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Sunday, February 13, 2005

How Bipolars Think...Ok, How I think

Shrinkette found my last post (my open letter rant to my psychiatrist) a learning tool. That pleases me. I'm glad that someone can take my situation and benefit from it.

It brought to my mind how bipolars think. Then I realized it's foolish for me to assume all those with bipolar disorder think the same. I know that's not true because some of those I know with BP are predominantly predisposed to depression. Then there are the odd ducks like me who are rarely depressed and the pendulum seems to only go in a tight arc between stability, mixed states and mania.

But I also realized as I started to write this that sometimes what I describe as what I think is actually what I feel. Emotion and thought tied together as conjoined twins, inseparable. When things go well (not manic: stable), thought is crystalline, computation and decision making is rational and logical. It is hearing a radio tuned in to the right station, no static. The signal from my brain is clear, easily deciphered.

When it isn't, things happen as they did in the pdoc's office. I described it as white noise and at the time that is exactly what it was. Static. The radio station that is my brain was broadcasting but something was interferring with the reception. No clear signal. Nothing getting through but confusion, pandemonium. And without clear direction, oh so many things can go wrong. Trying to concentrate, trying to hear words, words in my own language, phrases that are meaningful, trying to pick them out from the static wears at me, like trying to swim through oatmeal. And my inability frustrates me, and then fear sets in the longer I try to swim against the confusion, fear of drowning in a sea of myself, unable to communicate to others that I'm even swimming at all.

And then, there are the days that the radio station is not broadcasting white noise, but instead is almost deathly quiet. My ears strain to hear something recognizable, and the body goes through its daily motions in the absence of other instruction. Then there, in that gap of silence. Did you hear it? A whisper. What did it say? I don't know. It is on these days that things are the most dangerous. It is on these days that I rely on the feeling engendered by that whisper rather than the true sense of what was said, and that feeling carries me away. Those are the days that I spend fighting with myself as I cross over that railway track on the way to work not to just deliberately stall it, to not drive into that bridge abutment, to not bring that knife out again. Those are the days that I look beside me in traffic and know he's talking on his cell phone to the man behind him about me. And the policeman on the corner? Yes, he's watching me and reporting on me. Thankfully, those days have been rare for the past six months or so.

Sometimes I actually think I'm lucky to be the way I am. I genuinely believe (sometimes) that I am more creative, I am POSITIVE that I am more spontaneous and can be incredibly funny. I try to remember this on those days that the reception from my little radio station isn't as clear as it should be. I try to not mourn too much the memory I've lost: I used to remember verbatim conversations, now have trouble remembering that I've spoken to someone at all. I try very hard to not be a victim in this - everyone has tragedy and difficulty in life and I could have been given a much more difficult burden in life.

At the end of it all, I know I have a good life. If nothing else, life with me is never boring. And I have to remember it that way. If I can just remember to remember.

Blogger moodymicello said...
I can relate to what you are writing about in your post. I know about the white noise. I experience the white noise when I am panicky and scared...when I think someone is trying to mess with me because I am bipolar. I am very sensitive about that. I have had that experience in the past when I didn't like what my mother was saying or when I had a doctor that I didn't trust and I thought he was giving me too much of the wrong medication and wouldn't discontinue it. In other words when I didn't have control of the situation. Usually when I am hypomanic my brain is crystal clear and my thoughts and memory are like a high speed computer. It is when I am on the decline from one of those states that I get into trouble. Then as you say, if challenged, it's white noise. If not challenged, it's very quiet. If I drop too far, its the voices and we are in trouble for sure. Sometimes whispers -- that is at first and usually at that point I have myself taken to the hospital because I know the signs all too well. Let's just say this bipolar person will affirm the thinking when in a drop from high mania is much as you describe. It's nice to know that we are more alike than different n'est ce pas?  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Baby, I think you pretty much got it. White noise...the Deathly Quiet...yeah, that's good. I like the "Swimming through Oatmeal" - I've described it as "Swimming through Jell-0" - but it's the same.

I also get Sensory Overload. One more noise or sensation is TOO MUCH! But that's when thoughts are hitting me too fast, like a playing card on bicycle spokes.

Excellent descriptions...thank you.


Blogger xxan said...
Blonzila, what struck me most in what you wrote is the paranoia you described, being convinced that the man next to you in the car is telephoning with the man behind him "complotting" (that's how I felt it) against YOU; the policeman reporting about you: I can give 100 exemples of this extreme paranoia feelings I went through.

And, as you, I'm glad all this is past time. Coz then the only place I could be/survive was in hospital.

Another thing is poor memory: first time I heard it say somebody BP. Really. I have a university degree, so I HAD to remember things, that is obvious. But now, I barely remember what I did yesterday. Actually, at this point, this is my BIGGEST problem. How could we regain our memory?? Anybody knows?  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I thought of some possible questions for your psychiatrist. (You've probably already thought of them, too.) Are you following an algorithm for treating my illness? If so, at what point am I at, in the algorithm? Is there necessarily a relationship between the liver problem and the spleen problem? Is is possible to taper the depakote more slowly? Is there something else that can help stabilize my mood while I'm reducing the depakote? What is the reason you haven't used much lamictal? If my liver has trouble with depakote, could it also have trouble with lamictal? Isn't there a significant drug interaction between lamictal and depakote, also? Isn't amnesia also sometimes a side effect of lamictal? And what about lithium? If I get hypothyroid on lithium, can't you just prescribe a thyroid supplement? If we make some changes now, and use a different mood stabilizer, what are the chances that I will be stable in two weeks? What are your thoughts about consulting a different psychiatrist?

(Of course, you could ask lots of questions about communication between the two of you, also...)  

Blogger Dreaming again said...
with the exception of the paranoia ... I identified with just about all of that. Ok, with all of it but the paranoia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
Oh My, Blondzilla, I do insist you get out of my head, for everything you wrote is me. I love the radio analogy, it is perfect. Thank you for explaining it exactly as I have struggled to express it. Perfect. Unfortunately.

I will be thinking of you in the next few weeks during your liver tests. Please update us when you can.  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

Blogger Meitar said...
Wow, this rings so true to me. In fact, when I went to the NYC Bipolar Disorder Meetup tonight I gave a very similar description of feeling like I was getting static off a radio when trying to think.  

Blogger eeyore-na said...
Oh what a good post!! Yes, the white noise. I call it "The Static". I think that sometimes being a human radio has its ups and downs...  

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