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What if it wasn't a disease?


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Reading the "famous persons with BP" thread reminded me of a wild thunk I had last night.

I was in the "Self Help" and "Psychology" section of a largish bookshop.

I grabbed every book on bipolar, flipped to Ultradian. Fooey. Why don't the just admit they haven't the foggiest?!  Instead of outputting all that waffle that in summary says... nothing.

I started into the self help section. Bah. Foo. I don't need help to "Cease the bloody day".

Just line up a mania session and let fly. Being Ultradian is handy that way...

Keeping on target, finishing the job before I crumble into soggy black soot is the real problem.

No help in the self help section.

And then I started on an interesting chain of thought.

Well, why don't I finished the job? Why do I skip to the next?

I bumped into a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy book. Seem to say in summary you are OK, you've just got Pink in Your Think, straighten out your thinking and all will be roses.

Sounded like Toxic Psychology to me. Ye Olde "Pull yourself together!"

So I started running a few thought experiments on that one. If there is nothing physically wrong with me, and its just the thoughts I'm thunking, what am I thunking when I do the classic manic drop a project and onto the next wild enthuse?

What am I thunking when I curl into a miserable ball of self hate.

Mostly what I'm thunking is "Shit! I've moved mountains, pulled lightning from heaven, and come up with this really amazingly clever that _is_ really really Good, and what did the world say?"

"That's Nice Dear", with a somewhat Pained (oh no he's off again) expression.

In retrospect thinking back, a lot of my wild ideas were actually rather very good.

Some of my dumb purchases were made with the intent of pursuing an excellent notion with it.

And the world around me let out a collective moan.

I think this has been happening since childhood. Get Good idea, run to tell Everyone about it, the world heaves a sigh, and then proceeds to dredge up a hundred reasons why it won't work / I shouldn't do it etc. etc. etc.

So over the decades I have learnt to cut my losses early. Whoops, the world didn't like that one again. Drop it, no problem, my magical brain has lined up the next three anyway...

After four or five bouts of this, I have done nothing, achieved nothing, pissed off everyone for miles, and .....

Surprise surprised...

I'm a trifle depressed.

And since this cycle has been going on for decades, it's running in some very well worn and very smooth ruts.

And the "trifle depressed" has been replaced by "outright bloody suicidal".

Now looking back, with hindsight, a fair percentage of those notions weren't nearly as Bad as people around me made out. (Ok, some were. :-))

And quite a few of them weren't what I was supposed to be doing at that exact moment. Or strained a cultural norm a tad. Or bent it rather out of shape.

But if carried through would have been really Good.

Now add in this Cognitive Behaviour notion and perhaps what I really need is a way to lose my inhibitions a little.

Whoo! Suggest to a manic that he lose his inhibitions a little! Want some petrol on that fire? Somehow I suspect this is one of my nifty manic notions, and not what the sober folks of CBT are suggesting....

No seriously, My reliance on how the society I live in is measuring my ideas is making me drop too many of them too fast. Doing the classic manic skipping trick.

When friends and family and colleagues and general society frown, I shouldn't cringe and skip to the next, I should ease up a little, learn to say "Damn the Torpedoes" an develop a certain amiable eccentricity.

And complete the ideas. Iron out the kinks, finished the job, package it sell it get the return and society be damned.

Now I think about it, my family ancestry does have a fair percentage of amiable old eccentrics in it.. Perhaps Great Uncle whatsit and Great Aunty Thingamabob had more than just BP to pass on to me.

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Hey Sand Dune,

I think you might be related to my husband! LOL

He DOES have great ideas, its just that he has trouble follow through on them and leaves me holding the bag. Working on that with therapy, though. If you can work on your ideas in your spare time while still supporting yourself...go for it! But if someone else has to feed you, clothe you, and pay your light bill so you can pursue your newest thing...well, you are just another BP on a manic high. Don't be surprised if us caregiver types roll our eyes at you.

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Hey Sand Dune,

I think you might be related to my husband! LOL

He DOES have great ideas, its just that he has trouble follow through on them and leaves me holding the bag. Working on that with therapy, though. If you can work on your ideas in your spare time while still supporting yourself...go for it! But if someone else has to feed you, clothe you, and pay your light bill so you can pursue your newest thing...well, you are just another BP on a manic high. Don't be surprised if us caregiver types roll our eyes at you.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

My, my, exactly as I said and bang on cue, the universe pops up and says, "Very Nice Dear", and then ruins the effect by giving the pained expression! :-) You must be related to my wife!

Of course when I came home and first read your reply I had cycled into depressed mode and just logged off with a curse, quite rude and I'm sorry if your ears stung. I was totally prepared give up on this whole notion.

Oh how familiar and well oiled this rut is!

Except your reply and my reaction was _so_ much exactly what I predicted  that when I had cycled out of depression again I, unusually, am prepared to battle this battle another round.

Now how about this for a notion... Instead of all the drugs and the hospitalization.

Instead of putting the fire out, we use those resources to harness it.

The worst damage the cold war ever did was to convince the world that there are only two concievable economic systems. Stalinism and unfettered capitalism. Now Capitalism rules, anything that doesn't fit  is labelled as a disease.

A skill, a mental ability that can contribute greatly to society, but not in the short term, not in the structure of a short term profit centered company, is short sightedly seen as dysfunctional and must be treated.

Instead of trying to cure it, instead of bemoaning that these wild fools cannot pay the light bill or put food on the table, we should try create an economic model that gives these amiable eccentrics a way to make their contribution to society in their own way.

Instead of continually trying to put the fire of passion out, we should try harness that passion, to train that passion to complete things, to set up the support structures that take over the aspects which we are unable to handle.

Not easy, we battling a life time of bad habits on the part of us BP's and those around us. One frown and we recognise that the we've done Bad again, and  are prepared to throw it all away and go on to the next one. Clearly both sides of that silly little equation need changing.

And no, I don't expect some poor embattled wife to make this change herself.

Our society has some structures and support for long term goals. Academic research being one of them.  Unfortunately academia is one of the more useless and ossified  features I have ever met. I would rather the money spent on academic research of my problem be spend on harnessing it. Because instead of being a drain, I will be a gain.

Perhaps the hardest thing for non BP's to grasp is the ecstatic side. The ability to be utterly consumed by an ecstatic passion for an idea, for something beautiful, for something really Good.

I look at with pity, those who cannot have their minds adsorbed onto a passing fugue and be utterly transported into heaven. How Small their lives are compared to mine! I often find those around me frightened rather than inspired by such glimpses. They see in that passion something deeply uncomfortable and risky. The face of God is always hidden in a good suburban home.

By levelling the emotions, by pouring cold water on each passion, you make us tractable, like levelling the mountains, much easier to get along with, but no longer great.

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