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Taking Measurement of Bipolar Comfort

Expanding the depression and bipolar comfort zone.

Understanding the role of comfort is critical for getting Bipolar IN Order. To do so, we must measure comfort at each level of intensity for both mania and depression. When we compare comfort levels to awarenessunderstandingfunctionality, value, and the time before escalation, we find the optimal intensities where bipolar is an advantage in our lives.

In any aspect of life, those who only seek comfort are consigned to mediocrity and boredom. Those who judiciously step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves are the ones who learn and grow. This is equally as true with mania and depression.

The best growth, though, happens just slightly outside the comfort zone. Too far outside and the lack of comfort can cause you to shrink instead.

Too many times, bipolar people step too far outside their comfort zones and find themselves at an intensity of depression or mania that is far beyond their control. Many of them become so frightened by it they hide inside their comfort zone hoping to remain there the rest of their lives. They accept a diminished story of their lives because they believe they have no other choice. They fear one wrong step will rapidly escalate back to an uncomfortable and out-of-control state.Continue reading

Measuring Functionality In Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Many bipolar people say they are “high-functioning,” but most of them mean they function OK when in remission and cannot function when things get too intense. How well one functions during depression or mania defines the difference between Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar IN Order. At every intensity, functionality influences the comfort of everyone involved and whether they see value in the experience. Functionality should be the central focus of any approach to bipolar instead of simply trying to make it go away.

Many think intensity of depressive or manic episodes is the determining factor in functionality, but evidence contradicts such belief. Far more important are awareness and right understanding as outlined in the previous articles in this series. With enough education and practice, intensity becomes far less relevant to functionality than most people believe.Continue reading

Understanding Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Depression and Bipolar Disorder can take many forms. Functionality-based understanding is central to getting Bipolar IN Order.

When I first started putting together the protocol for assessing depression and bipolar disorder, I was working with a professor of Psychiatry to make sure the ideas were sound. His advice was to combine both awareness and understanding in the graph to keep it simpler. I am glad that I did not take the advice.

Awareness and understanding are different in ways that matter. Expertise might help someone understand why things happen, but does not necessarily lead to increased awareness. An expert on sex, for example, may be totally unaware that his wife is having an affair. It takes awareness (covered in the first article of the series) to know what is going on whether you understand the phenomenon or not.

It turns out that understanding is more related to functionality (covered in the next article) than awareness. You may be completely aware that you are sitting in a car, but unless you understand how to operate it you cannot drive.

Understanding is not just about knowing the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and career/financial aspects and their implications, it also includes knowing about the tools. You need to know how the tools work, have proficiency in using them, and understand which ones to use at each stage of bipolar – the disordered stages of Crisis, Managed, and Recovery, and the IN Order stages of Freedom, Stability, and Self-Mastery. I call this functionality-based understanding.

Too many people think those who cannot function are the ones we should be listening to. Those who only know bipolar disorder and have not created Bipolar IN Order in themselves or others have no understanding of what it takes to make it happen. They can learn, but many times their beliefs limit their willingness to do so. They keep insisting it is not possible to be highly functional with bipolar and refuse to consider the evidence that contradicts such beliefs.Continue reading

Better Awareness of Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Awareness of depression and mania is key to getting Bipolar IN Order.

You can live in the same neighborhood for thirty years and still have little idea of what is going on there. You can shop in the stores, eat in the restaurants, talk with the neighbors, and feel that you know the community very well. But there are still more things going on than you know about. You simply never knew to look for them or were never taught how.

The police that work in the area know about crimes that go on right in front of you. The pest control people see things in the restaurants that might shock you if you knew they were there. Everyone from the woman in the plumbing shop to the guy selling pot (maybe even out of your own house) see things going on that you do not. The preacher knows about the spiritual goings on and the neighborhood doctor sees all of the injuries and illnesses.

When a thief sees a saint all he notices is his pockets. We all only see the things we have been trained to look for. As Paul Simon famously sang, “We all see what we want to see and disregard the rest.”

The same thing is happening in the depression and bipolar worlds. Many doctors and therapists only see it as a disease or disorder, family members see behaviors, and people with depression only see pain and suffering. There is so much more going on that none of them have been taught how to see. I have been teaching all three groups for almost fifteen years and am amazed how little awareness there is about very important details until I show them were to look.Continue reading

The Worst Myth of Mental Illness

The myth that we can’t is the worst of all.

The diagnosis of mental illness is the most dangerous time for many of us. Overwhelmed by fear, confusion and the numbing effect of over-medication, we are vulnerable to messages that can have long-term negative consequences. It was during my first months after diagnosis that I fell victim to the messages that perpetuate the myth that we cannot change our condition.

As I was trying to make sense of what was happening to me, I was given a list of the most offensive comments anyone could say to the mentally ill. I’m sure you’ve heard of at least some of them. Examples include: “snap out of it,” “you can do anything you want to if you just set your mind to it,” “get a grip,” and the supposedly worst one of all, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

While those who rail against such statements are well-intentioned, the result is quite the opposite. Rather than encouraging those with mental conditions, the implied meaning that we can’t rise above a certain level of mediocrity only feeds self-loathing, low self-esteem and the feeling that we can’t change our lives.Continue reading

The Six Stages Of Bipolar and Depression

Moving From Bipolar Disorder to Bipolar IN Order

Everyone has up and down times. It is a natural part of life. If we observe our lives over time we might say there are two poles that we have; some days we feel on top of the world and other days perhaps on the bottom. That is the basis for the word bipolar and the reason I say that everyone is bipolar. Some may argue that there are people who are unipolar and only experience the up or down side, but even they have a range of experience with a “pole” on each end.

Unfortunately, the word bipolar is generally used to describe a subset of people who have adverse reactions when they go to far toward the high and low poles. Although related to how far from center one is, there is no distance from center that guarantees one would necessarily react to it in an adverse way. It really depends on how far we are from our comfort zone. One person might be perfectly comfortable and highly functional at a certain point from center while another could be so uncomfortable that he/she is literally in danger of suicide. I see the comfortable person as keeping life in-order, while the person in danger of suicide has lost control and is in dis-order. Using bipolar as a term to describe the dis-ordered person is an over-simplification that goes too far. We should at least distinguish the difference between having Bipolar Dis-Order or Bipolar In-Order.Continue reading

Where Is the Line Between Hypomania and Out of Control?

This is part three of a series on hypomania. Please read Part One and Part Two to better understand the context.

For most, there is a far more important line they need to be careful about.

Exploring the potential of the human mind has been a central fascination for most of my 61 years. I have spent as much as eight hours a day in meditation and lived in a monastic environment for over eight years. One thing I am very sure of is that we are capable of far more than most of us even imagine. This is especially true regarding those of us who are bipolar.

I have spent the last 10 years exploring what we are capable of during the extremes of mania and depression. In the process, I’ve met thousands of people who’s insights have validated my own experiences. With the help of experts in various complementary fields, including medicine, psychiatry, sociology, spirituality (what theorists like to call Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual), accelerated learning, and bipolar-specific meditation techniques, I have developed the most advanced system of training available to date for mastering functionality in all intensities of both mania and depression.Continue reading

Confusing How and Why Is Prolonging The Suffering in Bipolar

Confusing

The real goal of treatment is not remission, but to remove suffering in bipolar disorder.

Do you suffer from bipolar disorder or know someone who does? If you want to end all suffering you need to understand the difference between why and how. The reason so many people are still suffering is because this difference has not been made clear enough.

Why do people go to a psychiatrist? To end the suffering. Why do they go to a therapist? To end the suffering. Why do they engage in any treatment regimen? To end the suffering. We don’t go there for medicine, for therapy, or for any of the other tools that we are given. We go there in hopes that they can help us remove the suffering.

And we didn’t go there seeking remission for mania or depression. We went there to remove the suffering. We were told, though, that remission and the tools that aim to produce remission is the way to do it.

Does remission work? Perhaps temporarily. But in the end we must admit that the answer is no. And that is the conclusion of the biggest research on bipolar disorder ever conducted by the National Institute Of Mental Health. The research is called STEP-BD and this is what they say: “According to the researchers, these results indicate that in spite of modern, evidence-based treatment, bipolar disorder remains a highly recurrent, predominantly depressive illness.” In other words, even if remission did end suffering temporarily it will not remove it permanently.Continue reading

Some Say Online Relationships Are Not Real. I Say They Are Wrong.

I often hear people bashing online relationships as somehow not real or at least less significant than ‘real’ relationships. My experience has been the opposite in many ways; my online relationships are often deeper and more focused than those I have in the ‘real’ world.

​Some of the deepest and best friendships I have ever had are with people I have never met in person. We share our deepest feelings in a way that those around me cannot understand. We discuss our most important topics in a community that understands and supports each other.

I have very deep and important friendships in the ‘real’ world and I have about the same number of superficial and meaningless relationships in both worlds too. The point is, those in my online communities are just as ‘real’ and just as significant as those I have developed in-person, and often much more so.Continue reading

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