My Last Manic Episode

I have bipolar disorder. It strikes me as odd to say this, as I feel (and am) quite fine and normal at this moment — but, unfortunately, there have been times (two of which required hospitalization) where I have experienced major breaks from reality. It's rather scary to think about now.

It feels good to revisit these experiences, though, and to share them — psychosis isn't well understood, and I believe many more people experience it than are diagnosed. I intend to share some information about my experiences here, so that others can be on the lookout for similiar, hopefully less extreme, patterns of behavior in others.

My Last "Episode"

My last manic episode (which took place several months after I wrote my blog post on the subject, "coming out of the closet", if you will), featured many visions of the afterlife, extremely deep cosmological insights into what's going on "behind the scenes" in daily life, and some extreme synesthesia between the colors of objects and emotions.

I say insights, because, while I believe that everything I experienced was, in fact, delusional, it took a tremendous amount of my own brain power to make sense of all the information I was collecting (note: collecting, not receiving). It could be called impressive, the world-view that I cultivated from these mystical experiences.

The doctors were certianly impressed by it, at least.

I'm a software engineer by trade, so I live in a world of abstractions. Take that talent to it's logical extreme, toss in some some metaphysical concepts/abstractions into the equation, and what you are left with is a very insight-filled delusional man who thinks he has all the answers to the universe.

This break from reality is known as mania peppered with psychosis.

Synesthesia, as it turns out, can pop its head out during a manic episode, which is something that I experienced to an extreme degree. It also takes many different forms. For me, every color of every object I owned had significant meaning and consequence, and I started to weave all of these objects together into an impenetrable psychic fotress that could not be tampered with, in order to keep my loved ones safe.

Someone who experiences this normally might believe that "spirit flows through all things", be very "superstitious" with their belongings, and adopt strange (or perhaps normal, within their circles) ritualistic patterns of behavior.

During this short period of time, I built up for myself an entire worldview based around some esoteric delusions, mostly stemming from the deep teachings of Hindu and vedic philospohy. I believed in manifestation, for example (which is shockingly common), and that I was, in fact, having the experience of being a deity. I believed that everything in my world was exponentially "larger" than usual, and I was experiencing life as a titan. I had an invisible rod that I could use to control the flow of karmic gravity for my entire universe.

I also believed that I was in touch with a collection of goddesses — mostly some combination of Athena and Iris, and that they were communing with me through the objects and words around me.

I'm not really sure what to say about these experiences, or what to think of them. I just wanted to share a bit about what was going through my mind during this time.

Trauma

I believe that all of these delusions are actually the result of me having a hard time with "accepting the facts" around a traumatic relationship. Once I accepted all the consequences of the truth of what happened, and forgave the person involved, all of these delusions disappeared into nothing.

I deeply believe that many people live in a world not unlike that which I experienced, and they spend their whole lives there, unaware (to themselves, and their peers) that they are experiencing symptoms of mental illness — not deep revelations from upon high.

Perhaps it's because of trauma?

Thanks for listening!

Thoughts & Musings: a (Public) Journal

A collection of hand-written essays by Kenneth Reitz.