Two Steps Forward and One Back

 

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Sometimes it feels like we take two steps forward and then one back when it comes to managing our illness. We seem to make progress towards living in the fifth truth of being useful and productive members of society and then our illness steps in and we either take off into mania or fall into depression, rapid cycle or become emotional wrecks causing anything from big ripples to a tidal wave to wash over our lives.

Our bipolar is not going to go away and every now and then it will step up to try and take over our lives again. BP is like our shadow it is always there it just depends on where we stand if our shadow is non-existent or larger than life. The same with our illness, it depends on where we stand mentally and the state of the knowledge we have of ourselves, this determines if our illness will take over our lives or if we can push it back to remain only a non existent shadow that dogs us.

When we have that proper diagnosis and the proper meds that gives us that stable mental platform from which we can start to rebuild our lives as useful and productive people we soon realize we have a lot to learn. The first thing we have to learn is what sets us off, our triggers. This knowledge only comes from experience. Here is where the first truth, the individuality of bipolar comes in. What triggers me may not trigger you and what triggers you may have no effect on me. Lots of things can trigger us and to write a compressive list would look like a multi volume encyclopedia. My experience has been that any external action or event can have triggering effect on anyone. I have a friend who cannot attend concerts because attending a concert sends her into mania, even symphony concerts. Another cannot watch Romance Movies because they cause an instant and deep depression.

As with the criteria that allows diagnosis of our illness, there are some triggers that stand out and we should be aware of:

There are two things that set us up to fail no matter what, I do not consider these triggers and later I explain why:

Alcohol and street drugs are to be avoided at all times. Drinking alcohol or using street drugs is just a sign of selfishness and not wanting to get better. Marijuana is a different story, for some it is a prescribed drug, for others, like myself, it is a deadly poison. Here is the individuality of BP rearing its ugly head again. What may help some may be deadly for others. In my case using weed caused a lot of problems so I do not touch it

Not taking our prescribed medications at all or not taking them as prescribed will guarantee our failure to learn to manage our BP.  That is all I need to say on this subject, if you want that stable platform to build on, take your medications and take them as prescribed. Also build that rapport with your PDoc where you can tell them if a med is not doing for you what the PDoc thought it should. Antidepressants can cause the exact opposite effect and send you into mania. I have experienced that result of antidepressants and spoke of it in an earlier blog.

I have had to learn to dance with my illness. I need to know when my illness was being a bad dance partner and trying to take over the lead. To understand this I have had to study myself and my reactions to people, places, things and situations. In this way I can learn how to respond differently to my triggers.

What are triggers? Triggers are the external issues that cause failure in any management system. If we try to manage anything, people or things, there will be issues that come up that cause the management system to fail. That is just a fact. Having managed companies and not for profits, I know from experience you need two types of management systems, a regular management routine and a crisis management system that can deal with the crisis’ that come up. In the next few posts I will talk about learning personal crisis management. Although I had experience in crisis management on external things, I was surprised how hard is was to practice on my self.

Before I go any further I am going to reiterate that our triggers are our triggers and it requires a lot of personal study to find out what those are. There are some triggers that are pretty much universal and those I will cover here, but we must study ourselves in even greater depth than a scientist studies a lab rat to find what really triggers us.

So tune in next week as we continue this discussion. To be continued……..

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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

 

 

Blending Truths and Absolutes 2

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In becoming aware that I was creating the problems in my life and being put into a situation where I needed to seek help I started the process to get in to see a psychiatrist.  This led to start of that collision between my first absolute and my first truth.  All collisions have a starting point. Car A failed to stop for the stop sign. That is why the two cars collided. My seeking help from a psychiatrist was the start of this collision between my absolutes and my truths. These are the lessons that experience taught me.

We go into things with preconceived notions in our world today, especially medical things. We expect that an instant cure will be forthcoming shortly after we sit down across from the doctor. We also expect not to have to do a lot of work ourselves beyond maybe taking a few pills when we are diagnosed.

My second absolute, “that medications and a good medical and non medical support team can only help to a point. Achieving mental wellness is mostly up to me.” And my first truth, “bipolar as an illness is as individual as the people who suffer from it,” collided almost immediately

Although it only took three visits for my PDoc to figure out that I had bipolar 1, finding medications that worked for me proved very difficult. I have a great PDoc, but that first truth on the individuality of this illness makes treating bipolar very difficult in a lot of cases. It definitely did in my case. The details of this adventure encompass about 18 months and filled three of those dollar store notebooks of medications tried and their effects on me, none of which were good. The average on each medication or combination of medications was a two-week trial. Now good, or not good, is an objective personal opinion. For most of the medications my PDoc and I both agreed that the effects were not good. Effects like made me a zombie, made me physically ill and so on. But there was one combination of medications we tried that I thought was great and my PDoc did not.  This combinations of medications put me in a state of almost instant mania. I slept only six hours in the whole two-week trial and got lots done.  It was even difficult for me to keep that next PDoc appointment because I felt so good. As I stated earlier, BP sufferers find it difficult to seek help when they are manic.  I had made a commitment to see this through so I showed up. Because, and maybe thankfully, my PDoc controlled the prescription pad those meds were changed immediately. Along with that I saw my PDoc daily until the mania subsided. Which only took a few days. Finally, a medication was found that seemed to work for me and because of that 18-month experience I can say there is way to tell if your medication is working for you. You feel like you, not up, not down, not different, just you. Or as one person said to me, “How do you know you are on the right meds and they are working? You can’t tell they are.” Once I had taken my proper medications for a few weeks one word entered into my life that I had never experienced before, stability. Real mental stability.

There were other things going on during that 18-month period simultaneous to my search for medications that worked for me. Things that I recommend everyone who suffers from this illness do right after they get their diagnosis and fill their first prescription. The first thing I recommend is buy a note book and a pen when you pay for your prescription and write down how those medications make you feel after you take them.

To be continued………………

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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

 

 

Blending Truths and Absolutes

 

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What are our tactics for dealing with bipolar? Herman Gorter’s quote says that our tactics must be based on absolute truths or they would lead to defeat. That is why I shared my three absolutes and my five truths, my tactics for dealing with my bipolar are based on those things and they are absolutely true for me. Thus my tactics seldom fail and even when they do, I automatically reach out to someone to help me find a new tactic to add to my arsenal of tools and tactics that work for me. Failure then, is not really failure at all, it is just a learning experience.

The Five Truths have proven true for myself and many others, but they are usually too general to be absolute truths for everyone. It is only by finding what is absolutely true for ourselves, individually, can we find the tactics to manage our individual bipolar.

I find I can only explain this by telling my story as it relates to  those absolute truths on which to base those tactics, as they are my truths. But i hope to be a guide to help you find your own absolute truths to base your tactics on.

When I began my journey towards mental wellness, I had no tools and no tactics. I had only my illness. What was different? I had made a decision to change because I no longer liked living in this illness. My decision to change was the start of my first absolute, “I have BP 1 and left unchecked my life is a disaster.”  I needed to learn the things that would check my bipolar

Awareness, real awareness, is the beginning of all change. I had been aware that there may be something different about me, even wrong with me, since I was about 8 years old. That, maybe there is something but you can’t quite capture it, feeling.  That does not constitute real awareness. Real awareness is when the problem comes and slaps you upside the head. It is at that point real awareness kicks in. For some of us it took a lot for that to happen. The reason is we have to run out of other people, places, things and situations to blame and be faced with the stark fact we are responsible for what is going on.

It’s like the term, “situational depression.” Meaning if you weren’t in that situation you wouldn’t be depressed. I spent a lifetime being situationally depressed, because I was always putting myself in situations I was uncomfortable in and couldn’t deal with. I never learned to ask myself or anyone else, “what situation am I supposed to be in?” Or more importantly, “how do I stop getting into these situations?” One day there was just too much situation and too much depression, I needed to reach out for help.

One of the sad facts of bipolar is that few people ever seek help when they are manic.

There was nothing I could blame this time; I had done it. I had gotten myself in this predicament and now I needed to find someone to help me get out of this situation. This led me to the collision of my second absolute and my first truth.

To be continued…………………

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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

 

 

 

Absolutes and Truths

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In the last few blogs I talked of the 4th and 5th truths of my Five Truths of Bipolar. These truths came about from my struggles and learning of others struggles with this illness. I also developed three absolute truths for myself that I must make sure I do not forget because in forgetting one or all of these absolutes can will destroy my life again.

It is written that we should build our houses on solid foundations. These absolutes are the foundation that my house of sanity is built on. If I do not do as these absolutes direct me, I am in danger, these are the absolutes in my life:

  1. I have BP 1 and left unchecked my life is a disaster
    2. That medications and a good medical and non medical support team can only help to a point. Achieving mental wellness is mostly up to me.
    3. That a strong spiritual foundation of faith and hope, based on an unshakable belief that I can achieve, and maintain, mental wellness.  Which can give me the spiritual character and mental strength and emotional control to balance my life.

It is these three things blended with my five truths give me a guide to managing my bipolar.

  1. Bi-Polar as an illness is as individual as the people that suffer from it.
  2. A Proper Diagnosis and Proper Medication is critical in stabilizing our minds.
  3. Therapy is an essential part of treatment
  4. Developing a strong spiritual self is essential in overcoming our mental anguish and emotional turmoil.
  5. We, as Bi-Polar sufferers, can be useful and productive members of society.

My ultimate goal is to live in the fifth truth of being a useful and productive member of society at all times. Is that reality, not always. This illness does not go away, but there is a vast difference between living in the illness, letting it control every aspect of my life, and having short episodes of hyper mania, mania and depression once in a while. When those episodes do happen, they are short lived because I know who to turn to for help. The onus is on me to reach out. That is the action of my first and second absolutes. Taking care of this illness is my responsibility and if I absolve my self of that responsibility I am on the fast track to no where good. I have developed a good team that I can reach out to. Whom I have allowed to know me and know what works and doesn’t with me. This illness is as individual as those who suffer from it and if we do not get to know ourselves and let others get to know us, this illness is hard to treat. We are individuals and this illness fits our individuality like a glove.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Please remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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

 

The Fifth Truth

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Those possessive words me, mine and my, permeate our lives in our shared illness. We talk about my illness, my feelings and when we feel hard done by we say, “why can’t you care about “ME”?

All of this shrinks our world to a pin point of poor me and out of whack feelings. Feelings we do not know or understand, but those feelings run our lives. Mostly, we feel everyone and everything is against us. Yet, the simple truth is that we do everything in our power to deny our true self. We are self-created chameleons. Trying to “be” everything to everybody. Proving to everyone that we do not care about ourselves, nor do we know how to care for ourselves, but we are totally blind to this fact.

The fifth truth of bipolar is, “we, as BP sufferers, can become useful and productive members of society.” Wrapped up in ourselves and our illness this is an impossible statement to fulfill and one statement we have all failed miserably trying to fulfill. As long as our illness controls our lives we will find it difficult to be either useful or productive. We have all been taught to believe the truth of this quote in one form or another.

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” Bill Bradley.

We all want to be a success, but our illness distorts, in so many ways, what success really is. We “think” success is this, or that, and follow that path only to have what we “think” success is pulled out from under us and we fall again into despair.

In dissecting the line, “ambition is the path to success”, I found, for myself, the reason for this failure and surprisingly the path to fulfilling it. Maybe this may help you as well to make the fifth truth a part of your life. For me, it all started with another quote.

“True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the profound desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.” Bill Wilson.

If we have the wrong definition of ambition, we are on the wrong path to success as stated in the first quote. Proving again my “thinking” was wrong. For the first time ever I did not beat myself up for wrong thinking. I simply accepted as fact that my illness makes my thinking flawed. Thanks to the second and third truths, I now have the ability with to replace the wrong thinking with right thinking.

In meditating on this definition of ambition, I slowly developed that profound desire to be useful for no other reason than it is right thing to do. Right thinking and right actions make my life better both, in the eyes of God and the eyes of the world.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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

 

The Fourth Truth

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The fourth of my five truths of bipolar is; “developing a strong spiritual self is essential in overcoming our mental anguish and emotional turmoil.” In the last few installments of this blog I have talked about a number of emotions that cause some of our emotional turmoil. I ended the last blog in that series  saying; “there is a caveat to all of this; we must have a proper diagnosis and proper medications that gives us a stable mind.” Without that stable mind we are unable to develop ourselves, spiritually, mentally, or physically, in any way. It is this stable mind that is the foundation of mental wellness. in this series I stated there is formula to connect with our spiritual need. In this issue I speak on why we have that need to connect with our spiritual self.

I have come to believe through my experiences and the experiences of others, both professional and non-professional, that bipolar is a disruption of the communication lines between the human spirit, the human mind and human body. Not only are the communication lines disrupted but our human soul is destroyed or put on serious life support as we have stopped communicating with an important part of ourselves. Without the human spirit to act as referee or controller, our mind runs the show and in most cases our minds are not a place worth hanging out. The biggest hurdle for myself and for many others is to understand, as Eckhart Tolle says: “we are not our minds.” If we were our minds we could not separate ourselves from our thoughts. Now, I admit in the grips of our illness it is almost impossible separate ourselves from our thoughts, but this separation is possible once we have that stable mind. Since this separation is possible, this means we must reside somewhere else. The simplest way I have found to name that somewhere else we reside is to say we are spirit. Or, as the French philosopher Pierre Telhard de Chardin stated: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

This one statement put into perspective the entire issue of how important the human spirit is. This is where we reside. In the new research of heart transplant recipients, a surprising number adopt the personality’s, likes and dislikes of the person who’s heart they receive. There is a lot more to this research, but for this topic it is enough to offer as proof that our mind is not us. But makes real the statement; “We can have a change of heart.”

That is what repairing the communication lines between the mind, body and spirit does, gives us an opportunity to have a change of heart. One of my counsellor friends teaches that when we no longer reside in our minds, we can quickly learn that our bodies give us perfect warnings of a change of mental state.  This is absolutely true when we learn to listen to what our bodies are telling us.  If there is no communication between the body and the spirit this early warning system is of no use to us.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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