How Mania Feels

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Mania.

Have you had it? I never did. I do understand from others, though, that it can sometimes seem like a pretty cool thing. Like you’re on top of the world. Except being manic, in the end, is not a good thing.

Here’s how author and bipolar disorder sufferer Kay Redfield Jamison explains it [note: in this reference when she refers to "high" she means the high of mania, not drugs]:

“When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity.”

Have you been through mania? Did you avoid being treated because you liked the energy or feelings it gave you? How did mania impact your experience of pregnancy or the postpartum period? Let us know.

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    UGH. I did, but because I knew how detrimental it was to my brain and how significant a sign of how sick I was it was, I could not find any "joy" in it. The good news is that this symptom actually was the last straw that prompted me to get help after L1 and was the first symptom to appear in the hospital day 3 after L2, which also prompted me to immediately put my contingency plan into place. It was scary, but I needed to be scared to reach out for the help I so desperately needed. In both cases I fully recovered and those racing thoughts have not reoccurred.

  2. While I experienced these highs for a few days at a time and then the incredible lows where all I wanted to do was lay in bed and couldn't focus on anything, I didn't know that what I was suffering from was mania.Having gone through PPD and taking meds for it, I thought what I was feeling the past 9 mos was just due to anxiety and horrible postpartum PMS symptoms…it wasn't until last week when I saw a new psych that I realized I was experiencing hypo mania that was cycling like crazy. The racing thoughts, the anxiety, the feeling super high one minute and like I could do anything and then being angry and hating life the next-feeling so out of control all the time was so scary-I just reached the point where I wanted to give up on life because I needed relief from it-it was suffocating me slowly. I couldn't even pray, so my faith was taking a hit. My mind always needed a distraction. That's what drove me to walk into the VA hospital-I was scared I was going to lose it, and my ability to take care of my kids. I'm sooooo glad I went because now I'm on a mood stabilizer, off the antidepressant (which was causing part of the problem) and I can feel the difference already. Motherhood is finally getting manageable again. I'm out of the typical postpartum period but I'm finally on a road to recovery that looks promising and real answers/ solutions. Thank you for posting this. I think its an area of PPD that needs to be highlighted more. I pray for the other women out there who are suffering and may not even realize there's an explanation for what they're going through.

  3. I have. My psychiatrist blew me off. He said my depression was lifting and I was just getting to be my old self again. I told him he was wrong, this isn't "me" or the old me. So I had to ride it out. Luckily, I'm in an in between stage right now where I'm not in a complete high and I didn't crash. It seems to be withering slowly. But the descriptions above? Spot on. For me it was especially: "Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible." Which isn't good if your husband isn't "in the mood". I can see where this would lead to infidelity in some instances. Sheesh, I could keep going, to me mania is a wonderful feeling.

  4. I'm bipolar with an anxiety disorder, on top of the PPD and PPA I had after my son was born … it can really complicate things.
    One of my manic activities is exercise … I really feel like I can work out all day, sleep three hours, barely eat, and continue doing that until the end of all time. While pregnant, I became manic in my third trimester and was exercising every night of the week. I still managed to gain 67 lbs while my son, who has several health issues, was only 6 lbs 12 oz at birth. Had I not been exercising maybe I would have gained more — all I knew was I wanted to stop gaining so much weight and I lived with a CONSTANT fear of preeclampsia, which I ended up getting anyway.
    It can be a great feeling — you get a lot done in a small amount of time, which sort of makes up for the lows where you don't (or really can't) do anything but the bare minimum to stay alive. But generally I always look back and wonder why I made a lot of the choices I did while manic because they're not really that well thought out, rational, or even smart.
    I don't think the euphoria can ever really make up for the deep depression that also comes with bipolar, but for a minute it's nice to feel something other than sadness, anger, bitterness, hopelessness, and all that. For a flash, you almost feel normal.

  5. Survivor says:

    Thank you for posting this. I needed to read this right now.

  6. I have often wondered about this and really appreciate this post! What I'm wondering is if the mania kicks in due to some circumstance or event– like you made a big splash at work or started an exciting affair. Or do these moments come and go without much external explanation? Or is it too nuanced to narrow down like that? (Maybe an event inspires it but then it takes on a life of it's own?)It sounds a little bit like the experience of using cocaine.

  7. PPPSurvivor says:

    I had it twice in my life – the first time worse and the second time was after my firstborn's birth and it was mixed with postpartum psychosis. It was unreal. Now if we could all be just hypo-manic, that might not be a bad thing! :)

  8. Rachel @ LifeHoldingStill says:

    The high can be so high, but the crash comes fast and furious as though you’ve been thrown off a cliff onto sharp, jagged rocks below. My husband knows better now, to see the signs of the high and start an intervention before it gets worse… because the higher you go, the crash is twice as low. Having PPD just magnifies the lows, and having Postpartum Anxiety just magnifies the highs. To swing from those high and low extremities, and especially to do so quickly can be scary to watch for little kids, and will just totally freak out any adults who are not understanding what’s going on — let alone completely exhausting to the person going through it. Talk about feeling crazy!
    When he first started helping me recognize that I was going on a high, I remember crying once “What is wrong with feeling good!? I never feel good and finally I do and you’re telling me I’m bad for it!” The hard part is that you feel either so extremely low or so extremely high. You never feel a normal, happy, energetic self, and you beat yourself up more and more because you still can’t function well, still can’t be consistent, and still see yourself through torturous eyes.
    Blessedly, there is help. My sister bought a bottle of Metagenix Serenagen (an herbal formula – you can get it online), and when the high is just starting, or the anxiety is beginning to set in, my husband will give me two tablets and sit with me and hold me and talk me down. Taking them daily on a consistent basis, along with 5HTP mood stabilizer (you can get it from Costco) has helped tremendously.
    I don’t pretend to be a doctor, or to say it will work for everyone… I took traditional meds for a long time before I weaned off of them and had to find something else to help. No matter what course of treatment you take… get a professional involved. Get the help you need. You’re worth it.
    It feels good to feel almost normal again. It feels good to feel like a version of myself I can like again.

  9. Geneviève says:

    I had it for the first time right after the birth of my son. The "high" lasted around three weeks and then I started feeling very bad. I experienced a psychotic episode that really scared me and my husband. I got hospitalised and stayed at the hospital for a week. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder of postpartum onset with psychotic features. Nobody in my family as ever been diagnosed with bipolar disorder so it was a bit of a shock ! With medication, it took me a few weeks to recover. Then three months later, I started to fell depressed so my psychiatrist added an anti depressant to my treatment. It's been almost two years now since my hospitalization. I am still taking one medication to prevent manic episode since I recently experienced a mood swing (hypomania). I am working full time and am living a normal life even though I am more sensitive to stress now. I have to make sure I get enough sleep and exercise on a regular basis. I am taking a day at a time. And even though my postpartum experience has been difficult, my husband and I are planning to have a second child when the time will be right.