Warning Signs That a Manic Episode Is Near & Tips on How You Can Cope
To people who have never been through a manic episode, they may think that it’s something that isn’t such big deal. They may see it as a free burst of energy that could easily be controlled with will power. (If only it were that easy!) But if you are bipolar or have a close loved one who is inflicted by this disorder, you know all too well how devastating manic episodes can quickly become for the person and the people who care about them the most.
These episodes are no stranger to causing strain and damage to relationships and friendships. They can cause your minimal financial savings to dwindle. These episodes can even cost you your job. On severe occasions, for some people, these manic episodes may also require the sufferer to need inpatient hospitalization at a Behavioral Health Unit for monitoring and medication adjustments or even just for a safe place to be if psychosis were to develop.
Manic episodes aren’t something that a person with bipolar disorder can control. They can’t predict when an episode will always appear. They can’t control how long the episode stays for. For some people, these episodes might seem to happen at random while other’s will have subtle signs that an upswing is under way.
Common Signs of Mania
(Everyone experiences symptoms of mania differently because everyone’s body and brain chemistry are different. These are not all the symptoms that can occur and not everyone will have every symptom listed.)
- Abnormally elevated mood. A person in a manic episode might feel happier than normal with no apparent cause.
- Easily excitable.
- Increased energy levels.
- Feelings of euphoria or feeling like they are on top of the world.
- Feeling unusually confident in oneself and ones own abilities.
- Decreased need for sleep. This can easily be an early warning sign to pick up on when an upswing is in the works.
- Abnormally talkative.
- Rapid speech. Talking very fast, or faster than usual.
- Racing Thoughts.
- Easily Distracted.
- Poor decision making abilities.
- Excessive shopping sprees. Some people buy things and then end up having to return certain items that they have no idea why they even bought in the first pace.
- Psychosis. When a person appears to have lost touch with reality.
- Auditory and visual hallucinations.
- Increased agitation.
- Starts tons of new projects at one time but rarely completes any of them.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and you begin to notice some of these symptoms, especially a decreased need for sleep, there is a good chance that a manic episode is closing in.
Things You Can Try to Help You Cope With a Manic Episode
Just because you cannot control when a manic episode will strike does not mean that you have to be quarantined all alone until the episode passes either. There are some things out there that you can try to help you cope with these episodes.
Reach Out To Your Mental Health Care Team
Call your psych doctor and/or therapist and reach out to them. Let them know that you feel like you are heading toward a manic episode. They will be able to point you in the right direction and see if perhaps a medication needs to be adjusted or if some extra therapy sessions might be beneficial. Work with your mental health care team to try to come up with some coping mechanisms specific to you and your needs.
Take Your Medications
Some people have medications that they can take as needed to help combat certain bothersome symptoms. If you are dealing with insomnia, you might be prescribed an as needed sleep aid or you may be on an anti-anxiety medication to help with anxiety and agitation. Always be sure to take your medications exactly as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
One thing that can sometimes happen with some people when they are manic is that they stop taking their medications altogether because of how great or (in some cases) how lousy they feel. Stopping your medications is never the right answer unless your doctor physically told you to stop taking them.
In some cases, people who are manic might want to try taking extra pills but that isn’t safe to do either. Your doctor put you on a specific dosage for a reason!
Try taking up a new hobby, color, work on some arts and crafts projects. Do something that is distracting to your racing thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you complete whatever task you are starting as long as you’re distracting yourself and keeping yourself out of harms way.
When you are at your baseline mood (not feeling manic or depressed but more like your normal self), try making or buying little craft kits that you can put away and try using specifically when you get manic. Kits like Diamond Dotz can be time consuming and entertaining; something that could greatly benefit you when you are feeling manic.
Avoid Triggers That You Know Many Your Mania Worse
Sometimes when you are manic or heading toward an episode, there might be specific things such as drugs and alcohol that you might need to stay away from or perhaps even specific people or places that has the potential to make your mania much worse.
Not everyone is aware of this, but sometimes drugs and alcohol can go hand in hand with bipolar disorder. Some people like to drink when they are manic because they sometimes think it will make them feel their manic high even more or because they feel like it would help them sleep better during an episode.
About 56% of people with bipolar disorder who participated in a national survey admitted to having a drug or alcohol addiction in their lifetime, as reported by Dualdiagnosis.org. That’s over half the people who were surveyed!
This is why people with bipolar disorder need to be extra careful when partaking in drug and alcohol use. A good time can easily turn into the need to self-medicate in order to feel “better” or even “normal.”
Create & Use a Mood Tracker or Mood Journal
Keeping track of your ups, downs, and everything in between can be a vital part of learning how to get and stay mentally well. It can help show you any patterns that you may have when it comes to your moods and how you cycle. It can help you pinpoint your own triggers and teach you about the things that you need to avoid.
I created a Monthly Bipolar Mood Tracker that I have used for years for myself and I have uploaded that you may find useful. You can customize it to make it fit your own symptoms and needs and either fill it out right through Microsoft Excel or by printing it out. I believe you can even use Google Sheets.
Talk To Loved Ones That Know & Understand Your Diagnosis (Your Support Team)
When your thoughts won’t stop racing and your speech is rushed, sometimes talking with a close friend, family member, or even significant other that knows you well can be helpful when you are manic. You should always try to have some sort of support team that you can look to and call upon when you can no longer rely on yourself and your own judgement.
Sometimes our loved ones can see when we’re headed toward mania well before we even admit to not sleeping as much as usual. Sometimes our cherished loved ones can see things in us that maybe we wouldn’t have noticed or picked up on otherwise. Sometimes they can see we’ve been triggered before we even know for ourselves.
It’s always a good thing to have people you can vent to when you are not feeling like yourself.
Plus, by talking to the people that know us best compared to any old acquaintance can often times feel less pressured and less stressful than confiding in someone we have to explain our erratic behavior to. Try to find at least three people who know you well that feel comfortable with being part of your support team.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is an excellent way to get all of your personal feelings and emotions out. It’s something that is for your eyes only. When you can’t figure out how else to cope with your mania, put the pen to the paper and write for as little or as long as you would like. You don’t even have to know what you want to write about, just journal about whatever comes to your mind.
Try Out Some Mental Health Groups On Social Media
Facebook has a group for just about everything. Check out some mental health related FB groups where you can meet and chat with like-minded people who understand you and what you’re going through.
The My Bipolar Mind Facebook Group is a great place to start and they will be accepting new members again any day now!
Monitor Your Spending
Overspending is a piece of cake when you are manic. So, sometimes confiding in a close friend, family member, or partner about your spending worry’s can help you put things into perspective. If you are really worried about your money during these times, ask someone you’re close to if they could hang on to your credit cards or extra cash!
Postpone Making Any Major Decisions
When we are manic we want to do so much in such a short period of time that we may do, say, or sign up for things that we normally wouldn’t. We’re not thinking with the logical part of of brain when we are manic. No matter how great going back to school or buying a house sounds at the moment hold off of making an actual decision until you are back at your baseline and then reevaluate the situation.
Try Some Calming Activities
Try to take part in an activity that isn’t mentally boggling and that won’t speed up your already sped up mind any further. Try coloring, playing with pets, yoga, or even meditation.
You Will Be Okay
Regardless of whether or not you are newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder or received your diagnosis years ago, manic episodes can happen to anyone at any time as long as they live with a bipolar diagnosis. But knowing what to look out for can be half the battle. Keep track of your moods and learn what is normal and abnormal in regards to your symptoms and moods.
You will be okay! Every episode always eventually comes to and end.
How have you learned to cope with your manic episodes? If there is a tip that you didn’t see on this list and would like to share your wisdom with others, feel free to leave a comment below!
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Check out some of our other posts below:
- It’s Been A While…
- Let’s Welcome Jess to the My Bipolar Mind Blog Family!
- It’s Been A While… But I Am Still Here
- Jess’s Story: My Ups & Downs
- Time Flies When You’re Dealing With Insomnia
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.