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What is Cognitive Distortion?

“A cognitive distortion is an exaggerated or irrational thought pattern involved in the onset and perpetuation of psychopathological states, especially those more influenced by psychosocial factors, such as depression and anxiety.”  Wikipedia

The Wikipedia definition does not specifically list bipolar disorder as a psychopathological disorder, but it is clearly stated in this article, https://www.verywellmind.com/a-list-of-psychological-disorders-2794776

Cognitive distortion, in its many forms, plagued me when bipolar disorder ruled my life. Especially when I fueled my bipolar with alcohol, drugs, stress or anxiety.

Science has identified at least 50 different cognitive distortions. Some are minor mental blocks, while others can be quite scary.

When cognitive distortion takes over, your brain is lying to you. It is causing you to interpret situations in your life falsely.

It is through cognitive distortion that we form the deeply seated false beliefs we come to hold.

Under the influence of cognitive distortion, we become almost unreachable.

To remove cognitive distortions and the deep-seated beliefs that we form in our distorted thinking, therapy is required. I am not a therapist and this blog is not about how to heal from cognitive distortion. I can only define cognitive distortion and discuss the most common forms I experienced in my bipolar life.

Bipolar Disorders Star Cognitive Distortion:

Delusions:  Delusions are defined as a firm or fixed belief not based on fact, or open to rational argument, or behavior that is out of character for the sufferer. Wikipedia.

Delusional thinking is a symptom of bipolar disorder and I have chosen to cover this distortion separately.

As a sufferer of bipolar 1 disorder delusions were a major part of my active illness. As such, I have a lot to say about them

The Types of Delusions:

  1. Jealous – believes that his or her spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful. What they do not add in most definitions of this delusion is, “without proof.” If you have proof, it is not a delusion. This was me, always jealous and it took a lot of therapy to convince me this was a delusion. To describe this delusion, it is where jealousy is more than an emotion and becomes an all-consuming thought. Today I know the difference. Yes, I get jealous when some guy is paying my girlfriend to much attention. That is a normal emotion, so my therapist says.  I do not automatically, and always, think my girlfriend is cheating on me.
  2. Persecutory – you believe that you (or someone close to you) are being mistreated, or that someone is spying on you or planning to harm you. This delusion only happened to me under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Mostly it was someone spying on me or trying to harm me. I have suffered from the milder form of this delusion, everyone is against me, not that long ago. Writing this, I can easily recall the feeling of terror this delusion, that both the mild version or the extreme version, generated.
  3. Grandiose – an over-inflated sense of worth, power, knowledge, identity or invincibility. At the extreme, a person might believe he or she has a great talent or has made an important discovery. Have you ever been manic? This is mania. Write a 300,000-word novel in a week thinking it is the greatest thing ever written. In the light of reality, you find it is mostly gibberish. I still have that pile of paper to remind me. Yes, I have had that delusion of grandiosity.
  4. Erotomanic – believing that another person, often someone important or famous, is in love with you.  The extreme is stalking and trying to contact the person may happen. I have never had this delusion directed at a famous person, but I have unfortunately had this delusion, Even thinking about it makes me sad. I don’t think I ever stalked or tried to contact the person, but I was obsessed.
  5. Mixed – when two or more of the types of delusions listed above are held at the same time. Grandiosity and jealousy were never far from each other in my bipolar world. The weirdest was when I held the Erotomanic delusion, Grandiosity, and Jealousy all at the same time. Picture this scenario, I am a great writer in love with a woman and believe she loves me. I believe she is cheating on me.  I had only seen the woman briefly on a bus, once. That was it.  A great plot for a romance novel, but in real life not so much. So yes, I have experienced mixed state delusions.
  6. Somatic – believing you have a physical defect or medical problem. This is a delusion that I have never held. Maybe because of my invincibility belief.

Delusional thinking can be banished from our lives. With the help of a good therapist and by learning and practicing the specific questions we need to ask ourselves to ward off the delusion we can free ourselves.

To Be Continued ………….

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives.

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

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

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

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Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by BP Magazine.