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Is Bi-Cycling Delusion Keeping Your Bipolar In Disorder?

Bi-cycling Delusion

Is the delusion that comes with remission holding you back?

Some call it ‘state specific memory,’ but after ten years and thousands of interviews I prefer to call it ‘bi-cycling delusion’. This delusion comes with the bipolar cycles. And it is the primary reason people remain in disorder even with the best intentions.

Bipolar is a cyclical condition. We cycle through depressions and manias, sometimes reaching intensities that cause a crisis for us. We also periodically cycle into remission. It might be easier if the cycles were predictable, but for many of us they are completely random.

For far too many of us, each cycle has a state-specific delusion that keeps us from moving toward Bipolar IN Order. We all know about delusions that come with intense states of depression and mania, but it is the delusion that comes with remission that holds many back the most. It fools them into thinking they have bipolar under control when in reality they are just in one of the cycles.Continue reading

How Do We Measure Success In Treating Bipolar Disorder?

Measuring Bipolar Success

What does it mean to have success in treating bipolar disorder? What should we measure to define success? What gets measured gets done.

Tom Peters, the author of management books “In Search of Excellence” and “A Passion for Excellence” talks a lot about measurements and how they affect success. In an article about business success he said, “I think the soundest management advice I’ve heard is the old saw; ‘What gets measured gets done.'” The concept applies especially well when we look at the outcomes from the treatment approaches to bipolar disorder.

The current standard of care for bipolar disorder is to measure how long one can stay in remission. Many tools exist to help achieve such a result, and most people talk about remission as the ultimate goal of treatment. Most academic studies measure outcomes based on the same standard. That is why they are unable to create anything better.

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Movies to See While Depressed

What movies do you watch when depressed?

I facilitate a support group for people with mental conditions along with those who loveand support them. Several of us have years of experience of functioning while depressed. The other day we were exploring what it feels like to be deeply depressed yet not needing to make it go away. We were talking about the things we do while depressed and the topic of watching movies came up. It brought up interesting ideas that I hope you will share your insights about.

We started calling out favorite movies to watch while depressed, like The Hours or What Dreams May Come, and started joking about why would we want to watch comedies during depression. Somebody said that if others heard us they would be shocked. When asked why, the conversation turned to what we thought most people would think.

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Can You Be Hypomanic Without Losing Control?

The holy grail for most people with bipolar disorder is to be hypomanic without losing control.

I have discussed bipolar with thousands of people over the last 10 years. I dare guesstimate that being hypomanic without losing control is the Holy Grail for 75% to 80% of them. Most say their goal is “permanent hypomania and to never be depressed again.” If you ask their parents, though, their response would be “I don’t mind him being a little depressed. But could you make the mania and deep depression go away forever?

There is good reason for the discrepancy between parents and bipolars. Bipolar people may like being manic. Yet their behaviors are often so out-of-control that they become a problem for those around them. Bipolars and non-bipolars alike are justifiably afraid of mania because of past history with manic episodes.

It is commonly believed that it is impossible to even be hypomanic without rapidly escalating to an out-of-control state. The belief is so prevalent that the standard of care for mania according to the National Institute of Mental Health is to make it go away entirely.

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We Are the X-Men

Like the saying from the X-Men: “You have more power than you can imagine.”

I remember being a big fan of the TV show The Incredible Hulk when I was a kid, and the The Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and the X-Men series as movies when they came out. I always thought they portrayed mental illness in a quirky way, but I never realized the significance they had for me until recently. It was in watching the latest episode in the X-men series, X-Men: The Last Stand, that it all came together for me: We are the X-Men.

Stan Lee and the creators of all of those characters have shown uncanny insight into the nature of our condition and our struggles. All of their characters have special powers. They also have weird quirks and idiosyncrasies. Most of all, they struggle with their powers and their inability to handle them.

In watching X-Men: The Last Stand, I noticed several characters with whom I could relate. They wanted to live a “normal” life and could not see the benefit of a power that they could not control. They were subjected to overwhelming pressure to get “cured” of their disease, and many succumbed to the promise of a “normal” life.

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Mindfulness Does Not Lead To Happiness

Mindfulness

Let’s not let mindfulness advocates confuse happiness with equanimity.

The part of our minds that most people identify with is the part that silently talks to us with a running commentary. We listen to it all day long. Let’s call it “The Talker.”

“The Talker” prefers pleasure over pain, happiness over sadness, winning over losing, health over sickness, and any of the other judgments that help us navigate our lives. Although it plays a critical role that we cannot live without, “The Talker” is stuck in the duality that makes us judge one thing better than another. It does not allow us to experience the world without judgment.

The central principle of mindfulness is to look at experiences without judgment.

Adherents of mindfulness often speak of the part that practices mindfulness as “The Watcher.” It lives outside of the duality and sees everything as equally valuable. Mindfulness is a wonderful practice that increases awareness of what is really happening because “The Watcher” does not ignore or accentuate details based on preferences.

Unfortunately, many claim that mindfulness leads to happiness. As happiness and sadness are judgments based on preferences, this breaks with the whole concept of looking at our experiences without judgment. Mindfulness practiced properly does not lead to happiness; it leads to a greater awareness of whatever you are experiencing whether you like it or not.

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