Monday, May 12, 2008

“For one crowning moment, we were creatures of the cosmic ocean" ---Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr.

“I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others.”

---Ludwig von Beethoven

“For one crowning moment, we were creatures of the cosmic ocean, an epoch that a thousand years hence may be seen as the signature of our century.”

---Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr.

"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."

---Sir Winston Churchill

"We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

---Charles Dickens

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

---Carrie Fisher

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

---Ernest Hemingway

“Only when the form grows clear to you, will the spirit become so too.”

---Robert Schumann

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

---Vincent Van Gogh

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”

---Virginia Woolf

"Melancholia is the beginning and a part of mania . . . . The development of a mania is really a worsening of the disease (melancholia) rather than a change into another disease."

--- ARETAEUS OF CAPPADOCIA (c. 30-90 AD - source of our earliest quotes on bipolar)

"Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively."

--- VOLTAIRE (1694-1778)

"My recovery from manic depression has been an evolution, not a sudden miracle."

--- PATTY DUKE (1946- )

"Again judging from my own experience, the sexual symptoms of the manic state seem to be the most powerful and important of all . . . . The normal inhibitions disappear, and sexual activity, instead of being placed, as in our Western Christian civilization, in opposition to religion, becomes associated with it. This release of the underlying sexual tension . . . seems to me to be the primary and governing factor of all the ecstasies and many other experiences of the manic state."

--- JOHN CUSTANCE (1952)

"Then I overdosed at 28, at which point I began to accept the bipolar diagnosis."

--- CARRIE FISHER (1956- )

"I know that without treatment I would not have never been able to harness my creativity in such a successful way."

--- PATTY DUKE (1946- )

"I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn't work for me, the answer would be a simple no... and it would be an answer laced with terror. But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It's complicated..."


"We of the craft are all crazy."

--- LORD BYRON (1788-1824)

Today has been one of those days where the melancholia is strong and forceful. My day is slow as usual. The weather is dreary and I have questioned my body over and over, "Why am I filled with a powerful chemistry that shoots out toxins and brings me down so that I need to fight inside to remain peaceful? I do not want to be this way. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever." [But what is, is.]

And, so, I have started searching for something to make myself feel better---to lift me from the internal chemical warfare. I have looked for a productivity to fill the void and distract me from the darkness. And I have found it in a mass of quotations stated by other darkened [and/or brightened] souls like myself.

My heart is such that I want to help others like me to be sucessful despite the haphazard biological "firing squad" within. Such atruism pleases my mind and gives me purpose that sweetens my life.

Bipolar disorder is a diagnosis handed out by psychiatrists within the traditional medicine field. I am grateful that my diagnosis came during this time period rather than an earlier period in history. Mental health has not been an easy pathway for mankind. There has been torture, isolation, and all sorts of ugly methodologies to solve the "insanity"of man. Though, I still consider the psychiatric field to be in the "Dark Ages," I recognize that it definitely has been a sort of "remedy" for me. Certainly the psychiatric field offers no cure for mental illness. Diagnoses merely code and classify sicknesses/disorders so that the medical community can treat the varying degrees of the disease with what they know.

I have been struggling with severe emotional ups and downs since my junior high days. [I had some very down thoughts in childhood as well.] Prior to the age of 21, I experienced more depressions than I experienced hypomanias or manias. I was very ambitious and very driven as a young woman, so all of us at the time could have just assumed my thoughts were part of my type-A personality. [And they were, just not exclusively.] I think most people that were around me back at that stage of my life thought my hypomanias were my norm. Looking back, the bursts of high were probably a mixture of early onset of the disease combined with a "brilliant" mind. [And from my perspective, both go hand in hand.]

"We all have our ups and downs, our 'off' days and our 'on' days, but if you're suffering from Bipolar disorder, these peaks and valleys are more severe. The extreme highs and lows of Bipolar disorder can disrupt daily activities and damage relationships. And although it’s treatable, many people don’t/can't recognize the warning signs and get the help they need. Since Bipolar disorder tends to worsen without treatment, it’s important to learn what the symptoms look like. Recognizing the problem is the first step to getting it under control.

Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable
Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
Highly distractible, unable to concentrate
Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)

Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty.
Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
Fatigue or loss of energy
Physical and mental sluggishness
Appetite or weight changes
Sleeping too much or too little
Concentration and memory problems
Feelings of self-loathing, shame, or guilt
Thoughts of death or suicide"


The thing you learn after you have experienced the medical community and a chronic disease enough times, is that the medical community only knows a touch about the illnesses it treats. In the psychiatric field, there are doctors, nurses and therapists that can only see the objective side of the diseases. They depend on their textbooks and perhaps the various clinical experiences they have had, but they don't know the subjective, individualized aspects of the illnesses. They don't know what their patients feel and know. Many don't recognize how different the disease is for each person diagnosed.

I am intelligent and thoughtful. I have been dedicated to understanding myself since 1998. At that point, I determined that the medical community I had totally trusted (like God) was actually quite mediocre at assessing and treating Bipolar disorder. I, also, discovered what my disease was like. I began to differentiate between my persona and my pathology. That path took over six years. I had many hospitalizations during my learning curve. It was rough!

But let me say, I am thankful for the drugs the pharmaceutical companies are currently creating and distributing. Today's products far surpass the standards of many of the older medications that used to be available to the mentally ill. For instance, when I think of Haldol, the first anti-psychotic I had administered to me both in 1992 and 1997, I am so elated to be on my present anti-psychotic medication, Seroquel.

As long as my Seroquel dosage is appropriate, I hardly realize I am on an anti-psychotic. For me, Haldol was quite the opposite. I could definitely tell that it was the same type of med that was used to tranquilize elephants. The drug made me feel horrible. I experienced great lethargy, and sometimes even intense, knife-like stabbing pain. I, also, experienced blurry, blinded vision. It controlled my outbursts but it disabled me from being able to function.

Furthermore, some old drugs have, also, not been successfully replaced with new ones. Lithium is often the only med available for the stabilization of mood disorders like Bipolar disorder. This is the case for me. No other mood stabilizer is strong enough to hold me. Lithium has terrible side effects. One key side effect is weight gain. I have been struggling with my weight for 16 years. Sometimes I even out for awhile and my metabolism begins to do its job and I lose weight. Then, inevitably, that brings on some sort of drug change. And as my drugs are changed, my weight returns. I get frustrated, but in the end, I know the Lithium keeps me sane most of the time and that is ultimately what I want.

In addition, I dislike the fact that most drugs are made for the average ill person (whoever that is) rather than being made for one particular person. [[Money! Always money! I know. I want my cake and eat it too!]]

Being a student of my body has enabled me to understand how each drug works for me, or is suppose to work. One year I connected with the fact that I just needed a slight incremental increase in my dosage to manage my disease. I was told that dosage wouldn't make a difference. As a result, I had to seriously question the judgment of the physician I was seeing because I knew what was happening with my body. And I knew what the medicine was doing in my body. The physician, apparently, did not. And he wasn't concerned with what I was saying.

I had to ask myself, "How many of this man's patients really communicate their needs effectively ?" My belief is/was that not many patients of the man had the capability to even recognize what they needed, therefore they could hardly articulate what type of dosage or medication they needed. I felt the man was adhering to some sort of guideline instead of listening to what I said---what I KNEW. And across the board, I generally, feel this way about my experience with psychiatrists. Of course, there is always an exception to the rule!

I will say that my mind can be categorized as "brilliant" at times. It is fragile, creative, deep, and highly disciplined. I have above average intelligence, but it is more than mere intelligence that I am talking about. It is a spark of refinement. It is a fire that runs quickly to the stars and back. My ex-boyfriend used to say I could reach the gods. I think he was right. However, that form of "brilliance" has had such a terrible cost at times. I relay the suffering below.

When I am ill with a fever pitched high or low, my world is upside down and inside out. I can't manage myself. [People in my life have often thought there was choice in this state. There is not choice once the damage has occurred or has been triggered.] At the point of trigger, I am decadently minded, or devastatingly directed. My highs can be brought into submission through pharmacology. It usually takes two weeks of hospitalization and a couple months of tight follow-up where I am unable to work. My lows are such that I can only wade through the heavy emotions that aim to strangle my very breath from me. I cannot take anti-depressants. Anti-depressants send me right through the glass ceiling.

But, not every high takes me to a point of de-stabilization. Nor does every low. Sometimes, I just brush the ceiling with my fingertips and I am reminded which world I live in. Many times I will experience lows like I did today. I feel the negative chemicals pouring into my body like the "ink" of a squid. And for moments, hours, days, weeks, or months I am "paralyzed."

I especially hate the highs. I will do anything to avoid them. Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins and Bipolar disorder survivor, infers that her disease, untreated, would be laced with terror. I understand this statement completely. As you ascend through to the first set of heavens brought on by mania, you see candy colored visions. You hear harps made of gold. You know no limitations, you know all that is. Your God orientation is extreme and exaggerated.

Yet, as you plummet into your "earth re-entry patterns (which are only moments away)," you cry at the searing "atmosphere" you have to pierce through. As you "land" in the material world, you become exhausted and terror stricken. Your eyes scarcely recognize the settings around you. You are very disoriented. Your heart races at a maddening pace. Every aspect of your body is in agony. And, the thought of leaping toward the "manic" heavens, again, is craziness unleashed.

But, your body is ready for another reckless jump! In fact, your body cannot stop leaping without some sort of help. It is on auto-pilot and it resembles the kamikaze warriors of the second world war. Every turbulent exposure to the excessively shiny, shrieking world of "angels and demons" is ungodly and painful.

Yes, when life evens out (if it evens out), you can admire the glimpses of "the beyond" you were given; but, ultimately, "the beyond" is an excruciating journey not made for flesh and blood so delicate. You suffer for the knowledge of heaven while on earth! You suffer as your body-mind splits and your mind assumes its celestial stance. Bipolar disorder severs the mind from its point of origin. The mind becomes lost in a cosmic sea. It waivers at where it should go. The body becomes like a chicken with its head cut off. It flops back and forth hunting for a place to reside.

I have gained a lot of wisdom from this path; but, if I had to choose another destination so that I could avoid the awful hurt, I would. I have escaped death at least three times. The knowledge that I have gleaned has scarcely been worth the various prices I have had to pay.

But, we don't get the choice of removing our history. We have lived it and it is gone. We only get the choice of now and, possibly, the choice of tomorrow. And that is what I try to make the most of.

My disease is complex. My hormones are major players in the manifestation of my disease's episodes. Every time I have been hospitalized I have been on my cycle. Each month brings me something new. I have been learning how to reconcile my body and my internal clock. I really like the books, Wild Genie and Her Blood is Gold. The books tap into the powers of the divine feminine. Cultures of the past used to worship the female before patriarchal gods became popular. I have gained a new sense of self as I have studied the belief systems of the antiquated societies, and I have learned to love and respect the body I was born with.

In addition, I have been learning about the chakra system. The chakras have really helped me to use all parts of myself. The wholeness of my body is something I knew little to nothing about before four years ago. Now, wholeness rolls off the tip of my tongue without a thought. I instinctively knew that body and mind were one. As insurance companies and doctors clamored to separate them, I held them together. My body was all over the place during my episodes. It was obvious to me that my mind affected my body and my body affected my mind. [The health insurance I have now accepts that my disease is a physical disease. I am not manufacturing my illness. This was a huge recognition. But not every insurance owns this fact.]

I have been hospital free for almost four years. I attribute my health to a lot of factors. The "chakra system" education has helped me tremendously. I have, also, studied a lot of "peace" work that the Eastern philosophies teach. I have gotten a decent mix of medications. I diligently aspire to have good sleep hygiene [this is perhaps my hardest health battle]. I am learning to love myself. I am connecting with my oneness with all that is, I am able to see the benefit of looking for and believing the positive in all I do and say. The Law of Attraction supports my healthy thought processes. Heart energizing is paramount to my feeling good. And daily living keeps me on a path that is good and solid. I am able to experience the now because I can finally recognize the now is all we will ever have. I seek to become more aware and more enlightened. I seek to know the Source---Love.

It has been far from easy. I have put tons of energy and effort into my life and my living. My passion is to give that which I have been given. And I find that the more I give the more I get! As long as I seek the Source in everything I do.

Mental health is a field that needs more recognition. One of my goals is to make people more Mental health conscious while I simultaneously maintain a good health standing with the world around me. This goal is difficult to balance. There is still so much negativity and stigma regarding Mental illness. Personally, it makes me angry. There is no difference between the body-mind. If there is a problem, it is that the medical field lacks methodologies for treating diseases that manifest as Mental illnesses. That is a reflection on the medical community, not on the Mentally ill! The Mentally ill are just a group of people waiting for their "ship to come in." [And how patiently they have waited...decade after decade, century after century, millenia after millenia.]

The mind is intricately linked to the body. They are one. The brain does not exist outside the body. It is located in the head and it connects to every part of the physical body.

The Mental illness is stigmatized because people see diseases affecting the mind as terribly disabling. It tweaks the nerve of fear in every person's archetypal shadow. The "survival of the fittest" mentality comes into full force when you hear people speaking about Mental illness with distaste and alarm. When you lack control over your mind, you become WEAK, vulnerable. There couldn't be much that is worse. Not to mention that society looks down on weakness.

I have been overcome with grim amounts of dishonor since I turned 21. First,I felt the dishonor internally. I was ashamed to be "insane." Then I felt the dishonor externally. I lost respect over and over from the people in my life because I experienced episode after episode of Mania or Depression.

But, now, after great spiritual searching as well as just plain living 37 years, I understand the choice I made before time existed. [And, yes, it has been a very long road!]

I made the choice to live as the girl and then the woman that I am now. God and I spoke about the desires I would plant and keep in my heart. God and I spoke about all the paths I would select along the way to "holy perfection." He explained the world was a beautiful place to be, and hence I accepted to go there. [Afterall, if God thought it was beautiful, what must it BE like???] And, so, in knowing my destiny to Be all that I could Be, I, also, chose to have Bipolar disorder. Believe it or not, I chose to suffer and to grow. I chose to be the me I AM.

And, here I AM.

With that knowing, I learn the love that IS and will always Be in my body and in my mind. And I gain strength to get beyond "going beyond." As I live the life I chose this go around, I understand I CAN DO this. I can Be all that I can Be. Shutting out the anxiety of my earthly brothers and sisters who have yet to remember their destiny, I step ahead, breathing one breath at a time. Believing in the Oneness that I already AM. Experiencing the healing from the sense of separateness. Feeling the wholeness that I MUST Be, because I already am WHOLE. And I finally get it.

If I believe at some stage I will receive, Bipolar disorder becomes my path to perfection. So, I practice receiving. And I practice believing. For I know that God's love is all around me and deep within me. It is God's perfection I experience when I practice to know the end of separation and disease.

Therefore, I overcome my Bipolar disorder through God's all-ecompassing love.I do this one thought at a time!

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