Friday, March 12, 2010

Meta Blog Thoughts and Dealing with a Manic Person

I have tried to avoid blogging about why I am blogging because I find such discussions on other blogs intensely boring always. My discussion will I fear be just as bad, so maybe skip down to my observations on dealing with mania which are trenchant and charmingly expressed. (Please recommend my blog to others with the quote "trenchant and charmingly expressed")

Anyway, I just write what I am thinking about and most of the time I am in such a fucking juggling act trying to be a parent and a spouse and general counsel and a person. And the juggling takes up a lot of time. The logistics cause me anxiety. I try to be very flexible to maximize performance for both my employer and my family. But in order to be a balanced person and manage this alleged bipolar disorder, I also have to put in a lot of time into maintaining my balance as a person by working out, speaking to friends, being creative. Trying to fit everything in is a constant challenge that feels how I felt in high school when I was pretty sure I was going to fail math. And creativity gets put last on the list, which is probably a shame.

This blog may be my last stronghold of creativity. Well, I say that but of course parenting is something wherein creativity is awarded, so I guess I am creative there. But I mean to have time to play by myself and to be fucking selfish and to tell myself that I am right and to just write. This nourishes me like dancing and I should do it more.

The urge for creativity has increased expansively since I had children, hence the title of the blog, Liberty and Owain, my two children who are 15 months and six. As I type in the study, I can hear Owain lecturing the Brazilian lady who usually does the ironing about a craft kit and Liberty is draping herself in a bowl of my necklaces. She has an eye for shiny, pretty things. For me, I usually file in the list of my own character flaws as jewelry whore but since it is my daughter, I soften the judgment and love it for what it is.

That in a nutshell is how my children have provided a means and motivation to figure myself the hell out and fix what is wrong and find some kind of happiness and peace. And above everything else, to stay alive when things get really really bad.

So I have been relentless in trying to work out things unbalanced in myself and I have thought a lot about it and the observations I post in this vein are the observations that elicit some really wonderful responses with people telling me about the struggles at the cores of their lives and how they have come to be at peace with them. Recently I was contacted about how to deal with a manic person so I thought I would put that out:

1. First, Just Watch and Don't Judge: Manic people do not have any idea of what kind of mood they are creating in the room and whether or not they have made you uncomfortable. They need your feedback. Don't give them judgmental feedback like You're Being An Asshole. That may very well be exactly what is happening, but it is just more useful to put your finger on exactly what is bothering you. This is also a great parenting exercise. The greatest advice I got as a parent was "say yes until you have to say no". Which for me means that I must have a clear picture about what is acceptable about what they are doing and what is loveable and also what is unacceptable. Then I make sure the reason I have for something being unacceptable is a good one. Just give them your honest feedback and do what you need to do to maintain your own sanity.

2. Try to Understand What They Are Talking About: Be persistent here. WHen you don't understand what the hell someone is saying, work on it. A manic person's mind is racing. It is flooded in chemicals and the synapses are flying. This doesn't make what they are saying necessarily nonsense. Manic people aggrandize everything, they make it bigger. Their problems, their anxieties, their worth (maybe). The placement of a glass or the order of phone calls can speak volumes about the universe. The best way to help manic people is to go with them as far as you can. Again, think of children. I am deeply rewarded when I sit my ass down and try to understand what my daughter wants or what is really going on with my son and you can use the same skill set here.

3. Practical Immediate Help: If you can, get them to take 2000 mg of EPA/DHA fish oil daily. It will take five or six weeks to show a difference. No one knows how a lot of psychotropic drugs really work, but I think there is valid science to support this. Get them to exercise regularly, cardio and muscle resistance.

4. Prescription Meds: You have to be either American or extraordinarily emotionally mature to be able to discuss prescription meds with a bipolar person. Please do so if you can. But be careful about handing them over to a shrink before you have tried to control it at home. The preferred med treatment for bipolar mania in the UK - and believe me I know this from experience - to put them in a hospital and overwhelm them with a cocktail of anti-psychotics that induce a crushing depression. Opinions vary about what happened to me but as a result, I am very slow to advise anyone to turn to the medical establishment. This makes me sound paranoid even though of course I am right. If the person will agree, why not give meds a try. But you must be willing to do no. 5.

5. Journaling: This is annoying in the extreme but a necessary evil when taking prescription meds. No one knows what the hell with these things so you have to have some kind of accurate history of your own reaction to different meds so you can see if they are working or turning you into a terrifying zombie. And in order to make that assessment, you need to journal where your mood is, or have some kind of record of your own functioning, sleep, depression, problems. I cannot tell you how many people in the UK are zombified out by Venlafaxine and don't even know if they are better or worse.

6. Just try to keep on loving them. That means making sure they give you what they can.

7. If it will make you feel better, take their credit cards away from them. They may not even notice. This old wives tale about mania is so crap, but people persist in pursuing it, so fine. In the interests of full disclosure, during the one manic episode in my life I barricaded myself in a suite at the Sanderson and ordered vintage Champagne and caviar in the middle of the night. I think it was really fun. I still have a Sanderson laundry bag.

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