Explaining Manic Depression To My Loved Ones



Manic Depression is very difficult to live with –both to suffer from it, or to be affected by it. It also comes with a stigma, which those with Manic Depression feel forced to wear like a shame they have to conceal. Had we been afflicted by a socially acceptable illness such as diabetes, we would simply say: I have diabetes. And everyone would become sympathetic, and ask what type we have and how we are coping and if there is anything they could do to help us? But we don’t have a PHYSICAL illness. We have a MENTAL illness, so we cannot just say: I have Manic Depression. Because then people are scared of us, not sympathetic towards us.


So, what does Manic Depression feel like?


Some of the time, it feels like nothing. My emotions are relatively neutral, and I can adjust to and function in the same environment as any ‘normal’ human being could.


But then at other times, it isn’t so neutral. It is a little happier. I want to say a bit more when in conversation, stay out a while longer when socialising and interact more openly when in crowds.


Until suddenly I am a LOT happier. I don’t want to keep quiet; I garrulously speak a mile a minute and want to mingle with every single person whose path I cross, engage everyone in frivolous small talk or deeply intimate heart-to-hearts…


I want to go EVERYWHERE


all of the time!


Everything I do is spontaneous, and very impetuous. I make impulsive decisions, I act without inhibition…


And make extravagant plans for events in the future.


I look great. I feel great. I do great. I probably am great!!


I am a well of strength to all of those around me, and spread a seemingly infinite source of love and encouragement to everyone that I encounter.


I have the most fantastic ideas, and enough stamina to start any project that I put my mind to…


Which works out fantastically, because I cannot sleep at night so I have PLENTY of time to finish any and everything, right…?




Until I slowly stop wanting to do anything. At all. Anywhere. For any reason.


I communicate much less, and replace long nights out with endless days in, confined alone in my bed.


My well of love and support has run dry…


And it feels like I have fallen into the bottom of it.


Everything is dark and cramped and constricting,


And I am mostly alone with my own thoughts


But I WANT to be this way.


Both mind and body are destroyed from my mental fall, and don’t want to get up, nor change out of these pajamas. They’ve accepted me as their own. And all I need right now is to be accepted.


Maybe I eat a whole cake at once
Maybe I eat nothing at all
Maybe I shower
I probably won’t


All I know is, I may have had the stamina to run a marathon last week,

And I may have made well-meaning plans –




And I might not be able to tomorrow, either.


In fact, I might not be able to for quite a while…


But eventually, I will be neutral again.

And then manic, too.

And depressed once more.


All that I ask… And all that we need…


Is that you try to understand. And if you cannot understand,

At the very least



8 thoughts on “Explaining Manic Depression To My Loved Ones”

  1. What an excellent blog, Amy. I love it! I can relate to much of your experience; especially the eating a whole cake at once! When I am excitable and capable, people seem to think that I am back to ‘normal’ and can’t understand when I suddenly become withdrawn and incapable for long periods of time. They have no idea how to react, so they don’t. A ‘get well’ card would be lovely!


    1. Thank you Shirley -if you can relate to the cake, I shouldn’t tell you about slicing a buttercream frosted cupcake vertically and sandwiching a large scoop of ice cream in between; we don’t need TWO manic depressives doing that at 3 AM! =)
      Yes, I understand your flip between what others consider ‘normal’, and you know to be your lowest. It would be fantastic if the outside world could just empathise (or at the very least, sympathise)
      but so long as they don’t it is wonderful to know that there are people like you who can say you truly, deeply understand.
      Sometimes, that is all we need.
      That, and a fork for the cake.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooooooh – now you have given me an idea, the cupcake icecream sandwich sounds delicious, perfect 3 am treat! I agree, it is wonderful to know there are others who get us on the blogging site and it is so liberating to be able to express ourselves, knowing others understand.

        I have a fork – I just need a cake now ……

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Do all the things!

    I can totally relate. I’ll likely write about it myself, but depression can feel like a cramped place. I love your analogy, of it being a barrel that is holding you captive.


    1. Thank you! Yes, it really does feel that way -but the mania feels like absolute, boundless, wild and reckless freedom. Such a rollercoaster…

      If you do write about it, I look forward to reading it. =)


  3. Amy, you capture the nuances of this disorder/disease very well. I should like to post it on my blog for other to see, if you will allow me. Or simply tell me how to link to this post so they can read your other stuff.

    You are very well schooled in writing, I can tell. You had me going on the rollercoaster with you: up and down and fast and dead slow. It was a ride. But maybe I followed along so well because I am Bipolar too.

    Maybe, when you are ready, you could publish a book for the whole of mankind can see, not just those lucky enough to see your blog? Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Eric,

      Thank you so much for your warming reply. You are more than welcome to post it on your blog! Please just credit and link this original post at the end, if you can, and you are welcome to freely use it.

      Knowing that this emotional fluctuation is a story shared by many is small comfort, but comfort all the same…

      Thank you for that -you are quite gifted at writing, too! I look forward to following your posts in the future 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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