How do you describe mania exactly? Have you ever tried to explain it to someone who doesn't have a frame of reference? It's incredibly difficult.
For us, it goes way beyond being hyper. Yes, Taz is more hyper than most kids on a daily basis. Yes, he gets wound up easily, he gets rough, and he gets really silly and giddy. When he's like this he can pass for any ADHD child.
But true mania is different.
(Sidenote: In the bipolar world there is mania and there is hypomania. I'm not exactly sure the difference, just that one is more severe than the other. What I'm describing today is a more severe manic episode that Taz experiences every once in a while. There are times where he has the less severe form of mania; i.e. giddiness, racing thoughts, tunnel vision, grandiosity, hypersexuality, etc.)
I finally nailed down how different mania is than hyperactivity while I was talking to my mom about it today. When Taz is hyper I can at least slow him down with the right interventions and get some response from him. There can be an interaction. There is some amount of acknowledgment and reasoning behind his eyes, even if he continues to be impulsive and hyper.
When he's manic, there is nothing. There is no response. There is no reaction or interaction. There is nothing behind his eyes. He has a big eerie grin on his face but no acknowledgment about what he's doing. I could probably tell him, in all seriousness, that I'm going to drive the car into the lake and he would just smile at me. Maybe even laugh.
It's scary. The only word I can think of to describe it is psychotic.
But it's hard for other people to believe without seeing it. They try to explain it away. He's manipulating you. He's looking for attention. He's trying to make you mad. He's trying to be funny.
No. He's not "trying" to do anything. There is no thought behind it. There's nothing.
I guess you just have to see it to believe it.
(Sidenote: Taz was like this before medication but it had mainly stopped since starting medication. It does not appear to be caused by the medication he is on, although you never know. He did have a severe episode yesterday and today and the psychiatrist is aware of what is going on and ordering blood tests to check med levels next week.)
In other news. I think we may be getting intensive in-home services sometime in the next couple months. We've tried this before through our local social services office (a foster/adoption response team is a free service for licensed families) but it didn't turn out well. The worker was undereducated and inexperienced in regards to serious mental illness. She looked at us blankly and said I don't know what to do at week 5. She was lost after her "Happiest Toddler on the Block" technique didn't work. Seriously. That's what she came armed with. We were supposed to grunt in caveman toddler language what we thought he wanted and he was supposed to calm down once he realized we understood his needs. I think I laughed out loud when she explained it.
Anyway, I'm hoping for a better experience (but I won't hold my breath). This is a program derived from the Yale Child Study Center specifically for families living with severe psychological problems, who've tried other resources, and who are at-risk for hospitalization. While I'm not planning to bring Taz to a hospital anytime soon, I have to admit that if he was much bigger and this violent, I would have no choice.
So...how do you describe mania? How do your kids display it?