Your thoughts aren't real. I know that might sound false, but understanding both parts of that sentence is critical to dealing with bipolar disorder. I have to remember that sentence every day in order to get me through. But recognizing that my thoughts aren't real or permanent does help, and I believe it can help you too.
Brain vs. Mind
If you have bipolar disorder, do you have a broken brain? This depends on a lot of things, such as your definition of "brain" and "broken." I feel that I have a broken brain with bipolar disorder, and, more importantly, I find that perspective very helpful in battling bipolar disorder.
Rumination in depression (both unipolar and bipolar depression) is common, and it is typically a negative thing. Doctors will ask about ruminations as will therapists; but what is rumination and how do you handle rumination in depression?
The opposite rule is a rule some people with bipolar disorder or another mental illness use to help deal with the unhealthy parts of a mental illness. It’s actually a really useful rule and I use it a lot as a bipolar coping skill. Here I tell you how and why to use the opposite rule if you have bipolar disorder or another mental illness.
I don’t think euphoria in bipolar hypomania feels like extreme happiness. I use the word “euphoria,” which does mean “extreme happiness” but the word only partially fits my experience (Bipolar Mania and the Impact of Manic Symptoms). “Euphoria” is what doctors call one of the “gateway criteria” for bipolar hypomania or mania (one of the main characteristics) so many people with bipolar disorder experience. And sometimes I do experience something like euphoria in bipolar hypomania but bipolar hypomania euphoria just doesn’t feel like its real definition to me.
I dissociate when the pain of bipolar disorder becomes too severe. It happened to be just last night, in fact. I was wailing out into the night about the pain and suffering and willing it all to end (Losing a Battle with My Bipolar Brain), knowing that it wouldn’t, so I just dissociated. I separated from the world. My brain and mind walked away from each other. The pain of bipolar disorder forced me to dissociate for my own good.
I hear from many people who are suicidal and these people give many reasons for suicide; but these reasons for suicide are typically lies from their brains called cognitive distortions. For example, one lie might be the idea that everyone is a selfish liar, or, put more simply, everyone is “bad” and the suicidal person cannot live in a world where everyone is bad. I think it’s really important to address this because, certainly, if you really did think everyone was selfish or everyone was a liar then being suicidal would be much more natural. But the fact Is, this (and other) reasons for suicide are false.
Recently I have been taking a mindfulness meditation course. This is pretty amazing seeing as I’ve always felt my brain was not still enough to meditate – not to mention, I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in all this new age stuff (although, technically, meditation is very, very old age stuff). But I went anyway because mindfulness meditation has been shown to be beneficial for all sorts of mental illnesses (not surprisingly, particularly anxiety) and I try to be open to anything that may help-plus, bonus, no side effects. And one of the things I had heard is that when you meditate you need to not think. Your mind is supposed to go blank. You become absent of thought. But this turns out to be false.
There is a type of denial of mental illness that goes beyond mere psychological denial – this is called anosognosia and it is the clinical term for the lack of insight required to understand you have a mental illness. Anosognosia is a neurological disorder thought to be caused by abnormalities in the frontal lobes (Impaired Awareness of Illness (Anosognosia): A Major Problem for Individuals with Bipolar Disorder).
It is a sad reality that life is full of things we don’t want to do and mentally-different or no, this is something with which we have to deal. And it’s even sadder to know that people with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses have a much longer list of things they don’t want to do than the average person. And, of course, ironically, the mentally ill are typically the least-equipped to deal with such things. But beating bipolar disorder, or any mental illness, means doing what you don’t want to do, pretty much all the time.