Bipolar Thoughts

I’m about to tell a story that might seem like a sympathy necessitating sob-story, and in a lot of ways I can’t argue that. But my intention of relating the story is two-fold. First, this is the story of when I first ‘came online’ to the realities of life. Second, it is also the first time I had a real experience with mental illness and addiction.

So here it goes.

I don’t remember the age I was when this happened. I was in elementary school, maybe fourth grade, maybe older, I really can’t recall. But whatever age I felt when I woke up that morning was much younger than the age I felt when I went to bed that night.

0 views
Bipolar Thoughts

To My Wife:

One of us wakes up in the middle of the night trembling in fear and asks to be held like a child.

Grabbing hold of one of our large stuffed animals that are ever-present on the bed. Curling up like it is impossible to get warm. Breathing heavy, the verge of tears. Scooting towards the center of the bed, face towards the outside. Waiting for the warmth of a body behind us and an arm over us. Anticipating the affectionate breath that will soon pour over the back of the neck. Hoping that the fear will subside. Wishing that the shaking will cease. Demanding it won’t happen again.

0 views
Bipolar Thoughts

For almost all mental illness, three questions are evaluated, and three treatments are prescribed. This is as true of one time “clinical” depression as Major Depressive Disorder, or as true of Agoraphobia as Bipolar Disorder or even the ‘big one’, Schizophrenia.

Those three things that are evaluated are the duration, the intensity, and the frequency of any mental disturbance. Doctors and therapists don’t tend to come right out of the gate with these questions. They generally attempt to draw them out by asking about your history, how much your everyday life as been affected, things like that.

0 views
Bipolar Thoughts

In the ancient world, and I am talking like the first books of the Old Testament here, pre-Illiad, Epic of Gilgamesh stuff, it was common practice for an army to march into battle with a statue of their god. In some cultures the statue was just a symbol, while other cultures believed the god lived inside of it. Another common practice was that the victor of the battle would carry away the statue as part of the spoils, literally saying ‘my god is better than your god’. And at times these statues were so invaluable to the society that the plundered city put priority on recovering the statue over rebuilding, like when Assyria destroyed Babylon in the Bible.

It may seem silly to us now, clearly no god was ever in any of those statues. They were, at best, symbols of a higher power, and could easily be remade. But the concept of holding man-made constructions of man-made ideas precious still resides deep within us. Why does burning a flag matter so much? Why do people ‘swear to god’ or on a Bible? Why are often the most effective military targets the largest cultural ones?

0 views
Bipolar Thoughts

There has been a significant development in the treatment of resistant depression.

Things have basically come to a stand-still in the treatment of people with deep depression that is resistant to drugs. As of right now, there are three options: drugs, ECT or other intra-cranial electrical stimulation, or cognitive behavioral therapy (or other forms of therapy that are coming into more common use). Drugs have a low efficacy rate, leaving a huge portion of patients to other options. ECT is considered dangerous and a lot of people opt-out of the treatment. Therapy alone can do a lot but cannot handle the severe and dangerous highs and lows.

0 views
Bipolar Thoughts

It is difficult not to think of emotions as direct responses to causes, or triggers in the mental health world. And people who are in counseling spend a great deal of time identifying triggers and trying to make them less, well, triggery.

I very common response to the question: “what is making you anxious?” or “what is making you depressed?” is simply ‘I dunno’. This demonstrates two problems. First, this person does not have a firm grasp of the cognitive aspect of their emotional state. Something is probably causes the distress. But, here is the second problem, that distress might not be currently happening.

0 views