One Mind’s Map
As I’ve learned to hold awareness through the mood swings of my illness, I’ve discovered different layers or states within the broad categories of mania and depression. I’ve tried to map those states as they seem to hold different kinds of energy and different potential.
This is difficult, because once I’m out of a certain state I forget what I’ve learned there. Also, the powerful emotional component changes and buffets me, so that I’m never sure if I’m being aware or delusional.
All I can do is try.
This will be a work in progress with updates as I’m able to record my observations.
Is this important information? I have no idea. Will it help me manage my illness any better? Also, no clue. Perhaps the process is the destination.
∞ ∞ ∞
I have also been diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The symptoms blur, and I started getting help pulling them apart in 2016.
The level of effort required to peel the Self or Consciousness off the thought/desire is different with each state.
Emotional Pain triggers early survival patterns—compulsive eating, compulsive spending, hyper-sexuality as comfort (depression) or energetic outlet (mania), oblivion obtained through excessive TV or reading.
Many episodes are Mixed States with the symptoms of Depression mixed with agitation, anger, and hyper-sensitivity.
Sleep often acts as a border between states and can trigger a shift up or down.
An energetic shock is often needed to break the thought loops and to create space for awareness. Examples: An emergency that requires immediate logical problem solving. Sudden use of left brain skills.
Lower Level: In artistic work, ideas appear fully formed, the next step in a project is revealed like an onion. One idea leads to the next, the next, the next. Thinking starts to become scattered.
Mid Level: Too much energy, can’t stay focused, jump from idea to idea, project to project without finishing. Obsessive. All-or-Nothing thinking. Sexual fantasizing.
Higher Level: Mind latches onto a thought/plan and executes without considering hazards, repercussions, consequences to the exclusion of everything else. Mind attaches to events, creates “meaning,” and speeds up. Obsessive sexual fantasizing.
Lower Level: General well-being, cheerful, feelings of abundance and gratitude, friendly and supportive.
Mid Level: Giddy or anxious. Feelings of being out of control or spinning.
Higher Level: Instant gratification, sexually charged. Ecstatic. Agitated. Explosive anger.
Lower Level: Wake up early with plans, ideas. Body feels strong. Energy to do chores, finish a project, start a new project.
Mid Level: Insomnia, but not tired. Overactive bowels, acne break-outs.
Higher Level: Obsessive activity can lead to physical strain. “Too busy” for hygiene. Nervous, acidic stomach. Loss of appetite and little interest in food.
Lower Level: Sneaky, “white lies,” skirting responsibility. Can create a gap between desire and want, can delay gratification with a minimum of effort. Witty language, quick wit, glib, loud. A tendency to “share” too much, explain my “process” in great detail.
Mid Level: Grandiosity. Delaying gratification becomes difficult. Life of the party. Compulsive behaviors rise—eating, spending, sex.
Higher Level: So caught up in exciting or compelling ideas that awareness of physical self and surroundings disappears. Results in driving too fast, running into furniture, etc. Bolts from stress or pain. No gap between desire and want. Purging or massive give-aways of belongings. Fixates on linear, mathematical tasks like lists, graphs, charts. Risky sexual activity.
Energy is expansive, hot, frenetic.
Lower Level: Exercise, daily routine, thought monitoring and reframing, journaling, healthy distractions (writing, art, reading, moderate TV), call friends. Stay on task and finish projects.
Mid Level: Able to use all the above, but with much more difficulty. Lapses in routine develop. Delusion clouds judgment about healthy distraction.
Higher Level: Distraction, report to Buddy to monitor safety and finances, call therapist. Need a written list as tools are forgotten or substituted with delusional activities. Attempt healthy distraction—making collage templates, create a geneology for a story, cleaning (as long as nothing gets thrown out), additional exercise, listen to calming music, gardening or yard work, make art, sewing/embroidery/quilting.
Calm and Steady Mind or “Normal”
No compulsion or obsession. Solutions materialize effortlessly. Thinking is quiet and simple. Thoughts are full, round, with beginnings and endings. Dreaming comes from expansive energy, not a sense of lack or wanting. Practical problem-solving.
Identified by what’s NOT there. No worry. No doubt or fear. No push/pull. Moments of quiet joy. Feelings of gratitude. Irritations, fears and worries rise and fall without attachment or disengaging from them is relatively easy. Greater ability to not take things personally.
No hypersensitivity to sound, smells or visual stimulus. Fewer body aches and pain. Energy to start and complete tasks and projects. Energy for physical activity.
Social ease, humor and wit. Able to listen to others and hear them.
Symptoms or fragments of symptoms that seem to linger outside a recognizable episode of either Mania or Depression. Is this a separate state of the illness? Are these symptoms part of a new “norm” for a bipolar brain?
Sleep Disturbances: Falling asleep late in the afternoon or early in the evening and sleeping 5-7 hours. Waking up refreshed in the middle of the night. Sleeping through the night after a nap during the day.
Body Pain: Stiffness and pain in joints and muscles, especially neck, hip and fingers.
Sundown Anxiety: Anxiety starts in the late afternoon and evening. Mild forms are eased by distraction. More intense anxiety can be eased by spending the evening with others.
Low Barometric Pressure: Fatigue, sluggish thinking, poor concentration; joint pain, muscle aches, headache.
Higher Level: Denial of symptoms. Resistance. Formation of desire/wanting is the trigger for awareness. Escape through fantasy. Can recognize negative thoughts as the illness, challenge them and replace with more accurate thoughts. Thinking is sluggish bumbling, hard to focus, forgetful, easily confused, can easily misunderstand what’s said.
Mid Level: All-or-Nothing Thinking. Wanting arises in the form of loneliness and a poverty mindset. Increased escape through fantasy, scenarios of savior-type relationships. Can see negative thoughts as the illness, but cannot shift them. Can see the grasping at the false thoughts. “This will pass.” On the way down = have some time to get ready. On the way up = relief, hope. Able to relax, accept and wait.
Lower Level: Desire obscures awareness. Identification with thoughts. Thoughts are Truth. “What’s the use?” Stupor, unable to focus, unable to concentrate, misinterpret others’ motivations, communications. Perceptions become twisted and clogged. Thoughts of death or wanting to die.
Higher Level: Uneasiness, prickly irritation, twitchy. Worry, doubt, drop in self-confidence. Anger, resentment. Wake up irritated and get more so throughout the day. Eating compulsion present, but can be set aside with effort.
Mid Level: Can float on the water between waves of despair and hopelessness. Gentle sadness, melancholy that carries a sweetness. A spot of humor or joy can break through the negative emotions through distraction. Gaps in the negative emotions provide space for awareness and keeps them from being overwhelming. Gaps provide relief, but can also be painful when the despair folds back over the hole as a feeling that something important is “lost.”
Lower Level: Sense of drowning, frantic flailing, desperation. Powerlessness. Longing for a Savior. Despair and hopelessness thicken, stick and hang off the mind = impermeable. Worthlessness. Living is pointless.
Higher Level: Hypersensitivity to noise, odors, visual stimulation. Photo sensitivity. Crowds, loud parties, loud music, perfume, cooking odors, chemical odors can trigger anxiety or deeper depression. Fatigue. Increased joint pain.
Mid Level: Can fall asleep sitting up. Specific hollow ache in the stomach. Heavy arms and legs. Can still come back to the sensations of the body.
Lower Level: Flat affect. Colors lose brightness, monochrome. Separate from sensation—can’t feel the sun, can’t take it in. Weeping. Exhausted and want to sleep all the time. Constant neck and hip pain. Joints stiff and painful. Can’t feel stomach unless painfully full.
Higher Level: Drop in motivation. Routine becomes difficult. Ability to receive comfort. Sneaky and sly. Able to use tools.
Mid Level: Shun friends, screen phone calls and don’t pick up. Will bolt from stress or pain. Still able to use tools.
Lower Level: Inertia, very difficult to act or get out of the house. Unable to engage with others. Scared to be alone. Able to use only the most fundamental tools.
Higher Level: Constriction. Resistance.
Mid Level: Sense of the compression from the lower level loosening and smoothing. Can only feel this when coming up from a lower level. The depression feels more like a dead weight than an all-encompassing sensation.
Lower Level: Sense of compression, being squeezed, clothes feel too tight. Contraction.
Higher Level: Exercise, daily routine, thought monitoring and reframing, journaling, healthy distractions (writing, art, reading, moderate TV), call friends.
Mid Level: Able to use all the above, but with much more difficulty. Lapses in routine develop. Can focus on the activity of distraction. Can use self-talk to motivate and push for healthy action.
Lower Level: Distraction in 15 minute intervals used for oblivion. Able to use only the most fundamental tools. Awareness reduced to identifying the distorted thoughts and emotions as illness, not personality. Identification with emotional state clouds judgment and fosters delusion. Need a written list as tools are forgotten. Attempt healthy distraction—chores, errands, rest, report to Buddy, go to a Safe House, acknowledge thoughts of death and report to Buddy, talk to therapist.
Rapid Cycling/Mixed States
Light-Speed Rapid Cycling. The fastest I’ve cycled is three full swings of mania and depression in one day.
Shot-Gun Blast. A form of rapid cycling with sudden onset of an intense mixed state that lasts for several hours, then either snaps into straight depression or mania, or drains into a fairly stable state. Can leave a “hangover” of fatigue, body pain and slow, muddled thinking that can last for days.