Consciously Unconscious

Yep; Life is good.

Now that I’m appropriately doped up and have all the neurons and synapses working and firing the way they’re supposed to, and all those important brain chemicals delicately balanced, things are just humming right along.  It’s really nice to go through the day without the major crisis or go through the extreme changes that I have lived with up until now.  I’ve finally reached ‘normal’.

How about that?

How about that indeed?  If life is so peachy, then why do I have the ‘un-normal’ thoughts and temptations?  I’m not acting out on anything; these urges are not out of control.  But they are there, and find ways to work into the part of my brain where I am aware, and have to make decisions.  Even though I’m successfully being treated, I still have to choose to do the right things.

It’s not all about being bipolar.  Everybody has the subconscious working and sending thoughts, ideas and even emotions into their awareness.  And there’s not a good or bad either.  Sometimes when I’m working on a problem or trying to figure something out, the answers just pop into my head, often at the oddest times, day or night.  Years ago when I was doing accounting I would keep a pad and pencil beside my bed, because it was a regular occurrence to wake up in the middle of the night with a realization where a discrepancy was that I had spent the day searching for.

That’s where dreams come from.

Just like the solutions to problems, often dreams are telling clues to events or emotions of waking life.  A friend of mine going through a divorce told me a dream that included (among other things) her riding in a car driven by her husband, with his girlfriend in the front seat beside him.  They stopped, put her out on the side of the road, and drove off together.  But as they went through the next intersection, a semi truck ran the red light and obliterated the car.  Well Duh.  That’s pretty obvious I would say…   Then there are the totally random and strange visions that can happen during the night.  Dreams that make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Those can happen during when awake too.  I was having a conversation last night about…well…nothing.  Just a simple “how was your day’ and ‘what do you want to do this weekend’, when out of nowhere I get this vivid image of a house in the neighborhood my kids sold Girl Scout cookies almost 20 years ago.   There was nothing significant about that house at all, and I maybe saw it a total of three times.  But there was something about it that got filed away in the back reaches of my mind that squirted into my consciousness.

Memories can be distorted or even suppressed by that unconscious area, totally changing our perception and awareness of things experienced before.  High School years can be recalled as the ‘glory days’, but the part that includes the awkwardness, lack of confidence and fear of not being accepted somehow don’t fit into that memory.  Relationships that were truly stormy and unhealthy are missed horribly after they end.  The negatives are forgotten, and only the goodness remains.  I’ve heard that pleasurable sensations can be completely recalled, sometimes with just a smell or taste.  But the feeling of pain is more of an abstract.  It’s all a way that the cognizant thoughts are protected by that subliminal function hidden away.  Or at least the feeling of protection; maybe remembering the bad with the good could prevent repetitive bad choices.

That might explain my four ex wives.

I understand that it’s been determined that we only use about 10% of our brains capabilities.  That’s a pretty fantastic thought.  Imagine what we could accomplish if the other 90% could be tapped.  People who have had strokes or suffered traumatic brain injuries have learned how to recover functions such as speech or walking even though the part of the brain controlling that were completely destroyed.  Somewhere in that available 90%  the brain was able to adapt and pick up that job.

It’s all very amazing, really.

But I am Bipolar, and that adds a whole other level of complexity.  All the medications, therapies, techniques and skills I use to control this illness seem to live in that conscious part of my brain.  But the illness cannot be cured.  No matter how successful the treatment it never really goes away.  And that’s where the problem lies.  My mood may be as calm and cool as ice over a fast moving river.  But underneath that cold layer the dark waters rage on.  And it’s obvious to me that the normalcy I now enjoy is just a thin layer covering the craziness.  It’s never really gone, it’s just controlled.  And just like the dreams and random thoughts we all have, that deep part of my brain slips the badness and aberrations that are a part of my illness into the forefront.  Nonsensical emotions and inappropriate reactions just happen.  Bad ideas; l mean really bad ideas I have seem logical.  Dangerous urges threaten to become compulsions, tempting me into areas that I absolutely do not want to go.  And there’s the sadness that creeps in without any cause or reason.  Sadness that if left unchecked would drag me back into that dark world of depression I never want to see again.

Fortunately there is still the active thought that can make decisions in spite of the influence of what is lurking below.   Thank God that there are medications that help keep the conscious brain healthy enough to keep the illness in check.  I have a therapist who has come to understand me and can provide exactly the support and insight to arm me in my fight.  The beast cannot be killed, but it can be caged.  But unless a miracle happens that a cure is found, the best I can hope for is containment.   And hopefully, I’ve finally found the way to keep the beast locked safely away.  I have learned to live with being Bipolar.  But I have also come to know:

I’ll never live without it.

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