Category Archives for "Bipolar IN Order"
This is the last video in our three-part series about Bipolar IN Order. If you missed the first videos, please watch part one now and then watch part two. This video is about how you can create results worth striving for.
In part one of the three-part series of videos, Tom Wootton explains why we become overwhelmed by depression or mania. He offers insights into bipolar disorder and a path to a better life.Continue reading
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.
Learning to choose our states changes everything we know about bipolar disorder. Choosing mania without disorder is an option people want but believe impossible. Choosing depression without disorder sounds like something nobody would do but you might be surprised what a difference it makes.
Do you have bipolar disorder or know somebody who does? What would change if you could learn how to turn depression and mania on and off whenever you wanted to? The entire way we look at bipolar disorder would change in profound ways. Some of them are beyond most people’s imagination, but a simple illustration will help you to see why some of us say bipolar is an advantage that we do not want to give up.
Please understand that I am not talking about people who do not know how yet say “snap out of it” or any other offensive phrase, but the actual ability to do it which is an incredibly advanced skill.Continue reading
I have been meditating for over 50 years. I started when I was five years old when I became fascinated with watching my breath go in and out. I intuitively knew that this and other meditative practices would bring me to a state of ecstasy. It didn’t take long before pursuing that state became the most important thing in my life. I did not know at the time that I would find ecstasy in depression.
Although I got incredibly close through my efforts in meditation, it wasn’t until I looked for ecstasy in depression that I truly found it. Once I found ecstasy in depression I found it everywhere. My hope is that sharing my experience might help others to find the same insights that I have.
As I watched my breath go in and out I found some dramatic changes in my state of consciousness. I would detach from my body and find myself floating above and looking down at myself sitting there. It was a very pleasurable state, but also very profound in how I viewed the world. I believed that part of me was untouched by the physical world; the part that I now call my soul.
It wasn’t long before my soul separations started encroaching on my waking states. I would often find myself turning the corner and suddenly being in a long tunnel with a light at the end of it. During those experiences time would stand still or at least slow down dramatically. I interpreted these experiences as seeing God.Continue reading
This week, we had the nightmare of our presidential election in the middle of one of my deepest depressions. My understanding of and ability to live with depression has once again proven to be a real asset for me. It again helped me through a very difficult time and gave me a clarity that helped me to process the anxiety, fear, and pain many of us felt throughout the whole ordeal. It also helped me better understand the other side of the debate.
This election-infused depression was not normal for me. Because of the prevalent election anxiety among so many people on the left and the right, I was experiencing levels of anxiety that I never had before. I also got the chance to explore my states in a way that has led to a better understanding of both anxiety and fear. My better understanding led to better choices on what actions to take. Instead of being controlled by my states and acting out in unproductive ways I used them give me insight for how to live up to the person I want to be. Such positive outcomes are available to all of us when we see our states as sources for insight instead of things to avoid.Continue reading
In bipolar treatment, using the brakes on mania and depression is only the first step to functionality.
In 1964 I was 8 years old. Back then you could take a car out of park without needing a key. I did that by mistake once and it taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. A lesson that can be easily translated to the way we treat bipolar disorder.
Our family car was parked in the driveway which sloped downhill to the road. I was playing in the car by myself when I inadvertently shifted into neutral and the car started to roll downhill towards the street. I knew enough from watching my parents drive that one of the pedals would stop the car. So I pushed the brake pedal with all my might and the car stopped rolling towards what I was sure was a terrible accident.
But at 8 years old I was too small to be able to both hold down the brake pedal and see over the dashboard out the window. That also meant that nobody could see me. As I got tired and I let off the break, the car started rolling downhill again. I was in a total panic and could not figure out what to do. To my luck, my mother came out looking for me and found me in the car. She reached in and put the car back where it belonged and saved the day.Continue reading
A common refrain in the bipolar disorder community is “I’m doing the best I can.” Every time I hear this or a similar phrase my heart weeps. I know all too well the feeling of despair and hopelessness that comes with it. There were so many times, while in tears, I used the exact same phrase. Whenever I hear it now, I want to reach out and empathize with the person so she does not feel alone. I know it feels like the best results we can possibly get and how frustrating that feeling is.
But at the same time I find myself conflicted. I know from my own experience, and from helping so many others, that the results we based the statement on was not the best we could do. Not by a long shot. That part of me wants to say, “you are stigmatizing yourself into accepting a life that is far less fulfilling than what you’re capable of.”Continue reading
I know depression. It destroyed my life in my thirties and almost killed me in my early fifties. Back then, had anyone dared to tell me what I am about to say to you, I would have gotten very upset. I could not imagine that there was anything good about depression. Can you? What you are about to learn could change your mind. By using a new approach to working with depression, I had prepared myself for probably the most extreme crisis our family has ever faced.
When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I wholeheartedly bought into the idea that depression is a dark hole from which the only hope is to escape. It was certainly impossible to function well during deep depression. To function while deeply depressed meant to stay alive and minimize the harm it was clearly causing in my life and in the lives of those around me. High-functioning as related to depression meant that I needed to find ways to get out of it and back to a state where functioning in any productive way was possible.
Finding agreement for such beliefs is easy. Finding someone who challenges those beliefs is difficult. Even more difficult is letting go of society’s belief that it is impossible to function while in manic or depressed states. But once you become open to the possibility that you can learn to function during manic or depressive states, your life will change in ways that you cannot imagine. You will come to understand something that few people do. You may well consider it the most important lesson of your life.
I learned that lesson several years ago and continue to learn more as time goes by. I now teach people how to do this. I want to give you a sense of what life could be like once you accept the possibility and do the work to change. I want to share with you a very personal example of how functioning highly while depressed enriches my life and that of my family.Continue reading