Monday, March 8, 2010

Snow in Barcelona

Most people that live in Barcelona have never seen it snow in the city and today it has snowed very hard.

As I rode the bus to work I read a book about Zen meditation and had to stop: "I've read now 4 chapters about how to breath." To someone from the East this may seem perfectly normal, but they would feel amazed singing, "Go Tell it on the Mountain" in chorus.

In Spain everything feels smaller, and I think I will never get used to picking up smaller drinking glasses. I almost throw them over if I'm not careful. Neither will understand the culture of taking very few risks in life, but I have been very influenced by it. I must be careful to set the proper frame for taking risks though. Think of it like drinking water from a glass: 0ne must do it to get by, but there is nothing like taking a long drink of water after mowing grass in the back yard. But if you have no back yard?

I start to understand the importance of breathing and why I must keep on reading.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

That Pesky 1%

One percent is the distance that I remain from reaching the idealized version of myself, and it is also the number responsible for all the problems in my life.

If could just do all the things I propose for myself: cook more meals, go running more often, put more energy into playing with my kids, etc, then I would be a happier person.

But obtaining that one percent is also just the right amount to make me feel worthless sometimes. And all those things that I never do just add to my frustration. So, is the one percent really worth it? Shouldn't I accept a lower, but passing grade, and move on to my favorite subject?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Cactus and the Psychotic

Much of the writing I find about psychosis are personal narratives, written about the psychotic episodes and their after-effects. Rarely do I find someone who writes about sufferers of psychosis as a whole, someone who helps us understand what traits we have in common and how we grow.

For a great description of how the personality develops with psychosis, read the Introduction to Helen Greenwood's essay entitled Psychosis and the Maturing Ego. She compares the psychotic patient to a cactus that endures and survives where other plants are not able to do so, and that blooms unexpectedly.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Getting the Medicine Right

Just as important as getting the right dosage of medicine is getting the correct dosage of thinking. Medicine may be capable of clearing the fog of depression but it cannot take us where we want to go in life. While psychiatry is concerned with obtaining an optimum chemical balance, patients are responsible for maintaining the balance of thought.

There are axes in the bodily equation of chemicals and there are also axes in the mental processes, and they can be interrelated. When thinking about the future, having more positive thoughts and less negative thoughts may influence the axis of ambition.

Think about where you will be in five years, for example. Someone in the depressed state of mind would respond, "more of the same crap" and the his ambitions, too, would follow in the same line, producing desires are as unrealistic as winning the lottery that never develop into anything obtainable. When the fog clears away, however, the possibilities improve. Granted, some of the ambitions now are still "flights of fancy" but the primary difference is that the person regains the capability to adjust these dreams into realizable actions.

Negative thoughts do not simply go away now that the medication is correct, they must be managed. How do we deal with them? Katsuki Sekida in "Zen Training" suggests "acknowledge it honestly, saying "such and such an evil thought has occurred in me," and then drop it.""

Monday, February 1, 2010

Starting in the Middle

Who says that things should start at the beginning?

When you start a new job, are you ever the first person in the world to do that kind of work, or do you pick up the papers where someone else left off?

In science, who deserves credit for an invention, if all inventions are composed of materials that are were invented by someone else?

The same happens with bipolar and that's why the name infinite egress correctly defines it. We find ourselves well in the middle of the disease by the time it is diagnosed and we begin the process of healing by looking for a direct line out. However, we discover that all the exits are false and we duped for paying to see the beautiful egress.

How can you find your way out if you don't know how you came in? That's why medicine is such an unappealing (but necessary) solution to bipolar. Its like putting on a crash helmet to protect you from thinking too fast. And it blurs the vision when the solution, in large part, lies with understanding how you came in.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maurizio Baldini's Story

Delusion of nuclear war is something that I also experienced. Why is it that a psychotic episode takes you there?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Prologue to Mindswim 6

I found this prologue to a creative writing magazine that I used to publish in college. Funny how you look back at the things you write and see the bipolar illness so clearly. I remember when I wrote these first magazines, I thought they were filled with hope. In the piece below, I had begun to realize that so much sadness ran throughout the whole of my writing.

A fifth grader remembers fourth grade and asks what a fool he’s been. I do the same with the old issues of Mindswim. I am nearly embarrassed. There is an overwhelming current of sadness throughout the canon. I had hoped to write myself out of it. I wanted to prove that the greatest hope is found after finishing the toughest journey. But as the project went on, the sadness was not weeded out. Instead it grew into a suspicion of government, of media, of any authority. It is a likely end for a young writer without a strand of confidence who relies upon a worn-out gray sentiment as motivation.
I don’t wish to defame this sentiment, it gave me the initial reason to write. But there are goals that art must meet and not all artwork achieves them. One cannot rely upon a tingling sensation in the breast as supreme arbiter of all artistic choice. I entered a viscious era when everything I wrote seemed perfectly meaningful. Perhaps my goal wasn’t clearly defined or my only real audience was myself. I fell. I don’t warn against using dreadly emotions as fuel for creativity. Emotion tells us exactly what it is to be human. I say be careful, because ideas are real, and those born of fear lead to narrowing corridors. The fourth issue predates a psychotic episode and overflows with flags which clearly point to self destruction.
Mindswim 5 was written about that episode and is the first issue the supersedes the fatalistic, angst-ridden muck. It does so because it recognizes the morose bog as mental stasis and an emotional flat spin.
To the reader of Mindswim 6, I say greetings, you’ve made it this far (and don’t worry about where its author has been.)