Is this mania?

I’ve recognized a pattern I’ve never defined. It’s been this way since high school. There’s a low thrumming in my chest, a rhythmic pulse like a call, an urge, a craving. I feel I am being goaded into something, that I need to do something, like an addict craving euphoria; I think that more than once I have mistaken this feeling for anxiety. The trouble is, it doesn’t go away if I employ self-care tactics, if I attempt to soothe myself, if I instruct myself not to follow my reckless and often visceral impulses. It worsens until I feel I am being smothered and my hummingbird heartbeat is all there is of me. In high school the feeling centered around going out, being with people, dancing, drinking, getting high: being alive in those classic clichéd ways of being alive when you’re seventeen. I have always thought I was just restless, that those days when I compulsively yearned to create an image of myself that was relatively unfamiliar were not related, were flukes, were the results of regular teenage boredom. Now I am not so sure. I can trace it back from those innocent days, when my emotional and physical safety depended on my lack of dangerous opportunities, to now, when at times my behaviour is unrecognizable and uncontrollable. And giving in, deciding my heartbeat was wiser than my mind, always gave me such beautiful feelings. Intoxication, maybe, or rapture, like seeing an angel.

I wonder now if this is related to my recent diagnosis of bipolar II. I wonder as I sit on the floor of my apartment and try to quiet my heartbeat, the rush of my blood, the surge of adrenaline that is not quite fear, but more like desire. How does one control such things? Barring the impossibility of the desired circumstances (in high school I was not especially popular and could not easily access the situations I craved), what does one do? Eventually the circumstances become wholly accessible, as they are now, as they have been for years, and again and again I follow the siren song. I have never been a model of restraint. And now I wonder if those impulses are not only personal weaknesses but biological frailties that have never been examined properly.

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I'm a former student of English literature, an editor and a creative writer who has been attempting to live with body dysmorphic disorder as well as severe anxiety and a recent diagnosis of Bipolar II. I believe that struggles with mental health are often lifelong and people in these situations need comfort, support and occasional moments of peace granted to them in order to survive.

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