Bipolar can bring on mania which brings up a whirlwind of thoughts and connections that are nearly impossible to control while your mind is up though. A song that you’ve heard a hundred times before is speaking about you. Little snippets of things you read are now clues revealing your true identity and what you are to do next. Delusions can take you from being average to believing you’re an all knowing entity like Jesus Christ. It feels pretty damn good to be manic and when I say good, I mean it’s better then any drug you could ever take.
Just because mania feels good doesn’t mean we want to be there. The reason being is it can be dangerous. You’re more susceptible to risky behaviors like spending boatloads of money, doing hard drugs, being promiscuous, and engaging in other reckless behavior like driving too fast. The outcomes of these behaviors give us consequences that can last far longer than the manic high that we have. For me there was paralysis and debt. For others, they may lose grip of reality forever.
So how do we fight against the manic mind? Psychiatrists try to put an end to this stream of thoughts through finding the right balance of medications. Psychologists question you and help you challenge your thought process to get you grounded with reality.
What about the other people offering support or coming into contact with those suffering from the delusions that can occur during mania? I have found that through all those that supported me, the best help came from those that could just listen and guided me with questions with compassion. They would never say they believe you are Jesus for example. They also would never say that you are wrong either.
There are reasons why each approach is wrong. To tell someone that you believe their reality to be true will only make them hold onto their delusion longer. To tell someone you don’t believe in their delusion will drive them away and erode trust. You have to remember that this reality they truly believe to be true. So if you don’t get on board with their reality they are going to push you outside of those that they trust. Remember that they are searching for believers that affirm their reality. Because all they want is for the idea of their reality to be true.
When you are manic you like to talk and you talk rapidly. When you’re a support there to listen, ask questions, and guide a conversation, it’s hard to have any control of the outcome. It is difficult to say the least to see someone you love out of their mind. If it’s their first manic episode and they’re newly diagnosed bipolar, then it’s enough to make you want to break down and cry. Maybe they did so much to hurt you leading up to full-blown mania that their actions were unforgivable. You must remember when you’re listening to the madness that the person that you know and love is still there. That they can heal and come back to their normal self. They will make amends eventually and their thought process will come back to normal. The healing time varies, but you have to just hold on and be there.
So while painful to listen to this person that sounds like someone you no longer know who may have hurt you along the way is tough, it is crucial. It is crucial that you treat them with compassion and don’t make them feel like an outsider. The last thing you want to do is make them feel crazy. To offer support is to listen, ask the right questions, and connect them to mental health professionals to do the rest. As a family member or friend you are going to be doing a majority of the heavy lifting though.
So what are the right types of questions to ask? You want to ask questions that are going to get them to question their reality without raising suspicion. You have to be creative with your questioning so that each day they lose hope and believe and start to live in reality. It’s tough to do and it can be tricky. This is what professionals do best, but since family and friends are there a majority of the time, they must at least try their best to do this.
Mania is a tough mindset to come out of, but with the right medication, continued check-ins with your psychologist and psychiatrist, and appropriate support from those that you love, you can start living a happy, healthy life again. The scary thing is that a lot of people don’t have a strong support system. So many bridges are burned leading up to and during a manic episode. If you’re reading this, please don’t hold grudges against the mentally ill of they go through an episode and hurt you. We need to keep our hearts and minds open to those suffering from mental illness so they can heal. That is the only way that there will be hope.
So be there and offer your support. Remember your loved one is still in there. If you’re bipolar and struggling remember, recovery is possible. Say thank you and I love you to those who listen to you. Appreciate your supports and hold them close. The next time you’re in the throes of a manic episode you’re going to need your supports. For those of you that are the supports please keep your hearts and minds open and never give up on those that you love when their mind whirls out of control. In the end, the family member or friend you know or love will be back to their normal self. For that, the world will be a better place.