Who wouldn't want a perpetual high that has these effects: causes you to be sharper than ever, elevates your mood; makes you excessively energetic; allows you to work well into the wee hours of the morning without rest or sleep; provides overly optimistic feelings; makes you abnormally talkative, communicating the thousands of thoughts racing through your mind; gives an increased drive to perform or achieve goals; and helps you focus with laser precision?
This is what bipolar mania is like, and from personal experience I can tell you that it feels good; no, better than good. As Tony the Tiger would say, "It's Great!" There is no high like it. You see the world spinning in Technicolor as you go through the day as a whirlwind.
I accomplish more than any mere mortal when I experience hypomania as a symptom of bipolar disorder. I landed my company on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America list twice and then the Inc. 5000 list once because I would become high, thus acquiring super powers. These are mood shifts that may occur only a few times a year, or as often as several times a day. I could be normal and all of sudden it is as if I drank a case of energy drinks.
Typically, when someone experiences hypomania or mania they don't seek help, but rather ride the tiger. In fact, many people don't want to take any medications because they want that high to be triggered so that they can benefit from the ups of being high. I wrote a top-selling book in less than a week while being high. I'm here to say that it is incredible and awesome. Who wouldn't want that for herself or better yet from an employee? You. You wouldn't want this blessing within a curse.
All of this can lead to erratic and at times unsafe behavior and actions. While everything seems rosy and life couldn't get any better, for every up there must be a down that occurs when the high is over and depression sets in. Also, people with bipolar disorder may fail to see or recognize the darker side of a high. According to Mayo Clinic, people will experience poor judgment, aggressive behavior, agitation or irritation, spending sprees or unwise financial choices, careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol, frequent absences from work or school, delusions or a break from reality (psychosis), and poor performance at work or school. All of these will and often do impact the workplace adversely. So, no you wouldn't want this for yourself or from an employee!
Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) according to Mayo Clinic. So in essence, bipolar disorder and these conditions can be managed, but it has to be a conscious decision to do so. Every day I have to decide to take my meds giving up on the hope to become manic which could help me accomplish some of my to-do-list with greater speed and success. When you are experiencing euphoria, it takes a clear mind and strong willpower to decide to let that go by following a treatment plan that often involves medication.
I'm often asked why don't people want to take medication and the answer is very simple. It removes the high. I use the analogy of taking meds to having a circuit breaker. All the switches are on that includes the good and the bad thoughts and feelings. When you take medicine it shuts off everything, leaving you feeling what I can only surmise as 'normal.' However, there is a choice to be made to lead an existence that is healthy for everyone including your organization. And only you can make that choice. I have found that being on meds, exercising, meditating daily, and eating properly keeps me balanced and able to successfully manage and lead my company. I write this in hopes that, if you are soaring in the clouds headed for the earth with no parachute, you will consider a regimen.
I welcome your mental health questions for this column by writing me at email@example.com.