Bipolar ThoughtsTherapy

Poker is a fascinating game for one reason only: the cards you are dealt are only part of the strategy to winning.

It is true that in all card games, a good player can make a hand play better than it is. However, in poker, you can win with absolutely nothing in your hand, and you can manage to lose with the best hand at the table.

The cards are only part of the story; betting, bluffing, and reading your opponent matter just as much (or maybe even more) than the cards in your hand.

It is certainly true that a good poker player understands the chances of winning with the hand he was dealt. And with certain forms of poker, like Texas Hold’em, they understand in which ways they can be beat and the odds of that happening.

Bipolar ThoughtsTherapy

There is a lot of advice out there that are basically small things you can do that will give your life a little nudge into being healthier.

The internet is full of ‘life hacks’ and quick tip guides and shortcuts to a better life.

The premise is simple: do a handful of these little things and it will have a profound impact on your life. And for some people, it absolutely works.

You ever notice the majority of people wearing a Fitbit are already in good shape? The step counter is a tool that gives a little nudge to people that are already inclined this way, and it can really help. The same goes for organizers and daily planners and daily activity apps and all that stuff.

They tend to only have an impact on people that are already self-motivated in those directions. Few people have the real discipline it takes to completely alter their life.

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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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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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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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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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“Perhaps [ideas] are, for instance, like some big salmon or trout. They are not born fully grown; they are not even born in the sea or water where they normally live. They are born hundreds of miles away from their home grounds, where the rivers narrow to tiny streams. Just as it takes time for a speck of fish spawn to mature into a fully-grown fish, so we need time for everything that develops and crystallizes in our world of ideas.”

“Nothing is as dangerous in architecture as dealing with separated problems. If we split life into separated problems we split the possibilities to make good building art.”

-Alvar Aalto

Aalto is one of my favorite architects/ furniture designers. Most architects I know consider him one of their favorites. I won’t get into anything about his architecture, but you should look him up if you like architecture or design. He was amazing.

Like most of the biggest architects throughout history, he was also a pretty incredible thinker and philosopher. He always spoke of big ideas in relation to architecture, but many of the things he had to say have impact in most areas of life.

Bipolar ThoughtsObsessionsTherapy

I try to be a fixer. Or, maybe I don’t try so much as I can’t get out of my own way sometimes.

I don’t think I’m particularly good at fixing things, by the way. It isn’t really a strength of mine. But that is where I often find myself.

That’s at least part of why this website exists right?

I am not the type of person that you should call if you just want someone to listen and commiserate with you. I know that often (usually?) that is the best thing to do for someone, just listen. But that isn’t how I’m wired.

When a problem is in front of me, my brain just zeroes in on any possible solution.

Bipolar ThoughtsTherapy

Week three of thankfulness:

I didn’t post one of these last week, and the reason is simple: it was my birthday last Saturday. I turned 32.

Birthdays are never a good time for me. Some of you are aware that two years ago, on my 30th birthday, was my most recent attempt to commit suicide. It came after a couple years of struggling with many episodes, a few other attempts, and a hospitalization. It resulted in another hospitalization and ECT.

Today, I am thankful that I turned 32.