You were asking me on the phone about bi-polar disorder. I am going to run down some general thoughts on the disorder and some thoughts on dealing with it. Identifying your symptoms and coming up with a plan for each is a good start. As a rule that’s how you beat this “disease”. If you treat it as a thing in and of itself like cancer then the words a psychiatrist said to me are basically true: “You have a serious mental disorder and it is never going to get better”. The best you can hope for is a good psychiatrist and more agreeable than disabling medications for symptom control. A bleak picture and one I would not accept. When that psychiatrist said that to me I already had a Masters Degree in Sociology and was steeped in the idea of labeling theory the idea that mental illness is a socially created stigma far more than anything to do with brain chemistry or mood disregulation. So I refused to accept that guys label but I still had a bushel full of negative symptomology to deal with. So I broke it down, and enacted some cognitive behavioral interventions I knew from my mental health days as well as managing my environment I got better.

A diagnosis does not have to be a determinant of who we are as people. It also doesn’t let us off the hook for managing our lives. We are the ones who will benefit if we change and we are the only ones who can enact positive change in our lives so it makes since to accept the hand we are dealt, ferret out the part we have control over, and apply the force of our will only on that part. Fortunately science, metaphysics, and personal experience have taught me that our thoughts, behaviors, indirectly our emotions, sometimes our environment, and to a much larger than most suspect, our very physiology can be put under our conscious control.

All change comes through what I call the 4 “A”s: Awareness, Assessment, Action, and Accountability. Recovery from bi-polar disorder comes from becoming aware of the nature of our symptomology, assessing its impact on our overall well being and intervention strategies, implementing those strategies with constant measurement of success and reassessment of strategies along a coherent plan, and maintaining our plan through a systematic format of accountability (literally to count) with ourselves and sometimes others.

Fundamentally our personalities our sense of being our consciousness arises out of constructs; memes, scripts, patterns of operations, we had no hand in creating and accepting without question because to a certain extent we are made of these things. But at some point we reach a point of accountability. We are compelled to know who we are and perhaps more importantly to know who we want to be and make ourselves in that direction. The world of thought is malleable, adjustable, compliant to the will, evolutionary. Applying the 4 “A”s could look like this: Awareness – Becoming aware of our patterns of thoughts, the things we believe, the things we give meaning too, how we interact with others, how our self-observer treats our self, competing thoughts, adaptive and maladaptive thoughts, etc. Assessment – Identifying and prioritizing areas of out thought-life, identifying problematic or maladaptive thoughts, scripts, voices, habitual responses, behavioral choices (I will call all these things constructs as a reminder they are created things etc. and also identifying core thoughts, scripts, voices, habituated responses, behavioral choices (constructs) to build upon or unleash upon our maladaptive constructs. Assessment is a good time to write things down, awareness as well, but I know you are already journaling. Action is the time you enact your assessment. A lot of people stop at self-analysis and never identify and institute changes, which is the greatest gift of self-awareness. Accountability is measuring that action. Staying the course. Keeping track of your successes. It is a promise to yourself and others of the changes you are making. It creates someone (even if it is only yourself) to say, “Hey did you do that thing?” It allows us to know what we have done.

Most of life is obfuscation, a means of obscurement of truths we would rather not face. I propose we should boldly face who we are and why we are where we are so that we can enact who we want to be and where we want to be at. The means are myriad and widespread. Any self-change system can be effective if applied with diligence over time. Some you already know the basics of. Devise a plan, implement it, measure your results, and make changes as necessary based upon your outcome data. If it is so easy why isn’t everyone successful. Some of it is ignorance. People don’t know who they are or why they do things. Some of it is feeling comfortable, nesting in who we have been because who we might be is too frightening. Its worth some thought to ask yourself why you put yourself where you are right now, this is worth asking wherever you have chosen to put yourself. What do I believe about myself is incompatible with success? What am I really trying to do by failing all the time, and what is the easiest, or the quickest, or the surest way to change it?

In future posts i will add emotional, behavioral, environmental, and physiological management strategies as well as provide more details as folks raise questions or make comments. As a treat for reading this far here is a new poem i am working on:

Am I any less real when I am asleep

The world it keeps on turning

The sun still shines when its dark outside

But we don’t see its burning.

And if i die today

Will my soul pass away

Or is it gonna keep on living

If will if it just resides

In this meat-machine

But souls are made for giving.

Categories: feelings, health, philosophy, poetry
  1. Squirrely
    May 3, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Hi Mike! I enjoyed browsing your blog and after reading quite a few enteries, I decided that this is the one I want to comment on. I don’t normally gush about things, but I really appreciated the last line of your poem (is it the last line?) It very beautifully sums up the surrendering of one’s self to the purpose of sharing with others. I enjoy being drawn to such ideals – with the hopes of implimenting them in my life – but of course I lose sight when I offer my fav client a sliver and she tries to take the whole pie instead… The rest of the poem is beautiful as well. I wish I knew more about existence. Let me know if you figure it out. Cya next week :->

  2. Mike
    May 3, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Squirrely, thanks for the comment I’m glad you enjoyed the poemlet. That is the last line for now as it stalled out right there. I like it too and hope to finish it someday. Often i have these couple of stanzas and i sit on them try to finish them every so often and then years later I bang out the rest of the piece in a few minutes. What i was trying to get at with the souls are made for giving line is based on the Quaker belief that we all have a piece of the truth (or the light) and our purpose is to share our piece of the truth and learn from other’s pieces. I think since we are built of information (the truth) that with our sharing of our truths we grow beyond our immediate selves into this larger (infinitiely large) distributed intelligence that I think we can call god, heaven, the atman, or whatever.

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