(Thanks for the comment, makes me feel like a propper blogger). There was this ant on my kitchen worktop stealing a huge fishbone, it was epic that the little chap got so far with it. I will never know what happened to the dissapearing fishbone. One of life's delights if you are an ant colony I suppose.
I made a video of him/her trying to steal it away, it's amazing how much they can manouver something many times their size when they want to. It amused and amazed me anyway. I guess anything is possible if we take an ant view of life. Check out the video under 'ants'.
It is that time of year again as the ants have just started waking up again. No I don't actually leave food out for them on purpose, only that time with the fish bone. I must have been a bit manic!
Its time I got myself more motivated to find something worthwhile to be doing. I need a lot more excercise, and the dog needs a lot more walking. I could do with something that presents some kind of challenge I suppose. If I am truthful, I have been borderline depressed for about four months. By this I don't mean unhappy.
Being Bi-polar is always going to be that undulation between depression and mania. It is the definition given to someone who has a dopamine excess/insufficiency problem. The medication used to treat Bi-Polar disorder evens out this problem by inhibiting how much dopamine gets absorbed naturally.
Depression is; lackluster, tired, heavy sleeping, overweight, anxious, lacking confidence, morose.
To a greater or lesser degree all of the above, and if there were a real cause to experience any or all of these symptoms in varying degrees it would be easy to find a solution that flips the switches the other way. No going for long walks with the dog/Husband does not make me 'feel' better, it just makes me realise how little energy and enthusiasm I have during this 'down time'. I tend to be quiet and introverted.
However Mania is all the opposite; Sparkling, energetic, (Slimmer!) alert, early rising, confident, optimistic, and hyper-active. Its like all the ideas and knowledge you have are at your fingertips, in a flamboyant creative flair. Well that's how you feel. This is the 'up-time'. Obviously louder, and seemingly more outgoing.
The whole point of treating Bi Polar effectively is to reduce the extremes of both these swings, because for every 'up' there is a 'down', and it is a roller coaster ride that you never get off. If there is one thing that taking medication and good modern psychiatric direction helps with it's taking out that 'death drop' experience between the extreme highs and lows. The aim is to get into an area where with a good bit of personal discipline, doesn't trigger off an extreme in either direction.
I stress aim, rather than goal as this is an ongoing process rather than somewhere you arrive at. It's an every day process. I don't see it as a 'success' or 'failure' sort of process either. More like habitual awareness, with an occassional lapse because I am human!
For instance because I could, I decided that because I have felt low energy over the last few months, and that getting up is my worst time, I might just let myself sleep in until I woke up. This is not actualy a 'good' strategy.
This Morning, I decided it wasn't a good strategy after all. Now I am going to make sure that by next winter and the inevitable onset of the down time, I will have some kind of excercise strategy in place where I have to get up, go excercise, and hopefully not gain a stone in weight that I wish I hadn't.
I am not blaming myself, nor anyone else. This is just something I will have to do to change next winter's onset. Hopefully with some kind of excercise going on it may minimise the whole effect anyway. This is personal choice. This is not allowing the effects of having Bi-Polar get out of hand. Like they say, change what you do, and you get a different outcome.
I suppose I am thinking about this because of going to a workshop a few weeks ago about what recovery from mental illness looks like. I think it has been in the back of my mind. How does one describe 'wellness', 'recovery', and all the other words used to describe someone who has to a greater or lesser degree found a way of coping with mental illness in all or any of it's forms.
I am described by some friends as charismatic and fun, and others perhaps know me as introverted and difficult to be with. Friends are precious if like me you have mental illness. Friends are people that simply accept there are these polarities in my behaviour and embrace the changes. My Husband being so incredibly laid back He hardly notices! He is always outgoing, and makes friends easily for both of us.
I am sure the concept of 'recovery'/'rehabilitation'/'wellness' from a psychiatric perspective if my cynical side were to comment would be something like.. 'How can we get more people functioning in society and less of a burden on the psychiatric service', which is a bit mean spirited of me but I needed to say it!
I do however feel there is something worthwhile and deeply relevent in this workshop I went to. The main response from those of us invited as clients of the psychiatric service, was the degree of acceptance society is able to come to in acnowleging there are many people having a bad time coping with the world.
For people like me, who have a continuing struggle with the ups and downs, and trying to stay within acceptable limits of depression and mania by using all the help, drugs and self care possible, to those who don't get the help they desperately need, and aren't at a point of being able to take a degree of 'ownership of the symptoms', to those who simply aren't going to be able to do anything for themselves and need a high degree of psychiatric maintainance.
I wonder if perhaps the key is in acnowledgement of who we are. The person we are. The possibilities we can unlock. The potential for self awareness and self help we can utilise according to each person's journey through life. This means describing ourselves by our own criteria, not by someone else's expectation. For instance I know I don't want to work in a job. I ran my own business! I do however want to find something usefull to do now that I am getting over the 'down time'.
People with mental illness have a difficult journey. It is difficult to get a job and hold it down, relationships are difficult to have, it is very easy for all vestige of self respect to go out of the window and never return. These are the things most people regard as tags of success. With most forms of mental illness there is a loss of all these things and more, and the perception is that in order to be 'well' they need to be recovered.
I suppose for me they have been re-evaluated. I think I got to the point where I realised these things work in a shallow sense until a real crisis. Perhaps... (only perhaps) wellness is finding some kind of core stability in knowing what is truly important for oneself, and a defining sense of self that isn't dependent on 'fitting' a kind of stereotypical mold of social sucess.
How would I explain that... I suppose it's the difference between being liked and being accepted! This works for myself and for people who know me I suppose. Do I like myself? I don't like the old me of my youth. I like the person I am now... most of the time.
Do other people like me? The important thing is they don't have to, and I don't have to go out of my way to make them like me.. or dislike me. I respect their choice and enjoy the company of most people, although for differing amounts of time! If someone gets on my nerves I leave them to it sooner rather than later. I respect myself not to get exhausted by other people who are very noisy or quarrelsome for no apparant reason.
I enjoy being with people who enjoy their life and don't find fault with everything. I also don't find it difficult to be with people who have mental illness as I find I feel a sense of empathy and can listen.
I am just turning these ideas over a bit. There is no easy answer. No 'special new word' to use as an umbrella label for defining what this idea of 'wellness' is, except perhaps for an equilibrium within which one can choose elements of direction of one's own life, over the presentation of symptoms of one's own illness.
Does that mean being at peace with who you are? Knowing that within this sometimes broken image the flaws can become attractive. That it is a healing that comes from within that fills those cracked places and repairs and smooths the scars of our inner lives. The lives we might strive to present as perfect on the outside, but crumbled and broken away from within.
Perhaps wellness is the process of taking the crumbled dust of our lifes and learning how to cement ourselves into someone we enjoy keeping company with.