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.