Damn, it’s hard to find the time to write these days. I really miss taking that hour or so of reflection each morning before I started my day. But there’s just too much I have to do. One thing I have realized lately is that I’m not thinking about being bipolar all the time. I’ve been able to focus on my past and think about why I am who I am and how I got here. There are a lot of other issues besides the illness that affect my daily life. The more I deal with them the better I feel in general.
But that brings up a question. Is it really important to understand the background behind all the issues? Or is it better just to deal with the results and learn how to cope? I’ve said many times that understanding isn’t healing. I’ve always felt however that understanding leads to healing. But now I’m not sure. I’ve spent many years trying to gain that understanding…has that been wasted time?
I’ve had many conversations with my Therapist lately about this. As we’ve discussed the personality traits that I’ve developed and how I am today, she has pointed out that there are a lot suppressed feelings that are influencing how I react to things today. And she’s said that the ways to overcome some of the negative and unhealthy behaviors are to find those feelings and release them. What I took away from that is that I need to dig deep and allow myself to feel the feelings that I’ve locked away over the years. But how in the world do you do that? By definition, suppression is, well, suppressed. There is really no telling what emotions that I’ve pushed from active consciousness. If I’m not aware of what’s there, how do I bring them back? And even if I do remember, how do I feel emotions that aren’t connected to anything anymore? My therapists’ answer? You stop suppressing your current feelings and allow yourself to experience them as they happen. If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re happy, be happy. It may be uncomfortable at the time, but it allows for release. And as you release the current emotions, some of the buried ones are released with them.
In other words, cope with what’s happening now.
So now I’m a little confused. What’s the point in spending all that time and energy on the events and emotions of the past? Then again, there are several therapy methods that do just that. First is psychoanalysis. Developed by Sigmund Freud, it is a method of interpretations of dreams as a way to explore unconscious impulses, anxieties and internal conflicts in order to free psychic energies.
And then there’s cognitive analytic therapy which works to identify procedural sequences; chains of events, thoughts, emotions and motivations that explain how a target problem (for example self-harm) is established and maintained. Then through Reciprocal roles identify problems between people and not within yourself. It’s a way of reliving some of the driving forces and learning how to specifically cope.
And so on… There are just too many variations to discuss.
But I’ve done so much of that over the years and still haven’t been able to release the past. When I was in my 30’s, I spent almost a year in intensive analytical therapy. And I’ve had close to 25 years of one therapy or another. And if anything, it’s made it worse. When I think about all the factors that have contributed to my identity, I realize what a screwed up individual I really am. I often wonder how I’m able to function at all. By all rights, I should be completely disabled and permanently an emotional wreck. Other times I get a feeling close to pride that in spite of everything I can still be a productive and successful person.
So what to do? I don’t think I fully understand all the whys and the influences that are affecting me now. I don’t believe I ever really will. So do I continue to dig? Or just try to learn how to deal with the day to day. Sometimes I think I’m too smart for my own good. I try to heal myself based on what I’ve learned about myself and the psychology behind the behavior rather than just healing. I do believe I’ve made a lot of progress; but at what cost? I’ve got almost thirty years of therapy, countless hospitalizations, and a lifetime of pain and misery that comes from mental illness that I’m still struggling to overcome.
Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Maybe it’s time to try something different.