Manic Bipolar Disorder – An Inflated Despair?
My therapist told me that manic bipolar disorder is more than just the polar opposite of bipolar depression. He thinks that the have the same cause… a feeling of low self esteem and worthlessness.
It’s just that with bipolar depression you become totally bemired, sunken in your feelings of inadequacy and self hate. But with bipolar mania, a person instead escapes into a fantasy land of over inflated ego… a world of now, where the only thing that counts is me and what I want.
Why should I always get what I want, and why am I the center of the universe? Well, in bipolar mania a person can be quicker, need less sleep or none at all. My therapist has told me the story (three times I think) of his first bipolar patient who could run 20 miles every night, without any sleep. (My therapist is a runner, so this particularly impressed him.)
They are quicker to respond with the one-liner, can be more creative and inventive. But those really aren’t enough reasons… and sometimes they aren’t there. So a person with manic bipolar disorder may choose to go grandiose. Maybe he’s a senator, or the president. Or chosen by God, or the son of God. Or God. Or Satan.
Whatever floats his boat at the time. Take a look at my story on the Bipolar 1 disorder page.
A Lack of Awareness
There’s a really great psychiatrist, Dr. Jay Carter, who has an interesting take on manic bipolar disorder. You can see one of his talks here: Bipolar Light.com. He had a lot of experience with bipolar mania and manic symptoms because he was raised by a bipolar mother. (Actually, so was I… but she never had bipolar episodes, just bipolar depression, and some mood swings.)
He describes a person with bipolar mania as having part of their brain shut down… the part of the frontal lobes that develops during adolescence and gives a person the ability to “watch themselves.” A term for this is “meta-consciousness” or the ability to be aware of your awareness.
So a person with bipolar mania has in effect gotten rid of his conscience. This is one of my definitions of a crazy person… someone who does not have awareness of themselves. You don’t actually have to have bipolar disorder for that!
See Manic Symptoms and Manic Episode for more information on what the bipolar mania side of the equation is like for someone who has the combination of mood swings known as bipolar disorder.