Saturday, 29 December 2007

Bipolar New Year's Resolution

We Bipolar Polar Bears cannot drink alcohol at Christmas but we can drink Coca-Cola. Some of you may prefer Pepsi, Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper yet why not make it even better by partying with the penguins. Most of us are depressed two thirds of the time. However there are many people around us. If you don't have friends then why not your family. New Year is the perfect time to celebrate our odd characteristics and the many years we have possessed them. Yes we maybe depressed but it is now time to look forward. From now on we should be looking to mingle together with the penguins rather than watching them from afar. The first step begins on New Year's eve and with our non-alcoholic beverages in our hands, we should make a New Year's Resolution that we should all do the best we can to get better. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Polar Bears.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Bipolar polar Bear

Bipolar people sometimes party and other times they may just be plain depressed. It is quite daunting for us bipolar people when we arrive back home or end up in a friend's house after a night of hardcore partying. Not only have we spent incredible amounts of money but we have been in places and done things that we may regret later on. The manic frenzy is an incredible one and we all enjoy it at these times. However medication is designed to control such desires.

Bipolar people like to party hard and it is difficult to become just normal like average Joe. Indeed we can't party every night but when we do, I believe it is important that we allow some more time to recover. After a night out we won't necessarily be depressed but we must be prepared. It is important that we enjoy life as a whole rather than just the manic moments. As long as we can feel emotions we will be alright. I think it takes a major crisis to hit major depression. So those people just need to work on their past issues and look forward. Be hopeful, you will be okay.

The bipolar bear below is a representation of the generalized version of us young bipolar people. He is partying then gradually gets depressed. Towards the end it's quite touching.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Two weeks in Ankara

Tommorow I will be going to my home town Ankara. This place is like the Boondocks for me but that's where I came from. Although this is the second largest city in Turkey there is not much to do but visit my friends. I will post funny videos, songs or other miscellaneous items concerning bipolarity.

Ankara is home to the parliament and the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk yet this town has many more deep memories for me. I am going there in an attempt to find clarity to my life, learn about other people and to meet old friends. The Christmas season has arrived, however blogging does not stop.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Smoking and Depression

It is evident that among many people with depressive disorders there is a tendency to smoke cigarettes when we are stressed out. Some of us have been able to put a stop to this addictive habit and decided to eat more instead. Some have the unique ability to control their diet and live healthily by exercising. As we get older there is a tendency to want to live a happy life, free of lung and heart failures. In Europe and North America smoking is now being reinforced as something that we should frown on because everybody should enjoy life. Yet when people are suffering from a depressive episode it is hard to be optimistic.

When we are depressed most of us fall victim to the addictive attributes of nicotine because we adopt some sort of a death wish. We don't care what happens to our body and we enjoy damaging ourselves. Although we may moan to others that we can control this dirty habit, in reality we enjoy smoking. Yet smoking is not something we can hide as its smell reeks on our clothes, the environment and on our breath. Being depressed is something we can usually hide but if somebody asks us why we smoke, we usually reply because we want to. As such smokers can only tolerate each other but in many cases non-smokers cannot tolerate smokers. We all try to quit smoking at some point in our lives and sometimes we are successful, but most times we are unable to quit because we are either overwhelmed by stress or depression. As such we smokers have decided that it is not worth living to the full extent.

It is well known by all bipolar people that there is a dark desire within us to commit suicide and end all of our problems. Yet this is mostly caused when bipolar people do not take their medication. "In the 1940s, before the advent of modern medicine, more than 40% of people with Bipolar eventually committed suicide." Yet smoking seems to be a way of killing ourselves slowly and insidiously. Most of the time we may be unaware of what we are doing to ourselves but maybe this is how we carry out our death wish. Of course there are other reasons unrelated to such a 'cunning' plan.

Other reasons may also include the plain fact that we are restricted in ways of intaking harmful substances. For example medications prohibit the intake of alcohol. We maybe placed in situations such as Christmas where everyone around us is drinking alcohol and we must rely on our resolute self-will. Some may quit smoking and then fall victim to a nicotine craving. The reasons are plentiful but most people smoke a cigarette either to gain pleasure or because of a dark unknown secret.

Smoking is most certainly harmful and not something that should be encouraged but it seems to give some of us the feeling that we are powerful. We can huddle together in smoking rooms and see other people who partake in this very same habit. In a sense we are like outlaws because of the stigma against smoking cigarettes. In Turkey the laws are much more lax than in Europe or the U.S. The better brands are the American ones (Marlboro, Camel, Parliament) and they were mostly encouraged through Americanisation during the 90's. We cannot blame the U.S for encouraging their brands but nevertheless more people are discouraged from smoking through tougher legislation. Think twice before smoking and remember that we reap what we sow.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Subservient anger in Bipolarity

When we are bipolar we find that we have to deal with a lot of anger. In the case of bipolar people anger can be related to anything at all. Some people express their anger by breaking objects around them or shouting at the people surrounding them. Others hit people when they are angry. Many bipolar people name these moments as the manic episodes of their illness. They have great difficulty controlling their anger and they need a therapist to cure them of this tendency. But I want to focus more on the bipolar person with suppressed anger.

The bipolar person with suppressed anger can control his/her emotions, hence he/she may feel angry but he/she will never engage in provocative or violent behaviour. When they are angry they will sleep for hours on end, they will mutter curse words at random occasions or they will act like they are oblivious to everything. There are many reasons for getting angry at something but for people who are bipolar, the main reason is the way people treat them. The world is a place full of injustice and misfortune for the bipolar mind. On top of all this nobody wants to listen to what bipolar people are saying. Sometimes however everybody listens to what the bipolar person is saying but there is never a balance when you are walking the tightrope of medication. We then get angry at our psychiatrists because we fall off the tightrope occasionally. Sometimes doctors prescribe us the wrong medication so evidently, we are angry at a lot of things. Yet suppressed anger never seems to get us anywhere and we, therefore, become subservient to other people.

Subservient people always agree to offers made to them and get into awkward situations. After we have experienced it we realise that we should not make the same mistake again and then life will be on track again. We have to avoid being subservient and let our anger rip in a more formative manner. Instead of shouting during disturbing situations, we can discuss assertively. From a pragmatic point of view, we must learn to reject malicious offers and think logically from experience. Yet it is at times the will to experience life that causes us to get ourselves into such situations. Instead of hitting and breaking, we can think before taking action. This way we can avoid situations where we are subservient to others and our anger can be released slowly. Even getting a punching bag is a good idea. Talking to someone calmer than us can also relieve our anger. Writing can also relieve anger.

It is evident therefore that people with suppressed anger have to fight against manipulation and people with serious anger management issues need to attend sessions with a therapist. Both types of people need full attention but a therapist is always essential. People subject to subservient anger can be in danger. Some people can be incredibly twisted and manipulative in this day and age and even though we may be angry at them, we can let them manipulate us without being aware of the big picture. I was subject to a lot of manipulation but have survived today thanks to the people that supported me. It is essential to create a network of people around you that do not have malicious intent. Below is a video of an Anger Management class with Jack Nicholson. Adam Sandler is the victim of suppressed anger whose therapist believes that singing is a good way to release anger.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Bipolar disorder and Swimming

Many of us affected by bipolar disorder also suffer from a high degree of anxiety. To deal with this anxiety people have found different ways to treat this emotion. Some people find peace by staying at home and only traveling through places that are considered safe. Other people find reading books, practicing yoga or partaking in household duties within their own homes. When we are depressed we must make use of our time by staying within a peaceful environment. All such activities prepare for the times when our patience and strength is reckoned with.

When we are severely depressed we may sometimes feel that activities that we once found enjoyable are now mundane. But this is fine because we can then just lie down and curse the world in peace. If we have a person to support us when we are awake, we can release this anger without hurting any of our emotions. If we do not have someone with us it may help to buy a punch-bag. It is good to find a therapist that is located in the safe part of the city. However some people may not have the financial opportunities to find a therapist in a considerably safe area so therefore I advise that you take somebody with you. Fast recovery can only be fast if you are with someone you trust and if you expose yourself to the outside world. When it all comes down to it, we are alone and we must not forget that we have to learn how to deal with spheres other than our own.

Learning to deal with the outside world is like learning how to swim in the deep end of the swimming pool. We first gather our strength in the shallow end, then move to the deep-end by holding onto the sides and then we start swimming. Why, we might even be able to dive to the bottom later on. What I am trying to imply is that in a swimming pool everything is controlled and safe-checked. We have our family or friends waiting on the sides making sure that we don't drown and we have complete trust in them. Once we decide to go to the beach and swim in the sea that is when we are most challenged.

Going to the beach for the bipolar person is like trying to handle their own business in the real world. As we begin to head towards the deep-end of the sea, the waves constantly push us back but we have to stand firm and take the impact without falling over. We feel cold but the sea forces us to walk slowly. Just like being in the sea, in life people try to push us back into depression but our family and friends will always be waiting on the beach watching us. Sometimes we have to step on stones but we have to move our feet off them as quickly as possible. Every sea is different of course but it all depends on how safe you want to be. At this stage we just let ourselves float in the water and swim a little without fear for our own life.

Coming back to traveling in safe areas and choosing a therapist in a safe location we must be aware of the currents and potential whirlpools. Life is like swimming in the sea and we have to choose the parts where we feel we can swim without fear. Bipolar people prefer to swim in shallow waters where the currents are smooth and safe. However some people handle these waters differently. Some like to surf in highly dangerous areas, others surf in moderately dangerous areas. Surfers are like the CEOs of the real world as they are constantly challenging and experimenting with the way of nature (life).

I have tried to explain a metaphor for the way bipolar people and many others can perceive life like swimming in the water. Not everyone can swim, but they can learn quite easily. Choose your waters wisely. Don't dive in the ocean before swimming in the pool.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Manic Depression, Identity and Robert Barone

One of the most difficult aspects for people affected by bipolar disorder is the issue of identity. No doubt there are also people who have not been diagnosed with an illness who also feel alienation within society. Such is the case with Robert Barone in 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' With people who are bipolar, progressive or sudden ups and downs mean that nobody knows where they stand. Most bipolar people are depressed two-thirds of the time which means that they can often be misdiagnosed as depressive. While bipolar people strive for the manic episodes, so that they can party, create or converse with others, other times they are labeled as outright depressed. As a result bipolar people are constantly forced to restrain themselves from talking about their condition.

Especially at times when we are discovering about the illness and all we think about is whether are we up or down, we have to step back and think about other interests that are completely different. It seems that we can only mention our disorder at times when we are not in a non-bipolar group. But being in a bipolar group would definitely be interesting. When we are together with people who we know are bipolar, we feel much more comfortable and we can identify with them. Our best of friends are usually those people who can listen to our drama one-on-one rather than those who speak within a group. Topics of discussion vary with each person but since childhood we are usually the outsiders.

We are all outsiders like Robert Barone's character in 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' We are outsiders because we cannot identify ourselves to a specific tradition. When viewed from the perspective of a sitcom, Robert Barone is funny. We laugh at how he is always second-best to Raymond and how he never gets what he wants. The minute he gets some attention he perks up and he is happy but other times he always feels neglected. In real life we would not laugh at Robert at all. I am not suggesting that Robert is bipolar but he certainly has issues with who his friends are and who to identify with. The video below shows the first time Robert has ever been to a club. He feels a bit alienated being in a club where he is the only white person but he then starts to feel he is part of the group. The next video shows how Robert starts speaking like a black person and how he asks Raymond why his cop partner (who is a black female) has invited him to a meal alone.

We can conclude then that even though we search for an identity, we are never able to find the right one. Robert finally realizes that he cannot be black but makes it clear that he will always be searching for an identity. It is tough to identify with a specific culture and it is difficult to let our emotions spill. We have to be hard on the outside despite being fragile on the inside. But we also have to pick and choose who we converse with. Being bipolar means we have two identities and we have to work with both of them. Full recovery would mean that we could handle both sides. As long as we attempt to manage our moods, we will not suffer difficulty in life.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

A Bipolar Christmas In Istanbul

The first of December has arrived and we only have twenty-three days left until Christmas Day. Everyone around the whole world will gather together with their family and celebrate this occasion. This festival is neither the triumph of Christianity, nor of the pagans who first created it. It is only a moment in time when we can all be together with our family or friends. In Turkey most people celebrate New Year's Eve as a festival as do most non-Christian countries. Christian countries begin to celebrate Christmas much earlier and based on the writings of the New Testament. I have never been truly religious myself but I first found renewed belief in the celebration of Christmas after my first psychosis.

After a major psychosis and a subsequent depressive episode I felt lonely, lost and abandoned but I found refuge with my family. My mother was brought up as a Roman-Catholic which meant that she always made sure that as a family we always celebrated Easter and the three days of Christmas. Ironically my father had died the day before Christmas Eve so although there was a memorial service, Father Christmas sent our presents to a back-room. We were oblivious of my real father's death at the time and everything just seemed normal at that age. Later on I realized that Santa Claus was a myth and I started to believe that Christmas time was just a season to promote commercialism.

Christmas time was fake, trickery and an excuse to drink gallons of alcohol. I did not mind drinking alcohol but as a result I always felt depressed on Boxing Day. I was upset about the gifts because they were bought with money we did not have and I was afraid that like everybody else we would end up in debt. On top of that I did not practice any particular religion. I have and I always will believe in God but I never saw the practicality in adopting a religion full-time.

Christmas time is a time when the family can see each other and talk about ongoing issues in their life. I feel that because people who are bipolar constantly go through some crisis in their life, a family should always be there to support them. Families want to see their younger generation grow and become self-sufficient. Of course some families are possessive and are always restraining the independence of their younger ones. Either way I believe that people affected by bipolar disorder need the support of their family and Christmas time is when we celebrate that support.

Overall I wait with great anticipation to open my presents and to be together with my family. I am full of Christmas spirit and I am now happy that I can show my family a new and improved Memo. I have tried to be good this year and I have stopped all my bad habits. Maybe Santa will bring you presents too for your effort to become healthier. Nevertheless we can all rejoice in this season with our family despite all the negative propaganda against it. This festival brings us happiness and warmth. Which makes it worth celebrating don't you think?