Dealing with Mania

I’ve delved into some of our personal lives here on Bubba On The Road, but kept most of it in the background. I’ve talked about anxiety and OCD, stress with living this way, but I want to expand on something that keeps me busy most days. Whether good or bad, I have to deal with manic episodes and learn how they can affect myself, Tiffany, and our life on the road.

For those of you who don’t deal with mental illness in any form, this may be hard to understand and grasp how the thought process works when it doesn’t exactly work normal. There are many other things going on in my head, but I’m focusing on this specifically as I’m dealing with it at the moment.

For those that have manic episodes, it is usually paralleled with depressive episodes as well. That is where most of my life exists, in a kind of place of not being happy, not being sad, not really feeling much at all. There are no extreme highs, but no extreme lows either. Instead, its like a constant state of just existing with little to no reaction to anything that could upset me or bring me joy. Its like just being there and going along with life as it happens. I don’t really interact with much, I don’t do much, I isolate and I don’t communicate much.

But then it breaks and a manic episode hits. In my case, its not this sudden euphoric mood where everything is wonderful. Instead, I get hyper-focused on some project, something that needs to get done. It doesn’t matter what it is or what it will cost or how long it will take. That one thing becomes everything. I sleep less and almost every waking moment is zeroed in on that one project and goal. Sometimes it lasts for weeks, sometimes only a couple of days. Sometimes when it is done and faded back away, I look back and wonder what the hell I was thinking when I spent too much money on something that will never be finished or may never even had a chance of working.

One project I frequently get stuck on is writing my own tabletop roleplaying game. I’ve been working on the same idea for a campaign setting since the late 90s. New ideas come to me, new ways to do things, and it changes. Sometimes for the better, sometimes its a bad idea that goes nowhere. But I never seem to retain the manic period for long enough to finish anything. War Possum never seems to go anywhere because I can never seem to hold onto that drive long enough to actually finish anything. It soon dissipates and I’m left wondering what I was doing or where I was going with something.

My bank account gets dangerously low. Things like eating and bathing become secondary interests. But for those few days, that one goal is everything. The outside simply ceases to exist. I search websites and forums, post questions and dig for answers. I have decided I have a problem that needs to be fixed and nothing will deter me from completely and solving it.

And then? Its gone. It usually happens overnight, I wake up the next morning and the impulse and drive are gone. I look around and what I’ve wrought and wonder what I was thinking. Sometimes the project stays in my head, fiddling on it in the background, but the ambition to complete it as soon as possible is gone. Of course, I’m usually left with parts of a project and things I purchased that may have been the wrong train of thought to complete it and I have to figure out what to do with what I have, how to make sure all the bills get paid, and what to do now.

Mania for many people, though, is not like you see in the movies. Being manic can be feeling great, invincible, untouchable. But for others, and myself in particular, it doesn’t come out like that. I don’t go out and drink heavily and abuse drugs and do stupid, thoughtless things. Like a laser, I zoom in on one thing and nothing will detract me from that goal. The sad part is that goal is usually never completed.

I write about things like this because I think its important to present myself as just a guy who likes what he does. Yes, I have my issues but I still have goals and projects and things to work on. I don’t want to be some person on the internet who just posts boring technical reviews and instructions about how to do things to make the Smart Home on Wheels project come to fruition. I want to be honest and upfront with people because I am when I’m offline as well. Not everything out there is perfect, and frankly, no one out there is perfect. We all have struggles and deal with our own problems, but if I can explain how things work a little bit more in my head, maybe someone reading this can relate.

Please leave comments below and if you want to send me a message, you can contact me at eric@bubbaontheroad.com.

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