The Manic Morning-After
The arrival of the men in white coats is stressful, hospitalization can be grim in the extreme, the Pit is a place of utter horror, but in some ways the manic morning-after is even worse. When an episode has run its course the day dawns once more, cold, gray, damp and dismal. Finally, reality seeps in. You must let go of the feeling of at last "truly understanding everything," for it was just that—a feeling. No longer are you a god-like being with immense power but just a confused basket weaver with the fading embers of mania. Gone is the fantasy of untold wealth, replaced by the reality of unpaid bills. Reality sucks.
And it is time to put the pieces back together. There is no escaping it. One must return to one's interrupted life and pull it back into shape. One must do this at a time when one's emotional resources have been drained dry. One must do this in the cold mental clarity of a new dawn no longer protected by a muddled mind.
One must do this.
One must pick up where one left off. And things are in an almighty mess. The alternative is to run away: to run away from people, to run away from relationships, to run away from oneself. Full circle, we are back to acceptance—the other side of the coin. You must accept your illness and take responsibility for it. You must join the club. You must return to your own life after an episode.
Surprisingly I have found other people to be very understanding. At least those that knew me well enough. It is hard to face them again, knowing that much of what one normally keeps hidden got exposed during the episode. But I have found the damage to be easier to repair than I feared. Perhaps I have been lucky. I have never lost my job over an episode, or more money than I could cope with losing. I have never lost a good friend. I know that others have not been so fortunate.
My manic hangover can last up to six months after a full-blown episode. I will be back at work, I will be functional, but I will be very quiet. I will keep to myself; I will not originate much. I will have a very low energy level. It takes time to recover. It takes time to forget.