and everyone else is to blame. My husband lets me know when I start ramping up and he calls my doctor if I refuse to do it myself. The guilt I feel is tough. I have to remember my worst moments don't define me. Thanks again for letting me know I'm not alone.

I feel your pain and embarresment - try to forgive yourself. They reason being your family loves you and see the wonderful person you are!

I get the same way when at the grocery manic. Can't think straight no idea what to buy other customers irritate me more than they should. On several occasions I have just walked out left the cart and headed to the car where I go on a tirade about the store being unorganized too crowded when in fact it's just me. I have no husband but do have a supporting family you explain this so perfect in a way I never could thank you

I was actually having a really down day today. I like to go online to try to read about others with BD so it helps me feel a little less crazy. This actually made me laugh as I was reading it bc I can just relate so much. Thank you.

I have always suffered from this illness, medicated on and off a hospitalized a few times since i was 15. Im 24 now. Im sure you know it doesnt get better. I have no family (my parents are mentally ill/addicted/abusive etc etc and sisters and mom live far away, ive been on my own since 18. That being said, my bf is my only support system and i have a feeling he cant take it anymore. I cannot control these mood swings and crippling anxiety and fear that if i express the true nature of my suffering hell up and leave. Its intense fear and paranoia. I got sober from benzos 3 monthz ago after doing them for ten years, (i know) and had to medicate for a few days to calm the bad thoughts but of course couldnt tell him or anyone as they would demonize me for using. Everything you described is me trying to do anything, i hardly have periods of normal mood and im so so tired. Im studying mental health as well and i want to help as many people as possible but just not quite sure how to deal with these episodes myself. Hope youre okay, xoxo - a bipolar girl like you

You are such a lucky woman, I hope you know that. Mostly the world is a filter and when you cross lines that make people uncomfortable, regardless of diagnoses, they move on and there is nothing you can do about it. What you've got is some serious support.

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