Too good to be true?
Up to this point I'm not sure what I've experienced is a sign of illness or healing. Presently I think it's the second option but I'm afraid that what I think is going on is too good to be true. It was started at the beginning of this year by a brief internet conversation with a friend. Mere 4 sentences were written but it touched things I thought I buried long ago. There was I, in a state of utter chaos, and suddenly something like a wall broke inside and I knew things will turn out all right. The rest was... unusual. I could be deeply depressed and then, two hours later, in a manic state that would end in anxiety within the day which in turn left me depressed. This lasted about a month. I experienced many weird things ranging from mere unknown voices in the head to sensations of light and feelings of God's presence (to that time I used to be... well, not even atheist, I just never had the need to set an opinion). I should note that while well out of the boundaries known as "normal", nothing of this has really surprised me (which did surprise me when I realized it).
I overcame dissociation I've been battling for years, I stopped hating myself so much, I recognized and partially corrected faulty thinking and behavioral patterns and realized that I really didn't come to terms with some things in my past despite being previously convinced they're behind me. Not everything is sorted out now and some of the issues still fight hard to stay while I'm sure there's still a lot of them waiting to be discovered. But there's also a lot of things that I didn't feel before. People, places, sometimes even things - it's like I've got an additional sense. And once I will be OK on the inside I know I will be able to help on the outside.
Now... I'm exhausted. Despite wonderful, it has also been often very painful and chaotic. I have a hard time dealing with the things that just recently surfaced and the rapid cycling is beginning anew. I want to rest a little while but I can't. It's quite tempting to think I'm ill and just get a pill to feel better but I'm convinced it's not the case. Things will get back on the right track eventually. Or am I wrong and should I see a doctor after all?
Whether or not you address your rapid cycling with medication is a personal choice that is ultimately yours alone, though I would encourage you to see a mental health professional to help you come to a decision about that. Mania or hypomania is a highly personal experience, that may be hell for one person, and heaven for another. Often it is a little of both. Rapid cycling can be especially stressful and destructive. One of the most overlooked and disregarded aspects of the bipolar experience is that mania sometimes reveals deep truths about one's life, and gives a glimpse into other levels of consciousness that may offer some lasting benefit, healing or shift in perception. It sounds like this may have been the case for you.
Bipolar experiences are highly subjective. And how you view it, as well as the influences of others in your life, can influence your experience in a big way. Those that I've seen thrive and become the most stable, happy, and self-actualized, usually find some meaning and gift in their past experiences of mania, but know better than to invite more mania, because there are risks. Just like a powerful hallucinogenic experience, you cannot always predict what the next experience will bring.
It is very likely that if you don't address this and find some way to balance your mood/energy, that the severity and duration of these episodes will increase. There are many different options for addressing this, so do your research and choose what feels right to you. It would be best to do so with the guidance and support of a trusted therapist or doctor that respects your choices regarding your healing.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT