Bipolar Disorder Community
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1310468 tn?1274867525

Can anyone describe a manic episode?

Hello all,

I'm so glad there's a community like this available to help people!

I'm wondering if anyone can help me to understand what a manic episode of bipolar disorder feels like.  I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder about five years ago, but am being reassessed at present as the timing doesn't seem to fit anymore - this year I felt fine through the winter but am now feeling very low in late spring, which is all wrong - and bipolar disorder seems to be on the table now.

Essentially I've got myself into a right mess because back in February/March time I quit my job; a change that had been coming for a while, but the job I took to replace it I chose on little more than a whim - I literally just took the attitude that I'm good at what I do, and although a new company might be a bit of culture shock to start with there was no reason that I wouldn't be able to do the job.  As it turns out, I could do the job but I absolutely hated it; I've now moved on again, but in the couple of months I lost there I earned very little and have left myself in financial trouble.

Anyway, my doctor asked around what had been happening in my life recently, and although I hadn't made the connection myself my rash decision about changing job also coincided with a period - about eight weeks or so - during which I was spending money I didn't have, exercising two-three times per day (I hate exercise, I usually struggle to manage more than a couple of times a week), sticking to a healthy-eating plan far more easily than usual, and sleeping no more than three hours per night without missing it.

My GP thinks this was a manic episode, while I think that may just be what I'm like when I'm not depressed; I don't remember feeling careless or invincible, just very optimistic - which makes a pleasant change!  Although it's left me in a mess, I do think I'm capable of making foolish decisions without assigning them to some life-changing mental disorder.

Can anyone with experience tell me what they think please?

Many thanks.
12 Responses
1167245 tn?1353882100
From what you've described, it is possible that you were experiencing at least a hypomanic episode. It is also possible that you were not, but the thing that raises a red flag for me was when you mentioned only needed to sleep 3 hours a day. This is one of the hallmark signs of a hypo/manic episode, and when these things happen to someone who has had depressive episodes in the past, bipolar disorder is almost always considered.

I went through kind of a similar thing, actually. I had experienced several severe depressions with times in between where I felt better than normal; I thought it was merely what I was now like when I wasn't depressed. A lot of times, hypomania does not cause a whole lot of noticeable damage, and that's why it often goes undiagnosed for so long. People just don't think they need to seek help, because why would they? They feel just great! They're no longer depressed, they don't need to spend time in bed, they can stay up getting things done. Looking back, I was spending a lot of money, doing dangerous, risky, and really uncharacteristic things, and I thought I was just pretty gifted and at one with the universe. My friends noticed and I actually lost a few because of my irritability and my arrogance. My diagnosis came a year or two later, when an episode of hypomania turned into what is called a "mixed episode", where mania and depression occur at the same time. This turned out to be very scary and dangerous, and I had to be hospitalized for it. At that point, while going over my history and reviewing my symptoms, they concluded that I most likely had bipolar type II, like what your doctors are suggesting.

The line between mania and hypomania are sometimes hard to define; what it comes down to is a matter of severity. This seems like kind of a subjective thing, and it kind of is. But typically manic episodes cause far more damage to the person's life (relationships, work, finances, etc. etc.) and are overall just more disrupting. Can you maybe ask some people you're close with who saw you during this time period about what their impressions were? Sometimes it's helpful to talk to other people, to see if they thought you were acting out-of-character. We all have a different "baseline", so it's really important to establish that with the doctors and then go from there to see what behaviors, thoughts, and activities were NOT baseline.

You mentioned some paranoia, and this is something that has happened to me in more recent (mixed) episodes. Because of this, my psychiatrist is considering that it reached a full manic state and that I therefore am "more than bipolar II", but I'm not really sure. I certainly wasn't acting in any way that would ever be considered normal, but at the time I couldn't reason out of the feeling that there were cameras planted everywhere to spy on me, even in my own house. I was extremely agitated, full of rage, and couldn't keep up with my own thoughts. I was violent sometimes and I tried to "run away" several times (I don't live with parents, I just would try to run away from my apartment and my life). This unfortunately culminated in an overdose and another hospital stay. As you can see, the thing about mania and hypomania is that every person experiences it in a slightly different way, and every episode will probably have different characteristics.

So, I guess it's a tough question! It seems like you certainly do fit some of the "criteria", and it's now just a matter of determining just how severely the behavior impacted the things in your life. In the meantime, check out some sites about bipolar disorder (there are some posted in the "welcome" thread on this forum to get you started). One I've found particularly useful for bipolar type II is this: http://www.psycheducation.org/
Definitely check that one out. Keep us posted!

1255530 tn?1269871219
it sounds to me like a manic episode or hypnomanic episode. Iv had a full blown manic episode and its not pretty. usually a manic episode is just like what u described about your symptoms everyone is different though. usually though untreated we turn full blown manic and its not pretty. I was completely ocd, I had the recording thing going on in my head where everything repeated itself alot till it moved on to the next subject then the recorder as i call it started on that. I had invasive unwanted thoughts. The thought of killing myself would go through my head for instance but I didnt want to die. so it was an intrusive thought that was repetitive. I was very tense to the piont  of making marks on my self from gripping things my rings made indentures in my fingers and I didn't notice till they where really bad. If your manic this is the type of thing they wont want u to progress into. while these where my symptoms while fully manic it might not be the same for everyone and a lot aren't as bad as me. I do have the visual hallucinations also when Im fully manic. The doctor will want to keep u from being manic cause this sort of thing and the poor decisions sometimes we make.
1255530 tn?1269871219
now just a manic phase that's not so out of control that I can function is easy but not to recognize. it's kinda tricky for me yet. I get happy even hi feeling. want to go do all sorts of things cause I have all this energy and think I can concur the world. I want to spend money and have sex alot. im much more social. I have social anxiety so its nice to get out and be so happy and outgoing everyone seems to enjoy my company. I also suffer from the rage feeling that can happen when manic. so one minute im fine the next I can flip the script on u for something small. then right back to happy again. I would go to your local book store and find a book or read up online about it as im only telling you how it is for me. I have 4 huge books to read and a small one so I dont think Ill be looking up anything on bipolar anymore. That was an obsession for me when I first was diagnosed which the doc. said was common. now I need a new hobby witch I recon is psychology  books cause Thats what I got hehe fun fun. who goes to read school books that's not in collage ? me for one lmao. ps U can sit there at most bookstores and read want u need to read drink coffee and put the book back as I have spent a 100 dollars on books for my disorder its 20 dollars a book
1310468 tn?1274867525
Hi Shay,

Thanks for your reply.  I think they're looking at Bipolar II, specifically because I didn't have full-blown mania (although, thinking about it, I did have a few days when I was oddly paranoid, although it seemed rational at the time - would a few days mean anything out of a period of weeks?) but was acting rashly and out-of-character - and, as you have pointed out, made a few very poor decisions.

Apparently the fact that I've slid from this "manic" phase into hellish depression is also typical, but from what you're saying it would be more usual to progress to full mania?  This is so confusing!  How did you get diagnosed?


1310468 tn?1274867525
Hi Moonpanda,

Thanks for your reply - that's a very in-depth view, I appreciate you taking the time.

OK, so your paranoia thing is ringing bells actually; I spent two evenings at home alone absolutely CONVINCED someone was going to tow my car away - to the point where I was hopping up off the sofa to check it was still there literally every two minutes and every time there was a noise outside. This was linked to the fact that I hadn't paid for it for a couple of months (another stupid decision that's got my doctor wondering - I still can't work out what my rationalisation was there!), but still doesn't seem rational in retrospect.

What's a mixed episode?  I haven't mentioned the paranoia to my doctor (I'd completely forgotten about it until I was writing the comment above) so I suppose I'd better, but I don't understand how you can by manic and depressed at the same time.

There is one other thing too, which I now think may be connected.  At the same time as the insomnia and insane exercise, I was also obsessed with a particular actor, who I'd never been very concerned about before; I thought he was quite good and moderately attractive, but nothing more.  But during that time I must have spent a good couple of hundred pounds on DVDs of his films (again, not wise given the job situation) and I watched them obsessively.  Have you ever heard of anything like that, or was that just some weirdo coincidence?  I don't feel much interest in said actor anymore, which is why I'm wondering if the timing is more than coincidental!

I'm going to have a look at that website you've recommended now; thanks again for your reply, I hope you're OK with your condition at the moment and that we'll talk again.

Hugs. xxxx
Avatar universal
I'm not an expert, but being Bipolar II I can tell you what I've experienced.  I believe they were hypomanic episodes.  I've never had the euphoric, high-energy episodes that many people have.  I did display other symptoms, like spending alot of money, making impulsive decisions, being irritable and argumentative and even violent.  I've thrown things at my husband, like a full bottle of soda and an onion.  I put my hand through a window and hid in the backyard from the police for an hour.  I'd focus on the computer, staying up until 2 am.  My substance use would escalate.  So my episodes were not pleasant.  They were very self-destructive.  And you mention obsession; I deal with this one often.  And paranoia, thinking people don't like me and I'd obsess about a certain song, playing it over and over again or an actor or TV show.  I used to think I couldn't be bipolar because I didn't have the pleasant energetic highs but I learned that what I had was hypomania which really stinks.  I hope you find your answers.
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