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Tag Archives: mindfulness

????????????????These earrings personify the bipolar experience for me. When I am manic, I am like the skeletor face and when I am depressed I am the personification of the drooping mask…even though we are required to wear masks in our day-to-day life I don’t know about you, but it is nearly impossible for me to wear a happy face in all arenas.

For the longest time I was reluctant to wear these earrings because I thought they were too weird and Aztec pagan, but recently I realized they are the perfect expression of my personality. Someone from outside could look at these and think they are weird or cool. But no one but myself will know what they truly signify. And I don’t know about you but sadly being bipolar is part of my identity.

I think, from DBT class and a lot of other blogs, that bipolar shouldn’t define a person. You can use your social and behavioral skills to mask it and not rock the boat for anyone else. But, right or wrong, being bipolar is part of who I am. I cannot escape from this, no matter how acceptably I behave; no matter what positive philosophy I adopt.

And I truly do believe that these positive philosophies are the way to go. Bipolar DOES NOT own you. But for my part, though it doesn’t own me, it is still a part of who I am and I do get sick of all the “positivity” and “cheerleading”. Does that make me a person who gives up? I don’t think so. Being aware is OK. It keeps a person ready to think a moment before reacting to something.

Because you are aware. Awareness isn’t a failing. Acknowledgement is not a failing. Acknowledgement is important and really the best way to help yourself.

Acknowledgement is not the same thing as characterizing oneself. I have been guilty of this. Acknowledgement does not give the disorder its power. Its power comes from characterizing yourself.

You are more than your bipolar disorder. But acknowledging it, even gaining personal power from the knowledge and experience, are good things, in my opinion as a person who has struggled with self-hatred and inferiority from this disease.

So I do like my earrings. They don’t mean the same thing to everyone.

Nothing does.

There is power in personal symbols.

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Losing focus . .  . it is the first sign of change for the worse. It means that I am either stepping up from hypomania into irritable disorientation and rage; or slipping down into useless depression. It doesn’t take me long to figure out which. And the feeling of losing focus, which I’ve been lost in among the ravages of paralyzing depression, is a terrible thing. So, since it is my current condition, I will try to be mindful and describe the feeling.

Losing focus is trying to grasp a tendril of smoke that wasn’t smoke before. It’s anxiety producing.

It feels like . . . hmm.

Searching among fragmented paths for a way home

Fermented clouds soaking the brain

Plucking at harpstrings of dry wool

Bird bashing head against green-glass walls, while frenetic wings continue flapping

Slinky nooses around a mind of gleaming burlap in the night

My head hacked on, off, and into. . .

So . . .

If I were focused, I could make poems of these.  I wish I were.  I am trying to get there.

Cow

I have been fighting depression and anxiety a great deal of late, and hard at that.  As the behavioral-ists say, as if I were a cow, “Have you been ruminating again?” Because, they say, “ruminating” upon feelings, occurrences, or memories that have me really pissed off, frightened, or saddened reduces my chances for victory. Well, yes, excessive obsessing can do that.

Yet I find that having these feelings, occurrences, memories, or whatever else cycloning around in my racing thoughts makes the sedentary, passive activity of “rumination” quite impossible.

Me no moo.

Rather, focusing those preoccupations through writing actually can help. Writing is not a form of “distraction” found in a Distress Tolerance list; neither is it a “pleasant activity.” Most especially, it is not rumination. Writing is looking hard for the splinter in your hand and stabbing it with a needle until the splinter comes out and you realize why you couldn’t see it without going through the pain: it was a tiny sliver of white wood, burrowed in there, invisible.

Sometimes you’ll do it through poetry (even if the esthetic results are dismal, the process is the point).

Sometimes through fiction.

I highly recommend writing in a journal (that’s what I do; I write in a journal). I don’t recommend “journaling”.  God, no! “Journal” must never, ever, become a legitimate verb! Please don’t help it to be so.

Or, and this is no new thought either, you could puke your guts out in a blog, which sometimes edifies, but usually just embarrasses. And yet we keep on doing it anyway! Go figure.

It may not solve your problem or cure your depression, but it’s bound to occupy your mind and could help you work through something, stall a suicidal impulse, become a prayer, slow the racing thoughts, ease the anxiety, be the only entity in the universe in whom you can confide the real you. . .whatever it does, it’s better than “ruminating.”

I may be obsessive, but I am NOT a cow.

“Organizing your sock drawer” is commonly a euphemism for sitting around with your thumb up your ass, or prioritizing the wrong thing, or belittling someone’s request for your presence by saying “I have to organize my sock drawer.”

But having an organized sock drawer is more important than you think.

First of all, the process of organizing something as simple as socks can be a very grounding, effective exercise in mindfulness. The socks are a jumbled mess. Some have holes. Some are missing their mate. The ones at the bottom are those loud leggins from the 80s, which you may then choose to continue wearing as a fashion statement, should they still fit; or throw away if they’re “hosed” no pun intended; or donate if they’re in excellent condition. Then, as you dig further, you might find that secret buried treasure you had forgotten where you hid or even forgotten that you had!

If you really focus on these things, each separate thing, you can clear your mind from all else and enter a mindful zone.

Start by putting your socks in pairs. Lay one out, its mate on top of it, then fold the pair in half. I don’t recommend hooking them together by folding the tops down; this just stretches out the top of your socks. Then separate them according to whatever categories please you. Then, stack them neatly. Yes, that’s right, I know it sounds crazy, but just do it. Wow. You have more room in that drawer than you imagined, don’t you?

Your reasonable (rational) mind has sorted, organized.  Your feelings have chosen the most pleasing arrangement of things you want to keep and enjoy. The tidy sock drawer is now a reference point for a grounded, wise mind state.

That is just one of the benefits. Another is, you’ll be able to get dressed faster, especially in the dark, because you just grab a pair and know they’ll match!

Another is, every time you open that drawer you will not feel despair at the jumbled mess that signifies your life. Instead, having that secret place neat and tidy that no one else sees will actually help your mind. You will begin to find more ways to experience yourself as clean on the inside. You are liberating yourself, no longer limited only to whisking together a hurried facade, to hide the crazy under the rug.

You will be able to begin to organize your life and free your mind and heart in other ways, ways that are more significant to you.

So, if you choose to, go clean that sock drawer.

Suicidal State of Mind

The idea of the suicidal state of mind is fraught with controversy and contradiction.

From the outside, it is viewed as “crazy”; “attention seeking” (if shared with others); a “cry for help”; “selfish” (if carried through); “tragic”; and makes friends and loved ones feel helpless.

From the inside, it can be all these things as well. But there are many more things going on, as anyone knows who has truly experienced a suicidal state that goes beyond ideation.

Strategies for the suicidal

These strategies worked for me. They are offered as a way out for the severely depressed, cornered, isolated, helpless person on the brink of suicide. They are mind exercises that you can go through as a checklist, even if you don’t feel like it; it will force you to think, despite what you are feeling.

1. It is certain that this state of mind WILL come to an end if I do not act. Then, I will be glad I did not act.

2. Think of anyone or anything I have a responsibility to.  Examples might be:
Spouse
Children
Pets
Work
A cause I believe in
A project close to my heart that I want to finish

Problems concerning some of these might be the very things that triggered my depression, so I must make an effort not to focus on them. It is very difficult to consider others because of this black whirlpool that has tightened around me. But what might happen to my people, causes or projects if I am gone? Despite what I think right now, I AM needed.

3. How would I feel if my significant other committed suicide, or was killed, leaving ME with the responsibility for everything? I would be overwhelmed. Do I really want to do that to someone else?

4. Think of my achievements, pleasant or rewarding activities, milestones I have witnessed in my children’s lives, etc. that I would have missed if I had succumbed to a previous suicidal episode. Many more of these experiences lie before me.

5. Remember how I got through the previous suicidal episode.

6. Let self-interest work for me. What would happen to me if I attempted suicide and was unsuccessful? What and who do I have to lose in life afterward if I fail?

7. The idea of God and an afterlife requires faith. What do I believe in? Is suicide a sin? Do I believe I would end up in heaven, or hell?

8. The idea that there is no God, and there is only blessed nothing after death, also requires faith. No one knows what lies beyond that barrier. There’s no proof that I will attain freedom or relief from my torment. There are plenty of other possibilities. After committing suicide, my soul could end up trapped forever in the exact same state of torment as it was in when I died. For forever, no release.

9. Write, draw, or play it out. Meaning, write my thoughts down, even if only to burn them later. Or, draw/paint/sculpt whatever my hands will do. Or, if I am musical, play whatever comes out. If I enjoy cooking, cook something. This is cathartic and provides relief.

10. Pray or meditate or practice EFT or other mental strategies.

11. Escape into movies or books. Take to my bed and make no apologies for it. I have arrived at my current state through unbearable stresses and I am entitled to take a break.

12. Escape through exercise, a walk in a pleasant park, the woods.

13. Care for animals. Pet my dog or cat, groom my horse, get a fish.

14. Consider the possibility that I am under the influence of someone or something else, and that this horrid thing I hate is not really ME. Direct my self-hatred toward that influence instead, and banish it through prayer, intention, or whatever else I believe will work.

15. Think about tomorrow. The sun will rise just the same, and I may wake up feeling completely different than I do now. Each day is a fresh start.

I hope this can help me in the future, or help someone else.

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