Saturday, February 4, 2012

No regrets and Cyclothemia: The cure could be as simple as...

1. Making your number one priority, your ultimate currency $$$ = "Happiness"
2. "Drowning Model" VS "Lovemaking Model"

This might not be a perfectly written or structured essay; glean off what you can.

1. Figure out how to not feel guilty: Sometimes our way of seeing our lives sucks us into a spiral, I believe people who have certain "brain imbalances" are simply more prone to dwell, and that just feeds on itself and if we let it play itself out we "cyclothemia - flowers" (I'm going to pretend like were simply a type of flower;) might have to suffer several months, or several hours until our bodies naturally cycle out of the mood we are in.

I think I was worse a few years back and in my twenties; I probably should have been on meds. Lately in the last few months, I've suffered a high from April-July and then a low-high cycle till about December.

I've paid careful attention and reflected a lot about what might possibly trigger and what might possibly alleviate: I appreciate everything more and I get out of the house more. I go lap swimming almost every night for at least an hour. Everyone knows me at the pool. Just a little bit of interaction goes a long way. I always say hi, even a casual wave back it doesn't matter, sometimes I'm more talkative sometimes not. [Cyclothemia: Sometimes it's lonely, sometimes its a cold walk back to the car.] I admire this lady who has really good freestyle technique - she always seems up-beat, a-l-w-a-y-s. The only time I saw her a little serious is when she was in a conversation with a lady at the front desk; I think they where talking about their relationships; they both have kids and I haven't seen wedding bands; alright maybe its just the wanna be dramatist in me. I recently found out that she walks an hour and half every morning before she goes to her job at school; she's up at 5am and it was 28 F a couple weeks ago, I had asked her how her walk was, she forgot her jacket so it was a little cold. Amazing, I decide I'm going to be a little bit like her and not complain, suck it up. I'm not going to be insensitive, thats what I've always hated hearing, people who haven't suffered depression (or mild dips which hurt too) seem to shirk the whole thing off, "just suck it up man." Yes of course. Perhaps thats my premise - "how to suck it up" they never elaborate.

From mid summer and mostly all of last fall I stopped going to my local camera store - I wasn't taking many pictures; something I love and I hadn't shot a roll in two months. Thats when I really started questioning "what was up." Also, I had been trying to print pictures in my darkroom (love it); I would run out of paper and then procrastinate for two weeks and then feel even more guilty. Now I make it a point no matter how I might be feeling inside to go pick-up my film scans or what ever I might need; I call but sometimes its not ready; doesn't matter anymore, I drag myself down there, or go happily, and thats what matters; I've at least listened to music traveling back and forth, and chit-chatted with someone.

This also bring me to a point of relationships: My last bit of drama - around this time four years ago - I simply ran away. I was really depressed and had just spent the last 3-years or so in Los Angeles, being a bit irresponsible, getting in over my head etc. I was so happy but had this underlying anxiety. Right before, I had actually started taking Prof. Tal Ben-Shahar "Positive Psychology" course but it was just too late; four years later and it's finally becoming clear.

A month later when I finally was able to confront her she told me that I should have simply come to her and explained how I felt; that it would have been ok if I wasn't always upbeat, if I cried; we could have worked it out, it would have been alright if I just sat in the corner... In reality, come to think of it, she probably would have thrown a blanket over me and that would have snapped me right out of it (well more sooner then later), just that bit of tenderness. She had gone through so much, I can't think of an adjective "HELL" perhaps. Leukemia, twice, first at 16 then a few years later. Nothing I was going through could compare; I should have known better, the one person who could have understood, but I was asleep.

My blog is turning into some kind of confessional, it feels good letting it all out and some of it doesn't feel good, but I've got to accept it. Maybe someone will come across this and can relate. Become aware, at the very least, and try not to repeat your mistakes; total acceptance around here, if you do, start over, its never too late.

Whew (!) back to, "doing things that make you happy," and how that should be your "ultimate currency." You just have to focus on now. Do your thing, figuring out what that is is fun too, its all the little stuff, that's what life is, the big stuff is cream on the pudding, how ever you want to describe it, perhaps a three course meal is best. It's not always dessert, you have to eat your vegetables (work hard), all of them (perseverance), but at the end of every meal dessert; you might be stuck doing something you don't like but perhaps at the end of the day or a couple times a week you can "learn to make soufflé"... Buy the book "Happier" Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar PHD - its a thin book its all explained a lot better than this. I typed out an excerpt further below.

Doing things that make you happy has to become a habit. Just like my swimming it's become an ingrained routine; even when I'm down or anxious or tired I just go and it's very rare that it doesn't make me feel better. Look to "your values," pick-apart the things you love and there is probably a clue (take your time) look to your childhood and your fondest memories. I've always loved the ocean... I love endurance sports, partly because of the challenge - I've always been into endurance sports, cycling when I was a teenager and now swimming. I use to play tennis but that stopped in the 8th grade because you need someone to play with. Cycling you can do rain or shine and on you own; perfect. High drama too, climbing hills into the fog, the fast descents. Paris Roubaix the Tour De France. With photography on one level (there is the whole taking aspect too), I love the tones you can get with film and it's a rather involved process, I think it's a distraction and a challenge that takes my mind off things, (this might have something to do with combating "dwelling" wether its mania or depression); and I think it has something to do with working with my hands...and I value the cool, sometimes random, tones that result. I'm no sculptor but just having to unload film, use a changing bag to load the lightproof canister, mixing the chemicals, sorting everything; I think subconsciously the routine is familiar and it relaxes me. Then with black and white, making a print and finally holding it in your hand, having them lay around; and finally scanning it too. Even not being so self-sufficient and having to "get out of the house" to get better scanning done; thats part of the fun too...

2. My second point: "Drowning Model" VS "Lovemaking Model"

From: "Happier" Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar PHD I highly recommend his books. I loved listening to the tone of his voice and what he had to say for those hour long lectures every day.

Try to get past the cheesy intro music "spread a little happiness as you go by..."

Foundations Of Positive Psychology - Tal Ben-Shahar. Promo#1

Happiness in Education

"My brother studied psychology at Harvard. Before he came to school, he spent his free time reading psychology, discussing it, writing and thinking about it. As a student, however, he disliked it.

His feeling was not unique: most students dislike schoolwork. What, then, motivates them to devote so much time to their studies? While talking to my brother about his unhappiness at school, I came up with two models that illustrate how students are motivated: the drwoning model and the lovemaking model.

The drowning model shows two things: that the desire to free ourselves of pain can be a strong motivator and that, once freed, we can easily mistake our relief for happiness. A person whose head is forced under water will suffer discomfort and pain and will struggle to escape. If, at the last moment, his head is released, he will gasp for air and experience a sense of intoxicating relief.

The situation may be less dramatic for students who do not enjoy school, but the nature of their motivation - the need to avoid a negative consequence - is similar. Throughout the term, drowning in work that they do not enjoy, students are motivated by their fear of failure. At the end of the term, liberated from their books and papers and exams, they fell an overwhelming sense of relief - which, in the moment, can feel a lot like happiness.

The pattern of pain followed by relief is the model that is imprinted upon us from grade school. It is easy to see how, unaware of alternative models, living as a rat racer could seem like the most normal and attractive prospect.

The lovemaking model, however, offers a different way of thinking about learning, one that can encompass both present and future benefit. The many wonderful hours that we put into reading, researching, thinking, and writing can be looked upon as foreplay. The Eureka experience - when the boundary between knowledge and intuition breaks, when we reach a solution to a problem, for instance - is like the climax. As in the drowning model, there is a desirable end goal, but in the lovemaking model, we derive satisfaction from everything we do along the way...

...Yet by the time students are mature enough to take responsibility for their education, most have already internalized the rat racer's ethos.


I pulled the two comments below from this link. The pills sound scary; some of those people have full blown bi-polar disorder. But I can relate a bit to these two people (comments below); I've done a lot of cool things but then sometimes I haven't followed through all the way.

"I usually cannot work up the self-respect to give a damn about my own life."

I'm a super positive person but sometimes, I think, that "cyclothemia" has gotten the best of me. As I've read somewhere else, its pretty simple: you just start building bit by bit, wether its mending relationships, to starting a new career; you start over if you have too. I hope my post helps someone.

Still More Cyclothemia

Pat (Oct 11, 2003): I greatly appreciate this informative site; it leads me to question my experiences. I am not sure I really qualify as cyclothymic/bipolar; I have consistent mood swings, up and down (usually down), at a period of several times a day. The indecisiveness, the dread, the inability to get my shit together despite innate talent - and then the euphoria, the clarity, the grand ideas and the confidence-- all in one day or in one hour. I am not sure the periods are long enough to classify as bipolar or even cyclothymic, but regardless it can be a cruel hell as I experience highs and lows several times within hours. I am a 25-year old male and I have felt this way since I was about 16. I sleep normally and on many days I can function, but mostly I tend to waste all my time. Despite being a high achiever (high school valedictorian, two university degrees magna cum laude, former editor-in-chief of a newspaper; extensive work in public speaking), I usually cannot work up the self-respect to give a damn about my own life. I cry, not without reason, but very easily, about three times a week. I grow distrustful of myself because of the irregularity (regularity?) of my moodiness, and I withdraw from other people. Can any kind of therapy help end this frequent torment, this hourly fluctuation between 1)intense productivity/creativity and 2) irrational suspicion that my whole life is a sham? I have been to counselors before, but never a psychiatrist or any doctor who would prescribe medication, thus I am undiagnosed. Maybe I should just eat more vegetables, or get a dog? Anyways thanks for operating this site.

Laura (Nov 25, 2003): I've been under treatment for 'cyclothymic disorder' for about 18 years. My mother was bipolar or manic-depressive, depending on who you ask. My personal experience is that my own disorder differs slightly from the classic description of cyclothymia. I can go for several months - 8 or 10 months is not unusual - without any major swings or episodes. When I experience symptoms, they are nearly always of the manic/ hyper or euphoric type. I rarely get depressed or 'blue', though I may struggle with some of the usual by-products of depression, such as insomnia, inability to concentrate, etc. I was initially put on Lithium but have been taking Tegretol for several years now. I guess it helps but I still get at least one nasty episode per year that includes lightheadedness, hyper behavior, mild overspending, difficulty concentrating, a little bit of paranoia, and sleep difficulties. This episode can last anywhere from 6 weeks to three months. When it subsides I might be trouble free for nearly a year. This pattern doesn't seem to follow the usual cyclothymic pattern and I wonder if I'm diagnosed correctly, and if some other treatment might benefit me more.

"Not dwelling, so much" see my other post. Interesting stuff about Magic Mushrooms and how they act on the brain.

Sometimes I have negative thoughts and I consider myself a super optimist, or am I?


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