A few things stirred my heart this week. First, it was the week of the awful Manchester (England) bombing when many concert goers were killed as a result of a suicide bomber. I remember reading the story on the bus to work and I was compelled to find out more. For this moment in time, I felt like a brother to these people. I wished I could have been there: to hold their hands, to pay my respects, to do whatever was needed. The world was watching. Life went on, but with a heavy heart.
Second, I listened to American Greg Boyle, founder of the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry programme in the world. He spoke to the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 graduating class: “You go from here to dismantle the barriers that exclude, and there’s only one way to do that, and that is to go where the joy is, which is at the margins. For if you stand at the margins, that’s the only way they’ll get erased”. Yes, joy is to be found at the margins: with the homeless, refugees, our marginalised friends. I saw this message as an invitation to fully experience the interconnectedness of our human family in our ordinary lives. Continue reading
Here is a summary of my 10 Downsides of Bipolar, which was published on celebrity Niall Breslin’s A Lust for Life website. I was also interviewed on Dublin City FM.
After the exploration of 10 upsides of Bipolar Disorder, I realised that I needed to examine the downsides too. However, this was not a dreary project as my main focus was to provide steps, hopes, and inspirations for the bipolar journey.
1) Depression: A lowness, a sadness, a lack of life crept in and I had to remind myself that this was not my fault. I cried out in depths of despair to dig a bit deeper, to hang on a bit longer and to just feel an ounce of life within me. After a week of raw pain, I felt an inner joy returning like the rising sun and my world became more external again. The late Carrie Fisher believed that soldiers of bipolar should have been issued with medals of bravery.
2) Mania: I chased my random thoughts around: “Go there, do this,” they said. I impulsively gave away my precious belongings and my mind was filled with sexual images. At times, my days consisted of a 10-mile walk; 10 activities; 10 pages of diary entries and more. Other times, I experienced a mixed mood of depression, racing thoughts and ‘voices’. I was treated at a psychiatric hospital with medication and I connected with my world through mindfulness. I have recovered so well and I am now living a very meaningful and fulfilled life. Continue reading
Dysphoria is a state of intense unease and agitation which can occur in different moods of bipolar. Here, I focus on a dysphoria of the healthy balanced mood.
“People with bipolar complain of a dysphoria,” says psychiatrist Bernard Murphy, “and they’re intolerant of this mundane dysphoric state. The barometer of normality is influenced by the memory of the manic or hypomanic episode. And they look on their own affect as being below par, and they want to tick over a little bit higher.”
Yes, the barometer of normality is influenced by my memory. When I listen to people, laughing excessively often comes to mind. I often see balanced mood as abnormal, totally boring and unexciting. And it is daunting because it takes effort to be present with people. On the other hand, when I meet others who are overly sarcastic and a bit dangerous, I try to calm down and turn away from their excessiveness. There is a struggle here between my inner and outer life. My memory of depression or low mood can influence the barometer too. Continue reading