Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ancient Oscar Nights - Before the Fall

Before the fall when they wrote it on the wall
When there wasn't even any Hollywood
They heard the call
And they wrote it on the wall
For you and me we understood

Writers: Donald Fagen, Walter Carl Becker:
Art for art sake? Money for???

Intellectual Avoidance of Body Sensations

‘You’re waffling,’ Sasi announces, over my shoulder.
‘This reads like intellectualized nonsense to me darling - like you can’t just say what you feel’ She admonishes me.
‘You just want a quick fight, for the kiss and make up.'
‘No! Seriously Mr. Therapist! Why do you write in such an intellectual, twenty words are better than two way?’
‘What! You think we’re in group therapy here?’ I say.
‘Ooow! There’s a defensive reaction darling, did I touch a button in there?’ She say’s while ruffling my hair.

‘Because that’s the way it fucking felt - that’s why!’ I announce, an old painful image filling my mind.
‘Where are you?’ Sasi asks me.
‘What! Are you Mrs. Therapist now?’
‘Come on darling, where were you?’ Sasi whispers, placing her hands gently on my shoulders.
‘Please don’t ask me to go there in your presence sweetheart,’ I plead.
‘Then maybe its time to have that session with Angus, you tell me you’ll get around to it one of these days,’ she suggests before kissing me on the forehead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Being Buddha & Brain Neurons

‘What are you thinking about now?’ Asks Sasi.
‘Buddha and feedback fired neurons’
‘I thought Buddha was Indian, not Chinese?’ My delightful lady says with beaming, playful smile.
‘Neurons darling! Not noodles!’
‘Oor you wan feedback fired neurons wid you sweet an sour pork?’ She blurts out between fits of giggles.
‘Could be the real chicken soup of the soul?’  

'So whats a neuron then?' Sasi asks.
'The're what makes your brain work and an adult brain has more than 100 billion neurons.'
'Wow! More noodles than in China huh?'
‘You know how they say that up to 90% of our motivation is unconscious - well Affective Neuroscience is coming to understand that unconscious motivation has a lot to with feedback to your brain from your autonomic nervous system.’
'My what?' Asks Sasi.
I explain that the autonomic nervous system evolved along with our brain from our reptilian and mammalian ancestors, how it has two counter acting branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic which mediate much of our behavior.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How do you do! - You?

I wrote the piece below some 8 months ago in my first attempt at writing down what I'd learned in the past 5 years, notions of a self help book informed my mind then. Looking back I realize the writing was part a process of approaching myself after years of self-hatred, somehow allowing an integration to take place. Shortly after the completion of the 5th chapter of this work I had to travel for a week or so and found evidence of this integration in real life as I interacted with other people, somehow I seemed to have a better internal dynamic going on.

I found myself being less defensive, less reactive, a lot more approachable and importantly I felt far less flighty when standing or sitting face to face, even managing some sense of what Stephen Porges calls the "Social Engagement System," a third branch of the autonomic (animal) nervous system, incorporating the feedback to the brain from the more than 2 hundred muscles of the head.

Porges "Polyvagal Theory" and Allan Schore's work on "affect regulation" have informed my present state of vastly improved self esteem, with a drastic reduction in feelings of shame, an emotion which Terri Cheney in her book "Manic" describes as the fuel that bipolar thrives on.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trauma & an Escape into the Mind of Bipolar Disorder?


Is Trauma a hidden casual factor in Bipolar symptoms which are largely expressed through the autonomic (animal) nervous system?

Can a trauma defense of the body be conditioned, perhaps from birth or by habitual postures of avoidance in the skeletal musculature, perhaps caused by continuous emotional abuse for example?

Is systems theory now beginning to explain the brain/body/mind better than our older clockwork universe model of simple cause and effect?

What waits beyond the  linear thinking of ‘one thing causes another?’

Complexity is a pain in the frontal lobe, when trying to think in terms of systemic interactions, with their feedback loops that work at millisecond speeds, we understandably get a headache, and on instinct, distress is triggered deep in the reptilian layer of out triune brain, the r-complex.

We are evolved for a simple life, born with an innate ability to survive once we have reached full maturity, unfortunately the systemic interaction between environment and organism affects the maturing process at levels below conscious awareness.

The notion of trauma and subsequent PTSD symptoms, is well accepted when visualized in terms of terrorizing events, war, rape, sexual abuse and similar events, less well known are the similar symptoms caused by sustained emotional abuse, although it is clearly recognized by psychotherapists worldwide.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Breath Work to Alleviate Bipolar Symptoms

Deep breathing to calm the autonomic nervous system and help cope better with the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.

Breath deeply yet gently with the fullest breaths you can tolerate, trying to catch the still point of mind at the bottom of each exhaled breath,  helping to bring a centered alignment of brain/body/mind sensations.

The Breath directly influences the autonomic nervous system, through which Bipolar symptoms are expressed.  

Listen to the free flow of your breath! 
The breath energizes and sustains every cell of our body. It nourishes everything in its path. It is like the freshness of water. It is with us every second of our lives, but most people pay little attention to it. Our breath is mainly unconscious and regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Autonomic is derived from the word ‘autonomy’, it has the quality of being ‘independent’ of the conscious mind. Even though air and muscular movements happily tick over by themselves we can influence the breath consciously through breath awareness and Pranayama (breath-control). We can discover unconscious, negative breathing patterns and replace them with more beneficial ones. By changing the breath we have a direct influence on the autonomic nervous system and the mind.
Precisely because its ripples influence so many human functions, a thorough understanding of the breath provides a powerful tool for expanding our awareness of the various dimensions of the body and mind.’ Science of Breath.
Science has proven that the response of the Vagus nerve is strengthened when you prolong the exhalation of your breath. The fibres of the Vagus nerve are connected to your lungs. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated and your mental state is calmed.

Plausibility - Sense & Adsense:

How do I find my way to good information in this age of global dissemination?

I mean there is so much available on the W.W.W. During the height of a recent mania I wrote a little ditty about my Grandad, who suggested (in my fevered imagination) that the web could be called the Wish, Wonder & Why.
Although he never would have imagined a link between a wiki & a why.

I mean I’ve just started a blog myself using Google’s lovely which has a great little tab on the design bar called ‘monetise,’ and when I clicked it showed me the wonder of adsense. Wow! I can actually make some money through my little blog, if I get enough hits & clicks apparently.

I must admit that would certainly help me to survive while trying to write about my own experience with bipolar disorder, yet the nature of the Wish, Wonder & Why and how we use it disturbs me just a little.
In my own efforts to educate myself about my disorder, I must have clicked on thousands of pages of ‘information’ by now.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Top 10 Signs a Therapist is Approaching Burn-out:

10) You think of the peaceful park you like as "your private therapeutic milieu." 

9) You realize that your floridly psychotic patient, who is picking invisible flowers out of mid air, is probably having more fun in life than you are. 
8) A grateful client, who thinks you walk on water, brings you a small gift and you end up having to debrief your feelings of unworthiness with a colleague. 
7) You are watching a re-run of the Wizard of Oz and you start to categorize the types of delusions that Dorothy had. 
6) Your best friend comes to you with severe relationship troubles, and you start trying to remember which cognitive behavioral technique has the most empirical validly for treating this problem. 

5) You realize you actually have no friends, they have all become just one big case load. 
4) A co-worker asks how you are doing and you reply that you are a bit "internally preoccupied" and "not able to interact with peers" today. 
3) Your spouse asks you to set the table and you tell them that it would be "countertherapeutic to your current goals" to do that. 
2) You tell your teenage daughter she is not going to start dating boys because she is "in denial," "lacks insight," and her "emotions are not congruent with her chronological age." And, the number one reason a therapist may be burning out... 
1) You are packing for a trip to a large family holiday reunion and you take the DSM-IV with you just in case.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dear Mrs Sympathy, Positive Feedback & Negative Outcomes:


Dear Mrs Sympathy & Positive Feedback, the lecture title said.

‘The trouble with Mrs sympathy and her positive feedback is the maintenance of negative outcomes,’ was the opening pitch from our esteemed lecturer.

Visa Run Rules: Another 90 Days in the Land of Smiles

Up at 5.30am for the minibus trip to the Cambodian border, my 1st organized group run, only bht 2000 for everything!

6.40am. ‘Why they not come? - She tell me 6.15.’ She smiles at me again, that gloriously relaxed un-affected smile that gets to me every time. ‘Thai time,’ I say nodding my head and smiling now, the fugue state of concern drowned out by the affect of that glorious smile and she hadn’t said a single word, no wonder I love her so much. At 59 have I finally found It?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bipolar - Low Moods

A trick I picked up to re-tone my low moods?

Apparently its to do with the two hundred or so muscles in my face and their feedback to my brain.

Put a pencil between your teeth and hold it without letting your lips touch it for one minute.

Be mindful of and try to track sensation changes in your body.

When feeling depressed do the same thing while listening to music like this:

As a guarded intellectual I reacted to my first experience of this kind of exercise sceptically, dismissing it as silly and stupid, later I realized I'd had a fear of my own sensations, a fear that had kept me trapped in my head unable to fully appreciate my own life.

Is Trauma an underlying cause of some Bipolar Symptoms?

Listen to the brilliant Oliver Sacks talk about music and its power to 'affect' people:

What is the 'affect' in affective disorders?

P.S. Obviously I don't add the music when I'm already very happy, always mindful of triggers into mania.
Adding music to the exercise has helped lift me out of low moods in the past though.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Manic-Depressive's Progress

April 2007, I have another hyper-manic episode, after 4 years of un-medicated progress?

‘What progress? You had another delusional mania, you classic Bipolar 1, You!’

Well progress of a self esteem kind, a growing, glowing ember of self respect.

In 2003 I started training as a volunteer telephone counselor at Lifeline Sydney, followed by 18 months on the phones with bi-weekly 4 hour shifts, 10pm-2am, mostly week nights.

‘Why do you want to be a counselor? - Is there any money in it?’ A friend had asked.
‘I need to invest in self respect,’ I told him.

In Defense of Our In-Famous Comfort Zone:

Have you heard the story about Winston Churchill’s speech on the nature of established order and the defense of our infamous “comfort zone?”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Culture & Mental Health:

Is the notion that mental illness has better outcomes in non 1st world countries a myth or reality? After 31 years with a Bipolar Diagnosis I now live in Thailand and believe a different cultural, emotional atmospheric is affecting me towards better emotional health - but then I could be delusional? :))

What do You Think???

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bipolar - Recovery & Hope

Can we recover? Can we learn to cope better and find healing, find peace of MIND? There are hundreds of thousands of personal stories like Mary's all over the world. Watch and feel hope. You can learn to cope, you can feel the senses of your soul, they are your body, not just your brain. Is Bipolar a disease or dis-ease?

Welcome to the new Psychiatric Hotline:

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.

If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mania, Dreams & the Roots of Psychosis

For as long as ‘why’ has been a question, the sleeping reality of dreaming has been a subject of fascination, some ‘intellectuals’ compare dreams to bowl movements, the brains evacuation system, a way of eliminating excess waste, data deletion from the hard drive, to use a computer analogy.

‘So why do lucid dreams ‘feel’ so amazingly real?’

Could it be that the ‘dream state’ was the proto-type of our waking consciousness?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

No Depression this Time Around ???

Its now been five months since I experienced six weeks of hypo-hyper mania with the usual pattern of reduced need for sleep, high energy levels, rapid thinking, heightened emotionality and sensory awareness and of coarse the big bogey of psychosis, in the form of grandiose delusional thoughts.

This is the first time in thirty one years that my ‘condition’ has not followed the classic manic-depression cycle, and in contemplating the reason for this I am led to a complex of conclusions that reflect the underlying reality of our innately systemic existence.

‘In plain English please!’ I hear you sigh.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

30 Years On - My 1st Blog Post

It was thirty one years ago this month that I experienced my first affair with Mistress Mania, and like all “Basic Instincts” the temptress continued to lure me in, always with such an irresistible lust for life; that I have otherwise never felt so Alive!

Yes! For me mania is a voluptuous female, for she brings me the rapture, the joy and love of life that leaves a yearning in its wake so hard to deny, even with the fallout, the deathly depressions that have followed those magical highs. Yet now, for the first time the black hole of deep depression has not claimed me, even after the longest manic episode of my life, thus far. It happened nearly five months ago now, and three years after my last distressing attempt to find a pharmacological solution.