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Just another Manic ... Everyday

by Migs Paraz

"Just another Manic Monday", wailed Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles back in 1985. That was my first experience of the word "manic", and from the context of the song, it meant "terrible", as she "wished it were a Sunday." Little did I know, that it means quite different (check the dictionary: the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary invoked by defines it as "of or pertaining to, or characterized by, mania, or excitement").

Little did I know I would be "manic" myself.

I am now certified manic-depressive, also known as, being afflicted with bipolar disorder. This means I have a psychiatric disorder that gives people mood swings. True, every person swings between happy and sad, high and low, but people with manic depression have it in an exaggerated way.

What is the effect on me, you might wonder. For one, I am more on the manic side. I have a hyperactive mind, and sometimes the mouth follows- I just like talking, especially when there is intelligent conversation. When I'm especially "high", thoughts just flow straight into my head and it sometimes cannot be controlled. I also have a short attention span for things that don't interest me. For this I take lithium (of Kurt Cobain fame) which acts as "brain vitamins" to make up over the chemical imbalance lurking in my head.

I get depressed very rarely. Depression here does not mean sadness - as I rarely get sad over anything. Instead, depression manifests itself as extreme laziness - I just want to stay in bed and do nothing but (try to) sleep. As in *bato*. What makes this especially bad in my case is I have to wait it out; I cannot take anti-depressants (like the famous Prozac) since they can swing me to the other manic end.

I probably became manic-depressive because of my formerly erratic work ' patterns where I would work for long hours at the office, and not get any sleep. I have always been a workaholic - and I still am, though I try to keep it under control. I was diagnosed as manic-depressive because of one instance when I had a fantastic amount of work, organizing a conference in February 1998, and I did not sleep for a week. Afterwards I really flipped - I became psychotic, which means I "lost it", and I landed in the psychiatric ward (known as "the basement"), where I stayed for a total of a month.

My stint in the basement was quite interesting because I was really out of my mind. Since I had become psychotic, it took some time for me to recover; even when I got out I was still on some drugs that limited the normal flow of my mind since it had a tendency to go crazy. But I did get back to an almost-normal life, except for the fact that I cannot sleep without drug-induced assistance. This is quite frustrating since the stuff that puts me to sleep gives me a "hangover" the next day, extending my sleeping hours, which induces a weird schedule. Anyway, I remained disciplined enough to stay out of the basement, until June 1999 when I had yet another conference. But this was much shorter, so while I became very manic, I did not go psycho, and I was up-and-running after a week's rest.

Manic depression is something you've got for life. There is no cure, only treatment to keep it under control. But it's something I live with, and learn to love too, since it does bend my personality in interesting ways. I hope this enlightens you about people with psychiatric illnesses: we may be "weird" or simply "different", but we are fun people too!

Migs Paraz only knows a few people with same condition as himself, so if you are manic-depressive or know some people who are, let him know at

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