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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