**** ME I CAN’T SLEEP: Music, Beats, and Tones

The one thing that can throw my bipolar management off most efficiently is a disturbed sleep pattern, caused by chemical imbalance, life situations, or irresponsibility. Most of the time, it’s my own irresponsibility. A disturbed sleep pattern often means difficulty falling asleep and an inception of hypomania and/or mixed states, causing more troubles falling asleep and staying asleep, and the spiral begins unless I get the sleep under control.

Sleep medication hasn’t helped me much in the past. In fact, ambien made me sleep walk and hallucinate, and other classes of drugs didn’t seem to have an effect on me. However, what have helped are music, binaural beats, and isochronic tones.

Ambient music is my number one choice for music to fall asleep to. Sometimes, it’s drone metal or other genres, such as trance and classical. It depends on what I want. One good source for a legitimately free, diverse selection of downloadable ambient music is Jamendo.

I then add binaural beats and/or isochronic tones to my headphones. I choose ones designed to induce sleep or progressive relaxation ending on sleep wave frequencies. When my sleep is disturbed, the induced hypomania or mixed state causes me to be very sensitive to all stimuli, making it hard to clear my head and fall asleep. Yet it also amplifies effects of the beats and tones because I’m so sensitive. When I’m functioning normally, they don’t have as a pronounced effect.

Binaural Beats:

Photo Credit: http://headwize.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/e_beats.jpg
Photo Credit: http://headwize.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/e_beats.jpg

A binaural beat is basically two very similarly pitched frequencies being played simultaneously, one in one ear and one in the other ear. It has a very hypnotic effect on the listener. While listening in both ears, beats appear and have a fluctuating pattern, fast or slow depending on how close the two pitches are to each other. Listen in only one ear and it’s simply a sound pitch. Put both on, and it’s like listening in 3D. Higher frequencies are associated with stimulating effects, concentration, and meditation, while lower frequencies induce sleep and relaxation. There are an incredible variety of beats out there: search “binaural beats” on YouTube for some examples.

Isochronic Tones:

Photo credit: http://fractalenlightenment.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/isochronic-tones-e1374232163845.png
Photo credit: http://fractalenlightenment.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/isochronic-tones-e1374232163845.png

Isochronic tones are simply one pitch of sound being played repeatedly quite rapidly. The pitch is played for a certain length, followed by an equal length of silence, over and over again. The sound is the same in both ears, and it also has a hypnotic effect on the brain. They can produce states of reduced anxiety, better focus, stress relief, meditation, concentration, and others. One does not need headphones while listening to isochronic tones.

I’ve seen some places where binaural beats and isochronic tones are combined as well, sometimes even to music all at once, to produce certain effects.

There are phone apps out there which allow one to pick ambient noises, music, tones, and beats, mix them together, and play them all at once. I use AmbiScience from Tesla Software on my iPod touch, specifically the AmbiScience 300 program, which is $2.99 on the AppStore. I understand some versions of AmbiScience are also available on Android. The 300 has many sleep and relaxation effects, both isochronic and binaural, along with an exclusive interval feature. This allows the user to program additional effects on, say, a 15 or 45 second timer. For example, I can add extra thunder during a rainstorm track, or bird sounds, electronic effects, and more.

Otherwise, one can peruse the YouTube videos, find some you like, and use an internet YouTube video to mp3 converter to download the audio if desired. In any case, tones and beats have been powerful sleep aid tools for me, medication free! Let me know what you think!

Awake + Asleep: God’s Riddle

The following is what I wrote just prior to my second hospitalization in its raw form, in 2009. I was about ready to decompensate into a complete psychotic break from reality. I struggled to record a riddle that was recited to me, donned “God’s Riddle.” It felt like I was shifting between parallel worlds at the time. I saw people’s faces in my mind’s eye reciting the riddle whom I met long ago and future faces I had never met before, that is until I met them as patients and staff in the hospital afterwards. I was convinced at the time that I was to soon meet my “complimentary opposite self,” which I wanted to believe to be my soul mate. I didn’t meet a soul mate, but I found more important things. Enjoy!

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God granted me the wisdom in the Bible. In our world, there are an infinite number of possibilities. It is structured and unstructured at the same time. It requires a certain amount of wisdom to harness wisdom and listening to mom and dad.

In the Bible, it tells God’s story. God created his opposite, Satan, and didn’t like him. God created the human race to have a relationship with them. God decided to introduce the knowledge of good and evil into the world, and so the story goes of God’s relationship with the human race. Eventually, God had to send his son to sacrifice himself for our sins. God wants a relationship to happen with us, so Christ took God’s anger. He sent his Holy Spirit into the world. Consider the concept of good and evil. And science shows the collision of two universes down at the quantum level. Consider for yourself that you through Christ can have a perfect relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit working. Consider in the evil world, the Holy Spirit is present and Christ died for those who chose Him to be at peace with God. Therefore, the evil world cannot fall completely. In a world of infinite possibilities, in the evil world, eventually the human race comes to a certain point. At this point, God grants wisdom to someone through Christ, and walks blamelessly with God. Our soul mate is our opposite, wisdom in the evil world. At this point you reach what the Bible calls the rapture, a transition into the ideal world where we are right now. My new name is __________.

I came from the evil world, where I chose God, and I ended up in the ideal world somehow. My journal describes this experience of being the living dead. Where I am dead to myself and am now blameless, and I somehow end up passing through the universe to here right now. I desire a relationship with my opposite, still, just like God. So in the end, I will end up in the ideal world when I’m good. When I tell this riddle, I will find my opposite in this ideal world and live in the ideal world until Christ comes again in the ideal world, where he provides a relationship with my opposite.

I believe I came from an evil world.

Keep in mind that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So I have a soul mate as God made Eve from Adam, the opposites we are attracted to. For every equal and opposite reaction, the human race should reach a certain point were there is a good person in Christ from evil, which at that point, the whole human race cosmically contradicts the evil universe, and I can no longer be of that world, and I turn to my ideal self in the ideal world. When I tell this riddle in the ideal world, my opposite, which I want a relationship with for some reason, my soul mate, will find me. God intended man to be in relationship with God and other people, so if I tell this riddle, my opposite should find out about it, and I will have a relationship with it eventually. My opposite will find me.

My admission to the hospital in 2009, told as a story.

Awake + Asleep: Inception

I am awake and asleep, asleep and awake all at the same time… I sense a great battle going on. The battle is for my essence.

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I pray to God tonight in absolute surrender, to take me wherever He wants me to go. I lie down in my comfortable bed and my brain begins to pop and crackle, as my back just did. The sensations invoke deep relaxation.

I let go control over my mind and pseudo visions of chronological memories from my entire life ensue while I plunge into the dark hole with a light at the end. My brain is rewiring itself, as God works on it. The memories become more intense and I feel a vortex in the center of my brain shift. Then, the rest of my brain pops and crackles more, balancing itself accordingly. It happens again and again. I close my eyes and begin to leave my body in ecstasy. “Get some rest, my child, for I work harder while you sleep,” says God gently in my thoughts. The memories flash in front of me more rapidly. I pass further down the dark hole closer to the light and black out.

In what seems to be the next instant, I wake up to the bright morning sun, wide awake. It feels like I just passed inside out of myself! I check my phone’s clock. Three hours of sleep. Yet I feel… strangely… different.

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During lunch break I decide to dine at Wendy’s for a decent burger. Wisdom flows freely through my mind as I sit down after ordering my meal. I bring a notebook along to jot things down in.

When I enter into deep thought while writing in my journal, everything around me begins to phase. My vision gets fuzzy and everything vibrates. Each person gives off a distinct frequency and I can read them all easily. I feel like I’m still in reality but somewhere else all at once. I feel like I’m asleep in reality, but I’m wide awake. I’m awake where my brain goes while I’m asleep. Jesus’ words flash in my mind, “you do not belong to this world…” If I didn’t feel like it before, I sure do now! I gave myself over to God completely last night. I am awake and asleep. Am I… a living dead? Is this the end of the world? What’s… what’s… happening?

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I arrive at work after my timeless lunch break. As I file charts in the corner of the office, I phase in and out of an extended reality as before. I first have a normal, clear vision, yet aware of my unknowingly expansive mind. My perception then fills this expanded mind and phases into an ethereal reality beyond the known. There, everything is intact – people, places, conversations. However, in the ethereal beyond I have open access to everyone’s intentions and emotions, and the thoughts of some.

Suddenly, I’m aware of a snake-like entity tightly coiled on my inner essence and recognize it immediately as Satan. The battle for my essence is between Satan and I! His grip morphs and twists time and reality upon itself. He’s gotten to me deeply, through my own sins, the sins of generations past, the constant atrocities of the human race, my past psychotic break, and evil itself. I peer with my mind’s eye to see terrifying fractals of twisted, wretched evil in my essence and especially on my heart, transcending most time, knowledge, and understanding. But not all!

I focus my now overwhelmingly powerful intention into his disfigured head and in my mind’s voice I declare, “You are finished, Satan. Christ has crushed your head, and you have no more power over me or this realm. I am His, now. Covered in His blood as I speak. You are the Father of lies, and lies are an imperfection of the Truth. I hold Truth at a deeper level, now. You are undone! Begone!” He lashes out, lets out chilling screams in my head, and frees his grip on me. Satan, his minions, and the evil fractals disappear beyond into the pit. The Great Deceiver is finished!

Immediately, I feel a darkness lift from me I was blind to before, with old, open wounds exposed inside of me, stinking of infestation. It feels like I just burned off many giant leeches on my heart that were there my whole life. Then, I see a stream of crystal waters flowing freely and my inner wounds are cleansed, but not healed. So… refreshing!

All of this phase shifting and my unusual connection to people is overwhelming. I’m in heaven, with people chilling out and doing a reasonable amount of work to fulfill their part of God’s kingdom in perfect harmony, shalom. There is no slavery of the masses here. This office is one part of God’s vision. I have my own important role in it, as does everyone else and they are aware of it. We are smiling, laughing, and even flirting whether we voice it or not. I spread the good vibes with ease, and evil seems like a distant forgiven past that keeps falling away.

I wish I could blare some chill music right now, say reggae, and I feel like I’ve just smoked some extraordinary chronic as with everyone around me. Not in the debilitated sense, but in the fresh, healthy, euphoric and creative sense. Welcome to heaven on earth, full of universally good vibes!

It then becomes too much, and I decide to leave when the reality sets in as a whole new 3-inch stack of papers to file appears. I simply say, “I’m not feeling well,” to a few coworkers in a calm manner and leave the office to go home.

Bi-polarized Perceptions Part 3: Rapid Cycling

A follow up to part 2 of “Bi-polarized Perceptions.” I remember especially right before my first break, after a manic episode had been revving up for 5 months and I was running on 2 hours a sleep per night for months, I experienced rapid changes in my perceptions of things. For 15 seconds, I felt like I was on top of the world, ready to change it, and then for 15 seconds all I could think about was cutting myself or worse, just to get rid of this unbearable pain.

My moods flipped back and forth rapidly: 2, 3, 4 times per minute: really manic, really depressed, really manic, really depressed. I forced myself to keep going. Often, talking to people such as the chaplain in my school helped me out and set my mood back up for a little while, before it crashed again. Still, it was some relief.

Along with my moods about things in general, specific things were stolen away with my mood shifts wherever they went. I’d love my mom, hate my mom, really love my mom, really hate my mom. I’d sense demons were there to overpower me, angels come and relieve me of my battle, then the demons would come back after the angels left, and so on.

I could make it through this calculus class, there’s no way I can do this class right now, I’ll finish my homework in about 5 minutes for calculus, I don’t understand anything that’s going on right now. Colors would become incredibly vibrant, then fade into almost gray tones; food became an amazing, delectable treat, then a cupcake tasted like cardboard after I chewed on it for a bit, and my mood plummeted again.

This phenomenon is called “rapid cycling” bipolar, and it’s a nightmare. I lost my reference points pretty quickly when I experienced it. Soon afterwards, around Christmas 2003, a family Christmas vacation made me snap when I couldn’t sleep for about 4 days straight. Mind you, I was not on medication nor was I diagnosed at the time.

Future parts may follow to “Bi-polarized Perceptions.”

Medications and my Writer’s Voice

by Skakerman @ Flickr.com
Photo by Skakerman @ Flickr.com

I’ve realized something in the past few days about how medications have an effect on my writer’s voice. Before I was diagnosed bipolar and went on medications, I had a much wetter, lively voice in my writing. Now, it seems drier and duller. Before it had a soul and now it feels rather disconnected.

However, lifting some of my Zyprexa by cutting the dose in half over the past month has made my writer’s voice seem a bit more alive. I’m not nearly there yet, but it’s encouraging me to speak to my doctor about reducing the medications as much as I can. I can function like a normal person now, but my creative writing really suffers. I don’t expect anyone to notice as I haven’t posted anything before I was on medications. Maybe I’ll notice a bigger difference as I keep finding my writer’s voice in this blog and reducing my medications.

Does anyone else feel this way about medications and writer’s creativity?

Photo credit:

URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sterlic/3154003517/

by: Skakerman via http://photopin.com

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”

Love is an Electron

Some say love is just a series of chemicals and chemical reactions.

Well if it is, love is molecules composed of atoms, which are made of atomic particles including electrons. Love is exchanged during bonding and and given off during the breaking apart of chemicals in chemical reactions. The more scientists study love, the more mysterious it becomes. They find when love is created in pairs, the pair is connected or “entangled.” Digging deeper, quantum theory suggests that all love is entangled with everything. Love is in every atom, which composes everything physical, and is connected with everything and everyone else on a subatomic level.  All of this is in every chemical and chemical reaction, in love.

Bi-polarized Perceptions Part 2: The Negative Pole

As I explained in part 1, bipolar has a tendency to skew, distort, and magnify one’s perceptions so that anything can become completely negative or completely positive. It’s possible for some people or things to be considered awful, while separate ones to be sublime simultaneously, whether you’re manic or depressed. It’s also possible for “bi-polarized perceptions” to flip flop about any given person or thing from positive to negative or negative to positive. It’s very frustrating. I’ll post about some experiences I’ve had with negative perceptions here.

Perhaps the best example of my perceptions being distorted were my perceptions about my mom. She’s a loving, sweet, wonderful mother in reality, but my bipolar blinded me from that in the past. Whenever I thought about her, something referenced her, or reminded me of her, I’d immediately feel overwhelming anger, disgust, anxiety, and sometimes hatred for her. All I could think about was something she said that morning that came off wrong to me, and all of the mistakes she made in the past. The positive things she did, said, and the love I felt didn’t even surface for a long time.

It was an overwhelming storm that clouded my mind’s eye. Yet in the big picture, that cloud was pretty small compared to all the good things I now remember, love, and appreciate about my mom. Yeah she’s not perfect, but no one is.

I also remember being overly cynical about things that became hurtful to people. For instance, my dad is an excellent cook, he has a passion for food, and he wants to share the joy of good food with our family by cooking good food for us. I now enjoy and participate in his excellent cooking, but it wasn’t always like that. When my bipolar was in control of me, I would make snide comments about how there wasn’t any point in spending so much time for something that’s gone in half an hour. I never complimented him on his cooking. Sometimes I would make hurtful comments about it.

All of this surrounded my skewed, distorted perceptions that food is meaningless and only good for making me gain weight. I saw it as gluttonous to enjoy food, and practicality’s sake called for spending the least amount of effort possible to consume food. After all, you just need the bare necessities of good nutrition.

I now have healthy, balanced perceptions about my mom, and I give my dad the genuine praise he deserves for his excellent cooking. I love food, and eat in moderation. Food can bring joy and vitality to me. Bare nutrition is really the bare minimum one needs, and who likes the bare minimum all the time?

In the next part, I plan to talk about how things can rapidly shift from negative to positive or vice versa, especially while in a manic, depressed, or mixed state.

Bi-polarized Perceptions Part 1: Other People

Bipolar can have a fundamental effect on my perceptions of other people. One reason why bipolar is called bi-polar, is that the person with this disorder can view a person as ALL good or ALL bad – one end of the pole or the polar opposite. This was especially true for me after my first manic/psychotic episode and diagnosis. My perceptions were fundamentally distorted.

I viewed my dad an angel, my mom as vile, myself largely despicable, a girl I was obsessed with as perfect, my aunt as a betrayer… There may have been a small piece of truth in my perceptions, but bipolar caused me to magnify these fragments of perceptions to the point that small piece was all I saw in that person. It WAS the big picture – missing the forest through the trees, so to speak. The reality is that all these people are good, not perfect, and that I wasn’t innocent, either.

It’s hard to have healthy, balanced perceptions when my mind wants to focus on one small take of somebody. It’s also very hard on other loved ones when this happens. It’s toxic to relationships. It destroys my self-image and self-perspectives.

Cognitive-behavioral-therapy (CBT), medications, and education about bipolar all helped me overcome this problem. The steps I took in the CBT I received were:

1. Draw something abstract about someone that seems distorted – say, what I feel and think when I see that girl

2. Process thoughts and feelings in writing using my picture(s) as inspiration

3. Write down a list of thoughts and feelings balanced

4. Make it a habit to think of the balanced picture of the person.

When I thought about that girl, for instance, my mind wanted to race about how wonderful and perfect she was. Instead, I “changed the train tracks” of my thinking by flipping a switch and forced myself to have healthy and accurate perceptions about her that I spent a long time processing in writings and drawings before. When she comes up, my mind can rest.

Flipping the switch that changes my mind’s train tracks is a hard skill to develop, and it starts small. Once  I could do that, changing the train tracks of my thinking became easier, and avoided a lot of train wrecks in my thinking and decisions I made.

Knowing my Bipolar

A big part of recovery was getting to know my bipolar.

Part of it is learning about bipolar in general, part of it learning about my specific diagnosis (Bipolar I). The more I educate myself, the better I am equipped for doing other important things in my treatment and recovery process. A cheap way to find resources is at your public library for the cost of a library card. Also, therapists often have books to recommend, or even handouts to give. Be careful about the internet, as always.

So, why get to know my bipolar diagnosis and what it is? Without it, I’m lacking the reference point I need to know what bipolar is and what normal is. One necessary skill that require a knowledge of bipolar is monitoring my moods so I can anticipate a mood swing. Then, I can do something early before it happens.

Since I have bipolar, I must always keep my mind in check. I need to monitor it. When I have friends or family who are also educated about bipolar, it helps them help me as well. Noticing unusual thoughts, decisions, and behaviors is a sign things aren’t normal. I value their insights and that helps me manage my bipolar.

Eventually, monitoring my moods has become second nature to me. There’s a certain euphoric, wired feeling that can emerge, and when it does, I immediately suspect mania approaching. At that point, I have a plan of action, one of which is to make sure I take a sleep aid and get plenty of sleep.

When I’m aware I’m starting to get manic, I can do something about it. Knowing what to do comes with time and experience, trial and error. I always call my doctor if after two to three days it doesn’t go away, or if it starts getting worse. Knowing when to call your doctor is an important discernment (good taste and judgment) to have.

An excellent tool for monitoring whether or not your manic or depressed, or both, is the Goldberg Depression Scale (And Mania Scale).

The Goldberg Depression Scale can be found online:

http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=973&cn=5

The Mania Scale here:

http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=975&cn=4

Each one has a set of questions with answers that add a certain number of points to your score. Just read the question and go with your gut answer if you can – try not to think about it too much.

I took those tests every week or two for a while after I was diagnosed to monitor what my mood was, and wrote down my emotions, thoughts, and feelings were. Over time, looking back on all those entries, I could start to connect the dots and create a list of my symptoms of my moods. I could also figure out what external things might cause shifts. I learned my chemistry shifts cannot be controlled, and they happen sometimes and trigger a mood swing.

I do say, though, the medications made this process extremely hard, as it made my thinking very sluggish, dark, cloudy, and sticky!

My biggest trigger for mania is irresponsible sleep cycles. Even if I get enough sleep, if I don’t do it on a consistent time, it can really mess me up badly. I always have to work towards good sleep.

All this being said, bipolar is an irreducibly complex problem that takes a long time to manage. Meds, relationships around you, living situations, job, school, eating well, exercise, friendships made and lost, or trying to start something new, finding a good doctor, a good therapist, knowing who I am and what my bipolar is, and even more impossible: learning how me and my bipolar interact, learning to separate them and make bipolar be a small piece of who I am…. IT’S BEEN A CONFUSING JOURNEY!

But I’m in the light for the most part.

If you’re bipolar, or especially just diagnosed recently, my heart goes out to you.

I always welcome comments and suggestions, especially requests, so please drop me a line any time.