What is Happening During My Manic Moods
*Disclaimer: I have never been–nor will I probably ever be–diagnosed with any mental condition* With that being said, I don’t think it would come as much of a surprise to anybody to learn I’ve dealt with something close to or exactly like manic moods or manic episodes my entire life. I was a terrible child. Constantly freaking out over little things, throwing stuff, throwing tantrums, all at the slightest provocation. My parents were terrific and dealt with me better than any pair of humans probably could. The fact I have made it to this point in my life without completely screwing up and confining myself to a life behind bars or in a padded cell is a testament to their skills as parents.
But let’s talk about my parents. My mom is a friggin angel with more patience than any one person should rightfully have; she needed it when dealing with me. However, my pops was not a patient man, by any stretch of the imagination. And if there is any person you can “blame” for my tilted mental states, you can probably throw it at him. He was an alcoholic, but one that I never saw have a drink throughout the entirety of my life (save for one inadvertent sip of booze at a family party where he did not know the punch was spiked; his response was to immediately head to an AA meeting).
For all his faults–and his inability to deal with them through the first 40-45 years of his life–he was the perfect role model for someone that was cut entirely out of his mold. He had anger issues, I have anger issues. Pops was probably crazy, I’m probably certifiably a little whacko. Far from being a bad thing, looking at how he lived his life and dealt with his myriad of problems is one of the saving graces in my life.
My Family History and the Pure Terror of Living with Manic Moods
But any quick look at my family’s history, and his side of the tree, in particular, should tell you there is something there. Yes, while my pops was an alcoholic, his dad was a raving alcoholic. My dad did not tell too many stories about his father because their relationship was strained more than a 400-pound man doing a split, but towards the end of his life, pops opened up a little more about what it was like. He spent the vast majority of his prepubescent and teenage years literally dragging his dad out of bars. It should come as no surprise my pops get out of dodge as early as possible, eventually going to college, the Vietnam War, and law school.
Through those first three stops, my dad was dealing with his own afflictions. The types of issues that would drown and destroy a normal man. But my pops was not a normal man and quitting was not something found in his vernacular. So instead of rolling over and literally dying on the streets somewhere, he got himself together with some “Friends of Bob” and created one of the best–and craziest–families out there. Yeah, my family is rife with, “hey, is there something a little off with them?” people. It is what it is and I’m not putting anybody on blast. Just know, while I deal with mania and manic moods, others in my family have their own stuff that makes you do a double-take.
The Latest and Longest of My Manic Moods
But why write about my manic moods? Well, I’m in the midst of one right now and I kind of have to do this. This is pretty much how it goes. My impulse control is pretty much nonexistent during these things and it feels like I’m riding an avalanche down Mt. Everest. Yeah, it can be really fun in a way, but when I stop to think about what is going on and what I am doing, it’s pretty damn scary.
The best way I can describe it and the feeling I have right now; it feels like while there are simultaneously fire ants crawling on my skin, my blood is also on fire, and my brain is in the middle of a summer electrical thunderstorm with lightning crackling all the time. On a day-to-day basis, my body and brain feel like this, but at roughly 5-10% of what is going on right now. It’s all about where the feelings reside. Normally I feel it in my shoulders, but it doesn’t get past the back of my neck and into my head. But every so often, all that flow and energy get past my neck (what I internally vision as the gatekeeper), and make it to my head. At that point, all bets are off.
The other thing that sticks out right now is how long this has been going on and how long it took for me to comprehend it. I’ve dealt with these manic moods (or these incidents approximating manic moods) my entire life. The best manner I’ve found to deal with them is to simply recognize them. But I was three or four days into this latest one before something clicked and I had to go, “oh damn… I need to watch out.” The fact that I couldn’t recognize it–and that it took so long to recognize it, and it was still ongoing–was terrifying.
But what was more terrifying was my total lack of control. I pride myself on my willpower. When I am being 80% honest, I tell people I’m an addict. Mostly because I love six of the seven deadly sins (with the exception sloth) and if I could give in to them all the time while living a productive life, I would in an instant. However, my willpower and forethought keep me from doing so. This week though, none of that willpower was there. Nor was there any patience, for anything.
How I Have No Control During My Manic Moods
I play in a slow-pitch baseball league in Tel Aviv every Saturday. Despite the terrible level of play, it is actually quite fun. A collection of ex-pats looking (and finding) a way to remember home. Baseball. The most American thing ever. As someone that played college baseball, I can pretty much do whatever I want with any pitch in our game. Not bragging; most slightly above average high school players could do the same. Yet, this past weekend, I hit a couple of dribbles off the end of my bat. That might not sound like much, but my mindset during the at-bats was, “I NEED to crush this ball.” No real reason. Just a compulsion. To be so far out in front on two separate occasions that I hit the pitch with the concave end of the bat is puzzling. I should have known then.
However, after I got back home from the game, I decided it would be a great idea to order a large pizza for myself. The Patriots were playing a 4:25 Eastern game (11:25 Tel Aviv), so a full pizza is not the dumbest idea. However, these are large pizzas meant for three people. Did I stop and think maybe this is a bad idea? Of course not. But whatever, this is the Pats we’re talking about. In a pivotal Week 16 game against the Bills. This could be written off. When the game started I should have known. Brandon Bolden didn’t bring the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. I was upset.
Think about that. I was actually upset when Brandon Bolden didn’t run back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Cause you see, the Patriots had to score… and they had to score NOW! Rex Burkhead fumbled. Not happy. The Patriots defense held the Bills, but they didn’t force a turnover. Not happy. Rationally my brain was still functioning. Even to the point of correctly calling that Bill Belichick was not going to bench Burkhead and we’d probably see him “in the first two plays” (he got the ball on the second snap after the fumble).
And yet, throughout the game, the Patriots weren’t doing enough immediate things to placate my mania. They couldn’t score NOW, they couldn’t force turnovers NOW! The guy who has written oodles of Patriots articles preaching patience and praising the Patriots for their ability to wait for other teams to screw up and take advantage, couldn’t wait one play for something other than a touchdown or turnover.
When the half ended with a Bills touchdown after a bomb over Patrick Chung. I threw my phone. That is something I haven’t done in eons. I used to throw game controllers, bats, gloves, helmets, balls, books, pencils, balls, and even the occasional fruit–all in anger. Yet here I was, at 32, throwing a $700 piece of machinery. Why? Yeah… why?
The “Joy” of Dealing with Manic Moods with Friends
Did I calm down after that? Of course not. After the Patriots game, and a night of getting about 2-3 hours of sleep, I went to work. When I came back from work I was hosting friends for a Hannukah party. The plan was to make latkes for the first time in my life and make my wonderful donuts. I got home from work and proceeded to spend the next two and a half hours prepping the potatoes and the donuts. Yet, when it came time to frying the latkes, I had no patience. For some reason, I thought it best to drown the latkes in frying oil because it would go faster. Not sure why. That forced the latkes to come apart in their ocean of frying oil. So I threw down the scalding hot spatula on to the ground and had a mental breakdown… at 32.
The next morning there was a mountain dishes that needed to be done. Normally I love doing dishes because the process of watching something go from dirty to clean soothes me somehow. I woke up–after another night of three hours of sleep–and was angry at the dishes. Not that I had to do the dishes, but actually angry at the dishes themselves. Like they had just insulted my mother or something. Truly bizarre. I couldn’t comprehend how the dishes were not done and the knowledge that they were not clean right NOW was sending me over the edge.
I then went to work where I decided the best way to deal with it all was by jumping down the throat of a co-worker who had the temerity to ask me a question she needed an answer to and I was the only one who knew the answer. Really sane stuff. At this point, I was finally starting to think maybe I’m not in my right mind. During my weekly meeting with my boss, I actually asked him if the company had an allowance for mental health days.
Now, in order for you to understand how bad my mental shape needs to be for me to ask this, I have never missed a day of adult work in my life. I believe I never missed a class in my four years of college and never missed a single class in grad school. I also do not recall missing any classes due to illness in high school and never missed a single practice or game as a result of being sick, ummm, ever? I definitely missed for injuries, but never because I was sick. Yet, here I was asking my boss if I could take a day off. I was this close to heading home. Instead, I made it through the day. Barely. I was about a half-second from taking out the bus driver later that evening when he decided to blow through my stop on my way to my night class.
Trying to Deal with My Manic Moods
My saving grace was that by him blowing through the stop, it gave me time to call my mom and have her hit me upside the head with a two-by-four and force me to acknowledge I was swinging from tree to tree in one of my manic moods. While it certainly helped to have someone else–someone who loves me more than anything else in the world–tell me I’m tweaking out, it didn’t compel me to stop completely. The next day I went in and apologized to my coworker, doing so in a way that was probably more scary than relieving (my apology game is pretty strong considering how often I have to do it, but I was literally shaking during this one).
I also played poker with my buddies (yes, gambling is a biiiiiiiiig no-no when feeling the way I do, but I only brought about $100 and left everything else at home as a fail-stop). The irony of that night was I won big. But during the whole affair, I couldn’t concentrate whatsoever. The night featured some extra conversations, and the volume was a little bit louder than normal. Usually, that is my arena. Extra conversations and loud volume? Sign me the hell up. However, not that night. I was freaking out. So much so one of my friends repeatedly asked me if I was alright. I do not think my answers reassured him. Yet, I made it through. Much like I’m making it through right now.
After 2,220+ words. This is what one of my manic moods feels like; I have written this article three times this week. Roughly 2,500 words each time, and every time it has taken me about 45 minutes. Trying to wrangle all these jumbled thoughts down into one cohesive and readable post. I know I have failed due to the mere length of what I have written. I know after reading the previous two versions, some of what I put here might not sound that bad: a little too much pizza, not enough patience, and throwing things might just seem like a big guy acting like a small child. So be it. But I’ve worked so damn hard to not let stuff like that happen.
It is a complete letdown and failure and feels terrible. Despite the awesome and exhilarating feelings of “I CAN DO ANYTHING” that I’ve had throughout this week, man it sucks. It is exhausting. Not sleeping for a week, having more energy than a Mexican jumping bean infused with cocaine coke is a little offputting. While it is true I am a little addicted to this overwhelming feeling and have learned to funnel all this energy into massive amounts of productivity throughout my life, this week was a failure; no matter what anybody else says or thinks. But hey, I’m my pop’s son. I don’t quit. Never have, never will (except for the latkes). So I’ll be here, (hopefully) getting better every day, trying to recognize all these manic moods and swings. But for now, I’m gonna go workout, cause, well, duh.