I don’t drink coffee and I’ve never taken cocaine. I don’t suffer from ADHD, bipolar disorder, or severe depression. I’ve been in pain for most of my life, and although I know caffeine is used in combination with pain relievers, I’ve always believed that taking powerful stimulants would only… stimulate my pain. And my pain is stimulated enough on its own, thank you very much.
So I have no idea what it feels like to be manic or hypomanic. And after reading a little bit about these conditions, I can pretty much conclude that they’re experiences I’ve never had and probably won’t ever have. (Or have I?)
Mania sounds pretty painful to me — and it reminds me of a time, decades ago, when I (sometimes) had access to prescription medications. My pain levels were still manageable back then, but the drugs were the only thing that lifted the pain. And when the pain was lifted, I was much more physically active than my body was used to (as someone who was in constant pain). In other words, I pushed myself while I was “high,” and then suffered the resulting added pain afterwards. (Were these manic episodes?)
But I can sure understand the lure of being manic, especially the bursts of creativity… Every American longs to be an artist or a writer, mostly because they think it’s easy money. Of course that’s not true… being creative is hard work. You have to use a part of your brain that few people have access to, a part of your brain that can be dangerous. A part of your brain that knows both the depths of despair and the joys of… flight. And once you find that creativity, it’s hard to turn your back on it, even if it kills you. (Thinking of you, Philip Seymour Hoffman.)
And for pain patients, especially those who are forced to work, the bursts of energy that come from a manic episode sound like a really good thing. One has to wonder if such states can be habit-forming, just like the drugs that can artificially cause them. Cocaine is an addictive drug, although it’s not one of the most highly-addictive. So if mania feels like taking cocaine, if that’s what it feels like in your brain, then it’s just logical that these manic states are also addictive. Especially when you consider the pit that you fall into once the manic episode is over.
Man, if you’re bipolar, you should learn to love roller-coasters. (I hate roller-coasters, they make me nauseated. Perhaps if I had more willpower, I could overcome that…)