Sometimes, I feel stuck in my problems. It is as though I have been tasked to eat a whole elephant. How does one eat a whole elephant?
I go to my journal or talk to trustworthy people about the elephant. I talk about specific problems I am facing, and get them written down. If I cannot write/talk about my issues, or put a finger on any of them, drawing an abstract picture in color about my feelings can help bridge that gap.
When I am stuck or paralyzed, I find there are many things floating around in my mind-heart that are causing issues. I write each one down and end up with a list of smaller pieces to work on.
After dividing the elephant, I conquer it in small portions at a time. I develop habits that lead to the life I want to live. Otherwise, the elephant will remain whole – and I shall stay stuck in my problems indefinitely.
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.
One major coping addiction I have had while recovering from bipolar was video gaming. Though I have played many games, the biggest culprit of them all was World of Warcraft, where I accumulated well over a year’s worth of playing time alone (yes, logged in and playing the game time, or /played). My video game addiction lasted for years, and I brought out two things from that: 1. I met a few fantastic people online as friends, 2. It kept me out of more serious trouble.
However, the aftermath is hard to deal with. I’ve always liked video games since I was a kid, and the more I played them, the more I wanted to play them as well. Feed 60-80 hours a week of game time for years and that desire to play grew uncontrollable. However, I do not wish to talk about breaking the addiction. I want to talk about where I’m at now.
On occasion, such as these past few days, I get bit by the video game bug. I came home from a wonderful trip out of state to visit my sister and was a little depressed about life after reality sunk in. I found myself playing a lot of video games and started to panic, as I didn’t want to end up back at square one. I decided today I needed to journal about all of this, first of all, and meditate second. Both seem to help and we’ll see how I maintain these next few weeks in avoiding too many video games.
Long sessions alone playing video games only has one benefit: Fun/escaping. However, when I play for a long time, the game can become mind-numbing and lose its appeal… yet I still keep on playing. However, the longer I play them the more nothing is accomplished. Nothing to put down on a resume, to share with other friends outside the game, and they cause many serious problems if left unchecked.
I need to remind myself some things about what happens when I let the video games spiral out of control:
-Breakdown in fitness and activity, poor health
-Stuck in the house a lot
-Lose friendships, shallow and strained relationships
-Lack of pursuing interests and writing
-I start to live in my own little world
-Disrupted routine, sleeping, and eating patterns
-My inability to move on in life
And, what do I want in life that video games could easily kill?
-Financial independence from my parents
-Continue pursuing my writing ambitions
-A steady routine
-The ability to travel and go places, to do and experience more
-Have good friends and relationships
-Enjoy everything that comes with health and fitness
-Self-discovery, personal development
I realize this is not true for some or perhaps most people who indulge in video games. It is a reality for me, however, and I must be careful. I have more self-restraint in this area than I give myself credit for. I just need to be wary and keep it under check.