I’ve had some first rate truly happy moments these past few days. There have been a number of contributing factors: beautiful weather after a major heat wave; expectations of Fall (my favorite season); good food; seeing loved ones; being able to walk and exercise properly again; and having low pain levels.

All in all, a time worth giving thanks. It makes me want to celebrate.

I’ve been doing some celebrating lately. Rolling the windows down and letting the breeze hit my face while my stereo plays Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker. Singing along. Making up silly songs. Laughing at little things.

Those who live with me, who have seen me with bipolar mania, sometimes get a worried look in their eye when I’m exhibiting these behaviors. In another situation, making up silly songs, wiggling and dancing, and laughing too much can signal that I’m in a manic episode.

Mania can sound fun, but it’s more like you’re running on about 10 cups of coffee and a packet of pixie stix. You know you’re a bit out of control, you temporarily feel great, and you know you’re going to crash really hard.

I’ve gotten to the point where I can tell the difference between what it feels like to be manic and what it feels like to just have a good day. It’s a fine line – it’s like learning to tell the difference between depression and healthy sadness/grief.

How do my loved ones tell if I’m manic or if I’m happy? There lies the dilemma. We’ve yet to figure out a good way to do so. Asking if I’m manic usually leads to some sort of angry outburst and denial (a sure sign that I’m manic), and sometimes something untoward happens (like the time I bought a mouse – long story). Asking if I’m manic and I’m in a good mood sometimes feels like folks are invalidating my good mood. “I’m happy – why can’t you see that I’m happy?” It’s a touchy subject.

The best we’ve managed is for me to let loved ones know if I am feeling manic (so they can help me out if need be), and also to reassure them that I am having a bad day. I try not to let my own sensitivity about bipolar get in the way. We’ve also worked on having a good communication system, so if something does bother me we can work it out.