It could be both. I always ask myself this question when I feel I’m on the upswing. I’m afraid of having a manic episode as I get older and have more responsibilities. Before a full-blown episode you might find that you are generating every creative ideas and solutions at work and at home.
If it’s just mania does that mean my ideas are bad?
This is really a question that you must ask and answer for yourself but I will share my thoughts. You have to be clear on what happiness means for you. Usually we think of happiness as a positive emotion in regards to our current state of affairs. I think there are some positive emotions that accompany happiness, but happiness is more about the contribution you make within your community, the quality of your relationships, and your level of self-respect.
Just ask this question to ask in order to determine if you are going manic and need to slow down or are just happy and enjoy it:
Are you keeping your daily habits?
By now you should have a well-established morning and evening routine. These are almost performed religiously so I actually call them rituals. The rituals like making your bed, chugging a glass of water and going for a morning jog before sun up help you stay healthy. Missing a day or two is normal, but it should raise a flag.
If you can’t even get up to do your morning ritual, chances are depression is lurking and you can then modify your work out plan so it is basic and covers only the essentials. If you pop out of bed before the 5 AM alarm clock goes off, that’s great! But if you think, man I feel so great, I don’t really need to meditate this morning, or I can skip breakfast to keep working on this blog post, chances are that mania is just around the corner.
It’s a sad thought to think that if you feel good then it’s just a symptom of the disorder. It seems that the goal is to reduce and eliminate symptoms when really we should learn to cope and channel these intense emotions into something creative like art and music.
Reaching a manic state of mind may feel like reaching Nirvana or even talking with God. When the crash comes and you start to analyze it you may doubt the spiritual insights or “Aha!” moments that you had during that time. In 2009 this caused me to question my entire worldview.
Choose your own belief about it
Some people choose to see their bipolar disorder as a spiritual condition because the experiences can be so intense that they leave a mark on you so they discount the science, and others only see it as a chemical reaction in the brain. I’ve learned to hold on to the spiritual insights while accepting the depression and manic episodes as part of the mental health condition. It’s really your choice how to you view your episodes moving forward, just try to pick the belief that brings the most peace and empowers you to reach your goals.