I have always been slightly fast. I've been over active, reasonably gregarious, and a little over excited. When I was very young I did gymnastics. It wore me out and gave me a focus for my unending energy. I had the sensation of being a little bit "Rushy" at times and people would comment by asking me to "slow down". The odd thing though is that I could never really slow down. I was prone to being annoyingly bouncy at work with slightly wearing enthusiasm.
Thing is with this behaviour, its hard to determine what is manic and what is just a slightly over active personality trait. There is a very fine line. I've often talked very fast and been gesticulative; I've not been scared to say what I mean. What has been really useful for me is keeping a diary of my mood, and the thoughts and behaviours that go with these periods of excitement and incredible focus.
It starts with a feeling in my tummy like adrenalin bubbling. Its like an invisible rope is pulling me along and I'm running behind it. My actions, thoughts and speech get faster and I become almost twitchy. It feels like a fast forward button has been pressed and my thoughts can react at the speed of light. All of the banal clamour of the world fades and I get an exquisite sense of clarity. Its like ice cold wind blowing through my mind. When this happens I can read masses of documents and pretty much remember them all in detail. I can almost visualize the information with all of its connections to other information and concepts. I learn at a faster rate than normal and can produce large amounts of work in short spaces of time. I become very articulate, viciously sarcastic and a bit too intense. Sometimes it lasts for a few hours. Sometimes a few days. What has been very interesting and revealing to me is that this has happened to me from about the age of twenty, on and off. Its not been on a regular basis and I'm not sure whether it was triggered by something or just happened as a matter of course.
The flip side of this though is that sometimes it feels like it goes a little bit further. Rather than the thoughts being joyous and connected to the universe, they get too fast and scrambled. The sarcasm becomes savage, and the thoughts are too fast. I feel that the energy connection that was flowing with me, pulling me happily along, gets stretched like an elastic band and its dragging me along and its not fun anymore. I can't keep up with it. Instead of having a Chrystal clear view from a higher plane, it morphs into brutal grandiosity.Everything becomes jumpy and I get paranoid and agitated. It can result in me telling people to "Fuck off" when I'm normally loving and tolerant. The expanding beast becomes aggressive and takes control of me and I am attached to it even when I don't want to be. Its usually at this point that I completely crash and need to sleep for 2 to 3 days. This thought process is a dramatic shift away from the fluffy Duracell bunny, and is more akin to chucky. Its not the multicoloured kaleidoscope of euphoria and elation but more like hydrochloric acid dropped on the softness of life, turning it into a waking nightmare of complete blackness. Everything is bad.
After these periods I feel very low, exhausted and burned out. Its not fun at all. Its not glamorous, its not fashionable and its not something I would want other people to experience. Its known as dysphoric elation. I've also experienced this type of mania in combination with depression. Its known as a mixed state and carries a high risk of suicide, something that I attempted twice in my early to mid 20's.
For me my saving Grace is my level of insight. At no time have I ever completely lost touch with reality. The relationship has become tenuous and fragile but I've always been able to reign it back in, or, as I have waited it out, it passes and I survive it. It is incredibly frightening and its only now, when I am almost 40, that I have a diagnosis and the right medication. Its been a long and arduous journey.