The New Beginning

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I became married to my beautiful wife a few months ago. The all-encompassing, loving force she has on my naked self is stronger than gravity. I mean my dreams, my mind-heart, my spirit, my soul, my strength.

There have been many shifts in me since I met her. She helps me see the path to my dreams more clearly, we quench our thirsty mind-hearts together, she provides joy to my spirit, invites God into our lives and relationship, and takes care of me to keep my strength up.

Bipolar I is now a small burden to deal with. Instead, life is sprouting from those decomposed wounds of the past, and bipolar now acts as an inspiration of many great potentials. Inspirations in my daily life, my worldview, and my outlook for the rest of my life.

My wife and I have committed to write the books of our lives together till death do us part. If there is a way to follow her into the dark, I will without a doubt.

With each other, we can proceed to the next contexts of life and enjoy each moment. Together.

-theothersid3

 

photo credit: mclcbooks Sunrise, Chatfield State Park, Colorado via photopin (license)

Depression and Perception

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The effects of depression on perception are profound. Cognition and all of the senses are dulled, deadened, and darkened. While I have spiraled down the depression pit in the past, everything seems to turn numb, dark, and/or painful. I’ll give a short thought illustration of how the senses, perception, and cognition are affected.

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A Moment of Depression

The clear, blue sky on a beautiful summer day fades to a light shade of bluish grey. I’m holding my favorite food in my hand, but I cannot smell it. I force myself to take a bite and it tastes like cardboard. My silky shirt feels faint, not even soft to my touch. I hear some of my favorite music from the past play, but it does not sound like it used to. It is not a matter that I’ve outgrown it. Instead, the song is darker, duller, void of emotion, and the notes muffled.

I trip over a pothole and tweak my ankle. I probably deserved that. I’m not worthy of any career I wish to pursue because I’m worthless and lazy, and can’t do anything right. A woman looks at me and smiles, telling me Hi. That’s just happenstance, and I didn’t deserve such a gesture. I deserve to die. Everything is my fault.

The world will be better without me. I’m a burden to everyone around me. How can I kill myself appropriately to escape this anguish? I can’t bring myself to do anything good, and going outside took all the effort in the world. I can’t touch, hear, see, taste, smell, love, feel, think like I used to. I can’t come up with any good ideas anymore. Nothing can cheer me up and all I get are glimpses of things that make me happy, if even that. All I know now is pain and loneliness. How about slitting my wrists so my family will be able to see my body when I’m dead and hurt them less?

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If you or anyone you know is going through depression, keep in mind the world of someone struggling with depression is very different from a healthy mindset. Unless you have dealt with depression yourself, it is very difficult to understand it. One can’t always simply get out of bed and do what he or she needs to do to get ready in the morning.

The contents in the thought illustration (or a similar context) are lingering in the mind of the depressed person. Perception spirals down easily, faster and deeper the more the depression progresses. The thoughts/lack of senses stick in the forefront of the mind and take turns tormenting the poor victim. You can think of it as a giant trauma loop that will not go away.

The best thing anyone can do for a loved one with depression is to be there for him or her. Hear the victim of depression out, and have an open ear, mind, and heart for him or her. Most of all, affirm loved ones with depression and tell them how much you appreciate them and why. Write it down and hand it to them, so they can reaffirm your words and/or pictures later.

I hope the illustration may help shine light on what’s going on in a depressed mind, and that it may help.

-theothersid3

Change

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So many things have been going on in my life… and much that I just cannot talk about anywhere but in my journals. God is making things happen around my friends and I. I don’t know where this is going, but I’m managing to stay sane throughout all these things.

If this were to happen to me a few years ago, I’d probably be in the hospital by now. I’m now strong enough that I can not only just stay sane but incredible things are happening in the process. I can be there for important people in my life and they are there for me.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m in a psychotic episode.

Only this is not psychotic… this is God working in real life. Through extraordinary circumstances, 2 of my closest friends met from thousands of miles away for 5 days and fell in love and now he’s moving here with me to find a place in my hometown!

I cannot talk about my side, yet. Not yet.

-theothersid3

photo credit: Fall via photopin (license)

My Personal Battle Wounds

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In high school, I was really good looking and I could have almost any girl I wanted. However, I trusted God with everything back then. Then, my first psychotic episode happened along with a Bipolar I/schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I started taking meds. I assure you, the trauma, the stress, and the meds all together caused me to gain a lot of weight. As a result, I’m fat now.

I don’t call them battle scars, but wounds that can heal. It’s been top 5 in my worst struggles in life I’ve ever had, that is, being fat. I remember how good it felt to feel good about my body and have all the energy and health and ability to do the things I want to do. Now that I’ve managed the trauma, the stress, and the meds, I sense a reckoning at hand soon!!! 🙂

-theothersid3

photo credit: Hafnarfjall in heavy rain via photopin (license)

Mild Mixed State?

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I’m encountering something new lately in my bipolar world. For about a couple months or so, I’ve felt a little bit off… and it’s been getting worse the past few weeks.

My thinking is sharper but still slows down so I don’t feel elated. I get frustrated at nothing and ponder why I’m frustrated, hence getting more frustrated for no reason. I find I need to spend more patience than I need to. I don’t feel sad, blue, particularly happy, or even normal. I just feel the way I do, and I’m confused, and I didn’t like it. However, it’s very subtle and doesn’t always feel like the funk is there.

I took the Goldberg Depression test and scored a 14, and took the Goldberg Mania test and scored an 8. I fell in the “minor depression possible” category on the depression quiz and on the upper end of “no mania likely” category on the mania quiz.

These aren’t a replacement for therapy but they can be useful tools for dealing with moods and gauging how depressed or manic I am. Seeing this shows me yes, it’s very minor… but there’s possibly a slight depression going on and I’m also a little bit more up than usual on my test scores.

I’m not positive it’s a mild mixed state, but that’s my best guess at this point. I’ll be seeing my psychiatrist soon and this is a very minor thing at this point, so I’ll ask his opinion then.

-theothersid3

photo credit: Kiwis in the blender via photopin (license)

Slippery Slope Into Darkness

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So, how does someone with severe bipolar appear to become psychotic out of the blue? Does one typically snap into a psychotic state or out of one?

The answer my therapist gave me is true to my experience: No. Psychosis is a long, slippery slope towards falling over the edge, and recovery is a long, gradual, up and down slope out of the pit for acute psychosis. The trick I found is to learn how to catch it earlier and earlier to the point where I can maintain and not have to worry about it happening anymore. A significant part of staying away from psychosis as someone with schizoaffective/bipolar I disorder is staying on my medication, no matter how unpleasant the side effects can be. I’ve had two psychotic breaks: first was when I was diagnosed twelve years ago and the second one five years later when I stopped my medications.

What are some general things that go through my head when I’m psychotic?

Fortunately, I do not experience anger or aggression for the most part towards anyone. The only way I can briefly describe it is that I feel like everything I can possibly conceive of is going through my head at the same time. It feels like I’m transported to a different reality, which is a wondrous new place, or hell depending on what episode I’m talking about. With all this information overload, little details begin to form more delusions: religion, personal, ideas, world events, and reality itself all become torn open and full of mysterious riddles.

While all this is going on in my head, what do other people see?

I remember leaving my physical body and conversing with other people around the ward, conversing with patients and staff, and visualizing unimaginable things. However, my hospital records document me sitting in my room those days scribbling away on papers about a girl I was obsessed with years ago at the time. I remember having glimpses of writing about her in what seems like my subconscious. True reality was a dream to me and I was living in a dream (the kind I have when I’m typically sleeping). I likened myself to the living dead at the time, awake and asleep at the same time. My friend also visited me in the ward and he later told me that he could see it in my eyes that sometimes I left and came back right in front of him. When I came back, he pleasantly said to me, “Welcome back!” Then we’d converse for a few more seconds before I returned to my psychosis trip. The same would happen with staff as well – I faded in and out and the staff were very excited to see me back when I came back, before fading again seconds or minutes later.

Another interesting note: as I fade in and out of reality, so to speak, what happens when I call someone on a cell phone? Well, I did… I called my friend, and I heard his voice loud and clear, then felt myself go to the other reality and all I heard was static coming through on my phone – with a full signal. I’d come back and hear his voice again, then fade away again. I wrote a post about this earlier.

I remember trying to tell myself and hearing other people tell me that all those experiences are in my head, and they may be. However, whether real or not, they are what they are. I’m not concluding that I merely sat in a room as an empty shell of a body working out my obsession with a girl in the hospital is the whole story of what happened there. There are many more precious experiences to be told.

Some day, I hope I can do justice to describing what it is like to go through a firsthand psychotic break. It’s like getting lost in a fractal without any reference points, then coming back out again and seeing everything so differently.

-theothersid3

photo credit: Wobble Walk via photopin (license)

Psychosis Needs to Steep.

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If I could do everything over again, I wish I had set aside my mission of interpreting my psychotic experiences aside for later to work on after I had recovered more. Think of it as allowing the fresh, immature flavors of the experience to steep for a while and come back in a truer form that turns into something remotely consumable.

A psychotic experience is inherently an experience so great that I can’t wrap my mind around it. As every month passes, I understand more of it, and every few years, my interpretation of it may completely shift in certain aspects of it. Not only can I not wrap my mind around it, I have no frame of reference within my experiences in real life to contain it or frame it or allow my mind to interpret it.

The stories of my psychotic experiences have taken years to unravel as much as they have and allowed me to start understanding them. I liken these stories to a fractal. I can zoom in on any part or aspect of it and it has a seemingly infinite number of interpretations and implications, no matter where I look, and I find myself getting lost in the beginning.

If I need to revisit my experiences before I’m ready to, I do it in two ways.

The first is to talk about it with people I trust, to vent and to describe to them what happened. This helps me expose some air to all those experiences I had.

The second way is to deal with them more in my journals. If I have problems obsessing about them, I write down the content in my journals, and develop a mental plan of action as to how I can ignore these thought patterns in the future and explain to myself why I need to do so. I need to focus on what is important, recovery, and deciphering fractals of psychotic experiences right after they happened is not the road to recovery. It only leads to more grief.

That being said, after I get to a point where I can handle doing so without triggering my bipolar symptoms, I find it helpful to write down snippets or stories in great detail of what happened during my episodes. This serves two purposes: 1. It helps provide a fresh look later on when I reflect on my journals and look to see and remember what actually happened during my breaks in the forefront of my mind. 2. It helps me process the experiences at face value and understand what content there is in my psychotic breaks to allow me to recognize thought patterns I need to avoid.

In both of my psychotic breaks, God did not abandon me. He was there on every level each step of the way. Sometimes I was aware at the time, sometimes I wasn’t. In any case, God gave me a lot to handle but never anything more than I could. The same is true today. Always.

-theothersid3

photo credit: Borderline Biennale 2011 – L’Histoire de l’Oeil, François Moncarey & Kevin Ramseier (CENC) acting performance IMG_4165 via photopin (license)