“Ha,” you say. That’s an easy one. I know the answer to that. It’s like the difference between walking on pins and needles and walking on eggshells. For me, anxiety is the pins and needles, while mania produces the eggshells. Pins and needles hurt more, but eggshells are easier to break. Anxiety causes me more pain, but mania has me treading carefully on a fragile edge.
I know more about anxiety than mania. My diagnosis is actually bipolar disorder type 2 with an anxiety disorder. As such, I never really experience true mania. Hypomania is about as far as I get. And believe me, that’s enough.
First, let’s start by admitting that anxiety and mania have a lot in common. At least, they do in my life. Both of them make me frantic. Both of them make me obsessed with money. Both disrupt my eating habits. And both of them make me very, very twitchy.
Both anxiety and hypomania make me feel frantic, like there is something I need to be doing to alleviate them. I know this isn’t true, that they are out of my control, but it feels that way. I get all revved up inside, a nagging, prickly feeling that jangles my nerves and irritates my brain. I try desperately to think what it might be that would calm the feeling, but there is nothing this side of an anti-anxiety pill, which might or might not help.
2. Obsessed with money.
With anxiety, I obsess about the bills and how I am going to pay them. With mania, I obsess about what money I do have and how I can best spend it. Since this is, after all, hypomania, I tend not to go on wild spending sprees, but I have been known to buy myself or my husband presents, telling myself the costs are comparatively reasonable and that at least I have limited myself to a non-extravagant amount. (Which may be the anxiety and the hypomania arguing with each other.) With anxiety, I try to anticipate all possible bills and juggle their amounts, due dates and relative necessity (like power cut off or trash removal cut off). I take on extra work, not because I think I have the wherewithal to do it, but because I want the extra money, no matter what it costs me in terms of physical and emotional energy.