Thursday, February 10, 2011

30 Years On - My 1st Blog Post

It was thirty one years ago this month that I experienced my first affair with Mistress Mania, and like all “Basic Instincts” the temptress continued to lure me in, always with such an irresistible lust for life; that I have otherwise never felt so Alive!

Yes! For me mania is a voluptuous female, for she brings me the rapture, the joy and love of life that leaves a yearning in its wake so hard to deny, even with the fallout, the deathly depressions that have followed those magical highs. Yet now, for the first time the black hole of deep depression has not claimed me, even after the longest manic episode of my life, thus far. It happened nearly five months ago now, and three years after my last distressing attempt to find a pharmacological solution.

Six full weeks of un-medicated hypo-hyper mania, that included the religious delusion that I was King David, come to change the world and the only man in history allowed to interpret the Book of Revelations…

‘Well there were a few days when such notions gave me warm, gooey sensations of pride.’

Yet in a polar kind of way, such dream like fantasy may be an appropriate opposite of self-loathing, affectively flooding the foundational tones of a life long trait, the insidious rhythm’s of chronic shame; was a manic state trying to change a lifetime trait?

Take a quick glance, “King David - Book of Revelations,” completely out of my tree, right?

Certainly you would have thought so if I had earnestly expressed my thoughts to you, during the height of my manic emotionality. Yet this was not my first episode/experience of mania, and I didn’t express these ideas to anyone, such lessons are hard won, as many others would testify.

It would have felt decidedly odd to you, and you would have reacted accordingly, as would I at this point in time, which leads me to wonder how much we can separate out, the reality of this so called mad state, from the instinctual fear of it.

Instinct - Affect - Emotion, where in the neuronal networks of the brain are they electrochemically, separate objects, and how should I use my object oriented logical thinking to understand them?

‘Isn’t mania just a simple chemical imbalance,’ I hear some people say.
‘Hmm! How should I reply - Well it would be, if that’s how the brain works, Sherlock!’

I think of the “simple chemical imbalance” notion as akin to the objective logic we use to describe external things, we see the ‘what’ of objects, the defining shapes, yet do not perceive the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the underlying reality. Perhaps that’s a function of our instinctual ‘at a glance’ survival mechanisms.

‘Mechanisms? A wholly inadequate word for our exquisitely intricate and complex brain and nervous systems, not to mention the other systems of the body that are virtually in simultaneous interaction.’

‘Just take your medication!’

Believe me! I wish I could have tolerated the medications, I wish that my family had not paid a price for my irrational emotional life, but such wishes are as deluded as my ‘King David’ thinking, life is what it is.

And yet, here I am, nearly five months after my ‘King David’ mania with no sign of the ‘Black Dog’ yet?

‘Sure!’ I hear you say.

Well there was a truck load of self education in between the 2007 and 2010 mania’s, and only after I’d tried ‘Lamactil’ for mood stabilization, thank God for the internet and Being single and relatively unencumbered helped, with plenty of time for reading, although it turned out that I’d only half taken in a new awareness, I’m still working on a deeper, felt sense of myself, slowly leaving behind a lifetime of ‘rationalization,’ of avoiding the sensations in my body, rehearsing life in my head before commencing to any action.

It was a life lived in ’hyper-vigilance,’ but ’who knew,’ you just get on with it don’t you? Do the best you can, ignore being ’odd’ just try to laugh and grin, and for God sake join in.

‘Pretend you can’t feel it - odd! - Ignore the hesitation and that de-realization , thingy.’

‘Er! Well, I can’t, I want a spontaneous, non self-conscious life! Just like you!’

So I guess what I’m saying here, is that Bipolar Disorder is a state mediated by the brain and nervous system, fundamentally based on the brain/body’s instinct for self regulation, with both phases explainable by our  evolutionary mammalian nature.

We have become trapped in our own evolutionary success, unable to shake off traumatic experience in the same way our mammalian cousins do in the wild. In my case ‘birth’ trauma and childhood asthma, along with an abusive childhood, conditioned an unconscious nervous system state, that became a lifelong trait.

Such nervous system traits of ‘avoidance,’ become self perpetuating through the positive feedback of habitual muscular and organ tension, and effectively locked me out of the social system, that could have soothed my unconscious fears, my negative ‘affect’ bias.

There are some wonderful new insights into the brain, the nervous system and how they interact. There is a paradigm shift taking place in the way we perceive reality, with ‘systems theory’ and the nature of ‘chaos’ illuminating the neurobiology of human development as much as its illuminating the nature of the universe.

My own paradigm shift is courtesy of several professional disciplines from psychotherapy using mindfulness, affective neuroscience, childhood development and body therapy, like Somatic Experiencing.
The leading authors of my paradigm shift include, Allan N Schore, Jaak Panksepp, Stephen Porges, Silvan Tomkins and a host of others too many to mention here.

Obviously, I have my own understanding of my Bipolar Disorder at this point in my life, and I wish to expand it and share it with others, hoping to learn more from other peoples experience and understanding.
It’s a complex condition, for want of a better word, and cannot be expressed in a post such as this, so hopefully this will be the first of many where I will explain myself more and welcome any feedback, either positive or negative.