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

Have Faith in Yourself

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One may expect nothing good coming from completely losing one’s mind to madness, and dealing with the aftermath. I often heard the cliches about how I would be a stronger person as a result and I would learn so much through these experiences. However, looking back, those words of encouragement only spoke of the beginning of what I gained resulting from embarking on the recovery process.

I did a little bit of reflecting in my journal this evening about what I have lost and gained over the past fourteen years, since I was diagnosed with bipolar I following a psychotic break.

Here’s a small list of profound losses I experienced within the past fourteen years:

  • My physical health and good looks
  • My religion, which was a foundation of my life
  • My spirituality
  • My sense of identity
  • My sharp intellect and ability to learn new things went into remission
  • At a couple points, I lost my mind completely
  • My ability to adequately care for myself and my environment

I still struggle hard with my physical health and my ability to adequately care for myself. However, in the past fourteen years, I’ve regained much about the other items on the list.

So, not only have I gained back most of the above list of losses, I’ve found the following:

  • I’ve broken free from the institution of religion
  • I’ve broken the generational cycle of madness
  • I understand family and friends better
  • I’ve learned who I am and what I need to explore about myself
  • I’ve embarked on the road to recovery from severe verbal abuse and isolation growing up
  • I’ve discovered some things never go away, such as my analytic mind
  • I’ve confirmed my passion for writing
  • I’ve found wisdom and a new way of seeing the world
  • I can explore a rich spiritual identity and experiences

During recovery, there are seasons and there are trends. It was pitch black for many years of my life. I had therapy nearly every week for 9 months after my first episode, often focusing on the reasons why I shouldn’t commit suicide. All seasons of recovery present their challenges. Over time, the light becomes brighter, and during the seasons, this light will fluctuate.

However, just know that the deeper my pain, the deeper my loss, the more constitutive my loss… the deeper character I gain, the more I find, and the more cohesive I become as a result of these experiences. I’ve reached a point where I have become someone that is beyond my wildest dreams or imaginations, compared to fourteen years ago.

I’m at a brightly blossoming point in my road to recovery. I still have a ways to go, but I’m making progress faster than I have ever before. The truth is… those cliche encouragements did help a little bit when I took them in good faith. The darker the valley, the harder it is to climb out and the longer it takes to climb out. I had faith in myself that I could get through when I was unable to call on God for help and no one could be there for me.

One thing is always true: have faith in yourself. No matter how bad it is, you can overcome.

-theothersid3

photo credit: Stuck in Customs Aurora Over The Valley via photopin (license)

The Elusive Voice of God

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Looking back, I now realize that God has been silent in my mind for a very long time… years, in fact. I have heard God’s voice before in spirit, and I know my Lord’s voice. However, it is apparent I don’t know them well. I’ve been deceived by a number of different spiritual presences since, and I suspect the most pervasive one is my own inner voice.

In June 2016, when I drove myself to the mental health facility to be admitted as an inpatient, I was following something destructive. I ended up writing a few hundred pages in my journal while I stayed there, which I am still not ready to review as of today. That spiritual voice led me down some very strange rabbit holes. This included taking on the identity of the Angel of Death, drinking from cups signifying various things including the tears of the saints, and encouraged the notion of soul mates.

However, in the process of all this madness, I had a profound moment of deja-vu. I cannot tell whether I was sleeping or awake, but I remembered with utmost clarity a religious experience I had in 2003 after I blacked out then. A few months later, this recollection precipitated a chain reaction in my psyche. Under the guidance of my therapist, I revisited many angles of these experiences in my journal and have begun the process of unraveling the twisted rifts in my mind.

Why, I ask myself, is God silent now of all times? I can only speculate. I trust God will make it clear when He speaks to me again and reveal himself when I am ready. He must have a lot of confidence in me to be silent while I sort out a magnitude of burdens with the help of my friends, family, and therapist. While these are burdens, they are also some of my richest blessings and provide me with much wisdom and understanding.

Whether you are spiritual or not, what are some tools you have for sorting out your mind?

-theothersid3

photo credit: Omar.Bariffi The pearl via photopin (license)

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)