Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Mental Illness Journey & Ongoing Recovery

After a traumatic three day birth ordeal, was I born to suffer, Psychosis? Did birth trauma leave me highly susceptible to the experience of mental illness, in a classic early adulthood onset of bipolar type 1 disorder?

Is our understanding of mental illness changing now, as the reality of long term medication treatments, and a still missing genetic causation, are exposed to fresh scrutiny? Are there recent discoveries that are enabling a paradigm shift in our view of mental health and well-being?

In a thirty three year experience of manic-depression, my understanding of the mental illness experience has changed dramatically in the past six years.

Now completely medication free, an intense self-education and self-exploration effort has altered my perception, towards a natural stimulus for psychosis, away from the consensus view of brain diseased, disorders.

This online journal come memoir describes my ongoing journey towards deeper self-awareness and improving self-regulation of my moods and their metabolic energy. Receding further into my past is a previously taken for granted understanding of myself, which sadly, was almost totally ignorant of what happens inside this human organism, known as David Bates. For example; in the past I would think and say the word brain as if I automatically understood the substance of this metaphor, this label. Its like when I say the word chair without consciously acknowledging I'm simply describing the image of an object, with no appreciation of the objects hidden substance. In the past, what little appreciation of my organic nature I did have, was more as a collection of parts, like my heart, lungs, brain and my limbs. If I've learned anything on this self-exploration journey, its that I don't function internally, with anything like the mechanisms of an elaborately assembled clock. An yet, this was the popular symbol of the human brain, (mechanical cogs) until very recently, when its electro-chemical mode of function, began to rise into common-sense awareness.

I certainly had no knowledge of my nervous systems or the hidden and complex chemical reactions that make all the parts of me combine together, as a functioning human being. In fact, the more I've educated myself about the intricate and intertwined substances of my body/brain, the more mismatched these older, parts or object like metaphors seem. I listen to fellow travellers on this journey describe their experience by way of external analogies, like "I feel like I'm trapped in quicksand or I'm drowning in anxiety." Images of the external world which do not accurately describe what is happening inside us. Particularly the common assumption that psychosis is all about what happens within the brain, as if reciprocal feedback signals from the body, particularly the heart have no role in the stimulation of emotions and the mind.

Emotion, being of particular interest to people like myself, who are said to suffer from an "affective" disorder. A disorder of affect/emotion. Further more, my search for understanding and recovery from life disrupting mood swings, brought a deepening appreciation for the limits of my thinking mind, with common sense vocabulary. My ongoing recovery is founded on an increasing ability to give up the life-long refuge of my mind, as an avoidance of a felt-sense of my body and its nervous sensations. In overcoming both mania and depression, I've learned that the foundation of my struggle with bipolar mood swings is primarily physiological, rather than psychological. Essentially, what I'm learning is that madness is a flight from pain, both physical and psychic, yet of the body first and foremost.

My journal/memoir begins in April 2007:>>

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your inspirational and thought-provoking posts.
    I've been trying to use mindfulness techniques to leverage the autonomic nervous system against severe bipolar depression for several months, with modest but promising results.
    (This after 30 years of occasionally successful conventional treatment with the usual devastating side effects.)
    You've really helped me understand the positive feelings I am beginning to experience. I had been frustrated by my abject lack of vocabulary to explain this process of healing.
    You have also provided a road map for my next steps.
    Thanks again, and I look forward to sharing your work with others.