When an earthquake occurs in the ocean, the ripple effect causes tsunamis whose effects are felt on shores thousands of miles away. The intrigue about tsunamis is that they can never be predicted and even when they are anticipated the damage caused is always unprecedented. Bipolar relapses are often like the tsunamis, even with all the well documented warning signs available to patients and caregivers sometimes we end up being caught off-guard. The ripple effects of a relapse are usually depression, mania (or hypomania) and at worst mandatory hospitalization. Our brains are the epicenters of the earthquakes, rarely are we aware of the small changes in our thinking, environment, medication, relationships and therapy creating small ripples that eventually build up into a tsunami. My bipolar relapse ended up with hospitalization for three days of which I would never have predicted would happen. I knew for sure I would never end up in hospital because I was aggressive with therapy and treatment. When the moment arrived when I was in a hospital bed with my thoughts racing and vivid images of death rushing in and out of my mind, I knew it was the moment I would have to reinvent the wheel of my bipolar treatment.
The most important moral of life is that we must wake up each day dedicating each second towards the goal of trying to become better people. Once I had settled onto the correct type of medication and therapy I became lax in self-improvement. In a way I actually considered my bipolar condition to be outsourced to my psychiatrist and life counselor. I stopped improving my diet, I was no longer seeking a spiritual center of gravity and I was just playing along with whatever life gave me; work during the week and laze about on weekends. To say the truth it was quite enjoyable, but I knew my complex brain would finally jolt me back to my senses. Eventually I developed migraines, horrifying nightmares and all of a sudden my psychiatrist was aggressively treating me with anti-psychotics. I was no longer in control thus hospitalization was necessary in order to get back to my stability. The lesson I learnt from this laxity on my part is not to eagerly anticipate everything to fall into place just because I felt better at a particular moment. There is something amazing about getting peace of mind, but we must step away from routine to find it. Do not fall into a mundane lifestyle that requires no effort at all on your part.
A word that has recently rooted itself in psychology and spirituality is mindfulness. My basic understanding of mindfulness is simply being responsive of everything else in our immediate environment instead of being limited to only ourselves. It is always easy to say an 8 to 5 job is too demanding and structured, but there is really no excuse as to why I should not make it a routine to practice kindness, love or gratitude. These days I even write down a list of all people I should call within the week just to keep tabs as they have all done with me in the past. I recently got a potted plant that unfortunately died, not because it was at the end of its life; but because I did not water it or understand the basic conditions for keeping it healthy. This did not occur to me as failure but more or less a learning experience in being mindful of my environment. There is still a lot of work to do in my recovery, but at least today I can say I am much stable and eager to keep learning.
Read the rest of Denis’s posts here.