brain vs. mind

You Are Not Your Bipolar Thoughts

→ June 2, 2014 - 21 Comments

You Are Not Your Bipolar Thoughts

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Recently, a commenter was here and she was frustrated because her doctor told her to separate herself from her bipolar thoughts. And the commenter remarked,

How am I supposed to separate myself from my thoughts? I AM MY THOUGHTS. Everything I do, everything I say, everything I am, started with a thought.

This is true and it isn’t. I understand this commenter’s frustration and I understand how illogical it seems to suggest that you can separate yourself from your thoughts. After all, don’t you have to think about the separation? And how does that work, exactly?

What this commenter’s doctor failed to mention is probably the most confusing part of any mental illness. The mentally ill thoughts come from the brain while the ability to separate from those bipolar thoughts come from your mind. And you brain and your mind are not the same thing.

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Escaping Bipolar Disorder

→ September 4, 2013 - 23 Comments

Escaping Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is an inescapable mistress. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, no matter how many medications you take, she is always there, ready to hit you over the head with a 2 X 4. True, some people are lucky enough be experiencing remission. In that case, the mistress is forced to take a few steps back. But for people not in remission, people in full-blown bipolar disorder, that mistress is relentless. Every minute of every day she steals your brain and makes life unbearably painful.

And I have found that if you also happen to be bipolar and anhedonic, almost nothing allows you escape from that reality. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure and when truly anhedonic, no matter what you do, no matter how theoretically pleasurable that activity is, you will not feel that pleasure – no matter what. This is a concept that most people cannot fathom but believe me, an inability to feel pleasure is real.

I have, however, found one tiny escape. It’s something I do all the time. It’s a little embarrassing, actually. I manipulate physical sensations and responses. Yes, I have orgasms.

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Why Haven’t You Killed Yourself Already?

→ December 13, 2012 - 90 Comments

Why Haven’t You Killed Yourself Already?

Why Depressed People Don’t Kill Themselves

Many people with bipolar depression are suicidal. Not all, of course, but many. Most people with bipolar depression, in fact, most people who are suicidal, do not kill themselves though. In fact, you can live with suicidality for years without ever killing yourself or even attempting to kill yourself.

And while people stay alive for many reasons, I have my own reasons for not killing myself.

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Escaping a Bipolar Brain

→ September 20, 2012 - 59 Comments

Escaping a Bipolar Brain

This morning I was watching Perception, which is a TV show wherein the lead character has schizophrenia. He, like most of us with a mental illness, is trapped inside his head – trapped inside his mental illness. Oh, he functions and everything, but his mind is still trapped inside a sick brain.

And this is how mental illness is. My friend called it the ball and chain. He says I do really well for a person who’s always weighted down like that.

And this morning, one of the characters in the TV show said, “I spend a lot of my time finding puzzles hard enough to get him [the lead character] out of his head.”

When I heard that, I burst into tears.

OK, maybe I’m unstable and that leads to tear-bursting, but also the point rang so poignant that I couldn’t deny it – I spend most of my time trying to desperately escape my bipolar brain.

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The Mind-Brain Split and Enlightenment in Mental Illness

→ April 22, 2012 - 26 Comments

The Mind-Brain Split and Enlightenment in Mental Illness

I wrote a rather popular piece a while back called A Damaged Brain and a Mind Trying to Deal with It. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this before as it’s part of my bio. If not, then it might be the first time you’ve heard that turn of phrase.

Commenter Reply

And recently a commenter replied:

I do not believe in this mind/body duality. I believe that you are your body.

OK, no problem. I don’t expect everyone to agree on such things. I have nothing invested in making the world agree with me.

But the thing is, I know there is a brain-mind separation. And how do I know this? Perspective. It’s your free gift with a purchase of 10 or more years of bipolar disorder.

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A Damaged Brain and a Mind Trying to Deal with It

→ November 30, 2011 - 37 Comments

A Damaged Brain and a Mind Trying to Deal with It

My Twitter bio says I have, “a damaged brain and a mind trying to deal with it.” This confuses a lot of people. It’s OK. I get it. Most people don’t differentiate between the mind and the brain. But I do. In fact, I consider it a critical distinction for people with a mental illness.

Your mind is who you are; your brain is just what you are.

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