May is National Mental Illness month, and I’ve been receiving lots of emails about the importance of raising awareness this month. I recently watched Silver Lining Playbook (lots of language and crude scenes, I’m not endorsing the movie), and was impressed by the way that they demonstrated someone with bipolar mania. When someone with bipolar disorder is manic, they have excessive energy and often experience very little sleep. In the movie, the man stays up all night and finds nothing wrong with waking up his parents at 3:00 AM to tell them about a book he read. Sound crazy? It’s actually pretty normal behavior for someone who is manic.
I can remember Michael waking me up around 3:00 AM to tell me that the day was passing me by, and that I was lazy and needed to get up. He’d crank up the music and turn on all the lights, making it virtually impossible to get sleep. Combine one manic man with a sleep deprived wife and it’s not a pretty picture.
Another symptom of mania is grandiose thinking. Michael was convinced that God had told him that we were to buy a million dollar home (despite the fact we were living on a missionary’s budget). He insisted that I just didn’t have enough faith, but that God would provide the money so that he could buy this house. He even visited its owners and convinced them that he was working on getting the money.
Hyperactivity, irritability, spending sprees, and sometimes psychosis can all accompany bipolar mania. To the outside world, someone who is manic may appear to be the life of the party — full of energy and creativity. To the people closest to them, the mania breeds chaos and destroys relationships.
The good news is that bipolar disorder can be treated. Many people fail to see a psychiatrist due to fear or stigma, but with the proper balance of medications and counseling, many people who suffer from bipolar disorder go on to live normal, healthy lives. If you or someone you love struggles with this, please, please seek help. The following website is a great resource on bipolar disorder: http://www.dbsalliance.org