Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Stay Open

Here's the last of the posts from the introduction to the book I'm working on:

The fifth and final ground rule was the hardest for me to adopt:  Stay open to new ideas; don’t think you know it all.

I’ve always been very curious, so the new ideas part wasn’t too difficult.  In fact, sometimes my experience with mental illness made me very vulnerable to influences I may not have chosen on a better day.  While ramping up into a manic episode I’d adopt some new persona or fall into an interest or belief and go way overboard as I expressed my new lifestyle.  This has happened with things as varied as objectivism, liberation theology, and fly-fishing.  I’d go full into something to the exclusion of all else, only to drop it entirely as I settled down and recovered.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Be Responsible

Here's ground rule #4 from the book I'm working on.  No matter how sick you were when you acted out, you have to own what you do:

In asking you to not define yourself as mentally ill (ground rule #1), I stated that while you’re exempt from responsibility for being ill, you need to take responsibility for getting better.  Ground rule #4 expands on that thought and insists:  You must take responsibility for all your actions.

I remember when I was dating my wife.  The night I told her I have bipolar disorder she touched me deeply when she asked if I had a difficult period what could she do to help.  I returned that kindness by vowing to never use my illness as an excuse for bad behavior.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Control Yourself

I've been posting the opening of a book I'm working on.  Here's the next section:

Much of what I recommend as a path toward wellness involves great self-discipline and some self-sacrifice. But I realized early in my practice that if the discipline and sacrifice were too severe, my efforts would border on ascetic austerity.  That’s not necessary. 

Ground rule number three is: Exercise self-discipline but keep it gentle.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Don't Stop Your Meds; Keep Seeing Your Therapist

Here's the second ground rule from the book I'm working on:

Ground rule number two: Keep taking your meds and keep seeing your doctor and/or therapist.

I maintain, and insist, that meditation, movement and meaningful work are adjunct therapies.  I believe they are absolutely necessary to manage mental illness, so in this sense one may think of them as primary therapies.  I just don’t want to imply that they will replace medication and psychotherapy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Don't Say, "I Am Mentally Ill"

I'm working on a book about using meditation, movement and meaningful work to manage mental illness.  It begins with five ground rules necessary to establish a positive, helpful practice and overcome a mental illness.  Here's number one:

Before practicing therapies to get over a mental illness, some ground rules must be set. The first involves your relationship with your disease.  How do you relate to your mental illness, and how do you describe yourself?

Language can have a powerful influence over self-definition, revelation, and healing.  The way we describe ourselves and our condition speaks volumes about our outlook and our outcomes.  I was diagnosed decades ago with bipolar disorder, I still adhere to treatment, and I still suffer occasional mood changes.  Yet I strongly maintain that I am not bipolar.