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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Summer Mania

The sun shines brighter these days, and the days are longer.  So many of us feel so much better as the winter days are past and we see the sun shining once again.  Some of us may come out of a long suffered depression, while some of us fight the natural urge of hypo-mania or a manic episode.  Although we love the birds sing, the flowers blooming and the warmer days, this time of year can be scary.  I for one am doing great and I can confuse this with being hypo-manic which means a less intense version of a full blown manic episode.  Its hard to tell what I'm experiencing.  If it is a more pleasant mood or a bit of mania.  So I'm keeping special watch over my mood and activities.  I feel especially social and energetic, wanting to go on adventures and do the things that depression wouldn't let me for so many months. 

I have been hospitalized two times during the summer months.  I wish to never have that happen again even though I'm thankful for help if needed.  I"ll tell you a bit of my experience during those times. Maybe you could see a bit of you in my story and get help if you need to.

It was another beautiful summer.  Blue skies, warm weather and lots of time spent with friends and enjoying the water.  I felt so high, so happy. People used to ask me what I was "on".  I always said I have a natural high.  I honestly felt invincible.  I thought I could be the mayor of the town.  Change the world and basically do something BIG.  I was a teenager at this time so that in it's self should have been a warning.  I thought everyone around me was living lower than their potential and should liven up and live.  I quit my job thinking, why am I doing this when I could be doing that?  With no consideration to my employer I never showed up for work again.  I decided to take a trip to the coast.  I had a convertible jeep that my parents were paying for.  All I had to do was provide the gas money and it never once crossed my mind that I could run out of gas and the coast was very far away.  It was extremely spontaneous.  I don't even think I packed anything and only a few people knew what I was doing.  I started off just heading in the direction I thought would lead me to the coast.  I had in my mind that it was filled with happy and loving hippies who would accept me into their "family".  I thought of drum circles and organic salads.  I couldn't wait to get there. 

Everything was incredibly beautiful.  No danger could get me.  I was floating on a cloud and felt like I was flying.  I remember picking up a hitch hiker.  I'm so glad that he turned out to be a very nice guy.  After I dropped him off at his home he payed me back with vegetables from his garden.  God was providing for me and God was with me.  I felt so close to God in such a tangible way.  I was His best friend and the center of His universe.  I knew He was taking care of me and I had nothing to fear.  I then picked up another hitch hiker who wanted to pay me back with weed.  Generous but I did not enjoy drugs at all.  Now if I had a daughter I would have been mortified if she picked up random hitch hikers, especially males.  I was young and naive.  But I was safe.  God really was watching out for me knowing that I was experiencing a mental illness.  I slept on the side of back roads.  I thought I could hear my hippy friends playing their drums and waiting for my arrival.  Only a few times did I feel scared in the dark with only a rag top protecting me from the outside world. 

I finally ran out of gas, or at least close to it.  I had brought my saxophone from high school.  I was planning on playing on the sidewalks and receive alms.  But instead I spotted a music store and sold my saxophone.  Again something my parents bought and I had no consideration for them at all.  I was again provided for this trip was ordained by God.  I filled my gas tank and bought food. 

When I did finally make it to the coast, it was magical.  Just the windy drive down to sea level felt like entering heaven.  I could almost hear the angels singing.  But once I got there I was sad.  I couldn't find my hippie family and it was not a fairy land.  It was normal and quiet busy full of normal life.  It was a let down.  I was alone.  I was disappointed.  I had no where to turn and no body to turn to.  I was deceived.  I parked my car and walked onto the beach.  A man did come up to me and appeared to be homeless.  He kept telling me about Jesus and was saying that He is us.  It was cool but I didn't quiet get was he was wanting me to hear. But he was kind enough to take me to a little church right on the beach.  He said they have free soup and sandwiches.  Of course I went.  I sat at the table visiting the couple serving me.  I excitedly told them about my trip, but they could discern that I was dangerously far from home.  I was 16 and alone and very far from home.  They decided to fill up my gas tank and told me several times to go back home.  They also took me grocery shopping so I had enough food to get me home.  But, without even thinking I was so excited to have enough gas in my car to explore more of the coast.  Everything became magical again and the high continued. 

It was spectacular.  So breathtaking.  It was heavenly.  I decided I needed a bigger car though.  I has always wanted a VW bus.  So I found a camper bus.  Test drove it and offered an exchange.  I had no idea about the papers, I thought I could just hand over the keys.  When the seller realized my naivety he had a very concerned look of his face.  I knew he thought I was crazy but I knew that I was invincible and could do anything and that I was in no danger at all. 

I remember one incident where I was looking over the edge of a cliff out onto the Pacific.  I felt as if I was a prophet and that it was the end of the world.  I had a special message for the whole earth.  I didn't even feel human.  I felt one with God.  My high continued down the coast through three states.  I still had my saxophone money and I ate very little.  After seeing all that I could see I headed back home.  I got there and again felt so high and was trying to get others to join me in changing the world.  They did not find the same enthusiasm. 

Amazingly I was able to take care of myself with angels visiting me all through out my journey.  I was manic but still taken care of.  Gods mercy was with me and He really was taking care of me. 

I do have fond memories but I look back now and could see a mania that was beyond my control.  It scared me a little bit that I was that extreme.  I knew something was off or I was just very different.

This is a somewhat successful story of mania but we are not all that lucky.  Some of us do find ourselves in major danger and go completely out of control.  Mania can be dangerous.  We must be aware of this and keep a watchful eye on our behavior.  Even ask a trusted friend to speak up if they see abnormal behavior.  With mania comes the dreads low that follows.  The high may be fun but the low can be devastating.  I sometimes feel like I had never fully recovered from the low that followed the high.

Let us keep our appointments with our doctor and therapist.  Although we may feel cured let us stay on our medications.  Don't let mania deceive you.  Manage your illness.  Be responsible.  Be safe.  Get help when needed and have a successful summer.

Love and care,
Art by Jenni Moore
Bipolar Butterfly

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