Category Archives: The Challenges of life

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

 

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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.

 

It’s in the doing

 

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I woke up today and worked through my morning routine connecting with the universe, I began to think of all the days of depression and isolation that I have gone through where I was unable to do anything. Where even putting cloths on seemed like an insurmountable task. I can only describe this as the “Empty” time, because I was empty inside. I think we can all relate to that “Empty” feeling.
That “Emptiness” is a rare feeling for me, today, because of the faith I have grown. It is an absolute falsehood that the opposite fear is faith. This is definitely not true. The opposite of fear is peace of mind. Faith is the vehicle which gets you from fearful to that peace of mind we all seek.  Today my faith has a foundation of hope and gratitude, based on an unshakable belief that I can achieve mental wellness. My faith tells me that if I do as I am supposed to do, when I am supposed to do it, everything will work out. Maybe not the way I envision it, but in a way that will be good for me.  Today, I know, my faith will give me the spiritual character, mental strength and emotional control to balance my life. Today, my faith keeps me doing – my job, my writing and helping others. My faith takes me out of bed, puts my cloths on and out the door to see how I can be useful to this world I live in.
It was in reading Oswald Chambers statements on “Taking initiative against depression” that changed the way I looked a depression. Depression was not something I had to put up with, it was something I could walk out of if I took the initiative.  In reading the words of Oswald Chambers I summoned what little faith I had, I got out of bed, had something to eat and I did the dishes. The next day I got up, got dressed, had something to eat, did the dishes and made the bed. The third day I got up, I had a shower, got dressed, had something to eat, did the dishes and made the bed. As my doing grew, my faith grew with it.

You see Oswald Chambers, in his words on “Taking initiative against depression,” did not say great things or offer great promises, the part that caught my eye was “get up and eat”, so I did.
I will share with you an exercise that I started doing to take the initiative against depression when that feeling started to take hold. Write down at the end of the first day at least five positive things you did, trying to add one or more things each day. You do this for a month. You will find that at the end of the month you have written proof that the more positive things you do the better you feel. That gives you hope and that hope becomes faith, a faith that If I keep taking the initiative against this depression I will find it easier to walk out of it. It is up to you to live your life, Oswald Chambers wrote, “If we were never depressed we would not be alive. Only material things do not suffer depression.”

Depression is a normal human emotion and there are things in this world that cause us to be depressed, but we do not have to stay there.

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.

 

 

Stressed?

 

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For Christmas someone gave me a fridge magnet entitled “Tips for dealing with stress”. I appreciated the thought put into that gift. BP and stress have never mixed well, so learning to deal with stress is an important part of coping with our illness. The giver of this gift knew I am all about ways to cope with BP.

The topic of the fridge magnet “Tips for Dealing with Stress” seems appropriate for this time of the year. Tips and tricks are always useful things to have available. Tips on how to do things that may help and tricks to trick our mind into believing something different than it currently is. Tips and tricks do not address the issue, solve the problem, they just allow you to cope with the issue. Yes, we have to cope with BP because it is not going away. We do not have to cope with stress. Stress can be eliminated from our lives. You may not believe that statement, but it is true. You do not have to cope with stress, it can be eliminated from your life. It is not easy; as a matter of fact, it is damn hard work. If you think you are lazy this may not be for you. What I am about to set out in the next few days is a system that will remove stress from your life if you do the work.

Let’s start with a few simple factual statements about stress. The first fact is that what stresses you out may not even bother me. Stress is the physical manifestation of the fear of loss. You would not be stressed if you did not fear losing something of value to you.

This knowledge is the key to removing stress from your life. If you know that what is stressing you out may not even bother the person beside you. Does this not make you want to ask the question why is that?  If you know that the basis of your stress is fear, does this not make you ask the question why am I afraid?

Most of the time when I was so stressed out I could not eat, sleep, think or speak, it was because I was so afraid. All the possible worst case scenarios raced through my mind faster and faster until my mind just literally shut off. It got so bad about a decade ago that I became completely unable to function. I never recognized the problem as fear and specifically fear of losing something. Even the professionals trying to help me at that time could do nothing more than meds, tips and tricks that were sometimes helpful to calm the symptoms. This did not remove the underlying problem.

To be continued………

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

Resolutions 2016

 

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Seldom do I make New Year’s resolutions and had no intention of doing so this year until this idea was presented to a group of us on the weekend. It struck me a such a good idea I needed to pass it on. The problem with making these New Years resolutions, at least in my life, is that after about a week, at the most a month, they mostly fade away without out becoming a habit. We revert back to our old ways and life goes on. The other side of that coin is I seemed to be vey successful with affirmations. This idea that was presented to the group this weekend is more along the lines of an affirmation than a go to the gym type of resolution. Maybe that is why this idea struck me as so good.

The idea is to come up with a word that describes who you want to be in 2016. This word can be a feeling like happy or grateful. It can be an action word like productive or useful. It is highly recommended that the word be positive so as to impact your life in a positive way. Then you take that word and couple it with “I am.” What ever your word may be when coupled with “I am” creates an incredibly strong single to your brain reinforcing that you are what you say you are. In time that becomes who you are.

Saying I am happy, or I am productive over and over out loud or silently is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. Coming up with the word you are going to use that is a bit of a challenge and I do challenge you to do this. Find a word that describes who you want to be in 2016.

For myself, my word is disciplined. I am disciplined.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one goes anywhere.

What are your motives at Christmas

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It’s the Christmas season and my inbox is full of tips and tricks on what to do and not to do for our BP during this time a year. My own experience with this season pretty much encapsulates the complete range of these ideas. We can either be depressed, not care – go with the flow, or manic as hell. I have done them all. This particular season seems to lean towards the go with the flow, but having a really bad cold has not helped in revving my engines towards Christmas glee.

Personally, I want to talk about motives. Why we do what we do. I have spent a fortune on Christmas’ past trying to by everyone’s love, or at least someone’s love. Wallace Wattles wrote “that man’s greatest expression of love is in giving.” The unsaid part is that there should be no expectation of love in return with the giving.  I never learned that until recently, I always gave to get. If I gave you something I expected appreciation, if not adoration, in return. I expected to get something for my giving, be it sex or whatever. Where that fits in with our illness I do not know except maybe the selfishness that our illness creates within us. This way of thinking, give to get, is something that is very predominant in my circle of BP sufferers that I use as a sounding board. It may even be the predominate way of thinking in society in general I do not know.

What I have done in my own life by recognizing this motive is to remove that expectation of getting something in return for what I give. This has not been easy and I had to start with something small at first, I chose the Salvation Army Kettles. I was always way too selfish to give money to the bell ringers, there was no reward for me in giving something that I didn’t even get a tax break on. The past few years I have not passed a kettle that I have not deposited something into. In taking that baby step I have been able to expand giving without any expectation of return to other areas of my life. The last to fall of course was in the intimate relation category, family and close friends and last Christmas was a success because I was able give fully without expectation of return. This Christmas will be more so as I have had a year of birthdays and other occasions to practice on.

The more I find the motives for why I do what I do and check them against reality, the more I find I need to change my motives.

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

Avoiding the Rabbit Hole

 

 

Taking steps out of your comfort zone is pivotal for your own evolution and growth.

 

When you have BP issues that are slow to resolve spell danger.  Long lasting issues, be they physical, financial or people orientated, tax us. Long lasting issues also allow us to practice all the coping skills we have learned in learning to overcome our illness.  This proves they are transferable skills, who knew that in learning to manage our illness we were learning to manage life in general. This last year and half has been like that for me. For most of it I have been able to keep moving, show up for most days and keep the roller coaster of emotions that is going on inside me from taking over my life. Now for some of the past year and half I have to admit my emotions boiled over, depression kicked in and my old thinking tried to take over my mind. In the past I would have folded like a bad poker hand if confronted with an issue like I have faced this last while and not reappeared until the issue had gone away of its own accord.

I am not saying I have learned to face long lasting issues head on but I have practiced hard facing little issues in that way and that practice has seemed to help.

When things do not go the way I think they should I still become an emotional wreck, with anger and resentment leading the pack. I did practice taking a step back and respond instead of reacting in a lot of the dealings I had in the issue. I did not react inappropriately, but I did react sometimes.  This only proved that I have not mastered responding instead of reacting completely yet, much less responding like Buddha or Lord Krishna with non-attachment. I am getting there though.

When it was explained to me that I needed to grow into my problems. In fact I was promised in writing that if I learned to grow beyond my problems; “I would intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me.”  I did not totally understand those statements at first, but understanding is in the doing. This has in fact proved true in many cases and for the most part in this long lasting issue. Where this has not proved true, it has given me new opportunities for personal growth and knowledge of new coping skills.

I did not realize that my run and hide attitude for handling the simplest conflicts and issues had stunted my growth in becoming the man I wanted to be. As I become more and more that person I find issues big and small that used to appear as unsurmountable all have solutions if you face them directly.

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

 

Nothing can be built without a plan

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Nothing can be built without a plan. In construction they are called blueprints. They are the plans for the building that is to be constructed. Every detail in contained within them and without them no one knows what is going on.

We have blueprints for our lives. These blueprints are made up of our beliefs. Beliefs are made up of the information we have collected in our lives, what we have been told, what we have been shown and what we have experienced. Our core beliefs cause us to think as we think and act as we act. Those beliefs are what rule our lives and make it as it is. The joy of being human is we can examine those beliefs and if need be change them.

I always thought I had the blueprint for a multi- room mansion within me but kept constructing a one room hovel out of my life. BP caused what I was told to be garbled, what I was shown to be misunderstood or exaggerated, what I experienced to be mostly negative. The beliefs that I held were mostly erroneous or fantastical, a blueprint for disaster.

As with a building I took over years ago, someone had miss-read the blueprint.  In that building it was to have a 3 point 5 gallon per hour pump installed to recirculate the hot water, instead they installed a 35 gallon an hour pump. That building had problems, water leaks developed all over the place. In not too long a time the building became uninhabited.

My life ran along similar lines as that building, my life had become uninhabitable and no one wanted to be around me, I did not even want to be around myself.

The first thing I did when I took over that building was to find the blueprints and read them. I then checked to see if what the blue prints said checked with the reality of the building. They didn’t, that pump was pumping water through the pipes at 10 times the speed recommended by the blueprints. Once the pump was replaced and a few other repairs made, the building stopped having problems and was soon re-inhabited. Everyone loved the place.

In my own life, once I quit misreading the blueprint and replaced my erroneous and fantastical beliefs with realistic thinking based in reality. Once that was done my life became inhabitable by myself and others. I am now on my way to constructing the life I was meant to have.

Look to your blueprint if your life is not all you would like. You could be miss-reading it or may have to redraw it.

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

Selling your self short after keeping your hands to the plough

 

 

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Keeping your hand to the plough is a subject that is descriptive and it is practical. Practical in the sense that living is doing and nothing depicts doing more than plowing a field, getting it ready for planting.

When you work on a field you have to be focused on your task. You will run into obstacles, things will not always go your way. You are relying on some force greater than yourself to actually do the heavy work, it would be pretty silly to have puny you pulling the plough and the oxen driving. You still have to use your brains. You have to stop or turn a corner once in while to see how well you are doing, where you can improve.

That to me is life at its finest. Being focused on a task, glad to be on this side of the grass, able to see the beauty of the world at all times. To face obstacles and successfully deal with them and find in, or under, them a gem that you can take into the rest of your life to make it better. Knowing that it may rain or other things may interfere with the task, but know it will work out in the long run. The human view is far too short and self centered. When we are honest with ourselves most things have worked out well in our lives, maybe not as we would have liked, but well just the same.

The importance of looking back after a period, not just to see how far we have come but where we can be better cannot be stressed enough. I am not talking a week, more like a year. You will be amazed at what can happen.

A woman told me a story once that went like this.

Her counselor told her that she now had all the tools and knew how to use them. The last exercise her counselor had her do was write down her dreams and aspirations. Then her counselor told her to put them away for 10 years. The counselor bet her that she sold herself short. At the end of ten years she looked at the list of dreams and aspirations. Most had been filled and accomplished in the first 18 months. She had, as the counselor said, sold herself short.