My Manic Mind: The Ride of a Lifetime

© Julie Anderson All Rights Reserved

I have bipolar disorder and sometimes, well sometimes, I think I’m blessed because of it. Now I’m not trying to glamorize mental illness; trust me when I tell you I’ve been to Hell and back so many times I have frequent flier miles. But I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss some of the more intense moments I’ve lived.

You see with bipolar disorder there is what I like to call the sweet spot. The sweet spot lies between hypomanic and manic, and for me, it is glorious. When I hit the sweet spot colours are brighter, sounds are crisper and the energy around me sizzles. I am on fire. I am filled with creativity and brilliance. My body races to catch up with my mind, and I move at warp speed. What takes other people three days to accomplish I can get done in a mere twelve hours.

I am awake. My senses are heightened, and I laugh. My husband touches me, and my skin comes alive. My children are in hysterics trying to catch up with me; life is sweet. We are good, and we are happy, and we are love.

As my husband turns to me and says, “Baby, it’s time to take your emergency meds, you’re going up too fast, you know what will happen if you don’t” a sad smile crosses his face. He loves this Nicole, everyone does, but she never stays in the sweet spot for long, she goes higher than that, and it’s hard to bring her back down again.

“Before your meds kick in, please tell me what it feels like for you.” He kisses me softly on the forehead and leaves me alone with my laptop.

A Manic Mind Adventure

Imagine if you will, the fair has come to town. Take in all of the sights and sounds, from the toddlers crying to the pre-teens laughing. They’re running and trying to cut in line at the ride that promises the biggest thrill. You smell the deep fried donuts, french fries and cotton candy. You hear the carnies yell out, “Bet you can’t make this shot, three for a dollar, step right up.” Every sound is amplified, from the creaks of the rusted gears on the Ferris wheel to the poor kid who is puking behind the fortune teller’s trailer. Everything is ALIVE. You look right and then left, which way do you go? It’s a maze of debauchery and adrenaline.

Chaos and pleasure are hidden around every corner. You want it all, but where do you start? You have only purchased enough tickets to ride two times, which will you choose? Do you spend your tickets in the funhouse, reflecting on your reflections? This one is too small. This one is too big. This one is just right, and it’s creepy as sin. You’ve seen your soul in the mirror at a circus, and it scares the hell out of you. Move on. Something has to take the sting away. One ticket left. You clutch it as if it were your payment to the boatman on the River Styx. Anxiety starts to swell. The noise is becoming too much and something inside of you has built up, you don’t understand what it is, all you know is that it needs to be released.

All you can focus on is the feelings that you must get out of you. There is no talking this down; there is only a primal instinct to shred every sense of dignity you thought you had.

The noise and the lights beckon you to stay, join us, and partake in this pleasure. Lose yourself in the rush. Forget all of your worries and everything that ties you down and just fucking LIVE. Take the feelings inside of you as far as you possibly can before you burst and shatter into thousands of unfulfilled dreams and promises. Find your release, and find it fast, they are closing the gates in mere minutes.

You follow the nervous screams and maniacal laughter until you see it, the main attraction. The rollercoaster is boasted as being the fastest and scariest ride to come to town. You trip trying to make your way to it as fast as you can. All pleasantries are off. You’ll push small children out of your way because you know what that rush feels like. You’ve turned into a junkie now; you need the escape. The release.

As you make your way to your seat, you push past the people that refuse to ride in the front. What’s the point if you can’t stare into the abyss on your rapid cycle back to the ground? You buckle yourself in, front row seats, but not too tight though, the rush of potential death gets you off. The attendant comes by to make sure you’re secure.

You fight the urge to spit in his face and tell him to fuck off.

You’re pissed off at the time it takes for every other sucker to get belted in. This is your ride, and they have neither clue nor any business being on it. You run this coaster, and it moves when you say so.

The climb up the tracks feels like a sad sort of foreplay to you. You hear the gears churn and the squeals of the unimportant people who’ve hitched a ride behind you. When the coaster reaches the peak, it stops, and your heart starts to pound. You are so out of sync with everyone here, but in tune with everything that matters. For the briefest of moments, you are free. The air is thinner, and there is nothing above you but sky and possibilities. If you unhooked your seat belt right now you know for certain that you could fly.

You raise your face to the Heavens and take a deep breath; the anticipation of the plunge is ecstatic.

Raise your arms and feel your ass lift off the seat. Like lightning, the coaster dives into its decent. The speed is finally a match for all of the thoughts that race through your mind; it overtakes and for a second there is stillness. The quiet ecstasy of something that is more powerful than you, and it is delectable. You’ve met your match, and you urge it on, faster, harder, DO NOT STOP.

The coaster whips and weaves over its tired and worn track. People scream and even cry, begging for it to stop. You shut them out while focusing on the way the wind howls through your hair. The impulse to keep riding swells to a radiant compulsion. Before it is half over, you are devising a way to get more tickets. You can’t even be satisfied with the thrill of the ride. All you can think about is how you will be able to make it possible to ride again, and again, and again…

You are finally free. There is something more powerful than you, and the innate instinct to harness all of it overtakes every sense you have. You are no longer here to release anything. You are here to devour and discard until you finally feel full.

There is no end to this fair, this ride, and this hunger; there is only that swift decent into oblivion.

Nicole Lyons

Nicole Lyons is the creator of The Lithium Chronicles, the popular Facebook page that brings awareness to mental illness and support to those who need it. She was a columnist for the national online magazine, PsychCentral, and has been a guest contributor to the website The Mighty and The International Bipolar Foundation. Nicole has been a featured writer for the OCH Literary Society, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Sidereal Catalyst, among others. Nicole's The Lithium Chronicles website features her own poetry and prose, as well as the work of upcoming and established artists and was added to the Mental Health Writer’s Guild in 2015. She has been nominated for two consecutive years in six different categories for The Wego Health Activist awards, recognized for her work as a fierce mental health advocate and an advocate for others, as well as having built an exceptional supportive online community with The Lithium Chronicles. She is a published author in both Feminine Collective’s Raw & Unfiltered VOL I and The Stigma Fighters Anthology Volume One. Nicole is a hippie at heart with a bohemian soul who believes that the world can be changed by one random act of kindness at a time. She lives a good life in Beautiful British Columbia with her brilliant daughters and gorgeous husband. In her free time Nicole volunteers with a Canadian nonprofit that focuses on suicide awareness and prevention, and hangs out with her best friend, a 170lb bullmastiff named Capone.

10 thoughts on “My Manic Mind: The Ride of a Lifetime

  1. Nicole LyonsNicole Lyons Post author

    Thank you Rachel. I’ve had quite a few people tell me that this piece made understanding a little easier, so that makes me very happy. All the best to you.

  2. Rachel Hamm GertzRachel Hamm Gertz

    I love it when a writer can make me feel like I’m there. So well written, and wonderful fuel for those of us who love someone who experiences bipolar disorder. Thank you!

  3. Leslie

    Wow!!! This is completely amazing Nicole. I have never been able to describe mania in a way that even remotely comes close to this.

    My favorite part is ‘The speed is finally a match for all of the thoughts that race through your mind; it overtakes and for a second there is stillness.’ Because even as I read it, I understood on a deep level that the downward plunge of the roller coaster really is the only thing that would match the pace of the of the thoughts that race through my mind.

    The sweet spot is beautiful. It’s a shame that only a millimeter of movement in either direction turns it to shit.

  4. NicoleNicole

    You know Julie, I think that could just be it. I wouldn’t change it for the world though. I couldn’t imagine not feeling my way through life. XOXO


  5. heather

    this is fantastic nicole. i have been asked many times to describe the feeling to people who don’t know…i have never had the words to describe it and i really thought it was impossibly indescribable but you nailed it. so accurate. this gives me shivers.

  6. Julie AndersonJulie Anderson

    Thank you Nicole. You have colored in the lines, with brilliant colors. I can relate, even though I have never been diagnosed. Can it be that we are just creative souls that are so sensitive, it is hard for us to just be?


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