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the "roller coaster" analogy


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I am curious. I often hear bipolar disorder described as being like a roller coaster. I think this is a poor analogy that doesn't really fit (reasons below), but people seem to use it frequently. My psychiatrist even mentioned it, saying many of his patients describe bipolar that way. So I am wondering: do you think this is an apt analogy? Do you feel like you're on a roller coaster because of your bipolar disorder? Why or why not?

(I'm guessing whether or not you like this analogy has to do with the specific type of episode pattern you have, as well as whether you actually like roller coasters in real life.)

There are many reasons I don't like it. I understand the aspects of being locked in for the whole ride, things are out of your control, etc. For me personally, though, the concepts of unpredictability, wild frequent changes, etc are inaccurate. My version of bipolar involves typically one episode per year and things are very, very predictable in how it goes. (Predictable in a dread-inducing, "oh no, not this again" way.) Also, I think roller coasters are fun. Bipolar disorder is not fun. So that really makes the whole thing seem wrong.

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For me the roller coaster analogy fits perfectly. Here's why. When I'm on a roller coaster, I'm not in control, someone else is. I put my life, for a very short time, in someone else's hands. And for that short time, it's a wild ride full of twists, turns, times when I'm upside down and even times when things are smooth for a moment, but the point is - I can never get off of that ride until it's over.

I don't like roller coaster rides - I hate them - I'm terrified of them. I will only go on them if someone talks me into it. Then I close my eyes and hang on for dear life.

I'm a rapid cycler, so when I go into mood swings, it's a lot like being on a roller coaster. There's no control and it's a wild freaking ride. My moods are nowhere near predictable. They come on me *bam* out of nowhere. It's one of the reasons why I don't like roller coasters, because I they're scary and unpredictable, and I might fall off on them and die.

Yeah, the roller coaster analogy works for me.

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For me a major affective change is like walking onto a frozen lake and watching the ice crack and then break away. It's rather predictable and inevitable once it starts, although there's a slim chance I can outrun it.

Sometimes I have done something really stupid, like jump up and down on the ice. I didn't need to walk out on the lake in the first place... I just liked the pretty view. Often I was running cross-country and lost track of where I was.

I've learned what the sound of cracking ice sounds like and when to stay off lakes. For the most part. Well. Maybe.

Once it's actual mania... not so much a roller-coaster as just a very, very fast car with deceptively good handling and unacceptably high maintenance costs that tends to try to kill me every once in a while by, say, plunging into a guardrail with no notice or having a wheel fall off or suddenly bursting into flame. I still have control of the general direction, or the illusion of control; it's mainly a pacing and destruction issue. And costs.

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This analogy must leave some torn asunder. To love the coaster but hate the MI it potentially symbolizes.

I am not one of these people. I love roller coasters! The rickety and wilder the better. They are FUN. Bipolar is not fun.

I go more with plunging elevators, big earthquakes while in big highrises, the perfect storm at sea or a run away train (as a couple insightful people recently mentioned), torture even. Whatever analogy I'd use, it wouldn't be anything I enjoyed IRL. Besides, the up/down symbolism doesn't work for me anymore than being a passenger driving over small hilly roads, which actually makes me feel sick so somehow a closer match. Anyway, you get the idea.

and, yes, I did fit those two award winning pompassery words in ;)

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The bp board used to be named "Octopus Ride" in a reference to the syd barrett song Octopus which uses the carnival octopus ride as a metaphor for madness. Nobody got it and Syd was most likely schizophrenic and not bp so it was eventually changed.

I'm not bp so I can't comment on the other stuff but thought I'd chip in with this.

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The bp board used to be named "Octopus Ride" in a reference to [link=http://www.lyricsdownload.com/barrett-syd-octopus-lyrics.html" target="_blank]the syd barrett song[/link] Octopus which uses the carnival octopus ride as a metaphor for madness. Nobody got it and Syd was most likely schizophrenic and not bp so it was eventually changed.

I'm not bp so I can't comment on the other stuff but thought I'd chip in with this.

LOL, that's the ride I was trying to describe elsewhere. Cookie tosser. I hate it!

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Yes, I am not a roller coaster ride person for the metaphor, even though I don't really like coasters.

There just doesn't seem to be enough actually danger involved in a roller coaster ride-- and it's artificial danger, you know? Really, the makers do everything they can to make it as safe as possible. It's a little scary, but deep down inside one knows that it's really pretty tame, overall.

BP is not like that. I still like my perfect storm analogy the best. Where sinking to the bottom of the ocean is a real possibility.

Anna

I guess another analogy might be... I had this dream once where I got drunk without actually drinking anything. But things got all weird and crazy nonetheless. Having BP sometimes reminds me of being drunk/drug addicted but with no actual control over what/when one ingests, or no ability to know how the binge is going to end... It really pisses me off, actually. Note this doesn't apply to people whose lives stay fairly tame when drunk... mine does not.

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What, do we want some perfect analogy that fits everyone?

Can't have it. Sorry.

Rollercoaster's a good analogy. Goes up, goes down. Kinda wild. You're not so much in control. The basics. Quit trying to make it all complicated. Analogies are supposed to be simple. Of course they don't work if you overcomplicate them.

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What, do we want some perfect analogy that fits everyone?

Can't have it. Sorry.

Rollercoaster's a good analogy. Goes up, goes down. Kinda wild. You're not so much in control. The basics. Quit trying to make it all complicated. Analogies are supposed to be simple. Of course they don't work if you overcomplicate them.

I agree. It's not perfect, but it works.

It's like water. Good for the masses and then once distributed you can add flavour if desired.

AKA - Roller coaster analogy is ok for the masses, but you can personalize it to your flavour of BP. Be that planes, trains, automobiles, lakes, cookie tossers, teacup rides, alien abuductions w/anal probes, psycho shower scenes, shadow men hiding in your shower tiles, etc...

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Frankly, the whole roller coaster thing never gelled w/me. I love the bastards. Granted, I've only had a chance to ride on two different ones in my life. One being a wooden one and the other went off the rails and killed someone, but I still love 'em.

I'd describe mine like the classic Hitchcock Psycho "shower scene." You know it's coming, you want to jump through the screen and grab her or at least scream "RUN BITCH RUN!", then you see the knife, EEE EE EEEEEE!.....then chocolate just circling the drain.

Game over man.

Game over.

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i am not a fan of theme park rides, rollercoasters, or any of the others.

Before i started meds, i cycled a lot faster, and yes, that seemed like a rollercoaster. now, well, things arent so fast, but it definitely seems out of control, like i've got on a ride and i'm not allowed to get off.

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Mine's like the stock market. For whatever reason- an injection of funds, an anomaly in the numbers- you spike. Then the market seems to correct itself, and just as everyone's feeling safe and stable, someone goes bankrupt and the market crashes. And then just when you think things are as bad as they've ever been, the whole bottom drops out.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Actually, I find rollercoasters rather smooth, and fairly predictable... which I guess is what I aspire to with this... smooth and predictable.

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The roller coaster ride doesn't really doesn't really do it justice - at least not for me. Now. if the roller coaster crashed and burned on every hill or valley, then it might come close. Since I was young, I sort of adopted the phoenix analogy. I tend to self-destruct then rise from the ashes.

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I HATE roller coasters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They terrify me (I've never been on one ;) but took a few carnival rides as a kid). I have severe phobia of heights and vertigo so bad that I think I would pass out from the terror.

But as an analagy for my illness, it doesn't work for me. I keep imagining the beastly thing and feel the sick fear. Totally distracting.

Octopus is interesting. Maybe hydra, or Medusa. Something that encompasses more than 'up and down'. although 'out of control' fits.

But I agree that it's basically a good enough analagy that ppl can tailor to their own flavour.

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