living with bipolar disorder

 

 

What’s it like living with bipolar disorder? Learning to ride the bipolar roller coaster 

by Tina Phillips, MSW

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition which causes intense mood swings, often between depression, or low mood, and mania, high mood. Most of us are familiar with depression, but may not be as familiar with mania.

Mania can cause different kinds of behavior including grandiosity or inflated self-esteem, pressured speech or talking fast, racing thoughts or flights of ideas, impulsivity or taking risks that put one in danger, and decreased need for sleep, among some other symptoms.

Some people with bipolar disorder experience paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions, among other psychotic symptoms. Not every person will experience all of these symptoms, but to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder a person must experience at least three of the diagnostic criteria. There are varying symptoms and it can be hard to recognize if one is not aware of how it manifests. It is important to be aware of what bipolar disorder looks like so one can seek diagnosis and treatment or help a loved one in need.

There are several subtypes of bipolar disorder and some consider bipolar disorder to be a spectrum disorder. Bipolar disorder is largely considered a serious psychiatric disorder and around 2.8 percent of the population has it. Bipolar disorder is considered one of the more stigmatized forms of mental illness, making it particularly hard for those who have it to recognize, acknowledge, seek treatment for it, and stick with treatment the rest of their lives in order to manage it. 

 

Types of bipolar disorder

 

Bipolar I

Bipolar I disorder is a mental illness comprising episodes of mania. Many have both episodes of mania and depression. To receive a Bipolar I diagnosis a person must have a mania last at least a week or be so profound that it requires hospitalization.

 

Bipolar II

Bipolar II disorder is a type of bipolar disorder where a person experiences depression with episodes of hypomania, which is not a full blown version of mania, but shares some features.

 

Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia

Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia encompasses a period of unstable mood in which a person experiences both hypomania and mild depression. This must last for at least two years to meet the criteria and sometimes one can experience leveling off periods of normal mood, but this usually lasts less than eight weeks.

 

Bipolar disorder, “other specified” and “unspecified”

Bipolar disorder, “other specified” or “unspecified” is when a person doesn’t meet the criteria for bipolar I, II, or cyclothymia, but does experience periods of abnormally elevated mood.

 

What causes bipolar disorder?

Scientists are still studying the cause of bipolar disorder, and it appears there are several complex factors at play. These include genetics, brain structure and chemical makeup, and stress/triggers. While each of these plays a part, there isn’t one reason scientists can pinpoint or say every person with bipolar disorder developed it because of something specific. Bipolar disorder is known to run in families, but there is no one gene responsible, and there is no direct connection between one family member to the next. There is some evidence that disruptions in a protein called Akt can lead to brain changes that can contribute to developing bipolar disorder. Also stressful events in our lives can sometimes be a trigger for an underlying condition to express itself. It is most common to see bipolar disorder develop in one’s late teens or early 20s. However, some people don’t get diagnosed until later years, and unfortunately many experience misdiagnosis, leading to many years of suffering without proper treatment.

 

What’s it like living with bipolar disorder?

I can speak from my own experience of living with bipolar disorder. Diagnosed at age 14, I have lived with bipolar disorder for a little over 25 years, more than half my life. I have Bipolar I, which means I have the most severe type of bipolar disorder. For me this includes manic episodes with psychotic features, such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and complete black outs, in addition to most of the symptoms from the basic diagnostic criteria list.

It always starts out as feeling good, and ends with feeling bad. I develop a lot of energy and creative ideas, I come up with grand projects, I start to believe I have special powers, I start talking fast, I have a decreased need for food and sleep, I talk to complete strangers and become flirty, my inhibitions go away, but then my behavior becomes stranger as time goes on. I end up becoming so irritating to those around me, and I cannot believe it when they say there is something wrong with me. To me I am more than fine, I am great. It adds to my stress when others don’t believe what I am saying. My paranoia picks up and then the darkness takes over. 

In the early part of my life I had been on and off several different medications trying to find the right medication for me, working with different psychiatrists. I experienced three major manic episodes, and was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward twice. I stabilized on Carbamazepine in my early 20s and have been on it ever since. However I suffer from traumatic memories of those manic episodes even now. I also recently had an aggravation of my symptoms due to life stressors and had to add medication to treat bipolar depression. 

Although I am medicated I also experience some depression and a lot of anxiety, which I only recently learned is often a large part of bipolar disorder. Even after this long I am still discovering things about the disorder and how it manifests for me. It’s very complex, not every person experiences the exact same symptoms, and it can also shift throughout time. I am starting to look at my emotional patterns and seeing how my mood swings despite being on medication, which is frustrating, but part of the reality with living with bipolar disorder. 

I am still learning about what my triggers are, how to manage my bipolar disorder, and what about me is because of my bipolar disorder. Some of the things other people dislike about me are because of my bipolar disorder, and they aren’t things that can be medicated away. Things like my sensitivity, intense emotions such as anger, how fast and dramatically my mood can change, my anxiety, my loudness, my sleep schedule/being a night owl, my bluntness, and my bossiness. I have to remind myself that I don’t have control over what others think of me, and I need to learn to love myself, even the challenging parts of me.

Many people with bipolar disorder experience isolation and many lose family, friends, jobs, and romantic partners in part due to their bipolar disorder. This can make people feel ashamed for having it and it can lead to further depression. Despite the challenges and heart breaks bipolar disorder can bring to our lives, it’s not something we should be ashamed of. There is nothing we did to deserve having it, and there’s only so much we can do about it. It takes a lot of work to manage our moods and all the parts of life impacted by our disorder.

Sometimes bipolar disorder is like riding a roller coaster we cannot get off, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do to improve the quality of our lives, learn to cope, and find treatments that work for us. There are many other experiences of bipolar disorder, and no two stories are exactly alike. 

 

Bipolar emotions: Intense and sensitive 

Many people with bipolar disorder are accused of being overly “intense” or “sensitive.” In fact, these are common traits and there’s not much one can do about this, as this is the person they are. Medications can stabilize moods to some degree, but some traits cannot be medicated away. People need to try to adjust to their loved ones, friends, or co-workers who display sensitivity and emotionality. When people in a persons’ life don’t try to accept their differences, it can leave a person with bipolar disorder feeling isolated, depressed, anxious, and misunderstood. Often stresses in life and mistreatment can lead to trauma and other disorders.

There are several common co-occurring disorders with bipolar disorder. These include ADHD, OCD, substance abuse disorders, anxiety, and eating disorders. Some of these may come along the same genetic line as bipolar disorder, but also could be triggered by stress in a person’s life. Some people use substances to self-medicate, and eating disorders are often a way for people gain control when they feel their lives are out of their control. In addition, suicide attempts and completed suicides are more common in people with bipolar disorder. In fact, “up to 20% of (mostly untreated) bipolar disorder subjects end their life by suicide, and 20–60% of them attempt suicide at least one in their lifetime.” Given such alarming rates, it’s vitally important we take a look at what can prevent people with bipolar disorder from attempting to take their own lives. Important factors in reducing suicide attempts include early diagnosis, effective treatment, and clinical interventions. 

 

Treatment for bipolar disorder

 

Medication

psychiatry

One of the main treatments for bipolar disorder is psychiatric medication. Medication can be very effective in helping to manage symptoms. There are a range of medications that treat mood disorders, mania, psychotic symptoms, anxiety, and depression. Many people with bipolar disorder see a psychiatrist regularly to help manage medications and make adjustments as needed. Some people require multiple medications to effectively manage their symptoms.

Many people with bipolar disorder struggle to take their medications or do not stay on their medications. Reasons behind this vary. Many experience side effects that become intolerable or they don’t like how the medication dulls their personality. Some people like the way mania makes them feel and are used to living life with mania, and go off of their medication to gain back what they feel like they lost. Some people start to feel better on their medications, and think they no longer need their medication. However, it’s often the medication that is making them feel better and once off the medication they can backslide.

Some people feel the pressure of the stigma of being dependent on medications, or worry about what other people think of them and cave to pressure of wanting to appear “normal.” This is ironic because medication actually stabilizes mood and can help people manage their condition, making them more functional. Some people worry being on medication for life will affect their long-term physical health or even shorten their lifespan.

It’s important not to judge people for their decision not to take medications because we don’t walk in their shoes. Respecting the self-determination of people with mental illness is key. We should work towards research that will develop new therapies that have less side effects. People with bipolar disorder should work closely with their healthcare team to address any concerns and adjust medications as needed. 

 

Therapy

Psychotherapy can also help people manage moods, learn their triggers, develop and practice coping skills, and find creative ways to regulate their mood. Several types of therapy have been shown effective in treating bipolar disorder including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Family Focused Therapy, Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy, and Group Psychoeducation. Group therapy also helps some people as they can talk with peers experiencing similar struggles, feel validation, and share social support.

Learning coping skills and having a wellness action recovery plan can really help people navigate the bipolar journey. Different techniques work for different people and so it’s important to be open to trying various tools and strategies to find which ones fit best for you. Some people also use apps to manage their symptoms or keep track of their moods. 

 

Finding balance: ways to manage bipolar disorder

There are many ways to manage bipolar disorder outside of traditional methods. These include exercise and other coping mechanisms such as art, journaling, and mindfulness/meditation, among other activities. Other important factors are proper nutrition, getting enough sleep, keeping a schedule/routine, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Disruptions in these key factors can lead to mood destabilization or lead to medications being less effective. 

Furthermore, managing stress and triggers, relaxation and rest, and having social support are very important in managing bipolar disorder. Having places to go and community that is inclusive decreases stigma, gives people hope, and builds skills that help people recover. One such place is a clubhouse for those with mental illness. Putting together the right plan for each individual to successfully manage bipolar disorder may take some trial and error, but it’s worth the journey of exploration. It takes a lot of adjustment and readjustment throughout the lifespan to learn to ride the waves of bipolar disorder. It is not an easy life, but it is a life that can be worth living. Seeking help to manage the mood swings and creating a good quality of life through various coping skills and strategies is how we thrive through the ups and downs of life. 

 

Further resources and recommended reading

 

https://www.bphope.com/

https://www.dbsalliance.org/

https://www.dbsalliance.org/support/chapters-and-support-groups/find-a-support-group/

https://www.verywellmind.com/best-online-bipolar-disorder-support-groups-4802211

https://www.nami.org/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355961

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/bipolar-disorders/what-are-bipolar-disorders

https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/about-mental-illness/learn-more-about-conditions/bipolar-disorder/

https://www.psycom.net/what-i-wish-people-knew-about-bipolar-one-disorder

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/bipolar-disorder/living-with-bipolar-disorder.htm

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-treatment.htm

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/bipolar-disorder/helping-someone-with-bipolar-disorder.HTML

 

volunteer at an animal shelter

 

10 fun things to do if you’re depressed

 

The past year has driven most of us to live like angry tigers pacing tiny cages. Isolation isn’t natural and has serious side effects, but one can also cultivate a healthy solitude. Knowing yourself isn’t an easy process and it’s easy to get intimidated by the outside world and its standards and materialistic focus.

This article is for anyone. Even if you have a partner, invest in yourself. Trying new things alone is key to keeping your independence and understanding emotions as they pop up in your life. We learn through new experiences, and this helps to keep our brain young and happy. Living with purpose and open-mindedness makes life a lot more interesting than following someone else’s lead. 

If your’re depressed, try dating yourself. Dating yourself is fun. There’s no compromising – you get to choose what you do. It’s healthy for people in relationships too. Being in the constant company of your partner can be overwhelming and creates a dependence that’s bad for your mental health. 

Before I got married, I spent a lot of time by myself. I made continual efforts to entertain myself and explore who I am. I still date myself. Covid-19 changed my normal patterns. I try to visit a new place alone a few times a year. I haven’t been anywhere this year, and I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever.

 

traveling alone

 

While I’m eager to explore places like Romania and Greece, we have to be careful because the crisis isn’t over yet. A few of these suggestions require a little investment but rediscovering and reconnecting with yourself is worth every cent.

 

Go to the movies alone

This seems like a no–brainer. People watch television by themselves all the time but taking a weekday trip to the movies is fun. Most people don’t show up for the first showing of any film. Some theaters won’t care if you slip into a second movie if you buy concessions. I’ve spent entire days lost watching movies. 

go to the movies alone

 

Learn how to bake

I have mixed feelings about baking because it is technical. The quality of your tools, like measuring cups, scales, and other items will determine how well your efforts turn out. I’ve made some real stinkers because I wasn’t precise with the measurements.

A few years ago, I tried to make Red Velvet Cup Cakes, but I was sloppy with the chemistry and they turned out as dense as baseballs. My poor husband ate one with a smile on his face. That’s true love.

learn to bake

 

Meet a new city alone

I must admit traveling alone is my favorite thing in the whole world. You may want to wait a little while as the pandemic finally comes to an end but exploring a new place – even the next town closest to you might have something unexpected to find. The United States is an enormous place with people as different as Europe. It takes an estimated 40 hours of driving to get from one coast to the other. The drive is scenic particularly if you skip the big highways and take the smaller roads. Don’t freak out if you get lost. That is part of the adventure.

visit a city on your own

 

Check out your local cemetary

I’m from Lexington, Kentucky and our city cemetery is the most beautiful part of the entire city. There are mean ducks that might try to run you off if you get too close to the water or forget to bring grapes or other types of fruit. Bread is bad for ducks and other wildlife. I love cemeteries and I make visiting these monuments to past generations a priority when I visit a new city.

 

Volunteer 

There are endless opportunities to help others. The United States has a serious issue with homeless cats and dogs. Thousands are put to sleep every week because they aren’t enough homes for them all. Digging in and helping an animal rescue will make you feel good about yourself and you will be helping creatures that could die without you.

If helping animals isn’t your thing, then volunteer at a homeless shelter or any number of organizations that desperately need your help. From spending quality time with kids to digging in and helping feed those who sleep on the streets, there are endless opportunities to help out and you get a big dose of serotonin for your efforts.

 

Take yourself out to dinner

You might have to sit at the bar if the restaurant is full, but most bartenders are excellent listeners and offer advice and understanding. Alternatively, bringing a novel to dig your teeth into as you try a flight of beer or wines is a great way to spend an evening. You end up making new friends or at the very least hear some juicy details about someone else and their experience. You might feel a little uncomfortable at first but try to embrace the discomfort and watch and adventure unfold as you try something new.

 

Go to an aquarium

You must check out the ratings for any animal attraction. Don’t spend your hard-earned money on places that mistreat any creature. Ethical animal attractions might cost more than their less reputable counterparts, but do you want to see dolphins in tiny takes living like prisoners? No. Do your research before visiting any animal attraction.

 

Learn to grow veggies from table scraps

As the climate crisis rages forward it is crucial to embrace a circular economy. Green onions, potatoes, leeks, and herbs are foods you can grow on a window ledge. All you need to do for potatoes has cut them in half after they have grown a few eyes. Cut them in half and deposit them in deep soil. You will have potatoes by winter!

This is easy and quick to do, but if you have more time on your hands, you can start a larger veggie garden. Gardening reduces stress and negative emotions, it gives you a sense of responsibility and you get to nurture something and see it grow and thrive.

gardening with table scraps

 

Treat yourself to a spa day (or organize one at home)

A spa day is a luxury and if you do a little internet digging you might be able to grab a deal that makes the treatment more affordable. Or you could plan a spa day at home. A bath bomb, essential oil, bath salts, and a few candles and a pumice stone can change your bathroom from an ordinary experience into something truly relaxing, and you can add a face mask or even mix brown sugar and coconut oil for a more natural approach to getting a glow to your skin.

Take your time and pay attention to your feet. A proper foot rub is an easy way to improve your health and help you sleep. Magnesium flakes also can offer an extra element making bedtime a breeze. Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin which means if you have a deficiency, this is a great way to resolve the issue.

Get naked, paint your toenails, do yoga. Go crazy taking care of yourself. A full day dedicated to relaxation is a great way to get in touch with yourself and renew your mind and body.

 

 

Go to a show or a musical performance

Did you know you are more likely to make new friends and acquaintances when you’re all by yourself? Don’t be afraid to push to the front of the crowd and dance your pants off. This is another exhilarating situation, particularly if you are passionate about the music or play you are watching!

take yourself out

 

Bonus tip! Take a long walk!

Self reflection should shadow selfies. Understanding yourself and your emotions can be a complex issue to tackle and take hours or days to process. Being human is hard! Taking time to  breathe and think. If people made it common practice to be careful with their words and intentions even when speaking to themselves is becoming a focus throughout many health and wellness experts. 

Compassion for others is important, but compassion for yourself is more crucial than anything you can do for others because if you’re bullying yourself, then you need to readjust and pull that focus of care on you’re on well-being.

take a walk

  

 

 

How Bernie lost the 2020 primaries

 

Why did Bernie lose the 2020 primaries?

 

By Thorstein, originally published on Predator Watch

In 2016, Bernie was not taken seriously by the powers that be.  The DNC saw him as an innocuous “sheepdog” who would round up the left fringes of the Democratic coalition and bring them home to Hillary, completely clueless as to how antithetical that assumption was.

In 2020, however, the DNC understood that Bernie was a threat to their donors, and they did everything possible to undermine him.  Unlike in 2016, in 2020 they executed a planned, coordinated, and methodical strategy against him.  This included not only reinstituting the media embargo against Bernie, but also gaming the polls–and, from the Iowa caucuses onward, openly gaming the election process itself.

This was all a given.  From Tom Perez’ coronation as DNC Chairman back in 2017, Bernie should have foreseen this happening.  He should have resigned from the Senate to run as the Green Party candidate in 2020.  The Greens would have given him the nomination in a heartbeat.  (He would have had to resign because, without the cover of the Democratic caucus, both the Democrats and the Republicans would have screwed his Vemont constituents out of spite.)

I don’t know why he didn’t do this. The most charitible explanation is that, having lost close relatives to the Holocaust, Bernie was personally offended and threatened by Trump’s racism. The tragic element in this is that he misunderstood and underestimated the racism of the Democratic party.

To expose this racism, we must first understand who the “Democratic Party” is. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said ( off the judicial record) in 2016:

Here’s what the courts have said: The Republican Party is a private club. The Democratic party is a private club. They are not the government. Even though [a primary] looks like an election, feels like an election, you use the same equipment where you go for an election, you go to the same place, it is not an election. It is not run by the government.

The Republican Party is a private club. The Democratic Party is a private club. And these private clubs can do the nominations however they see fit…

The courts are not going to interfere with these rules any more than they would with the running of the NFL or the Moose Lodge.

The Democratic and Republican parties are private clubs.  And you’re not in them.  George Carlin stopped short of calling the clubs Nazis, but I won’t.  (See  here)  By not recognizing the Social Darwinist Nazism of both mainstream left and right, Bernie failed to address the true threat to the planet, just like Weimar Germany failed to realize the true threat.  Back then wasn’t Hitler so much as the donors who supported Hitler: the Prescott Bushes and Averell Harrimans [see Union Banking Corporation], the Henry Fords and the Woodrow Wilsons. Not to mention the crew below.

 

 

So it is today. Although some individuals, like Trump, Hitler, and Wilson might base their racism on personal hatred, the Republican and Democratic clubs both primarily base their racism on the pragmatic counsel of Jay Gould: “Hire one-half the working class to kill the other half.” 

In case you haven’t yet figured it out, this means that under their current agreement, the Repubs hire the male-and-white half while the Dems hire the female-and-minority half.  Their primary purpose is not to be racist, but to use racism to divide the working class so they can enrich themselves.

Neither private club cares a rat’s ass about your sorry ass.  If you identify and vote as either a Democrat or a Republican and you’re not a billionaire, you’re like a mindless football fan. Except this isn’t just a game.  The future of the planet is at stake while you’re  getting drunk in the stands and shouting insults at the opposing team.

Unfortunately, I think Bernie convinced himself that the Democratic Club is actually against racism, and from this fatal error tragedy ensued.

In 2016, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA were immensely unpopular. The outsourcing of jobs was killing “democratic” societies. Meanwhile, American military adventurism was killing third world countries, not to mention a few American sons and daughters and the domestic budget. Both Trump and Sanders ran against these policies.  Unlike Trump, though, Bernie identified “open borders” as the neoliberal policy of the Koch Brothers, so he came across as sincerely opposed to the the damage neoliberalism was causing. Unlike Trump, Bernie had actually voted against the Iraq War.  The voters understood these differences, with the result that in 2016 Sanders led poll after poll, until the Democratic club cheated him out of the nomination with super-rich-delegates.

 

Bernie and the DNC

 

In 2020, Bernie seems to have thought they wouldn’t do it again.  But they did.  Guess what, Bernie.  It’s a private club, and you’re not in it.  First, the DNC launched the Russia! Russia! Russia! fake news, in part to drown the message that Bernie’s policies were better than Hillary’s policies. When Bernie bought into this bullshit, he undermined his own credibility. He lost a lot of the anti-war vote, including many of that 10% of voters who voted for Obama in 2012, but for Trump in 2016.

Then the DNC recruited and fielded an array of fake candidates.  These candidates each appealed to a different idpol branch of the Democratic coalition: Elizabeth Warren for the women, Juan Castro for the Latinos, Cory Booker for the African Americans, Joe Biden for the donors, down to intersectionalities like Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar.

Each of these, save Biden, initially faithlessly endorsed “Medicare for All” to peel votes away from Sanders. Then, as soon as Bernie made a show of strength in Nevada, all of these in unison (and therefore evidently on orders) threw their support to the most virulent, anti-M4A Nazi, Joe Biden. Perhaps 15% of Bernie’s 2016 voters were persuaded by these fake candidates.

Meanwhile, in an ill-advised attempt to hang on to these faithless PMC and idpol “supporters”, Bernie lost maybe another 15% of his 2016 support with a series of minor policy proposals that only detracted from the winning themes of Jobs and Medicare for All.

Making school loans dischargeable in bankruptcy would have been an effective campaign issue against Biden.  But Free College! is something that only appeals to Young Democrats, and other wannabe social climbers.  Most young people just want decent jobs. They think School Sucks! Don’t try to sell them meritocracy instead of democracy!  Similarly, Let Prisoners Vote! was not a strategic issue, but pointless pander. While these things should happen, they didn’t win Sanders many votes, but cost him a lot of senior votes.

In the end, though, there was probably nothing Bernie could have done against the Democratic National Committee.  It’s a private club, and he wasn’t in it. Bernie should have known.  He should have gone Green.  In the end, I guess he was just too old to get it.

 

what is true? what is real?

 

Truth

By Caitlin Johnstone, from her book Rogue Nation

What do you know for certain? For absolute certain? 

It’s funny how rarely this question comes up. In a world full of feuding ideologies, belief  systems versus belief systems, wars of information, narratives and counter-narratives,  you’d think the question of what can be known with absolute certainty would be the  first place any examination of the true and the real would begin. 

But it isn’t. Virtually all worldviews arise from many unquestioned, unexamined  premises. 

“I am this body.” 

“I am separate from the world.” 

“Time is what it appears to be.” “The world is as it appears to be.” 

“My thoughts about what I’m experiencing are true and accurate.” 

All arguments about what’s going on in the world and how things ought to be arise  from these assumptions. But can you actually know any of those things with absolute certainty? Can you know with absolute certainty that, for example, your entire  experience of the world is not an elaborate Matrix-like virtual reality simulation hooked  up to some unknown entity that is nothing like who you believe yourself to be? That  there is in fact a world “out there” independent of your experience of it? That anything  at all in your experience contains any solid reality whatsoever? 

Do you actually know what this reality is? Do you know with any degree of certainty what this experience is at all?

 

how do I know what I know

 

In your memories (which may not be accurate and for all you know were uploaded into  your virtual reality experience five seconds ago), there have been people telling you  what this experience is and what is true and real. Many of those people are dead, and  you were reading words that were attributed to them, perhaps inaccurately. Many of  them died long ago, and could well have been entirely fictional. All belong to this ongoing possible hallucination that you’ve been labeling reality up until this point. Not a word that you have read or heard (including these words) can be known with certainty  to be true.

Make a list of all that you can know with absolute certainty here and now, completely  independent of any premise that isn’t absolutely certain. That list is much, much  shorter than most people assume.

 

 

As near as I can tell, the only thing that can actually be known for certain about this  experience is this experience itself. Appearances are appearing. Exactly what those  appearances are and to whom they are appearing is uncertain, but it is undeniable that  appearances which we can label sensory impressions, thoughts and feelings are  appearing. It is impossible to detect in this experience any clear line of separation  setting apart the appearances from that which is perceiving them; as far as your own  present experience is concerned, the appearances and whatever is perceiving them  are no more separable than a dream from its dreamer. 

Everything I just said is self-evident and immediately verifiable in your own present  experience here and now. Logically, if you want to have a relationship with reality that is  informed by unshakeable truth, this is where you must take your stand. 

Now I will say some things that are not self-evident and immediately verifiable in your  own present experience here and now. Take them or leave them based on the extent to  which they are interesting and useful to you: 

People tend to form mental habits in early childhood which are premised upon  unproven assumptions. We learn to think of the body as “me”, a “me” that is separate  from a world that exists outside of it, and the complex structure of mental habits which  arise from that idea is commonly referred to as the ego. In the confusion of childhood we learn a series of strategies for protecting the interests of this “me”, many of which  become so habitual and ingrained that we don’t even notice them anymore. Before you  know it you’re living a life that is guided by endlessly repeating mental habits formed as  a small child, frequently making yourself miserable because life is too big, unpredictable and ever-changing to be skillfully responded to by childhood coping  mechanisms.

It is possible to unlearn these mental habits and acquire the skill of perceiving the  world from the standpoint of what can be known for certain. When you resolutely take  your stand as the mysterious perceiver of mysterious appearances, which as far as you  can tell is itself inseparable from those appearances, the old mental habits based on  flawed assumptions begin to lose their footing. The churning, babbling mental narratives lose their “me” reference point when you are standing in the unshakeable,  indisputable reality of your known, certain experience, because there is no solid “me”  to be found in the experience of this mystery. Thoughts arise from source unknowable,  appear to an unknowable subject, and disappear to source unknowable.

When you really get clear on the one sane place to take your stand in truth and  certainty, mental habits lose the foundation of the “me” that they are premised upon.  They’ll keep looping for a while, but with less and less momentum, like a ceiling fan  after its power source has been switched off. Standing in the certainty of the mystery,  thoughts come and go without anything to build on, like Tetris blocks falling into a  bottomless hole.

And then, unimpeded by mental and perceptual habits formed on faulty premises, you  can start really living. Without the labeling, dividing mind babbling about what things  are and how things ought to be, life is given space to just be as it is, and it is exceedingly, thunderously beautiful. You’ll still pretend to be a “me” when you’re talking  to people, and life will still give you the occasional flat tire or family emergency to deal  with, but you’ll be meeting them all in a clear and responsive way instead of reacting  based on old, unhelpful conditioning patterns. Even in the mysterious hallucination Matrix-whatever mystery known as the world, you’ll be moving in a far more skillful and  efficacious way. 

Or maybe I’m full of it. Find out for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

how to stay healthy in the pandemic

 

How to be happy during the pandemic

By Lea

 

How can we stay mentally healthy during the pandemic? Better yet, how can we stay healthy with terrible pandemic management?

The healthiest thing I’ve done is stop watching the news, because it’s just bad news and viral boredom.

If there’s a good thing to be found in the pandemic, it’s that it’s exposing the insanity of our human society.

As technology advances, humanity regresses.

It seems that rather than stopping the pandemic, they want to keep it around, with vaccine shortages and spoiled vaccines. Here in Portugal, there are restrictions that don’t make sense and don’t seem to work, but they keep them in place anyways.

Why? Well… the measures don’t stop the virus, but they do kill small businesses. They don’t stop the virus, but end up causing more diseases. 

This is because health is not only physical, it is also economic, social, emotional, relational, spiritual, creative, and psychological. It is the balance of all these aspects of a human being.

This apparent disorganized handling of the pandemic makes me think of what Muadmar Gaddafi said in his 2009 speech at the UN:

Capitalist companies produce viruses so that they can generate and sell vaccinations. That is very shameful and poor ethics. Vaccinations and medicine should not be sold.”

Does anyone really win here? Yes, billionaires have added trillions of dollars to their pockets, however finding a “winner” now is like finding a winner in wars. Everyone is harmed, just some more than others.

We can find different theories to explain what is behind the virus, because although it has long ceased to seem like it, humans are rational beings. We simply cannot go against our nature, we need to give explanations, whether they are correct or not.

Below are some tips – based on what I’ve personally learned in my life – for how to be happy during the pandemic.

First, I want to emphasize that we cannot speak of our mind as something separate; it is linked to a physical, emotional, and social body. Therefore, if we want to speak of mental health, we must speak of health in all these areas.

We could say that our emotions have gone through an earthquake. Yes, the floor has moved, and now we have to relocate internally and externally.

A sense of humor

how to stay happy during a pandemic

Despite this upheaval, if we want to preserve our mental health, a sense of humor is an antidote to losing it. How can we maintain a sense of humor? By not letting ourselves be bombarded by the news, for one.

Create

By the way,  how is it possible that the same three or four news items pass through the 24 hour news cycle on repeat?

The world has eight billion people, and we are by nature creative. Are we losing our nature? If so, what are we, or what are we becoming?

Break some rules

Another antidote is to join the circus breaking some – just some – of the rules to survive. Because if you’re wondering if mental health is possible in over a year of confinement, the answer is no, of course it’s not! Humans are social beings. Contact with others is a necessity even for the least sociable among us. If we lose it, our balance falters.

 

Exercise

Another tip for emotional health, valid at any time, is physical exercise, and this is much better outdoors. I say this from experience, and it’s scientifically proven.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Another good piece of advice – which no one has asked me but I’m sure you’ll gladly accept if you try it out – is a good diet. By this I mean less flour and sugar and more fruits and vegetables. Where else can you get vitamins and minerals? It’s the fuel for this vehicle called the body.
If you put the best fuel in your car, please remember to do it with your physical body; your emotional and mental body will also thank you.

Start practicing meditation

how to be happy in a pandemicIt’s a good time to practice meditation. We have time, since most of us don’t have to commute to work right now. You don’t need that much time, anyways. At first five minutes a day will be more than enough, and as you advance in the practice, you’ll be able to add minutes. (By this I mean: take advantage of starting to do it now, since many of us don’t know what to do with so much time at home. But don’t stop doing it when the pandemic ends.)

This is something that helps our psychic health, because it’s an important activity for our internal or spiritual world, which we have long forgotten, at least in the West.

Learn something new

Is there anything that you’ve thought about for a long time but never found out how to do? The internet can help you in that search, especially in the pandemic, since we spend so much time at home.

Think positively

Another tip to fight the pandemic and get away with it is to be attentive to our thoughts.

Careful! Depression begins with a sustained use of inappropriate or negative thoughts. Those thoughts are like opening a window in the daytime and seeing only darkness. So, also take care of the thoughts that feed your being. Thoughts can allow or give rise to certain sensations and feelings, this is another reason to choose them consciously.

Get into nature, and nurture your imagination

What happens when we stay indoors without giving ourselves the opportunity to be in open spaces, such as the mountains, the countryside, or the beach?

This absence of distant horizons leads us -if we are not aware- to the absence of distant goals. We stop dreaming, and dreaming is what gives us life or at least, the desire to live and continue.

So what we cannot do physically, let’s at least close our eyes and make it real in our imagination, because everything we do has to pass through our mind beforehand. Even what we say “arises”; it arose because you were open for that to arise.