Tag Archives: Depression
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?
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”
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.
“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?”