Shawn Maxam talks about James Holmes and the different types of mania a person with bipolar disorder can experience.
Dr. Victor Reus, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, said dysphoric mania is not uncommon in patients with bipolar disorder, a vast majority of whom never turn to violence.
To be clear. I have experienced dysphoric mania several times during the course of my life. I just had an near episode of psychosis last week. Today the New York Times published a piece that profiled suspected Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes. The article discusses James Holmes’ mental health struggles and the possibility that he was experiencing a mixed-mood which is a layman’s term for dysphoric mania.
But what the hell is dysphoric mania anyway? It’s usually when a person has the symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. It is the very highs and extreme lows occurring in the mind simultaneously. I have had this experience and I can’t articulate how psychologically exhausting it feels.
A HealthyPlace has an apt description:
Dysphoric mania (a combination of mania and agitated depression that is also known as mixed mania) is the opposite of euphoric mania. A person with this mood swing is agitated, uncomfortable, irritated, depressed, pessimistic and filled with negative energy. They don’t sleep well, if at all, and ultimately their behaviors are destructive and sometimes life threatening. Dysphoric mania is especially dangerous due to driving, fighting and other self-destructive behavior. Dysphoric mania can be mild to moderate (hypomania) or full blown. I have heard it described as, “It feels like I’m coming out of my skin. My body and mind are in a civil war.”
Does this supposed diagnosis or assessment of James Holmes’s mental state explain why he did what he is accused of? No it doesn’t because the vast majority of people who have had this type of mania have never committed a violent crime. I have had several episodes of mixed mania and I have never attacked anyone. Have I had delusional and dangerous thoughts? Yes I have. But thoughts are not behaviors or actions. Until we stop condemning people for their thoughts then they will fail to seek treatment for their mental illness like I did. This is important especially for men who are taught to believe that masculinity, violence and emotional repression are synonymous with each other. They are not.
The tragedy that happened in Aurora is devastating and nothing can replace the lives lost that day. Yet we can learn from this. Five years ago when I was first diagnosed with a mental illness I never thought I would see mainstream media outlets discussing not only bipolar disorder but the spectrum of symptoms the disease has. Please read the Times article here.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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