How does it all go so fast? Some people think I’m funny – cracking jokes, laughing aloud. I’m the life of the party. But then again this is usually when people are drinking. I’ll be cackling hysterically at absolutely nothing.
I wonder about this destructive state of delusion. I mean how far am I removed from reality here? What about the inner critic? Perhaps it is convincing me to stay high and hyper. Perhaps it is a silent killer, telling me not to listen to calm and stillness but to hear the “boom boom boom” of the nightclub or social gathering. My sense of the heart is also quite removed. If I was once close to this beating drum, then it is no longer the case. I am unconscious and unaware of the nearness of ‘God’. My back is turned and I am inflicting pain on myself. But, is there a way to consolation again? Is there a way to reorder the mind and reconcile the heart? Continue reading
Where is the heart? For it feels so distant. A numbness is there… something is gnawing on me but I don’t know what to do. Where is the passion – for life, the normal pleasures, the simple satisfactions? How can I channel my time and energy?
I wonder what is preventing me from being OK right now. There is an invitation to be balanced but I find myself reacting to my circumstances. Perhaps I am caught up in the memory of the highs and lows, perhaps the inner critic wants me to remain forever discontent. How can I reorder the glitter of my mind and connect with something real? And then my heart is so far away. I have escaped my life with a gnawing numbness. There is no fire in my belly, just heartless impulses. How can I turn to an inner transformation – to tune into the true light that is already shining? To be dynamically attracted to a bigger purpose, a heartfelt gratitude for life. Continue reading
How quickly it can come. Balance seemed only a moment ago. A wrong turn or without cause, the blame game, plunging into darkness with rain on the way. Rain can turn to hail, and down, down, down I go.
In a curious way, I wonder about the cause of my blame. I ponder that it is my inner critic that is trying to hijack my life. I know I’m a good person, but why am I falling, going from low to lower? Surely I can intervene to stop this plundering. Surely I can be more vigilant and skillfully counteract this destruction. I also wonder about the state of my heart. Is it in turmoil? Is it dead? And I wonder about my sense of peace. Did someone rob it? Did a vicious dog or its owner attack me all of a sudden? Perhaps I can turn back in time. Perhaps I can reconcile what needs to be reconciled. Continue reading
Mood is best understood, I think, when we look to its Old English origin, mod, meaning ‘frame of mind’. It is about perspective, balance, harmony, presence, and so on. Today, I’d like to introduce the topic of vigilance of vulnerable moods, which I believe is an essential matter if we are to live well, with ourselves and with others. Over the coming weeks, I will look to five frames of mind which cover a range of mental health experiences: depression, low mood, dysphoria (intense unease and agitation), hypomania (elation and overactivity) and mania. I will also write about these in creative terms: being vigilant of the ultimate gloom, the shadow, intolerance, the speed limit and total disconnect. 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
Low mood takes me away from light and love. It makes me love the dark side of life. It makes me love distress and anxiety.
‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates
Back in the days before I was diagnosed, I can recall periods of low mood where I would withdraw from social situations. I didn’t pick up on these early warning signs. Young people can also feel low and withdrawn, and they often miss out on the problem. Our powers of reflection can help us. Developed through journal writing, mindfulness, and honest conversations with friends, reflection gives us wisdom to detect a mental health breakdown. My identical twin, for example, has not developed bipolar which is arguably as a result of his reflective skills.
During my periods of low mood, there can be a creeping tendency to ruminate. It is a never-ending cycle of negative thinking that only leads to more problems. While on a trip abroad, I was in a bad head space. I was on my own and worrying about putting on weight. This thought filled my mind and took me away from living in the present moment. I came across a quote from the Dalai Lama: ‘If something can be done, there’s no need to worry. If it cannot be done, there’s no use worrying. Finished’. So simple and so true! Once I identified that I could go for runs and eat healthily, I started to stop worrying. Moreover, I started to let go of what could not be done in my life, which led to the realisation that most of my days were filled with the same unhelpful thoughts after the same unhelpful thoughts. And I eventually stopped the cycle! Continue reading