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Could I be losing my grip on reality?

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I have been friends with someone for almost seven years. He knows me and understands me better than any non-MI person in the world. He seems to know a lot of my motives before I do, and has an uncanny ability to predict my behavior. We were involved in a

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Can you explain why you dont feel like its real when you are happy? Sounds like you are more doubting yourself and how you are feeling rather than losing a grip. How about learning to own your feelings and take them for what they are.

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I know what you mean Sam, I go through phases when I don't feel like there's any definable baseline too (like now, for instance...). It's a very unsettling feeling. I don't really know what to suggest though - I just keep taking my meds and making sure I sleep and eat right and go to work and try to act normal, and eventually it either passes or turns into something more definabely wrong.

God, that's not very helpful, is it?! But I get what you're going through....

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Actually, I think it takes a lot of practice and self-knowledge to know what we're feeling. That's one reason many preschools (and not only for autistic kids) have charts on the wall with facial expressions. They're used to help kids identify emotions - their own and others'.

I can think of plenty of times I had already finished a box of Oreos before it dawned on me,

"hey, I must be depressed or anxious." (since I have never been on an Oreo cookie health diet ;) ).

Likewise now, sometimes I will have about picked my scalp raw before the lightbulb goes off,

"Gee, come to think of it - I AM anxious".

Then, if I"m REALLY in touch, I might figure out it's connected to a worrying scene with my son, for instance.

Can't seem to do without a reference to psychology research so here goes (like so much of it, the resrx. follows intuitions, but it's still nice to see them demonstrated). Anyhow, it's about the psychology of attribution.

There's a lot of theorizing about how we figure out what we feel. Has to do with internal cues ( eg. fast heartbeat) and sometimes external ones too, same as we make inferences about others. Like we might look in the mirror. see ourselves slouching and slightly green, and think "wow, l must be sick" (And then we proceed to feel even worse, of course!).

Ultimately. both sets of cues are the same in a way, when it comes to ourselves - it's just that unlike with others, we're on both sides of the windowpane.

They did some really interesting research (until it was declared unethical - which it WAS). It involved giving some "subjects" adrenaline (while a control group got placebos.). They were all exposed to different situations and reported on their reactions. Sexual arousal, joke telling, scary situation.

The ones with the adrenaline always reported the stimulus was sexier, the joke was funnier, the bridge was shakier - than the control group. Moral: we infer our feelings from our physiological cues. When they were "debriefed" (told if they'd had adrenaline or not), their reactions were toned down - but they were pretty shaken up in a different way. It scared them to think how much they'd been confused in arriving at judgments by a chemical (So how do WE feel, with our neurotransmitters having a life of their own??) ,

Anyhow, I don't think there's anything surprising or alarming about your being confused about your state of mind.

Even before your recent upheaval, you were on that BP roller coaster everybody talks about. But you got so you could make corretions, with a kind of learned gyroscope. .

Now (and it sounds REALLY constructive!) you've let go of a lot of dutifly lugged baggage from your personal history . That means the balance is thrown off again. Why should that mean anything pernicious? I call it a natural consequence of being thrown very off kilter and needed to relearn your points of reference (what’s up? what's down? Who am I anyhow?)

Your friend is quite right, you've lost your bearings. Especially if that's how he's always known you, that can seem scary and something to warn you about.. His observation (valid) doesn't have to lead to the conclusion he's drawing, though. Your old orientation and way of making sense of things, was HARMFUL to you (though necessary and adaptive at that time).

Sure, sometimes we lose our equilibrium when there's overwhelming stress. But "eu-stress" (good stress) has much the same effect as bad. Becoming healthier and needing to repoise yourself, , can be confusing. But your new equilibrium will be a vast improvement (same as the reality itself, is an improvement). That's in comparison to a situation where you’re required to come to terms with great loss. (We can't even count on succeeding, if we're really burnt out, in fact).

Lemme see if I understood you.

Your reality has changed not because anything concrete is intrinsically easier or cheaper or whatever. You feel different about your ability to handle it now, because you see yourself as having control over the outcome, though. A helluva lot more, at any rate.

Just how that will play itself out, you don't know yet, but you have a new can-do feeling about its being possible. In fact, pretty much a certainty.


Anyhow, that would throw anybody for a loop! We can get used to being hunched over, carrying a bunch of heavy old suitcases, spilling at the seams. When they're not there all of a sudden, we can even fall down without all that extra weight. Requires learning a new posture.

I could wish that kind of confusion for all of us! (Me first, please, teacher! Call on me!!)


Just my reading of things, of course, Sam.

The only thing I’d caution you about is this (and it may just be my own hyper-vigilance and distrust speaking).

It’s rare and hard to completely shift orientation rapidly. Since you are BP, take care not to be too either-orish about it. For instance, if you have a setback (and you DON”T feel you can handle the situation as well as you’d like), don’t just dismiss all this positive new self-view as a mere figment of your imagination,. Or another sign of the bipolarity at work.

After all, suddenly feeling hope where none existed, can have an effect similar to taking an effective antidepressant. There’s a lot of (to me) very sensible-sounding speculation that depression is based most of all, on feeling our lives are out of control. NOT how awful (or not), the situation itself is at any one point.

(No wonder the rats in forced swim tests – with whom I very much identify - feel like hell). “Internal Locus of control” people are happier than those who feel at the mercy of the winds of chance (or other people) - to jargonize it again.

And I guess we all know how risky antidepressants can be for those with BP!?

So I’d say, EXPECT something to go wrong – for something to shake your present level of positivity. If you prepare for that, you’ll be much more able to hold onto the good, valid insights about your capabilities. There’ll be less chance of your just dismissing it as “Ah hell,. Another fucking mirage!”

(Hope this doesn’t sound scary, or jinxing. I believe you HAVE changed. I want you to have more chance of continuing to see that yourself. Again, I maybe just be projecting my own situation onto yours).


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Well synthetic, that's a pretty cool existential answer. I guess I could be making a mountain out of a molehill. But man, my friend really freaked me out. I guess you can not think you are crazy and be crazy, or you can not think you're crazy and not be crazy.

Angel, I think that is a very helpful answer. Sometimes I forget that if things are one way now, they will always be that way. So basically even though my friend is right about a lot of things, he doesn't know what it is like to be BP and could very well not be right in this instance. Definitely a less scary proposition.

And Air Marshall, thank you so much for your earlier words of wisdom or who knows what else I would be saying here. ;)


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rt, you always have something wise to add. I like that.

It's just scary going up and down and up and down without having the "my mommy didn't sing to me when she was pregnant" syndrome. That was very comforting.

Now it's just raw emotion, and it's pretty eye-opening. And just like you say, that will take a long time to get used to, and it is a positive step, but I guess I thought I would feel a lot more stable. And I just feel more alone. Time time time. Okay.

I love your Oreo story. I have so done stuff like that. A lot of time it's manic-type stuff. My manias only last a few hours, but I will have stupid ideas like, "Life is wonderful and I can't ever in my life imagine anything ever being wrong!" Not arguing here that life isn't wonderful (!!!) but how unrealistic is that? Or just stupid behaviors I look back on and smack my head. What was I thinking?

It's those darned Fudge Sticks for me. I will just keep eating them and eating them...but I think that is more from sheer adoration than anxiety!

Thanks for your input, rt. You always make a lot of sense!


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