An ecourse that helps my bipolar disorder and PTSD… “Making Sense of Your Life”

Published on June 1, 2016 under bipolar

This is not a substitute for psychiatrists, clinicians and all the rest that comes along with a bipolar diagnosis…

Today I was working through a course developed by Dr. Dan Seigal and Dr. Lisa Firestone at  The course is called “Making Sense of Your Life”.  I have been reading some of Dr. Dan Seigal’s books recently and much of what he talks about has help wrap my head around some stuff related to trauma and PTSD related to psychosis and bipolar disorder.  Though the books aren’t written solely for the purpose of bipolar disorder and PTSD, I can see so much of the workings of my bipolar brain in the pages of his books.

I started by reading his book “The Pocket Book to Interpersonal Neurobiology” and then I ordered his book “Mindsight”.  I had the pocket book in my possesion for several years.  After my recent psychosis in April, I picked up the book and opened up to a later section that explained very clearly how/why the brain continues to haunt me with past traumatic memories.  Not only how it haunts me with traumatic memories, but why it doesn’t seem like it’s coming from the past, and how it feels like it’s happening in the present as a flashback.

There is no way I can do justice to summarizing it but basically he talks about the difference between “implicit” and “explicit” memories.  In terms of trauma, implicit are ‘encoded’ in the brain when their is trauma and an area of the brain called the hippocampus is deactivated.  The problem with this is it’s recorded in incoherant bits that can then pop up later when triggered, and without the sense that they are coming from the past.  This is called lack of ‘ecphoric sensation’ (I love the scientific lingo).  This can overlay an experience of terror and fear over a relatively benign experience.  With explicit memories, when they are recalled, we have the sense that the memories are from the past and we can answer questions related to the time and occurence.  He uses the example of recalling the details around learning how to ride a bike.

I did a quickish go through of the ecourse “Making Sense of Your Life” and it is quite helpful, especially if you don’t want to buy 2 books and read them.  The course is based on how we form early attachments to our prominent care givers and then how to develop coherent narratives in order to integrate the brain.  I am going to go through the course again and do more of the writing and see what happens.  The course costs $79 or something, which is a lot cheaper than therapy.  I am not affiliated with them in anyway, though I would be if I could as the Dr. Dan Seigal knows what he’s talking about.  I have been reading personal growth stuff for the last 14 years and he sure knows how to explain more complex concepts in easy to understand and helpful way.

I feel for me, that by understanding how the brain works, I am more easily able to understand myself.  This understanding has actually reduced the little bits of self stigma I have for being hospitalized 3 times in the last 14 months.  Since reading what Dr. Dan Seigal has to say in “The Pocketbook for Interpersonal Neurobiology” (chapter 39, making sense of trauma and it’s resolution) and “Mindsight” (especially chapter 8, prisoners of the past: memory trauma and recovery and chapter 9, making sense of our lives: attachment and the story telling brain), I feel more hope than ever that I can resolve some of the ways my brain has adapted as a result of trauma growing up and as an adult, both self inflicted and in concert with others.

On another note, I am wondering if I will be able to create a coherant narrative of my psychotic experiences such that it will help to integrate all of the nonordinary experiences that encoded implicit or explicit memories.  I can recall explicit memories of psychosis and know they were from the past.  But there must be implicitly encoded ones when I am somewhat conscious.  All of that may be too complicated.  Another implication for the implicit memories is perhaps there is a way of creating coherant narratives of my “mania self” or “hero self”, the person that I aspire to be, that may help me integrate that self and bring more of that self into manifestation.  In the case of my manic self, I feel like I am a bird wanting to learn to fly, but my mother left the nest without teaching me.  If I don’t have someone to teach me, I will sit in the nest and go crazy.  Where is the “mother” who is supposed to teach us how to navigate this new territory?  I step out on my own and get burned.  Perhaps we need to create a network of peers who are attempting to map out this space.  The space of mania and psychosis.  I’m not sure if I’ll make it, but at the same time, I won’t make it if I just stay in the nest and go crazy.  Perhaps it’s all just PTSD.  I may try hypnosis and anything to attempt to integrate what hasn’t been integrated.  I don’t know.  I really don’t know.

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