Bipolar – can I think myself better? Part One

In this post I talk a bit – but in no way exhaustively – about medication and meditation/alternative therapy as separate pathways towards the goal of dealing with bipolar.

My auntie came round and had a chat with me yesterday. My mum told her I was feeling down. Now, the fact she came round highlights that I am lucky to be in a position where people show concern for my welfare and actively try and engage with me. I know a lot of people do not have that and I appreciate that I do.

She spoke to me about tackling depressive thoughts, how easy it is to get into negative thinking patterns and the power of positive thought processes in counteracting this. I understand all of these sentiments and I can also appreciate her saying that she too at one point experienced depressive thoughts.

The fact is though that most people know what it’s like to go through a down time and, if you have any kind of interest in psychology, emotions etc. you’ll know about thought patterns, negative thinking patterns and so on. This isn’t to say that I disregarded my auntie, in fact, as you’ll see, I very much took on board what she said. I just what want to get across that my depression, and remember, the depression is only one part, a point I have to keep stressing, has been severe, chronic even, over the years, enough to supersede all my knowledge and intelligence about the ‘right’ way to cope with it, like remaining positive etc. Alongside this, there are another three things –

  1. People seem to be fixating on the depression side. Maybe it’s me and I’m not explaining myself properly, but when my mum describes me being down – and obviously that is the impression I must be giving – I don’t think she understands that the emotion of feeling down isn’t a feeling of depression right now, it’s more a frustration. It’s frustration that I can’t trust my mind. It’s frustration that, whilst I can mostly (although not always) recognise when a depression phase is coming, I really have no idea when my mind is going to go haywire in the other direction. It wasn’t depression that kept me awake so much last week when my mind was racing, it isn’t depression when I feel so superior that my judgment is off for weeks at a time and I get fixated with schemes and ideas, and it wasn’t depression that led to me being in debt. There is also frustration at seeing myself in all the symptoms of bipolar and thinking about the time that has been wasted coping, actually, not coping, for years. In that regard I also have anger towards my doctor that I wrote about here, anger that I am now letting go of. Once again, depression is but one part.
  2. The thing about positivity and optimism is that these are two things that are very much a part of who I am. It is something that flows through me. It is also important to note that in regards to the high phases of bipolar, these emotions are off the charts in a way that is actually counterproductive. Again, in the depressive part of the cycle they may be dulled, but once more, it is not just depression I experience but that is what people are fixating on.
  3. The reality is that, right now, owing in part to what I talked about earlier regarding sleep patterns, I feel pretty good, pretty normal right now. I feel in control of my thoughts, I feel steady, I feel capable. History though has taught me that even this is usually just a short term fix. Good patterns alone are not a cure, but they are part of a good coping strategy. But let’s not forget we’re still dealing with a proper illness. Which now leads me to –

Meditation

My auntie also talked about trying meditation as a non-medicated way of treatment. Now, I am open to this, have thought about it myself and below are the thoughts that first sprung to mind –

  • I have no problems with having belief in the power of things like meditation to regulate my moods long term and allow me to live in a way that I am in a balanced state of mind. Meditation has been proven to be able to instigate change in brain chemistry. Plus, in all fairness, I am a big proponent of the school of thought that believes in the vast power of the mind to heal itself and the body of virtually all ailments, provided it is cared for, which also means things like the right diet, exercise and yes, meditation.
  • The thing about meditation though is this: how long does it take to gain the kind of control, the kind of mastery whereby it is an effective remedy? How long will it take to reach a point where, if I caught myself slipping, I could reach for the state of mind that will centre me? From what I know of meditation, it is a discipline that can take very, very long to understand and utilise.
  • Does/will my life allow the kind of time needed to meditate successfully? Modern life is chaotic, especially when at some point I’ll be throwing a job into the mix. On the flipside, if I can’t find the time to be able to reset, that says something negative right there. The truth is, if it works for me I’d obviously make it work.
  • Adding meditation into a routine that I know works for me can’t hurt.
  • But, whilst I believe in meditation, is it not simply an adjunctive treatment to work alongside more traditional means?

I’ll leave this part here. In part two I’ll talk about my thoughts on medication and what path I feel I’m learning towards going forward.


 

Featured image link:

“ThinkingMan Rodin” by I, Satyakamk. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ThinkingMan_Rodin.jpg#/media/File:ThinkingMan_Rodin.jpg

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