Manic is the dirty word of mental health. I hear celebrities and the news throw words around like depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation like they’re everyday things. But frankly, Manic is still a scary word and an idea that makes people uncomfortable.
It makes me uncomfortable, and I’ve experienced it.
I remember when I got out of the hospital and was talking with my sister. And she was saying that it must be pretty cool to be so energized and imaginative… she had no idea. I broke it to her that it’s actually the most frightening, mind bending experience you can imagine. I don’t wish it upon anyone. My mania was paired with severe paranoia and although I only remember bits and pieces I remember thinking I was fighting for my life. Imagine believing you are truly fighting to survive for days on end – it was taxing, mentally and physically. And at the end of it all you are NO hero… not at all…
It’s not somewhere I willingly want to return. Granted, I don’t WANT to be depressed either. Neither are good! But, mania is a whole other ballgame. You don’t find as many articles about it either. But in my research I have gleaned a few tips and tricks to try to curb the mania and keep you from taking off like a rocketship.
First of all, you’re probably not sleeping. Secondly, you might not mind it. You’re probably starting to feel kind of creative, and happy, and thank god you aren’t depressed. I don’t blame you… but it’s not good on your body. They haven’t been able to agree on a reason we have these swings but my hunch is that it’s our body’s way of coping with severe stress, like a 3rd option to the “fight or flight” response. Maybe it’s “fight, flight, or frantic.”
How can mania be a survival instinct? Mania can create sudden and extreme changes in your life story. It is often on the heels of a life altering event. And high achievers often fall prey to the mania. In some people perhaps it’s our bodies last recourse to truly make us STOP whatever we are doing. What comes on the heels of mania are feelings of shame, remorse, fear, isolation, and overall this feeling of “what the f*ck!”
After my first manic episode I remember thinking “what do you believe when you cannot trust your own thoughts?” Think about that. If you’ve never experienced mania before you are probably one of those blessed people who believes that whatever you think is the truth. Well, hate to break it to you, but they’re just thoughts and a lot of them are liars and frauds.
On some level I’m glad it made me think about what I think, but it can be exhausting. Oh, that amazing life changing idea I just had? Is it genius? Probably not – probably just a manic idea. Oh, that trip you want to take? Is it a manic idea? I’m not sure… should I, or should I not? You get the idea. You end up wasting time overanalyzing EVERY.LITTLE.THING. And it’s not like I wasn’t an overanalyzer before – but now I had to analyze my analysis… are you still following? Perhaps I digress.
You need it. Stop fighting it. First, you need to want sleep. Otherwise all of these following recommendations will be a waste of your time. So, your body is revved up and wants to go, go, go… so how do you slow, slow, slow…
- De-screen your life. Get off the TV, computer, phone, whatever it is that keeping your mind running. Maybe it’s even books or magazines that are sparking your fire. Try to peel off of these things and breathe deeply.
- Do some breathing exercises. Your mind will not want to slow down but just take a few deep breaths to try to refocus.
- Melatonin, zinc, magnesium, tryptophan are all supplements known to help you sleep. GABA is also known to be the “valium” of the amino acids world so if you’re experiencing anxiety as well, that might help.
- Cortisol Manager from Integrative Solutions – works to calm your adrenal glands and lower your cortisol which could be a contributor to the mania
- Lithium Orotate – that’s right, you can order it online, no prescription required. I only like to take it when I’m feeling manic, otherwise I feel like it makes me a little slow and uncreative, but no major side effects and slows my racing thoughts down
- Branch Chain Amino Acids – why does this work? It reduces Tyrosine availability to the brain. It’s backed by research. People smarter than me had the idea but I can speak from experience that it can help. 
- Choline bitartrate 
- N-acetyl cysteine 
Reminder – I’m not a doctor. If you’ve tried all your bag-o-tricks and you still can’t get that calming night sleep that you need, it might be time to call the doc and get whatever means necessary to keep things from escalating.
A few more tips for better sleep hygiene:
- Get up and go to bed about the same time each day. We are run by rhythms that our body tries to keep in check but in a world where lights are always on, it is much harder. But by keeping a steady schedule your body will start to adjust to the routine. Routine is a GOOD thing. (I know bipolar people, like me, don’t like to hear that, haha)
- Don’t sleep in. On a similar note, when you’re depressed I know you want to sleep in. Been there, done that. But it backfires. It will be much harder to fall asleep later that day because your body hasn’t had a chance to burn enough calories and be ready for sleep again.
- Be able to blackout any lights in your bedroom. Yes, every single little light can disrupt your sleep. From your TV box, to alarm clock, to the street light peeking through your blinds, to the smoke detector – get some black tape and black curtains and block it all out. Make your room as dark as it can possibly be.
- Wind down at least an hour before sleep. Routine can really help here. Maybe you turn off all but a few accent lamps, read a book, drink some chamomile tea, and get into your PJ’s. Start to let your body and mind know sleep is coming – allow your body to create that much needed Melatonin which is triggered by darkness.
- Don’t exercise late. Exercise is really good for your health but if you’re sensitive to stimulants like many bipolar people are then exercising too late in the day could be causing more harm than good. Try to exercise in the morning if you can.
- Keep it quiet. Any sounds like a washing machine or dishwasher could be keeping you awake. I love having our puppies in the bedroom but I also know it’s hurting my sleep… I know silence is preferable. If you can’t do anything about that maybe a white noise machine or ear plugs can help.
- Wash your face, brush your teeth, maybe even take an Epsom Salt bath with a few essential oils to really let your mind and body relax.
If you are bipolar, you have to keep your sleep sacred. Maybe you need to go home before the rest of your friends to get a good night sleep. Maybe an “all nighter” study session is great for your friends but not for you. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, but you are SPECIAL. That means with all of the amazing and wonderful things you bring to this world, you also need special care. Your sleep is your #1 health asset, so get some! And hopefully with that good night sleep your mania will subside and you will start to level out again so you can keep on living your Better Bipolar life.
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12611783. Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Mar;182:210-3.
Effects of a branched-chain amino acid drink in mania. Scarna A1, Gijsman HJ, McTavish SF, Harmer CJ, Cowen PJ, Goodwin GM.
 https://www.solgar.co.il/media/16861/choline-solgar-bipolar-biolpsych-1996.pdf Choline in the Treatment of Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder: Clinical and Neurochemical Findings in Lithium-Treated Patients Andrew L. Stoll, Gary S. Sachs, Bruce M. Cohen, Beny Lafer, James D. Christensen, and Perry F. Renshaw
 J Psychiatr Res. 2015 Jun;65:71-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.04.011. Epub 2015 Apr 18. The effects of n-acetylcysteine and/or deferoxamine on manic-like behavior and brain oxidative damage in mice submitted to the paradoxal sleep deprivation model of mania. Arent CO1, Valvassori SS2, Steckert AV2, Resende WR2, Dal-Pont GC2, Lopes-Borges J2, Amboni RT2, Bianchini G2, Quevedo J3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25937502