The manic side was fun until it went too far and got scary. I wrote not long after:
Altered perceptions without the use of drugs were fun at first. I couldn't stop moving: running, jumping, fidgeting, twitching. I saw brighter, clearer and more saturated colours than anyone else; I heard and felt so many intricate layers of music that it was too painful to listen to it anymore; I could make huge mental connections - leaps and bounds - and see patterns that no one else could see; I could take on the world - and god knows I tried.
My work began to suffer. I couldn't sit still for longer than five minutes at a time. I spent my whole day at work pacing my office, surfing the web, writing a page of elaborate schemes then abandoning it in favour of a new idea. I knew something wasn't quite right and let myself be persuaded to revisit a counsellor I had been seeing after being depressed. She questioned me about how things were, and I felt I was mentally running rings around her. I spent much of the session counting snowflakes falling past the window.
It came to a head when I found myself hiding in a dark room because I couldn't understand what my colleagues were saying. I swore they were speaking some other language. It wasn't English - it couldn't have been. It sounded nothing like it. It didn't sound like anything I recognised. The carpet, a vile industrial mixture of reds and purples, was freaking me out - I was at the peril of someone else's very bad decorating tastes. Every purple and red object in the room was linked to that carpet. They were all jumping out at me, lines between them, until all I could see was red, red, red, purple, and it was sensory overload. I sat under a table in the dark room until two friends with an understanding of what was happening found me and hauled me to the doctor. He calmly told me that I was high and wrote a prescription for tranquillisers and a referral to a psychiatrist. I can't thank him enough.
Still, there are degrees of mania, and when I was hypomanic I was so very happy. Mood stabilisers might not have made me a different person in the eyes of my friends, but to me I am a poor, pale and boring copy of what I used to be. I would like the highs again, just the gentle ones, but I'd never make it through another low.