Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Therapist and Author Kay Redfield Jamison Interview about Bipolar Disorder

I thought this was a good piece and wanted to share with you.

"My Mind"

Therapist and author Kay Redfield Jamison will talk about her life with bipolar disorder

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Million Thoughts a Minute!

"My Mind" is racing, flowing with things of greatness, and things no doubt later will seem silly. This is a day where every draft waiting, and every idea that can race into my head just "has to be written right now!" I sit down, content with one subject but then the next one seems more important so I save that one and move on - completing - nothing. I am sure, or I assume, some of you know what I am talking about. It's exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting all at the same time. Worse yet, deep down, I know what usually follows...the total opposite. So I am sitting here "flying by the seat of my pants."

There is the one thing I do want to start doing that I have been thinking about a long time. There are many times when I am writing and I hit upon a topic, phrase, or subject and I think that I would like to expand or write about it later at another post. It is also at this time that I feel the need, or desire, to let you know that eventually I will be writing about that subject. It could be a word like "medication" or a complete sentence. So this is my idea - when I do hit upon that phrase, word, or subject I will put an " * " at the end of it. Example would be if I say "the medication I am now on" would look like this - the medication I am now on * - does any of this make any sense to you? I hope so, because as we all know when we are in this mania* where we cannot keep up with our own mind, later it will seem like "you have got to be kidding! I said that?" No doubt this will also be that time when I read this in a day or so. At least, some will not relate what I am talking about now and will seem like a mad, rambling mind, but those of you who experience it will understand. I hope. 


My "Crazy" Mind    

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Cry For Help By--Edgar Allen Poe - Introduced By Kay Jamison

In the book by Kay Redfield Jamison " Touched With Fire" I found a paragraph which she describes "the more serious depressive states" so elegantly that few people can match. For me, she can describe the very heart of what we ourselves, or at least me, are feeling but having trouble putting into words. This paragraph leads to the quote by Poe I want to share with you. Poe, no doubt like many, yours truly also, in his condition was crying out for help. Kay Jamison wrote:

"Mood, in the more serious depressive states, is usually bleak, pessimistic, and despairing. A deep sense of futility is frequently accompanied, if not preceded, by the belief that the ability to experience pleasure is permanently gone. The physical and psychological worlds are experienced as shades of grays and blacks, as having lost their color and vibrancy. Irritability, quick anger, suspiciousness, and emotional turbulence are frequent correlates of depressed mood; morbid and suicidal thinking are common. The mood of misery and suffering that usually accompanies depression was experienced by Edgar Allan Poe in a letter written when he was in his mid - twenties:"

"My feelings at this moment are pitiable indeed. I am suffering under a depression of spirits such as I have never felt before. I have struggled in vain against the influence of melancholy - You will believe me when I say that I am miserable in pain in spite of the great improvement in my circumstances. I say you will believe me, and for this simple reason, that man who is writing for effect does not write thus. My heart is open before you - if it be worth reading, read it. I am wretched, and know not why. Console me - for you can. But let it be quickly - or it will be too late. Write me immediately. Convince me that it is worth one's while - that it is all necessary to live, and you will prove yourself indeed my friend. Persuade me to do what is right. I do not mean this - I do not mean that you should consider what I now write you a jest - oh pity me! for I feel that my words are incoherent - but I will recover myself. You will not fail to see that I am suffering under a depression of spirits which will {not fail to} ruin me should it be too long continued."

Edgar Allen Poe

"My Mind"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

At Times I Still Ask...Why?

Today, as so many of you can relate to, depression that has a mind of its own, slowly crept in, even to the point that I feel as though I took no medication at all but knowing full well I did. Why? Where did it come from? Nothing triggered it. Today is a day where I am supposed to be relaxed and in good spirits because I am home not having to work. Football playoffs is on. This is a day of football, pizza and relaxation and yet I pace; I stare at the floor; the bedroom where the shades are drawn and is relatively dark where I can hide under the covers and listen to my sad music beckons me. Depression feeds upon depression*. I cannot get interested in anything. My world is dark grey and no light shines in. Why?

How many times do we - those suffering from manic-depression ask ourselves this question over and over during our lifetime? We are not supposed to feel this way anymore. We are on medication, we go to the doctor faithfully, we are supposed to be better! No, it's not the life and death moods, but at times we wander if what we feel this moment will lead to it again. It has before.

I just wanted to post this to let everyone know that if at times you feel as I do, and are doing everything you know to get better, this can still happen - so you are not alone. Why? I don't know, and I wander if we will ever know. Today, as we improve on research, medication, understanding this seems as though the strides they are making are too slow. I should not feel this way. So please forgive me if I still ask..."why"?

It is a lonely road
Filled with agony and despair;
That only those who travel it
Can share.
"My Mind"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

“We’ll Hang in There Together…OK?”

Some of you may have read the story I wrote about my Mom and her condition before the three of us boys made the extremely hard decision to have her forcefully taken to the mental hospital. It was just about the hardest period in my life.

Having just come from Arizona, she was living with me a few weeks before and I saw firsthand how bad she really was. Myself, and my family witnessed manic – depression, the extreme highs and the horrible lows, along with schizophrenia that to this day most people have only read about. My poor wife being there alone with her during the day had just about lost her own mind in the process. As we know it is hereditary, and it does not necessarily mean it is evenly spread out among the children... guess which of the three boys got the major portion of it? Yep, it’s me…big time.

Now, years later after court order my oldest brother having guardianship and literally picking her up each month and driving her to the clinic for treatment, I am more than proud to state mom is living by herself, and doing reasonably well. She “has her days” like all of us, but to be honest is even doing much better than me!

I gradually brought the subject of my problem to her attention and over the last several years I have found we have “bonded” more than I thought was possible.* I’ll mention my bad days, and she seems to understand if I don’t call or stop by during those mood swing periods. She always wants me to call and update her as to how my doctor visits turn out, and will always ask me “are you hanging in there?” Now we have made a pact together: I promised I would hang in there as long as she did. Unfortunately for my part, I did not think she would be better off than me! So, on my bad days, she asks “are you still hanging in there?” and I reply “I’m hanging by my toe nails” and we laugh together.

Some of you have noticed during my reply to your comments, or messages you send “we’ll meet back here another time, and we’ll hang in there together.” Now you realize that phrase had more meaning than you thought. Just as serious as I am with mom, I am with you also - but you have to do your part for this to work – YOU have to “Hang in there with me, OK?”

“In solitude, where we are least alone.”
― Lord Byron

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quote for Today:

I didn't have much time today but I just ran across this quote and for some reason thought I would share it with you.

"I am constitutionally sensitive - nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long periods of horrible sanity. During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God knows how much or how long. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity."

Edgar Allen Poe

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9th -Journal Entry

{This is what I wrote today}

"It did not hit me until this morning the cycle that would follow the last couple days. Yesterday, I was uneasy, agitated, restless...I could not concentrate or get interested in anything. In a short period of time I went from the blog; FB; emails; websites; playing chess; TV - nothing satisfied me. I paced. I went for coffee, drove, came back home. Even the football playoffs I looked forward to - watched 25 minutes then went for another drive. One of my teams I like was playing and I doubt I watched a full quarter."

"Today, I am so depressed. I looked at the clear blue sky, the unusual warm day, trying to lift my spirits, nothing. I cannot shake the thoughts running in my head. I told ____(my wife) even before we had spoke "I'm having a rough day." She replied I know." I asked how could she tell and she replied the look on your face, the way you are standing, and the way you walk."

"I am reminded of an email I received some rime ago from a doctor because he has 'MD' behind his name. He said when you are having one of those days, "force yourself out of it - think positive - just resign yourself to the fact that you are not. Keep thinking that way over and over in your mind and before you know it, you will feel better" Had I been thinking clear, had a great vocabulary of words I could have responded perfectly, but this is what I wrote:

"Dear Sir, I would not wish this illness on anyone. I would not want you to experience the major changes in moods, and I would not ever want you to experience my worse possible depression, but if I could, I would like to switch minds with you for just one day and challenge you to this:-- I could feel what it is like to think clear, sharp, happy, positive, enjoy the beautiful day, not shy away from anyone especially those you love - and I will give you maybe just a mild day of depression - thinking of all the things you did wrong, all the mistakes you made, guilt because you have effected so many lives, and how will it ever get better thinking there is no way it will - then Sir, if you can pull yourself out of it, and with my mind make yourself to feel as you did before we exchanged, then I will agree with you. Until then, it is simply not possible to turn the switch of depression off at will. If it were, there would not be an illness that you yourself treat day in and day out." I did not receive a reply.

I wish I could find that "magic switch!"

"It is difficult to put into words what I suffered - the longing that seemed to be tearing my heart out by the roots, the dreadful sense of being alone in an empty universe, the agonies that thrilled through me as if the blood were running ice-cold in my veins, the disgust with living, the impossibility of dying. Shakespeare himself never described this torture; but he counts it in Hamlet, among the terrible of all evils of existence.

I had stopped composing; my mind seemed to become feebler as my feelings grew more intense. I did nothing. One power was left me--to suffer."

     French composer Hector Berlioz; -Memoirs

"My Mind"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Will I Ever Be Normal?"

I guess you could say this pretty much sums up what I wrote last. Here I sat this morning... time to write; five drafts waiting; a notebook full of notes...and nothing will come. The thoughts that burned inside me late last night, are cold.

This morning I was sitting at my quiet coffee shop where I go every morning. I was reading a book and taking some notes when I stopped, laid the pen down, and watched a couple at a table not far away. For one reason or another I tend to watch people, no, I guess the best way to describe it is "I study people." This was what I was doing. I could not hear what they were saying but I watched them for some time. They were talking and laughing. Once in a while one would check his phone, then pass it over the table to the other sharing what was on it, and they laughed together. Normal people.

I, as I often do, was reminded of the one visit I had with my doctor that stands out more than any other. For a lack of words I guess you could say I was "green" regarding this dreadful illness and had not been seeing the doctor long. I walked over to the window, watching people going about their business downtown, and I asked her "Will I ever be normal? her reply was "It depends on what you call normal." I said pointing down to the crowd of people going about their business, "Like them." She replied "No, you will, no doubt hopefully with treatment and medication get better, but it will never leave you completely. You will not be like them."

My friends, that was depressing! I left feeling worse that when I arrived. Just as I am now, I did not leave her office feeling "Warm and fuzzy inside." 

"My Mind"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Part Time Blog - Full Time "Manic - Depressive"

Part time blogging is good. It is exhilarating when you are finally able to sit down and write what has been on your heart and hit publish! Many of the blogs I read are from people like myself who write part time. Depending on their lifestyle, some are able to post everyday, or at the very least a couple times each week. Others do the best they can.

I am reminded of an email, followed by a message on my blog when I first started out that if I wanted to be successful, I had to write every day -without fail. This message came from a very successful professional - full time expert - who writes three blogs of his own, and is contracted out by numerous other blogs. I guess he makes a great deal of money from his writing. For someone who had never set up a blog in his life; was going through a difficult time personally; and was writing about a very sensitive subject, this was extremely discouraging. For sometime this bothered me. Then I realized this expert blogger did not bother to read the title of my blog; did not read the purpose this blog was set up; and most certainly did not read what condition I was going through at that time.

Each of us who write "part time"  have different lifestyles and schedules. For me, I hold down a job that takes up to 9 -12 hours a day. Take all the other things going on in my life (sleep must come in there somewhere) and there is a very small window of opportunity left. But aside from all of the above, I believe we are missing the point. "Part Time" blogging and "manic-depressive disorder" does not necessarily mix well together.

I had been mentioning how my state of mind has been changing. I took the "Manic - Depressive" test again the other day-as I call it - and I still score 8 out of 9 symptoms - some always constant. Then, if not bad enough, in the middle of the major swings, I experience a "mixed state" where the moods change in and out, one from the other, many times both simultaneously, quickly and without any warning.

 Now here is the main point I want to make. When I swing into the "high" phase, it is rarely when I'm sitting here at this desk. So, what I do (yes...sometimes going down the road) I keep a large notebook with me and I am scribbling in large words all over the place, taking notes ninety miles an hour! They are good ideas, dreams of what I want to write that I cannot sit still in the car. Sometimes, it comes upon me when I am at work. When I am trying to sleep. Anywhere, anytime. I am so excited, I cannot wait to sit here and type it all out for you. Then when I sit here, I read the notes, and they do not make sense to me. I am depressed. How can someone admire the fiery colors of a rainbow, or the beauty of the rose garden when they are depressed. The colors are dark. Grey is around me. I do try to write using my notes...I try so hard, but my feelings are not in it and to be honest, the notes I took does not make sense to me.

It is even so hard for me to explain this because I am not in the best of conditions tonight either. As I was fighting this on going battle for sometime now, I just stumbled upon a quote from Kay Jamison that may help explain it a little better:

"In addition to the changes in mood and thought that are brought about by mania and depression (and the experiences - both good and bad - gleaned from the pain intrinsic to melancholia), the less dramatic, day-to-day aspects of the manic-depressive temperament can provide artistic advantage as well. For individuals who live with moods that change often and intensely, life is a tempestuous experience. The manic-depressive, or cyclothymic, temperament, carries with the the capacity to react strongly and quickly; it is, in a biological sense, an alert and excitable system. It responds to the world with a wide range of emotional, perceptual, intellectual, behavioral and energy changes, and it creates around itself both the possibilities and chaos afforded by altered experiences and fluctuating tempos. In a sense of depression is a view of the world through a glass darkly, and mania is a shattered pattern of views seen through a prism or kaleidoscope: often brilliant but generally fractured. Where depression questions, ruminates, and is tentative, mania answers with vigor and certainty. The constant transitions in and out of these constricted and then expansive thoughts, subdued and then violent responses, grim and then ebullient moods, withdrawn from and then involving relationships, cold and then fiery states - and the rapidity and fluidity of moves across and into such contrasting experiences - can be painful and confusing."

I wish so much I could "call upon those mania" thoughts at will while I am sitting here. If it was not for the above, I would write more often. It is so difficult to write when the words come one at a time, and all the notes you took even hours before does not make sense to you, or at best, because you have come down to a very low state, you have no idea what they mean. If I did succeed, it would not be real, therefore not true to my myself, or you!

I'll be soon as I can.

"My (confused) Mind"