Mania: A Silent Chaos

orange and blue abstract painting
Photo by Steve Johnson on


Do you hear that? It’s as close to completely silent as I’ve been able to get. I hate (yes, hate) several symptoms of mania, but none for than this. It’s the first to show up; and it quickly wears out its welcome.

Noises are everywhere. Yes. Yes, I do know that; and I love them. The sounds of birds singing away in the morning, the hustle and bustle of my favorite coffee shop…

Mania, however, does not allow me to enjoy or look forward to any of that. Did I mention that I hear everything? I mean everything. The slightest breeze vibrates through me like a jet shaking a house. It’s been anything but smiles. Those birds in the morning? I utterly hate them. My coffee shop? Yeah, that feels completely overwhelming. Cars going by, dogs barking, television playing, phones ringing… I can barely cope with any of it. Living in a world made up of so many various, intentional and unintentional, sounds has been almost debilitating.

I made it to church on Sunday. I didn’t know that I would make it through service, but with a few coping techniques suggested by our old associate pastor, I managed it. Barely, but I did. I sat in the foyer while the songs were sung, announcements were made, and greetings took place. I snuck in when the sermon started. I’m not quite sure on the whole sermon because I was barely focusing due to continually trying to keep my mind reeled in. I’m just proud that I made it through. After service, a friend came to my rescue. Simply by asking me how I’ve been doing and guiding me to a less hectic area. She prayed for me; and then spoke with me until much of the crowd had disappeared. To her it may not have seemed like anything, but to me it was everything.

In our conversation, I mentioned going home to an empty house and how much I was craving the complete quiet. My dad had somewhere to be, so no one would be talking or going to the fridge or messing with doors. Silence. Complete and utter silence. She asked me, “That has to become pretty isolating, doesn’t it?” I guess it does. I try not to think about it, but it does to a point. It makes the days drag. That’s for sure. Even when I’m out in public and masking how miserable the sounds are, my mind is constantly searching for a quiet corner to hide in. I hear people, I can hold a conversation… but don’t ask me to recall the whole of our discussion later on.

That quiet isolation is a good thing, however. It helps me bare the other symptoms just a tad easier. It helps me heal with some sort of peace. Right now, I can use my earphones when on the bus to help me when I need to go somewhere- I am able to listen to the music as long as it is drowning out any other sound. It is slowly getting to the point, however, where that trick will not work. The quiet is the best, unfortunate, solace I have. Here’s why:

During mania, my mind is already working of its own accord. I have little, if any, control. Thoughts are in a 100 mile per hour speeding traffic jam with every stoplight out. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but not during mania. Focus is an ever-present wisp of air that can’t be grasped. Ideas circle into a tornado that wreaks havoc in its wake. I wish I was being over-reactive when it comes to these analogies. In all honesty, I keep trying to come up with more descriptive phrases to emphasize how grueling, how damaging, how torturous manias can be. They, however, are going to have to wait until a later date if I ever want to get this post written. This thing has already taken me days longer than usual.

All of the above- the lightening bolt thoughts, fleeting focus, unapologetic ideas- can be a dangerous combination. I have the past scars, and current markings, to prove it. The dangers are different for everyone. For some it’s hypersexuality unleashed. For others it’s rash decisions causing the long-lasting ripples. For me, the traitorous thoughts have a companion hiding in my own kitchen.

Back to the quiet.

The silence is my cruelest ally. I watch others around me having conversations and want to, desperately, have one while cringing at the notion of voices. I miss my 9pm dates with Rachel Maddow, but I wouldn’t be able to follow along with Spongebob. Rachel is out of the question.

Did you ever see the episode of “M*A*S*H*” where Hawkeye and Margaret end up in that shelter while the bombing is going on? My mind doesn’t get a complete reprieve, but it does get one less thing to cope with. Making it through the day is exhausting. Without question. Noises and movement and color and… Noise. Mania’s chaos surrounds me. Bombs of various strengths go off around me. Noises are used to escalate the attack. Silence is that shack; and it simply has to withstand the bombardment. It must.


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