An October Conversation with Bipolar Disorder…

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Bipolar Disorder: Trick Or Treat!

Iris: Halloween isn’t until the end of the month. You’re a few weeks early.

Bipolar Disorder: But I want candy!

Iris: It’s not time for handing out candy yet. And, you’re a mood disorder; not a costumed child.

Bipolar Disorder: GIVE me some candy!

Iris: I don’t think we’re really understanding each other very well.

Bipolar Disorder: You think I’m misunderstanding you?

Iris: It does appear that way. Since you keep asking for candy.

Bipolar Disorder: Yeah, well I’m bored!

Iris: And you want this to be my problem, why?

Bipolar Disorder: I’m bored with all the self-care you do. I’m bored with your stability. Mood stability is BORING!!

Iris: I rather like my mood being stable.

Bipolar Disorder: Yeah, and you’re boring. I want to liven things up a little this month!

Iris: Yes, I know you have been trying to do that, haven’t you?

Bipolar Disorder: Wasn’t it fun the other week? Getting only a little bit of sleep that one night, and then waking up with that new short story ready to write?

Iris: Well, yes. That was fairly pleasant.

Bipolar Disorder: And you did a great job catching the whole thing before it faded from your dream.

Iris: Er, thanks.

Bipolar Disorder: You don’t seem very convinced you should be thanking me.

Iris: I don’t believe you have my best interest at heart. No offense.

Bipolar Disorder: Sure I do! Expansive thoughts! Flights of ideas! I can give you all that! If you just give me some more candy!

Iris: More candy? I don’t eat candy.

Bipolar Disorder: That coconut drink you had yesterday was just the stuff. I want more of that!

Iris: I didn’t sleep well last night after drinking that sugary thing.

Bipolar Disorder: Yeah, isn’t it great?!

Iris: No. I would like to return to my usual good sleep hygiene, thank you very much.

Bipolar Disorder: You’re not very cooperative.

Iris: I don’t see that it would benefit me much to be very cooperative with you.

Bipolar Disorder: But what about that short story? Don’t I deserve some thanks for that?

Iris: You can’t take all the credit for my short story.

Bipolar Disorder: But, you don’t dream like that when you’re properly medicated. You said that yourself.

Iris: That’s right. I don’t.

Bipolar Disorder: Don’t you feel more creative and more productive when you’re a little bit Hypomanic? Or even a little bit depressed? I’m great at giving you ideas for gloomy poetry, aren’t I?

Iris: I do feel more creative and productive at those times, yes. But, what you’re offering isn’t all good. You know that.

Bipolar Disorder: Well, yeah. Of course it’s not. Why else would they  call it *trick* or treat? I gave you a treat. I gave you that short story. Now it’s time for my trick.

Iris: I’m not interested in your trick.

Bipolar Disorder: Ugh! Do you know how boring it is? Being in your brain when you take such good care of yourself that I hardly ever get to have any fun?

Iris: That sounds like your problem, not mine. I’m much happier when I’m not having to manage your symptoms very often.

Bipolar Disorder: I want candy! I want candy this month! This month is Halloween!

Iris: You’re behaving like a spoiled toddler. Your temper tantrum isn’t going to change my mind.

Bipolar Disorder: This is the month for candy! If I don’t get some candy, some fun, in your brain this month I’ll… Well, I’ll…. I’ll pout! That’s what I’ll do.

Iris: See? What did I say? Just like a spoiled toddler.

Bipolar Disorder: So, you’re going to deny me any more sugar? And you’re going to deny me more nights of broken sleep too?

Iris: Yes. You get to come along with me this month. I don’t have any choice in that. But you are not in charge of me. I am the one making decisions here. Not you. Understood?

Bipolar Disorder: Fine. Have it your way. Be boring!

Iris: Good. But, I’m not bored, by the way.

Bipolar Disorder: What do you mean?

Iris: I’ve been transcribing out conversation.  Every word. I’m saving it, and I’m sure it will become very useful for me as a reminder.

Bipolar Disorder: What reminder? For what?

Iris: For when you try this again next month. Though I’m sure you’ll be demanding Thanksgiving candy next time. Thanks for your input!

Bipolar Disorder: What?! No way! You tricked ME!

Iris: Happy Halloween!

 

Fighting Depression with Magnetic Poetry

I have known for some time that I could be soon heading into a state of depression. These past couple of weeks I have not been as vigilant as I usual am about doing my daily exercise workouts, and I have allowed myself to slack off in some other self-care areas as well. Most of this afternoon was fairly painful, both from two sets of unpleasant physical illness symptoms, along with telltale symptoms of depression.

I mindfully experienced those various types of discomfort for a few hours. This was helpful to me in that I validated my experience for myself. However, I know better than to think I have not choice but to endlessly wallow in discomfort when it happens to arise, for physical or emotional reasons. Since I have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, any particularly severe emotional distress stemming from that disorder is also really a physical health concern. I took a moment at one point today to remind myself of this since it is a medical fact that Bipolar Disorder is an illness which comes about from having chemistry not quite properly working in the brain. So, emotional distress caused by Bipolar Disorder is also a physical health issue.

While I was mindfully feeling these various symptoms, I received a friendly text message from a friend of mine who was thinking of me. I knew I had a choice to make when I received her message. I could ignore the message and continue wallowing. Or, I could read and respond. I took the chance, and I was completely honest in replying to my friend.

The resulting lovely and empathetic conversation we shared briefly via text messages ended up serving as another helpful reminder for me. This second reminder was that a state of melancholy mood has, on more than a few occasions previously, inspired me to compose poetry. So, I thanked my friend for reaching out to me, and I told her I was going to do my best to drag myself, if need be, to my magnetic poetry activity bin and fight these depression symptoms with poetry.

Here is the poem I created using words from two different magnetic poetry kits. My day could have been a day primarily composed of wallowing in pain and unpleasantness. I now feel quite proud of myself for choosing another ending for the story of this day.

My Musical Month of Bipolar Depression

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Staying one step ahead of the symptoms that come with the depression side of Bipolar Disorder isn’t an easy task to achieve. It can be exhausting. It can be draining. And it can seriously rearrange what I want to do with my days.

I’ve been battling a Bipolar depression episode most of this month. I have lots of tools at my disposal to help me in this battle. I don’t always have the best time at accessing the wherewithal to *use* all those those tools I have at my disposal, but this month I think the tool that I’ve been most successful at battling depression symptoms with has been music.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to music. And I’ve always loved to sing. When I was fourteen years old I began formal study of singing.  I studied singing for two decades. I never wanted to be a professional. I always attended voice lessons because I enjoyed them.

I didn’t know at fourteen that I would develop Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder in my twenties. Since the onset of those two conditions I have found that those voice lessons that I took for those twenty years were extraordinarily helpful in managing my moods. I find it just about impossible to feel emotionally lousy when I am engrossed in singing beautiful music.

All those years I was studying singing I also really wanted to learn piano, but my family could never afford to buy a piano. My parents felt that if you were going to learn piano then it was important to have regular access to a piano to practice on. I agreed with them, so I didn’t get piano lessons. Even so, I’ve always loved the idea of learning piano.

This month while I have been feeling pretty low on a regular basis I’ve been puling myself back out of those lows from the depression side of Bipolar Disorder with signing. In particular I’ve been signing along to the Broadway cast recordings to musicals. My singing training was mostly classical, for opera and classical concerts. I also sang a lot of musical theatre in my voice lessons.

This month I’ve been choosing the Broadway cast recordings that have subject matter that’s pretty heavy. I have a history of acting in theatre, both straight plays and musical theatre, so when I sing along with those Broadway cast recordings I let myself really get immersed in the stories those musicals are telling and go full-on in acting the roles I’m singing. Even though I’m standing in my kitchen with cats watching me.

I have found this month that singing the scores to shows that have pretty dark subject matters help me manage my moods better than the lighthearted musicals. As I’m singing I really pay attention to what’s happening to the characters in shows like Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and Spring Awakening. Then I compare what’s happening with me to what’s going on in the lives of those musical theatre characters. Even when I start the day not feeling well *at all* I still have to admit, every time, that I am not facing the issues those characters are facing.

I’m not fighting for my life in the French Revolution, or in the war in Vietnam. I’m not facing the horrors that take place in Spring Awakening. I’m living my life. And compared to all those options? I’v got it pretty darn easy.  Singing along with those shows gives me a fantastic dose of perspective. Add that dose of perspective the amazing melodies I end up singing to help myself feel better and well, by the time I’m through to the end of any of those musicals I feel a whole lot better.

Last year I purchased a nice electric piano for myself. All those years I didn’t get to study piano but I still wanted to. And still do. So, my new electric piano has been sitting here patiently waiting for me to start learning to play. So, while I’m still fighting the good fight against these depression symptoms I’m finally taking some time to start learning to play piano.

It’s been a long long time that I’ve wanted to learn piano, but I’m still here in this life. So, it’s  not too late. I don’t expect to become a virtuoso pianist, but I have a feeling that making music on the piano just might become another tool I will be able to add to my arsenal to help myself through these occasional seasons of Bipolar depression.

I feel so grateful to life for providing me with singing lessons when I was young, with the ability to get my own piano last year, and for the existence of music in the world. They say that music soothes the savage beast, and I’m feeling really pleased today that Bipolar depression symptoms are the savage beast in my lief that I am able to soothe with making music.

 

 

 

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