4 Reasons Saying “No” to Self-Fueling Mania Leads to a Happier Life

Last Updated: 22 Oct 2021

Especially during depressive episodes, mania might seem appealing. I know from experience, though, that welcoming mania means holding the door open for depression, too.

mania depression bipolar disorder mood management hypersexuality finances spending partner support

Mania’s Appeal & Relationship to Depression

I know as well as anyone that certain kinds of mania feel incredible. This is especially true if you experience a lot of depression and long for relief from that pain.

But I also know as well as anyone that allowing mania in our lives increases the likelihood of a depressive episode and, in many ways, leads to more problems than we can handle.

Here I share my four main reasons for ending the hold mania had on my life—before and after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Mistaking Mania for “Normal” Behavior

I remember the 15 years of mania and depression I experienced before I was finally diagnosed with bipolar at age 31. I saw the depression as a dangerous mood swing, but I thought of the mania as the REAL ME. For this reason, I chased manic mood swings for many years.

I didn’t understand at the time that mania was a sign of illness and that the more I allowed to mania continue, the deeper the depressions would be afterward.

One day, I realized that I was not going to survive if I kept seeking mania in my life. I finally recognized that it put me in dangerous situations and made the depression more intense. The day I started to say no to mania, I truly got my life back. I want the same for you.

4 Ways Rejecting Mania Changed My Life for the Better

#1 I Finally Managed Manic Hypersexuality

Indulging my out-of-control urges seemed fun at the time. Then it was no longer fun. Each time it happened during a manic episode, it became more difficult for me to reconcile my wild behavior with who I was as a person.

I remember so many times when I was deeply confused and unhappy about my decisions. I was embarrassed, ashamed, scared, and worried that something was really wrong with me. Then mania would return, I would once again be controlled by its hypersexuality, and the cycle continued.

Hypersexuality is dangerous. What you think you can handle in your twenties gets a lot more dangerous and a lot more serious as you age, especially if you’re in a long-term relationship and have children. The risks—contracting and/or spreading an infection (STI), accidentally becoming pregnant (or impregnating someone), harming those around us, and walking into dangerous situations when manic—simply are not worth it.

I still experience mania and this symptom, but as soon as it happens, I am very, very quick to say no to this feeling and do the work of helping myself stay stable. I may love the feeling of being seductive and powerful, but I have taught myself that the aftereffects are awful. I have not given in to hypersexuality for many years now, and I will never, ever allow myself to say yes to a dangerous intimate encounter again.

#2 My Spending Is Under Control

Oh my goodness, manic spending is so damaging to our lives. We will spend as much as we have—and more.

We all have our stories. I know people who have spent thousands and others who have spent millions. This kind of spending includes gambling, which often accompanies mania. We love to gamble when manic. Saying no to mania automatically protects your finances.

It took me a LONG time to manage my manic spending. Mania is SO fast. It takes over our brains in minutes; then, when we come out of a manic episode, we often see financial destruction. I still struggle with this, but, overall, my spending is better.

I want stability around money. You know that feeling—once the mania ends and you see your bank account? I never want to feel that again. Ever.

#3 The People in My Life Are Much Happier with Me

I don’t know a partner who actually likes when their loved one is in a state of bipolar mania. They tell me they hate it.

I wrote the first book for a partner of a person with a mental health disorder, called Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, and I have talked to many thousands of partners over the past 20 years. Please listen to what they tell me:

  • They don’t like mania.
  • They don’t like how we talk instead of listening.
  • They don’t like the lust-based behavior.
  • They don’t like the scary spending.
  • And they don’t like the lack of reasonable decision-making.

I want us to have good relationships. I want us to be good and stable parents. It helps to have a partner on this journey, so let’s listen to how they really feel about mania. They don’t like it. They like our stability.

#4 My Rapid Cycling Calmed Down

One of the biggest mistakes I see in our bipolar world is the primary focus on depression management. I’m here to tell you that focusing on mania management first is SO much easier and more effective than starting with trying to control depression.

We have a mental health condition called bipolar disorder for a reason. It is mania and depression. Not depression and a bit of mania.

Even if you experience more depression than mania, you are still being controlled by mania. I write a lot about the role of sleep and bipolar, and nothing disrupts sleep more than mania … and disrupted sleep is a major cause of depression. Never forget that what goes up, must come down. The vast majority of “big” manias lead to “big” depressions, even when a person is on medications. Mania leads to depression. Managing mania automatically improves depression. Noticing the first signs of mania, or “pre-mania,” can help.

Saying No to Mania, One Step at a Time

If you’re new to managing bipolar, start with one of these ideas and give yourself time to work on all four. I didn’t do this overnight! It took years, but it is possible. Stability is possible. My book Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder explains the system I use, and I have written many articles on managing and preventing mania, including “The Siren Call of Mania,” “Am I Having Too Much Fun?” and “How to Be Your Own Bipolar Detective.”

I finally have some peace in my life. Please know that I still have plenty of mood swings. My bipolar is chronic. But my mood swings are less frequent and far less intense. Bipolar no longer controls my life. I owe this to saying no to mania. We can learn to manage bipolar disorder.


Originally posted August 10, 2021

About the author
Julie A. Fast is the author of the bestselling mental health books Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner, Getting It Done When You’re Depressed, OMG, That’s Me! (vol. 2), and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder. She is a longtime bp Magazine writer and the top blog contributor, with over 5 million blog views. Julie is also a researcher and educator who focuses on bipolar disorder prevention and ways to recognize mood swings from the beginning—before they go too far and take over a person’s life. She works as a parent and partner coach and regularly trains health care professionals, including psychiatric residents, pharmacists, general practitioners, therapists, and social workers, on bipolar disorder and psychotic disorder management. She has a Facebook group for parents, The Stable Table, and for partners, The Stable Bed. Julie is the recipient of the Mental Health America excellence in journalism award and was the original consultant for Claire Danes’s character on the TV show Homeland. Julie had the first bipolar disorder blog and was instrumental in teaching the world about bipolar disorder triggers, the importance of circadian rhythm sleep, and the physical signs of bipolar disorder, such as recognizing mania in the eyes. Julie lives with bipolar disorder, a psychotic disorder, anxiety, and ADD.
  1. My bipolar and adhd are still not recognised and have been dismissed for years. I keep getting misdiagnosed with other things instead which do not relate whatsoever to how I feel symptom wise. Sometimes I just feel like giving up. I’m still not on any new medication, just fluoxetine that I have taken for years. I currently self medicate occasionally with alcohol and caffeine pills. I honestly feel as though the system is deliberately screwed up. I’m at a loss as to what to do. I would get a lawyer to help me claim for medical negligence but I can’t afford one as I’m poor. Would very much appreciate any suggestions please.

  2. I am a MSW, a lifetime victim of physical abuse (childhood), married at 17due to pregnancy. At almost 80
    my husband has reached his bottom at 82, He has destroyed me. There are 3 other family members that are BP’’s – my middle son, his son & my daughters son who is dysfunctional & recently became a a quadriplegic . My husband has been a daily problem – finally got forced into rehab for drugs & alcohol. He is a hypochondriac also, etc etc. Life is great for him he cons everyone! Surfs the tv channels. Never a MSW
    – only a babysitter who is now pretty crazy! Amen

  3. Julie, I have bipolar and I say no to mania yet it arrives like an unwelcome relative. I have years of therapy and practice of skills under my belt but hardly call myself an expert at this game. Although friends and family find the onset on my mania or depression unattractive as do I they offer up as much support as I allow. Mania still comes. My responsibility to myself is to seek help as soon as it’s noticed saying no isn’t an action that makes a difference being proactive and working a program that is sensitive to conditions that indicate mania is. Mania says to bad to the no and marches in anyway. Having emergency supplies and game plans is best way to deal with what you know will come. It never is “if” it’s when.

    1. Oh yes. We will still get manic. By saying no to mania, it means we say yes to management. I used to fuel my mania with more beer, more men, more travel, more work….you know what I mean. When we say NO MORE to fueling our mania, we at least prevent the super big episodes. I admire your insight. Julie.

      1. I agree with the person above […]. You insinuated that we have control over our episodes when we rarely do. [I recommend] Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and practicing grounding. This sounds like something I had to unlearn in therapy years ago in order to ride long periods of mania that would not lift. I’m 27. This mindset can and will backfire on ppl who suffer from thing the PTSD/bipolar combo. This is why ppl who only experience burst of mania every now and then should not speak on mania. Some of us running off four adrenaline rushes a day. Mania is coming. Always. (Yes. I’m medicated, workout, don’t take stimulants, same therapist for 3 years, and do yoga.) As “high functioning” ppl, it is our obligation to not push false narratives about the illness. Think how this makes ppl experiencing episodes during things like trauma/exposure therapy feel.

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