Friday, August 5, 2011

BIPOLAR- Swings & Roundabouts?

Whereabouts am I today? - Is the answer in my posture?
The swings & roundabouts of life have particular significance for us bipolar's. The merry go round of mood swings making hopeful progress difficult to gauge on any particular day. HOPE seems to be an ingredient of wellness, as vital as oxygen, water & food? Hope for a future free from torturous mood swings being a particular concern for us swingers. Whereabouts am I today? Is an all to frequent question of self doubt, when our judgement has a history of being affected by body state moods?

Looking at the world from this state of perception I call my mind, feels a bit like looking out of a window. What's that quote about the eyes and soul? I remember spending a weekend in a self improvement workshop decades ago now, well before I did my therapist training. The highlight was a two minute recorded speech, played back on TV to show us how others perceive us. I remember describing how I thought I would come across on the tape, and then being surprised by my miss-perceptions of my own reality.

There had been signs of nervous tensions as the speech began, it was there in my stiff posture, yet as the speech progressed my self-consciousness melted away. I remember telling the group, I was sure I'd frowned at the camera as the speech came to an end, "like a Greek mask of tragedy," I told them. As a shamed individual that famous mask was my most potent self image, an internal perception pleasantly displaced by what came next.

As I watched the replay of my little speech, with "its not too bad - better than I expected," self talk, pleasant shock overwhelmed me with the last frames. Instead of the Greek "woe is me" mask of my inner perceptions, I saw this wide beaming smile, the 180 degree opposite of my thoughts. Driving home from that weekend retreat I promised myself I'd use this same method if I ever became a therapist. That memory came back to me as I download photos of a different kind of weekend here in Bangkok, with this rare moment as I'm caught on the other side of a camera lens.

"What is it about that God-am camera lens, that makes me self conscious?"
What do You Think? Do I look relaxed? Perfectly at home and comfortable inside my own skin? As I write this post, I'm still recovering from the aftermath of that weekend. Trekking around the burbs of this enormous, hot and steamy metropolis, looking for a new shop/house location for the Princess & I to live/work in. Followed by the big move and then complete exhaustion, after I'd shown off my stupid male ego by shifting all our stuff by myself. Exhaustion has fueled my mood for weeks now, and although its waning I still haven't regained the same energy level and optimistic self perception I had before.

Thoughts, Moods & Self Perceptions - The Psychological & Physiological?
As I write this post I'm looking at the photo, remembering that weekend two decades ago and reminding myself that perception is not just about my thinking. Its been 18 months since I began my Thailand sojourn, finding the space to concentrate on deepening my self awareness, allowing the process to take me where it will. As a classic manic depressive, I think the major awareness lesson learned so far, has been a re-acquaintance with my body. Mind you! I suspect I've never been particularly well acquainted with body sense, a felt awareness of my body as it moves through time and space?

I've always been aware of my mind though! Too aware!  In fact, I could say that I've been trapped within a mind perception all my life? Unconsciously unbalanced, unaware of the need to balance thoughts with felt perceptions in managing my life. Like everyone else I've been challenged to get on with life, take perception for granted and just get on with doing stuff? Like everyone else I've done just that with varying degrees of success and failure. Not working for a living now, not having to get on with doing stuff each day, has allowed space for a studied self awareness, like never before in my life.

Studying the photo above, I'm reminded that self perception is a balance of the psychological and physiological. Reminded that when asking myself the question, "whereabouts I am today," where is my mood on the bipolar swings and roundabouts, I have a history of miss-perception. Hey Presto! I'm triggered back into felt awareness, re-balancing my lifelong habit of "mind space" awareness, and that hopeful ray of sunshine appears on my thoughtful horizons again. "Thank God for that."

Sometimes I wake in pessimistic mood, thinking I've made no progress towards recovery at all! Then I remember I always think too much, that I can let go and just feel this tired body state. All part of the swings and roundabouts of a bipolar journey I guess? Whereabouts are You Today?

How do YOU do Dissociation?
How I do Dissociation?