12 Life Categories for Bipolar Consciousness
After over 6.5 years living with Bipolar Disorder, 5 hospitalizations totaling 140 days, 6 relapses, 5 experiences of psychosis, 1 attempted suicide and many other feelings of impending suicide, I can’t help but continue to attempt to figure this Bipolar thing out. Why? Well my life kind of depends on it. My life depends on me not letting my guard down and allowing what I call ‘the suicide program’ to get the best of me, and the worst of me too I suppose.
And that is something that keeps me going. As long as I’m alive I have the varying ability, depending on the speed and functioning of my brain, to learn, explore, continue to journey, adventure, and take different perspectives and apply different lenses to what this Bipolar brain deal is all about. I could just acquiesce and believe and embody the story that it’s all a meaningless mental illness requiring chemical medications for life. And though I may one day come to that conclusion, in the meantime I’d like to use my own brain and heart to continue to explore, and like I said, that is huge in giving meaning and purpose to keep going. It gives me something to do. What else is there to do but work to save myself from myself…kind of a bizarre occupation. Considering Bipolar has a suicide rate of 20%, I take my job very seriously.
Recently I’ve been thinking about some of the life categories that I’d like to explore in the upcoming months. To me, these are categories from my own lived experience with a Bipolar brain. I called it “Bipolar consciousness” in the title because I’m not fond of the word ‘disorder’ among other reasons. Typical life categories written in documents that would be handed to us in the Mental Health system include things like work, school, relationships, family etc. What I’m curious about are the inner dimensions that seems to arise from the inside and spill out to the outside once Bipolar Consciousness is acquired.
I created a mind map using the free Xmind software to illustrate the categories.
The categories are philosophy, spirituality, creativity, altruism, healing, reality/physics, consciousness, fun/laughter, mental illness, nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle scaffolding/design. I think there are many more categories that perhaps fit as subcategories to the ones listed.
Today, I will talk about philosophy and why I include it as one of my lived experience categories of Bipolar Consciousness.
I wonder if you have experienced as I have, a peculiar propensity to play with words, create new words, and to philosophize about life in ways that you never had before had before you had Bipolar. Have you filled many notebooks with seemingly profound insights and ideas? On later inspection, the profundity may or may not have held up. Also, a new philosophy of life seems to emerge from a newly Bipolar mind, most likely with the onset of ones first mania. Later, this is often all but forgotten after the decent into the darkness of depression. I often wonder, do we all have a similar new life philosophy? If we do, might there be something of truth or value there that has not yet been upheld by circulating through the masses? Perhaps this leads us to the desire to share this will all so they too will know. Is there another way to spread these memes that feel richly meaningful? Perhaps we don’t know what ultimately has meaning, though perhaps we could throw them to the wind and see what catches on, like blowing the seeds off a dandelion and watching them float off in the wind.
Maybe none of our crazy insights and ideas are important. But then why to they feel so imperative? Do we understand something that others around us don’t? Are we deluded?
I wonder if we might help each other to sort through some of this Bipolar philosophy. Imagine if we spoke with each other about the philosophy that arose through us. Perhaps there would be a lot of overlap. And if there is, could this mean it’s a different world of sorts? The world results from people’s agreement on what the world is, what it means etc.
We as Bipolar people don’t often speak to each other about the philosophizing we channelled or created in some of our states of consciousness. Often when we are together, we are in support groups taking about symptoms and troubles. Surely there is more to Bipolar than having conversations that the mental health system facilitates us to have with each other.
I feel in my heart there is something more, and that this more will not reveal itself until we start to have creative dialogues with each other. In this way, we can collaborate and test the flashes of insight that we had.
Einstein said that todays problems will not be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. Might we be a neurotribe of people that has access to a new level of thought at least some of the time? And if this were true, wouldn’t it make sense that channelling this information would be quite disorienting to the current functional ego structures in the brain? In short, we get short circuited. Do we have a responsibility to collaborate and figure out what this all means together? (Once some of our brain cells grow back after being zapped).
Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far for those who prefer to think of Bipolar as a cosmic defect. I prefer to ponder the positives and the potential and the possibilities. It feels like there is enormous potential stored up in a group of people that don’t know what to do with it all. At least I speak for myself.
I feel like we have a different functionality but that space has not yet been created in the world to allow that potential to unfold and flower naturally. If there is potential within, but it’s not mirrored without, what happens to the potential? There is tons of space in the world for the business mind, athletic mind, and scientific mind. What about for the Bipolar mind?
I could go on and on but instead, I’ll share a great book that I’m reading that reminds me of us. It’s called Swarm Intelligence by James Haywood Rolling Jr. and it’s definitely worth a read. It’s not about people with Bipolar Consciousness but so often when I read, I feel like I’m reading about the way my brain works when I’m near or at my best, call it hypomanic, crazy, high or whatever you will. When I read about peak experiences, flow states, quantum jumping, stealing fire etc and realize my brain is doing the same thing as described in these super states, I have hope that my brain is on to something and one day it’ll figure out how to go that far and come back in one piece. To me, it’s only a matter of time before the link is made. Having a Bipolar brain is like building a rocket and launching off into space without programming a landing sequence and installing the landing gear. And then I wonder why it all comes crashing down. I have many hypotheses about the crash that I won’t go into now. I will say that I feel that one reason we crash is because we aren’t cross pollinating information. Having access to new information demands that we do something with it and not keep it to ourselves. We haven’t figured out how to do that without being misunderstood and locked in a psych ward. Again, I feel we are pieces of the puzzles that will figure that part out together too.
Next time, I will write about another Bipolar life category, from an insiders perspective. I’m not interested in focusing on the symptoms, the negatives, the diagnostic categories etc. Too many of us fall into the trap of sharing information that we got when we were labelled with a pathology as if we thought of this information ourselves.
Part of being Bipolar is that we can creatively outthink almost anyone when we have access to higher energy brain states of consciousness. It’s called ‘divergent thinking’ and ‘lateral thinking’. Since that is one of our new strengths, why would we spend our time and energy regurgitating what we were told to believe about ourselves in our vulnerable states? Let’s leave that to the billion dollar industries that have us as customers and get on with what we can do. There are thousands of websites out there repeating all that stuff. Of course there is a place for understanding the mental illness paradigm, and utilizing the bits that we say are helpful and when, but let’s use our brain to try to figure out what our brains are trying to do. We’ve seen what’s happening. Perhaps our brains aren’t the problems. Our brains can solve problems.
Oh darn I went all angry Bipolar head there in the end. Oops!!