Mania: Red bull ain’t got nothing on this. You’re flying, man. 110mph down the freeway, racing by the cars that seem to be going almost slow motion next to you. The spacebar in your brain is broken and the tape recorder is on 1.5-2x speed.
You’re getting things done, you can’t stop, and you can’t get tired. You’re a fucking superhero. But then you realize, eventually, that you’re not actually getting things done. You’re spending only a few minutes on each project before you’re distracted by something else. Your mind is running too fast to stay focused, and anxiety can set in. You panic, and the panic triggers either stronger mania or depression. It’s a tossup.
Depression: Imagine being at the bottom of a hole. The sides are too steep for you to even attempt to climb, the top is too high to jump.
The hole is slowly, very slowly filling with water and you’re too dense to float or swim. You’re utterly hopeless. There’s no way out, and you know, that no matter what you do or what you try you’re going to die anyway so what’s the point?
First you fight. You scramble, you claw at the sides of the hole until your fingers are bleeding, but eventually you give up. And you find yourself sitting at the bottom of this hole with your own tears adding to the water that’s slowly drowning you.
Hypomania: This is what we all love. You’re running high speed in a low gear, you’re in control, and you know it. It’s beautiful. Your focus is impeccable, you think faster than anyone around you, and you can work until everyone else drops. You probably fuel it with caffeine and nicotine to keep it going, to keep the high. But, no matter how great it feels, now matter how wonderful you feel, there’s a little voice in the back of your head that tells you “It’s going to end. It’s going to end and you know it.”
Then there are mixed episodes. You’re energetic. You’re anxious. You’re practically manic–except there are no good feelings. You feel out of control, and though you’re running on a higher gear than anyone, all you can think about is how bad you want to die. At the same time, you feel like you can just keep going forever and nothing can stop you–but you desperately wish something would. You’re sick of it. Your mind can’t stop and in your head there’s just a little voice that starts out quietly repeating, over and over “I just want to die.” Slowly, this voice gets louder and louder and faster and faster until it’s all there is.
This phase is the most dangerous for me. I’ve got the motivation and the energy to actually do something dangerous and regrettable. When I’m just depressed, most times I can’t care enough to actually do anything dangerous because I can’t find a point in either living or dying. Here, I know that I hate what’s around me, and I want it to end.
That’s my personal experience. And for me, I can hit any one of these at any time. I may be manic one day, depressed the next, then mixed two days later. You never know how you’re going to feel one minute to the next.