Bipolar ThoughtsPersonal History

This is just a short little update. Everyone is busy these next couple weeks so why not keep this short?

I have pretty much eliminated drinking from my life.

I haven’t quit by any means, but I have gotten to the point where I am able to have one or two and stop.

I only drank heavily one day this year, at my best friend’s bachelor party. That’s all, in all of 2017.

There was a time or two in addition to that where I had more than I would allow myself to have now. But I am still proud of that.

Drinking became a pretty difficult thing for me to manage. I realized long before I stopped that the consequences of alcohol were often severe for me. It took me awhile to have the strength to take that knowledge and act on it.

I would never say I had a real problem with alcohol. But I would say that is just isn’t a good choice for me. It was something that often played poorly into my life and I needed greater control of that.

So, for now, it is out, at least any large quantity.

And if I ever feel that I get to a point where I feel out of control with having just one or two, then I will move to limit it more drastically. But so far this year, I think it has gone really well. And I am looking forward to keeping that going throughout the holidays and into next year.

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One of the things I have been trying to do over the last several months is gather together my best essays and put them together in a book.

I have done a good amount of research about self-publishing, and I think I have a good amount of that figured out. I have also started compiling these near 400 essays into themes that might form sections or chapters, I guess.

A strong impetus for this project is that no one seems to read my older essays. As a reader of this site you know that this isn’t set up like a lot of blogs, as a sort of diary. I mostly write about topics that, while often related to my current life, really are about larger topics than that. So my older essays are still relevant to be read. These things usually don’t time out. So while this blog format is useful in many ways, I think it also might be limiting my work.

Part of that issue is how blogs are navigated. As a reader you have to do some digging to find old work. I try to remedy this by tagging related work to each post and having the most popular essays always accessible through a quick link menu, but dozens of good essays are just difficult to find.

AnxietyBipolar ThoughtsDepressionTherapy

Have you ever listened to people talk about gambling? They would have you believe that cards or chips or coins or chairs have a special voodoo to them. No one seems to question the lunacy of saying that a machine or chair or table is “cold”, as if those things have any kind of determinism over the game you are playing.

It is beyond idiotic.

I have asked people why they believe in things like this, and the response is always something involving luck being tied to an inanimate object. It makes me realize that people are just confused as to how luck works. Of course, since there is a popular term “random luck”, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find out people don’t understand luck. Random is implied in the term luck itself. You don’t need to add it. There is no such thing as ‘structured’ luck, or ‘relativistic’ luck. Luck is always random, or some people say it never is. Either way, ‘random luck’ makes no sense to say.

The reality about gambling is that as a gambler, there is very little you can do to control winning. And sometimes, there is nothing you can do at all. It is all luck. But people are hesitant to admit this. They refuse to acknowledge that they aren’t winning because the odds of winning are extremely low, and the things you can do to tilt those odds are extremely rare. No, no, no. They are losing because the machine they were on was ‘cold’, or the chair they sat in had bad luck, or the dealer was giving all the cards to someone else, or any number of idiotic things people say.

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Bipolar ThoughtsBlogFamilyTherapy

A couple of months ago I was contacted by the genetics company 23 and Me to participate in a genetics study on bipolar.

I have been talking to my wife for almost two years about doing the 23 and Me thing anyway, just because I thought it was pretty cool and wanted to have a more defined outlook on my genetics. Being a science nerd, I just find it interesting. But also, two of my former psychiatrists have done genetics on me and both told me I have an “interesting combination”, at least as it pertains to medication.

But mostly, I just think it is fun and could be pretty eye-opening. For example, my grandmother on my father’s side has a family name of Burns. And she claims that it is an Irish name, despite having a Scottish spelling (the Irish version would be Berns). However, there is a very small Irish village where this particular surname in this spelling derives from. So, if I turn out to be Irish and not Scottish, then I will have a pretty fantastic glimpse into a very specific place in my lineage.

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AnxietyBipolar ThoughtsDepression

I hate the term “rock-bottom” and all of the sloppy metaphors that are associated with it.

Here is the problem: you only know where the bottom was in retrospect. When you are at your lowest point, you honestly have no idea how much further down you can go.

So that makes it nothing at all like rock bottom. If you fall in a well, you will know when you hit rock bottom. It is painfully obvious, literally.

I have been at my lowest point ever in my life, many times in my life. I have felt like I could feel no worse than I did at that moment, only to feel worse the very next day, or the next week, or not for several more months.

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Bipolar ThoughtsMedication

I have eczema. I have had it ever since I can remember. I had always had a plethora of creams and shampoos around my house. I use soaps and detergents made for sensitive skin and all that jazz.

I could do more. For instance, my deodorant is known to be very harsh on skin and I have an almost constant spot of very itchy and painful eczema in both of my armpits. Why do I do this? Well, I have an obsession with how I smell. I need to smell good, or at least not bad. I also sweat a lot, and the deodorant I use works very well in this regard. So I deal with it.

The worse part for me is my scalp. It isn’t how you might think, it is actually the least itchy, the least painful, the most easy to forget I have. But it is also the most embarrassing.

I am constantly fighting dandruff. I am constantly pulling little scales off the back of my neck (above my hairline). I always have to be cognizant of what I need to do and when and what I am wearing.

For instance: haircuts.

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Bipolar ThoughtsDepressionPersonal Relationships

It is an extremely common thing for people who are around depressed people to feel like they have to walk on eggshells.

People have said this to me many times: ‘oh, we didn’t want to mention it because we thought it would upset you’, or ‘I don’t even know how to approach you about this without upsetting you’, or many other things like that.

I have gotten comments like this from probably a dozen people in my life. I have found out things being hidden from me dozens of more times. And the times I have gotten worried looks, sideways glances, and uncomfortable avoided conversations are uncountable.

It is also something I have heard repeated often in group therapy. It is a common complaint. People treat depressed people as emotionally fragile. Any bad news is likely to push us into suicide.

It is all non-sense.

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Bipolar ThoughtsDepressionObsessionsTherapy

Blame and Responsibility

These two things drive a huge amount of the content people process in therapy. It is an incredibly difficult subject for almost every living person, but the lack of accurately attributing blame and responsibility often feels like the keystone in a mentally ill person’s psychology.

I would like to note here that not only am I not trained or educated in psychology, I’m not even poorly read in this area. I know practically nothing about any actual theories, studies, research, major players, or significant findings. I am the utmost of laymen in this arena. All I know is what I have personally experienced and seen firsthand. That experience isn’t insignificant, but don’t take anything I say as gospel, don’t even take it as accurate. This is all personal experience.

The reason blame and responsibility are difficult for people, all people, is because it requires a person to be objective, throw their bias in a box, and be self-critical. Another reason is that after an objective analysis, the most logical conclusion very often is that everyone is somewhat to blame and somewhat responsible. And that can be very unsatisfying.

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Bipolar ThoughtsSuicideTherapy

With all the hurricanes and earthquakes and fires and everything happening lately, I have seen a lot of footage of people being rescued. You know the image: person lying in a stretcher, being placed into the back end of an ambulance; usually an oxygen mask on their face. They look hurt, but it is an optimistic image. You know that the worst is probably behind this person. They are safe now. The healing has already begun.

I don’t mean to minimize how intense the healing process is, or the struggle some of those people will endure yet. And obviously, some of those people won’t ever leave that hospital. But what I am speaking to is that hopeful image. They put that image on the news because it shows devastation, but it shows humans prevailing, overcoming, helping, healing. It shows us that everything will be okay.

This is meant to depict the end of the struggle. Help has arrived. Safety.

For those of us who have gone to the hospital for mental health concerns, it is often a very different situation. For us, going to the hospital is filled with fear and trepidation. It might save our life, but things will probably get worse before they get better.

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