Does this sound like anxiety or mania?

frogthroat

MyPTSD Pro
This is embarrassing for me to write about. I'm in-between my last job and starting my new one and I've been having anxiety issues but tonight I feel like I'm on the verge of having an episode. I've had a couple of these meltdowns in the past couple years.
The first one I had what felt like a panic attack at work. I left. My car was being worked on at the time so I walked. I just walked. I walked frantically through some woods without thinking. I don't know what I was thinking and I fell in a hole. I managed to climb out of the hole but I lost my phone subsequently having to buy a new one. I had to walk back to work and somebody drove me to my apartment because I was so out of it.
The second time I was having a panic attack and I thought maybe a few beers would calm me down. I ended up at a bar. I NEVER go to bars unless there's a reason like a band I want to see and it's with other people. I went by myself. I drove a guy to his house drunk and apparently drove myself home. Yes, I know this was horrible. I don't ever do this and I feel like trash that this happened. Please don't come for me. Although, I've had had problems with alcohol before. I drink at home as I don't like socializing really or putting myself in a vulnerable position around complete strangers.
I'm getting help for PTSD along with major depression and general anxiety.
I don't know how to describe these events. They just happened so fast. I was totally sober at work and when I decided to drink (which was a terrible idea) it was already happening.
Everything felt fast and bright. I couldn't even tell you what I was thinking other than I needed to "go" and I had to "get out." Where did I need to go or leave to? I have no idea. I just needed to leave. It felt urgent.
My primary care doctor thinks I might be bipolar and I've decided to just get a psych assessment when I find a psychiatrist so there's more information for them to go on. Does this sound like more than panic? I feel it coming in a different way. It's hard to describe.
I've tried to educate myself a bit on bipolar but I don't feel the descriptions of mania accurately describe what I'm experiencing. Does anyone have any input? I know I need to see a psychiatrist.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
And this feeling -
Everything felt fast and bright. I couldn't even tell you what I was thinking other than I needed to "go" and I had to "get out." Where did I need to go or leave to? I have no idea. I just needed to leave. It felt urgent.
The way you're writing about it, it sounds like it was an uncomfortable feeling, like it had an urgency connecting to needing to escape the situation you were in. Am I reading that correctly?
 

joeylittle

Administrator
Honestly, this is the sort of stuff that you might get a lot of different responses on....but from the way you're describing it, my instinct is to say it's more of a PTSD-based flight impulse, than mania. And take that with a grain of salt, seriously. But in my own little pile of anecdata, mostly some family and friends with various manifestations of mania - they tend to experience it as fundamentally energizing and confident building, for quite a while before it becomes stressful. And even when it's stressful - the experience from the inside is more like intense competency, with nearly no feeling of being chased from behind. More like a compulsion to keep up with whatever they are experiencing as an acceleration. Near-total lack of fear. It's why it's so hard for people to give up their mania - at least, for many of them, it's the best they ever feel. From the outside, it looks pretty destructive and dangerous, but the inside experience is largely one of mastery and willingness. As it peaks - right before it crashes - it can become suddenly, intensely terrifying. But the period before terrifying, even in extremely rapid cyclers, is more of a happy place than a bad place.

Again - this is nothing I've experienced, just how people I know who are living with bipolar (various types) have described it.

Flight response (for some) is described as having heightened sensation - that feeling of colors being brighter, sounds louder, and time moving oddly. Panic attacks can definitely feel that way. And so can mania, the difference being that the feeling of impending doom or danger will precede a flight response or panic. With mania, the feeling of wrongness is preceded by a sense of all things working together in a really, really good way.
 

frogthroat

MyPTSD Pro
Flight response (for some) is described as having heightened sensation - that feeling of colors being brighter, sounds louder, and time moving oddly.
This is more what it sounds like. There's nothing about it that feels good even leading up to the meltdown. I don't feel more confident or like I have tons of energy. I wish I had that. It feels like I have to get away from something but Idk what.
Maybe it's not something I should worry about so much but I do worry about just running off and coming to somewhere and potentially putting myself or other people in danger.
 

Friday

Moderator
Honestly, this is the sort of stuff that you might get a lot of different responses on....but from the way you're describing it, my instinct is to say it's more of a PTSD-based flight impulse, than mania. And take that with a grain of salt, seriously.
Strong second. To both seeing the flight-response AND other possibilities.

***

My own flight response manifests in a very similar way… there’s no fear/panic involved emotionally, adrenaline at the level of fight/flight is a very “clarifying” “smoothing out” sort of feeling whether it’s in fight or flight AND act on it, rather than fighting it… although my stress & anxiety levels in retrospect are usually maxing out in the days and weeks preceding… instead? There’s simple NOW calm certainty. I need to do THIS now. And act. With zero pause between decision/action.

- Sometimes that action is physically removing myself from ABC.
- Sometimes that action is inserting some kind of last-ditch / nuclear coping mechanism to moderate my fight/flight response downward // IE removing myself mentally/emotionally.

Both are about creating distance, just in 2 different ways. So they each get a LITTLE bit out of hand, very fast.

And ABC can be anything / I’m not usually even aware of “what” ABC is. I just need to go. Now. Or??? I just need to stop this. Now. Put a million miles between ME and ABC.

They make perfect sense in the moment, and virtually no sense after the fact, once I’ve blown off enough steam to actually think clearly. Unless…

…I chose to blow off steam in a very adrenaline rich environment.

Essentially shifting from flight, into fight -or- thrill seeking. In which case it will be a few months before I really surface, again. Because I feel nooooooormal, in the fight part of fight-or-flight/ survival-mode/ thrill-seeking / death-wishy land? And then start to get symptomatic as f*ck as soon as I try to back out of a place where all the adrenaline is a boon instead of a random visitor with no purpose? <<< It’s very much like the times I decided to get drunk/high as a way to distance myself, and after a few months decided to sober up, only to be hit with those same durn symptoms all over again.

FOR ME… both of those attempts at distancing myself trace back to FLIGHT far more often than not. There are some other causes to both of those behaviors, the whole well worn path / what works-works thing, but the vast majority of the time when I’m backtracking how the hell this all happened? I kicked into flight-mode.

I wish I had a good answer on how to manage either fight/flight aside from stress cup stuff / not letting it get there to begin with… but again, FOR ME… if I don’t act? In a very limited window? I get knocked on my ass with crushing depression, instead. Whilst I’ve come up with 1,001 ways to manage the stress that gets me there &/or minimize the destruction that follows in the wake of active fight/flight… I’m utterly clueless on how to deal with depression.
 

frogthroat

MyPTSD Pro
Wow. @Friday this the pattern I've been stuck in for literal years. I couldn't describe it any better.
You're right about the depression once it hits it takes forever to pull myself out of it. Sometimes I think I subconsciously keep myself stressed just so I can "outrun" the depression. I have no clue how to deal with depression either other than I just do what I have to do in regards to work and errands. Then everything else I just do as much as I can when I can. There's no in-between. I want to develop a more functional in-between. I somehow conjure the ability to half ass everything. There's still always that fear in the back of my head of waking up one morning and not being able to get out of bed.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
So I used to get these but they were freeze/fawn responses and I would drop on the spot, no matter where I was. It was a fear response and they were triggered on a dime for me until I learned how to manage it. Gotta be honest, it was horrible for my social life. Took me a long time to figure out how to manage. Here are a couple of things I found were helpful.
1. Super sour candies (I used warheads) slammed me back into my body quickly.
2. Coffee. I always had a coffee with me - especially if I knew I was going out and may get triggered up.
3. Always had lorazepam sublingual on my self. Always.

I am not certain if you have a trauma specialist but it may be a good time to get one if you can. This course changed my reality. It is called WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and is put on by agencies across Canada, USA and UK. It is empowerment based and really helps switch the focus from what wrong with you and how powerless you feel to how to walk into your own empowerment based activities. It is a crisis planning tool as well. Maybe check your local resources to see if there is anything being offered in your area.


It won't last forever - this may well be happening because you are unwinding something. Keep the faith. It won't always be like this. Learn tools. Put time into yourself and creating good solid healthy routines.
 

Renly

MyPTSD Pro
@frogthroat i don’t have any answers for you, but I can 100% relate. This has been happening to me throughout my life and I’ve never really understood it. I’ve engaged in a whole host of behaviors that I’m ashamed of and during these episodes… I didn’t feel like I was even me…it’s like I was driven by some strange impulse and engaged in strange reckless behaviors. I’m hoping you find some clarity! No judgement here, you are definitely not alone.
 
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