Many people feel conflicted about being treated for bipolar disorder. On the one hand, it’s nice to finally feel a sense of control over your life. And people generally don’t miss feeling depressed. But what about mania? Mania can feel fun and exciting. The thought of having to give that up can make the other symptoms of bipolar disorder seem a lot more bearable. You may even be tempted to stop treatment so that your mania will come back.
So how can you come to terms with getting treatment—and what can you do if you start to miss your mania?
[I]f you have had stars at your feet and the rings of planets through your hands… it is a very real adjustment to blend into a three-piece-suit schedule.
What do you like about it?
First, recognize what exactly it is that you like. It might help to make a list. Does mania make you feel more productive, attractive, creative, connected? Do you sometimes feel like your manic self is your “best self”? Have you learned to define yourself in terms of what you do when you’re manic?
What are the downsides of mania?
Even though mania can be lots of fun, it has its downsides too. Do you have trouble remembering what you did when you were manic? Do you spend money you don’t have? Do you lose touch with reality (psychosis)?
I love the creativity that comes with [mania], but if I don’t catch it in time, I become psychotic.
Make a list of these too. Now you’ve got a nice “pros and cons” list that can help you make the best decisions about your treatment.
Find new ways to bring out your best self.
Just because your mania is decreased or eliminated, doesn’t mean you can no longer be creative, productive, or connected. It might take some work to channel those parts of you without mania to help out… But once you learn how, you’ll be able to do it more consistently. And that consistency will allow you to accomplish things that severe mania and depression held you back from in the past!
Allow yourself to grieve.
Still, there are likely some things about your mania that you’ll have to leave behind completely. That’s hard to come to terms with. Allow yourself to feel sad about it. Many people who have been in recovery for a long time still miss their mania from time to time—but they’ve also learned how to live a more stable and happy life in the long run.