Mania and recovering from mania are by far the most difficult two processes I’ve ever been through. I was 21-years-old and in college and by most accounts felt pretty good about where I was headed in life. Life wasn’t perfect, but I felt in control and at the time that was good enough for me. I was not on track to graduate in four years, but to me, that was okay because I was still in college. I had a roommate, but I thought at least I wasn’t living at home. I battled depression but was in therapy. Everything was just okay. Mania came along and shattered every illusion that I had created for myself to feel just okay. Looking back, I can see that it wasn’t just a psychotic break, but a breakdown of everything I’d ever known to be true for myself. Now I can see so many factors that played a part, but most importantly I understand what mania taught me.
- Mania taught me compassion. Before my manic episode, I hadn’t gone through anything significant. I felt that people created their own problems and therefore had to come up with their own solutions. Whatever happened in between their problem and their solution was just their problem. I had never seriously taken into consideration all of the issues that are outside of one’s control. Recovering from mania taught me that none of us are immune to being knocked down and sometimes you need help getting up. I now look at the problems that plague all of us every single day with empathy, not indifference.
- Mania taught me to always be prepared for anything. I had always been in control or at least that’s what I had fooled myself into thinking. I set the pace for my life, and every little thing was up to me. Every day was predictable. However, like life mania taught me that you don’t know what’s going to come out of thin air and hit you. Both life and insanity are so unpredictable. They both taught me to be prepared for anything. For me, being prepared means doing everything in my power to take care of myself. This means taking care of my body, mind, and spirit. If I control how I feel by sticking to my medication regimen, exercising and keeping an open line of communication with God, I am more equipped to endure the problems that arise that are out of my control. That is how I stay prepared.
- Mania taught me how resilient I am. After recovering from mania, it is clear to me that I can go through the fire and rise like a Phoenix. There were times during my manic episode and recovery that I thought I’d never return to who I was and to a certain extent that was true. I emerged a better person, more capable than before. Now when dealing with life’s ups and downs, I often refer back to mania as a reference point. I frequently say to myself, “If you can survive mania, you can survive this.” Just knowing that I have been to the depths of despair and being able to reflect on that time, gives me the ability to go forward unafraid and more equipped to not live in the land of okay, but bask in the beauty of rising again.