Conviction, an indispensable principal

 

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In meditating on my third absolute truth about my BP, “That a strong spiritual foundation of faith and hope, based on an unshakable belief, can give me the spiritual character and mental strength and emotional control to balance my life.”  Left me with this question, have I ever shared the unshakable belief I speak of in this absolute?

My unshakable belief is that I can overcome this illness. Sort of like the new TV ads that say, “I have Alzheimer’s, but it doesn’t have me.”

Yes, I have BP, but how much it affects my life is up to me. If I want, I can give BP full sway over my life or I can do my utmost to keep it a bay and for the most part live a pretty normal, happy existence. It is my choice as long as I do certain things and don’t do others. These does and don’ts are not up for debate or can they be changed on whim. However some have some flexibility others are carved in stone. It is learning which is which that creates the adventure of BP. The adventure of BP is not falling victim to the symptoms, there is no adventure in that, it just happens.

The fact that BP is as individual as the people that suffer from it, creates this problem, what may be carved in stone for me may be flexible for you. It also makes my job of specifics difficult. There is one absolute for all of us, we need medication to stabilize our minds. We need sleep, but the when is iffy. I sleep best from 5 am to 2 pm. So I work 4 to midnight. My evening is when most are in bed. My morning is when most are heading home. I do know that for me to function the best, this is my best routine. It is inflexible and I no longer bow to the wishes of others in this area. If you do not like it too bad.

I recently was invited to speak at 10 am and turned it down. The people who wanted me to speak could not grasp that my routine did not allow that, yet they claimed to have an understanding of mental illness. Really, an understanding like that is what kept me and many others sick for years. I felt I had to follow the schedule, programs and rules of others for many years because they were supposed to know better. What I learned was they had no idea, nor did they really care, who I was. I was patient number XXXX and that was all I ever was, the set programs and rules were made from data collected, correlated and averaged from many people and has no room for the needs of individuals.

I learned that if I wanted to get better I had to get to know myself inside out and backwards, because no one else was going to.  That is what I have set out to do for myself. I recommend all of us get to know ourselves so well that no one can make us think that the things carved in stone for us are maybe flexible ever again. That when someone says, “Oh sure you can, just this once, it won’t hurt anything.”

We have to have the conviction, and knowledge, to know that “just this once” could unravel our entire lives.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

BP and Grief

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Have you grieved your losses or are you in perpetual mourning. Grief, bereavement of a loss, is normal. No matter if that loss is a loved one (spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, grandparent), a job, a boss, material possessions, a pet, aspects of our lives due to this illness, abuse, trauma. No matter the loss we need to recognize it and we need to grieve that loss or losses.

There are two things that BP affects in regards to grief, firstly this illness hides or twists the things that we need to grieve, like the aspects of our lives we have lost due to this illness along with some abuse and trauma.  We need to grieve the loss of jobs, friends, relationships, even our ability to think, remember and focus. Secondly at severe loss, the loss of loved one, pet or career, BP sufferers are more likely to fall into abnormal grief than most others. Our illness causes us to revisit, or even live directly in, the past. Normal grief is a process of reconciling ourselves to the loss we have suffered. Abnormal grief according to the DSM 5, “Lasts 6 months or longer, the person must yearn the loss on a daily basis or to a disabling degree. At least five of the following symptoms must be present; Emotional confusion about ones role in life, Difficulty accepting the loss, Avoidance of anything to do with the loss. Inability to trust others since the loss, Bitterness or anger related to the loss – Bitterness and anger are part of the grieving process, however that bitterness and anger is meant to pass, Difficulty moving on with life, Numbness since the loss, Feeling that life is meaningless now, Feeling stunned or dazed at the loss, this is also a normal grief symptom but if that feeling lasts longer than a few months it is abnormal.

I suffered from abnormal grief for over 25 years and coupled with my BP it destroyed me and my life. The trigger for change was the death of my 22 year old cat, it proved to be one loss too many. I sought help with a qualified grief counselor. It took six months to get in to see Randy and in the first appointment I laid our my losses, 1984 my grandmother, 1985 my fist wife (the only two people I felt I could ever talk to) numerous jobs, more than one house, my relationship with my daughters due to my bad choices, my acreage, my second wife through separation and divorce, my pets. All of which haunted my mind, most daily, the rest regularly enough to make me unable to function.
It took two years of almost weekly sessions and a lot of work on my part to grieve these losses in a healthy way and put them in their proper place, them in the past and me in the present. During those two years a number of losses were found that also needed grieving, these are the losses that my BP brain told me were of no importance or had twisted into complete fabrications that had nothing to do with reality. They turned out to be very important and I ignored acknowledging and grieving them at my peril. Today I am living in the present not in the past and I am no longer haunted by the what if’s and whys, the blame and shame, of the losses that I have suffered. I acknowledge that they happened but I no longer live there.

Look for your losses that keep you in the past and learn to grieve them, in this area we usually need help so talk to your therapist and if necessary find a specialized grief counselor.

As griever you are not broken and do not need to be fixed. You need to learn that grieving is not a natural state of living. Yes, loss happens and we need to grieve, but the real process is recovering from the loss through grieving and then living again that is the real journey. The same with having BP, it is not having BP that is the journey it is learning to overcome the BP, to stay and live, in the light on the other side that is the journey. It is the staying in the light of the present that proves hard. I urge you to find and live in the light of now and reality. BP and your losses keep you in the dark, the darkness of the past.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

 

 

 

Three Facts

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There are three facts that we must grasp and fully understand for mental wellness to work in our lives. The first fact is that our shared illness is inside us. It is within our bodies and minds. That looking for some great external, outside our bodies and minds, thing to happen that will fix everything is a fantasy. Our society and our illness tells us if I had, or was, something different (money, a different life, a different job, a job, a better deodorant or perfume, whatever) life would be great.  We falsely believe that if these external things would change so would our lives. Whatever we envision as the external thing that will save our lives we have to come to realize it is a fantasy, stop thinking that way. It is delusional insanity.  If your computer crashes you do not go reformat your neighbour’s computer. That would be insane right? Well it is just as insane to think what you are experiencing in this illness is anywhere but inside of yourself and the mental wellness you seek can only be found there as well. Yes, we need outside help, medications and a good support system, but it is only a help towards fixing ourselves. The outside assistance is only that, assistance. It is not the fix.

The second fact we must embrace is that our minds and ourselves are separate. That the mind is not you, you are separate from all the things in your mind. Your mind and its thoughts are the substance of what you have been told, what has been modeled to you and what you have experienced. In our illness the last one, our experiences, are our greatest enemy as so many of the things we think we have experienced may, or may not, have been as we thought in the light of reality.  I am not discounting anyone’s abuse, trauma, loss or any other bad experiences, I am just saying that in some cases even I, in my illness, kind of blew some events out of proportion compared to the reality of those events. Some events I downplayed in my mind to avoid the pain they cause and had to deal with that pain later. I am saying that our mind either enlarges or shrinks events of its own accord in our illness to protect us. If there is an “us” to protect then that “us” has to be separate from the mind. Grasping the fact that you and your mind are separate is essential.Without this understanding you cannot understand and use the last fact.

The last fact is, you can train your mind to think, feel and respond differently. Those things are changeable because they are not you. I will also be the first to tell you that your mind will rebel like an angry child at the first hint that you are trying to grow into a better person. It will throw everything at you to make you stop, every bad thing, every traumatic thing that has happened will haunt you. It will come out of the blue, not only when you sleep in the form of nightmares, but in broad daylight as you are hugging your children. But do not give up because like training any fierce beast. Once you show the mind that you are boss the mind will begin to respond in a more mannerly fashion. It takes time and effort to retrain your mind and it is at the effort part that many fail. It is damn hard work.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.