I have a confession to make. I enjoyed the hell out of my manic episodes! They were destructive and soul destroying but I have never in my life felt so high and so energetic. It’s like a drug. You feel ten foot tall and completely bullet proof. Nothing can bring you down. You can achieve anything. You can get so much done. Everything is intense and magnified. You can feel every nerve in your body and you can reach higher than you have ever reached before. Everything looks beautiful. That is, until you fall. Until you come crashing back down to earth into the inevitable depression that follows. And then you begin picking up the pieces of your life which is all too often in tatters. Manic episodes feel wonderful at the time, but the consequences of them are immense and catastrophic. Relationships are destroyed, money is spent, fidelity lost. I loved my manics yes, but I am still paying the price for them.
In The Beginning
It all began in 2003. I was living with my husband Scott and our three year old son Jonah in our very first home that we had bought. Money was tight but we had our home and our little family. For eighteen months I had been treated for depression quite effectively. I had started feeling much better and the depression was finally at bay. And then my life changed. Someone, somewhere had flicked a switch which changed everything. It was like someone had turned on a light. I began feeling really good. Great in fact. I was excited every day. Really excited. Too excited. I began talking really fast and all of the time. I had great ideas about all manner of things. The house, the garden, the family, holidays, money. All of it. Scott was happy. Finally I wasn’t depressed. So we ran with it. Soon enough though things became complicated.
I met Linda. She was a single mum with a couple of kids who attended a social group that I went to. Linda was very stoic and did not let people in easily. So I made it my mission to make Linda my very best friend. I would call her, visit her, invite her to activities. I would always be on the end of the phone and at her house. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for her. I talked about her all of the time and I went out of my way to help her out no matter the cost to me. I’m sure that Linda had felt very flattered at first that someone was paying such attention to her. She had just been through a very messy divorce and I offered a constant shoulder for her to lean on. But I was obsessed. I began putting Linda before everything else. Before Scott, before Jonah, before everything that was important.
When The War Began
Then the war began. My husband was deployed to the middle east to fight in the war against the weapons of mass destruction. It was such a difficult time in our lives. Australia’s involvement in the war was very contentious and people were protesting it often. We couldn’t even hang Scott’s army clothes on the clothes line for fear people would know we were a military family and make us a target of their protest. The day came that we stood on the tarmac and waved goodbye to our precious loved ones as their C5 took off over Townsville. I have never felt so gutted. I was broken-hearted. And that heartbreak seemed to fuel my mania. Like pouring petrol on a blazing fire. I exploded into flames. I became more intense, more energetic, more obsessive.
Linda introduced me to the world of psychics and spirituality. So armed with an incredible amount of vigour and energy I jumped on board, enveloping myself in all things metaphyscial. It became another obsession. Before I knew it I had invested $40 000 in opening up a retail store specialising in readings and meditation. Now while I’m a big advocate of meditation nowadays, I had no interest whatsoever in crystals and tarot cards and the metaphysical. It wasn’t me. But because I was manic I was in boots and all. All the way up to elbows. I was in so deep I just couldn’t get out.
I was doing all sorts of crazy things by this stage. Scott had been given an allowance while he was in a war zone. I spent the entire lot and had nothing to show for it. Not a thing. I had paid a contractor $3000 for a fence that went only half way across the front of my property. It had no function and did not make sense. As for the rest of the money, I had no idea what I had done with it. I couldn’t account for a single penny.
I wrote a book in two days. An entire novel. I wrote so fast and so much that my arm ached at night (I wrote long hand). None of it made any sense. I was raving for most of it but at the time thought it was an incredible masterpiece. I didn’t sleep for three days straight. Not a wink. And I wasn’t tired. Not a bit. My friend Alex had to talk me down out of climbing our neighbour’s mango tree. It seemed like a good idea. By this time I was so wound up that I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, couldn’t function. I couldn’t look after my son. He wasn’t safe in my care. He depended on me for his very existence and I couldn’t be there. I couldn’t protect him and take care of him. I let him fall. That is my deepest and most sincere regret.
Mania is completely intoxicating. It is heady and it is grand. But there is something you need to know about mania. Whatever goes up must eventually come down. So down I fell. Deep deep down into the pit of depression. You see mania and depression are equal in intensity. For as high as I was, I sank lower than low. The pit of depression is a cruel and twisted place to exist in. Following a manic, you are not only living in the pit but you are living with the repercussions of all that you did while you were flying high in mania. And the depression just compounds your guilt and shame.
So when I say that I enjoyed my mania, I tell a little lie. I did enjoy the high, but in no way is it worth the low that follows. You can’t have one without the other. And you pay such a high price for that high. I’m still paying. Every time I think about what I did to my family during that time I feel guilt and shame so deep that I shut down. I do my best to shut it out. My husband and I speak only very superficially about that time in our lives. My guilt doesn’t allow me to talk openly and freely. I know that in times of mania we can’t help the things that we do. But I know what I did. And no amount of time will make up for the damage I caused. Mania is like a drug. The high is intoxicating but price is so very high.