Monday, July 8, 2013

Bipolar and Suicide - II

Bipolar and "Reality":

There is a good chance that bipolar will completely destroy your concept of reality. Mania will create one reality. Manic depression will create another. Mixed episodes will create yet other realities. 

Mania and delusions are well documented. Not well understood, but well documented. The delusions can be all kinds of things. Seeing God for example. Being God for another. That's at the high end of the scale of course. It will make you believe all kinds of things about yourself. If it's on the positive side, it can make you believe that you're capable of anything on earth. It can also create some pretty goofy shit. Some of my goofy shit I'm too embarrassed to say (though I do describe some of it in one chapter of my book).

Whatever it is - and I have to emphasize that it could be almost anything - at the time it's happening, that's your reality. You have no concept whatsoever that it's anything but real and no one - and I do mean no one - can tell you any different. No matter how crazy or out there it is, it's absolutely real in your mind. That's the delusion part, you see? But it might be totally wacko delusional, or it might be plausible. Or maybe it IS real. If you're Mozart and it's presenting unbelievable music to you, then you have the chops to take the "delusion" and make it real. Or not. Who knows. And this is the thing - who knows. I mean, who fucking knows. Not you, that's for sure. 

And manic depression does the same thing except in reverse. Instead of cool, positive way out there things, they will be the most horrid, negative things. And these too will be your reality. It doesn't matter how "wrong" they are or appear to be to others, they are your reality. You can't fight them off because you don't have the "awareness" to recognize them as not reality. You don't have the awareness because this is what true mania or manic depression do - they take over your brain's functions. You don't get a "choice". Things like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy won't work because for that to work you have to have some control over your cognitive functions and true mania and true manic depression take that right out of your hands. After it's over you can do your little mental tricks and techniques, but not during.

And these "realities", the manic ones and the depressive ones, will be as polar opposite of each other as you could possibly imagine. They'll be galaxies apart. Like from people from two different planets. Both inside you. And they randomly flip around. 

Mixed episodes can produce a whole grab bag. Maybe paranoid delusions (believing people are out to harm you). So, as mentioned, you keep cycling through these like you're on a roller coaster and after a while you have no fucking idea whatsoever what "reality" is. Psychologically it's absolutely devastating. Then you get other people's input and "ideas" of who you are and what you can do. So, because you begin to trust others more than yourself, you try to live up to those. But guess what, you can't. Or not for long. Not if you're cycling. Somewhere in there might be "normal" but after a while you have no idea what that is or any connection to it. So you lose your grip on that and can't live up to others' "reality" of you either. Then you have to deal with others' anger and disappointment with you. Just being bombarded with constantly changing inner realities is enough to make you want to take a gun to your head to make it all stop. 

And what happens - and this is the psychological damage part - you just lose any kind of trust or confidence in yourself and what your "reality" might be. And worse. See, this is the suicide part. The "reality" presented to you - with great force - may just be that you're the worst scum bucket on earth. You see, because you've had so many distorted versions of "reality" and worse, you've acted on many of them and because many of them were way out there wacko this means you've done some really stupid shit. And bad shit. To other people. And hurt them. So you have a whole track record of "reality" that IS reality because you really did those things and they DO exist in your memory. Then all this gets presented to you in a sort of "trial" as the "reality" you have to be "punished" for. By "punished", I mean die. And because you're used to the "realities" created in your mind and because many of them are real memories of real actions and because you've had the cognitive control taken away from you (remember what we read earlier about damage to the frontal cortex), there's nothing you can do about it. It's just your "reality" for that day. And maybe that "reality" is that it's your day to die that day and you can't do anything about it because you're simply acting on what's real in your mind. 

You go through enough of this for enough years and it makes any grip on reality - whatever that is - extremely tenuous. Even on your best healthiest days you can't really have the confidence anymore that what you're thinking that day or how you're feeling that day is "real". And when you sink into an episode of manic depression and if the "reality" that exists in your mind that day happens to be that you're the worst scum bag on earth and that you deserve to die for that, well, good luck in sorting that out and surviving. 

Mixed Episodes:

So what about mixed episodes? Well, imagine this. A mixed episode is a really horrible negative hateful state of mind. Kind of like the worst of depression. But - BUT - instead of feeling lethargic and catatonic you also get the "pleasure" of having volcanic manic energy present too. Again, I may as well try to describe to describe the Internet to Borneo tribesmen who's idea of long distance communication is banging two coconuts together; there's just no basis for any concept of it. It's virtually impossible for people to imagine. But try. Imagine taking your worst negative energy, add in jet fuel and then lighting a match. Almost anything could happen. Virtually all of which you'll regret. But, and I hate to beat a dead horse here, you'll have no conscious awareness of what's going on. It's just your reality for that day. Or moment. Or week. Great fun, I'm telling you. And if you happen to be hating yourself, or, lord help you, do something really stupidly wrong, and have manic energy behind that, your brain WILL melt down. As in psychotically. And that psychosis might be putting you "on trial" for being the worst scum bag on earth and "sentencing" you to die for that. Again, good luck surviving. 

Bipolar and Stress: 

I'd begun to make this connection myself but I must give most credit to my online buddy, neuroscientist Mani Saint Victor. I can't recall the exact sequence of events but he became aware of my research, understood what I was looking for and started feeding me research papers on stress and the brain. I couldn't even begin to summarize everything here. But it amounts to this; constant stress - and the constant release of the stress hormone cortisol - WILL melt down your brain. 

Every bad psychotic episode I had I can look back (at my journals) and link it to mega-stress. And the damage is not just short term, there is long term damage. And not just damage to your brain, but damage throughout your body (like in blood vessels leading to cardiovascular disease). And here's the fun part - mania, manic depression, all the life shit that it causes, all create stress. The stress makes the episodes worse. The worse episodes creates more stress. The more stress creates more and worse episodes which creates more stress and around and around it goes. The science on this is super well established. Stress and bipolar and stress and schizophrenia go hand in hand like peas in a pod. 

And then it gets even more fun. All the stupid shit you do and then the label of "mental illness" starts cutting you off from society, friends, family, work, income and the next thing you know, you're all alone and scared shitless to go outside. And this causes the worse stress of all. The science on separation, loneliness, rejection and isolation and the connection to stress is very, very well established. 

The Manic Vision of Oneself:

Of everything I've described, this might be the worst. When you live with bipolar all your life you just lose any kind of connection to or concept of "normal". One thing mania does is drive you to a higher concept of yourself. This can be a Good Thing as maybe this drive matches your talent and "takes you up where you belong". Or maybe it just drives you to want to be those things but you don't have the talent for it. Again, you have no choice. It just relentlessly drives you. And then you can't, or barely can, handle anything remotely resembling "normal". 

Mania is ALL about dreams and visions. All your concepts of who you want to be are driven by these dreams and visions for yourself. You are driven to greatness. OK, cool, nothing wrong with that, is there? Well, here's the catch - maybe you have this constant drive to be something you don't have the chops, talent or energy to be. You will be constantly driven to be something you have no realistic, plausible hope of being. And it's relentless. It never lets you forget. Or if you do manage to forget or to push it out of your mind, it'll just create more. Because this is what mania and manic drive do. It might leave you alone for awhile. If you're lucky. But many aren't. It'll just drive you and drive you and drive you and drive you like the worst asshole slave driver boss you could ever imagine. And if you don't have the  chops to live up to that, it WILL drive you stark raving fucking insane. Or even if you DO have the chops it'll drive you insane. Because it'll never be satisfied. You could create the greatest music on earth and then it'll just demand more. It doesn't end. Ever. And then, if that's not enough, you'll get plunged into those dark episodes of manic depression when you are incapable of anything yet you'll STILL have the memories of the visions and drives for greatness. Or you get mixed episodes. No mental capacity to do anything BUT you are driven by manic power anyway. This here, I"m convinced, is what drives many artists to suicide. This manic vision and drive for greatness and not being able to keep up or shut it off, WILL cause insanity. I can guarantee it. 

Shit, still not finished. To Be Continued

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