This quote, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,” is from the story of Jacob, when he wrestled with an angel through the night, refusing to surrender until the angel blessed him. This deliberate stance is the number one reason that I am still alive. One out of five people with bipolar one disorder tragically killed themselves. I decided that if I have been fated with such a dark and dangerous disorder, my personal choice has to be to endure and to make it pay for itself. If I am going to be affected by an illness that also creates havoc in the lives around me then I am going to learn from it.
Healing and transcendence of bipolar disorder. What does that mean? I have come to realize that for me “healing and transcendence” means that my life is now no longer centered around bipolar disorder. I was blessed with a wicked case of it. And bipolar disorder has seemed all-consuming at many points of my life. But I do not want to die that way. It will still be there. I will never get away from taking lithium. But it is no longer a vortex at the center of this life. There are more important things for me to focus upon and do.
The idiom “between Scylla and Charybdis” has come to mean being forced to choose between two equally dangerous situations. In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow’s range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice versa. For the purposes of bipolar disorder interpretations, Scylla has an acidic, raging, violent fury about her, akin to the worst of mania. In contrast, Charybdis, was simply a large whirlpool. Downward Spiral, end stop. No recourse. In bipolar disorder our choice is not simply between avoiding one monster or the other. It is between becoming one monster or the other. Between the two, is it any wonder that Odysseus chose mania over depression?
I know more about bipolar disorder than is healthy for any human being. Let’s just say that I have earned my Bp.D. (Doctorate in Bipolar disorder). I’ve also earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, which I will describe later, but it is the doctorate in bipolar disorder which is pertinent and most helpful for this […]
The thing about manic superpowers is that they are in part real. When I was loony tunes manic I didn’t make a lot of sense and was not productive. But when I was encroaching on it from hypomania I dazzled. Seductive. And very destructive to me, to those I love, and to my relationships.
The extreme sides of the political divide have been predicting almost cataclysmic disaster if the election results do not go their way. But listening to extremism can arouse feelings of hopelessness and create the perception that our situation is not safe. If we do not think that we have any impact on a dangerous situation we can feel helpless, depressed, and even give up.
“There is a silence where hath been no sound.
There is a silence where no sound may be—
in the cold grave, under the deep deep sea.”
— From Thomas Hood’s poem “Silence”
For the last couple of weeks I have been seriously out of whack. To try to describe my current experience I began with bobbleheads dolls, a useful analogy for my current experience. All of us respond to whack on the head, but some of us more easily respond to a blow, are thrown out of equilibrium more severely, and it takes us longer to back into balance. But then, in trying to find a video which illustrates this, I ran into a huge pocket of bobblehead culture and veered almost totally off-topic.
It sucks when you are under major stress and the powers that be have a video conference and decide to mess with your head. One of them turns to the other and giggles, “Let’s niggle her a bit by adding a sideways, nerve wracking stressor on top of the pile.” And another power nods emphatically in agreement, “She can take it! Let’s sit back and watch! Where’s the popcorn!”
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay
Odysseus had to navigate between the two destructive forces — a ferocious six-headed sea monster and a downward spiraling maelstrom. If you read the Odyssey and work through the analogy there are similarities to navigating between mania and depression. [This is a reissued version of my first post. A reader referred me to a George Harrison song, which I felt was a useful addition and so added it to the end.]
Bipolar disorder strongly affects the brain’s neurochemistry and, our best guess at this point, can create brain damage, probably dependent on how many or the extremity of the episodes that we’ve have. My brain has been burned by too much hypomania. I used to be impressively smart. Now I’m down to about 80% of what I started out with, probably just “smart.” And it can’t be undone, or at least entirely undone. I was hypomanic for years at a time. It felt marvelous at the time. But, hypomanic as I was, even so I would have listened to the following information, especially the graphic pictures.
I made this for a different post and didn’t use it, but I like it so I’m gonna hang it up here anyway.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
I bought a hummingbird feeder recently. It warms my heart to give these little guys with the manic wings some sugar water and the chance to take a load off. I have fluttered my wings a million miles a minute, but to ill effect. So I chose a feeder where they can sit quietly, dipping their beaks into the syrup and resting for a while where they feel unthreatened. This reminds of the blurred speed in my manic episodes and the fact that the fastest way to induce a manic episode (in someone wired that way) is to seriously threaten them.
With bipolar disorder, whenever you feel strongly compelled to do something, truly inspired to pursue a relationship, salivate over a potential purchase — just don’t. That way lies danger. And the reverse – when you feel like you can’t live one moment longer, if you don’t have the energy to get out of bed, and when you genuinely do not care about brushing your teeth or even world peace, it is time to get up and out of the chair and out the front door.
“How are you doing?” does not mean what it says. When we ask this question we rarely want to know how the other person is really doing, particularly in depth. When we are dealing with someone that is depressed we need to admit that and respect it. And when are depressed and try to answer this question we should not respond honestly — if that causes harm. Instead we can learn to simply “ping” each other in the situation, to find out if they are there, if they will respond, and to gauge the distance between us.
“Come then, goddess, answer me truthfully this:
is there some way for me to escape away from deadly Charybdis,
but yet fight the other one off, when she attacks my companions?”
Here is one way that I deal with the hyperfocus of Bipolar/ADD. I have alarms on my android tablet set to go off at certain times (which become increasingly annoying when I try to snooze them) and compel me to do certain activities. This is my dog’s favorite.