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Identity and Bipolar Disorder

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by AvantGarde » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:06 am

This is a recurring theme here, and I'm approaching it while writing too, so I've been investigating about it and found this cool article:

Who Am I? The Effects of Bipolar Disorder on Identity

She talks about how we have schemata ( Wikipedia article on Schema ), and how the schemata we adopt in our early lives evolve into our idea of identity, and how our behavior with BP affects that.

It's a very interesting read for those interested in learning more about it.
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by Pancake » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:04 pm

Excellent piece. Jemane (I think?) mentioned schema therapy recently. I'd forgotten the term, but it's something my tdoc worked on with me and I found really helped.

Soooo much I can relate to in those examples.
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by AvantGarde » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:11 pm

Yes! She did. My tdoc uses it with me, but never mentioned the definition, it's interesting though, it's a recurring theme on my mind but I don't think I ever discussed it with him. Will in my next appointment though
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by Pancake » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:40 pm

It's funny, I work much better with things if I understand the concept. It's like it gives me something to actually get my teeth into. If I don't know why I'm doing something, it's harder to convince me, and I'll spend more time trying to work out the 'puzzle' (or being annoyed at having to do something I saw as pointless) than doing the work.

Although, mindfulness was still a bit of a flop. Even understanding the logic, I can't get my head past the unproductive waste of time.

Knowing the logic and technique helped somewhat by itself though.
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by AvantGarde » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:52 pm

Mindfulness in itself doesn't work for me anxiety at all. Works for some thought processes of OCD and psychosis, but only when it's not full blown.

He usually says what he's doing, what I'm doing, etc. Maybe he does schema therapy without realizing he does it :shock: :lol:
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by Duckysmom » Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:20 am

Wow! Great article. I see a lot of myself in it. Thanks for sharing.
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by Archangel » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:39 pm

For me, my identity is my bipolarity. I don't mind telling people that I am a bipolar creative genius. Meaning, without the bipolarity, I would't be a genius at all. In her book, Touched With Fire, Dr. Kay Jamison gives many examples of famous composers, poets, painters etc. that were all bipolar. She explains the connection of bipolarity to creativity. For me, bipolarity and creativity are forever entangled, so I have no problem making it my identity

Unfortunately, bipolar creative genius has a dark side to it, and I have been locked up strapped face down on a gurney with leather straps. But the creative art I make during the manic episodes, is more than worth the hardships I go thru to create it, at least to me it is.
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by libellula » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:32 am

Thanks for sharing this article Avantgarde. I don't want to be defined by my bipolar disorder: Bipolar is only a part of me, not the whole picture of me. We all have in common this disorder and therefore many similar life experiences. But for sure we are not totally similar. We have many differences one to another I suppose.

So I'm right asking to myself where is Daniela and where begins the disorder?
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by AvantGarde » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:13 am

libellula wrote:So I'm right asking to myself where is Daniela and where begins the disorder?


Of course. I've been doing this therapy with my tdoc that touches a lot on the subject of identity. Mainly we all have characterists and traits, but things also change or we can work on ourselves to change those characteristics and traits, that doesn't mean our identity changes. So, where lays identity then? It's tricky...

To draw a line between where you are and the illness is, is to remind yourself who you are when the illness isn't flaring. For me that is tricky because it brings me to a childlike condition, since it begun very early. I'm now learning how to see myself as not this whole mess of symptoms and issues, but as a whole person with parts of me that interact with each other (this is basically the premise of my current therapy).

So, for example, a part of me likes sex a lot and it's hypersexual when let loose, another part of me doesn't need it that much. Sometimes one is more active than the other and both are equally valid. Same with the hypomanic part and the depressed part, I take medication for them and it works most of the time, but in periods of high stress it tends to become unbalanced. Both are equally valid, just for existing, although they cause a disruption in my sense of self (the whole of the all existing parts) and in my life as a consequence, so they need to be treated, be it with medication or therapy, mainly both at the same time :lol:

This works for me, you might find something else that works for you :)
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by libellula » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:07 pm

Both are equally valid, just for existing, although they cause a disruption in my sense of self (the whole of the all existing parts) and in my life as a consequence, so they need to be treated, be it with medication or therapy, mainly both at the same time :lol:

[/quote]
Thinking about this research of treatment to find a balance with the many parts of ourselves, I just remember about my favourite italian writer Luigi Pirandello and his masterpiece "Uno, nessuno e centomila" One, No one, One Hundred Thousand.

The main character of the novel, Vitangelo, "begin to follow the path toward his true self. He discovers, that if his body can be one, his spirit certainly is not. And this Faustian duplicity gradually develops into a disconcerting and extremely complex multiplicity. How can one come to know the true foundation, the substate of the self? Vitangelo seeks to catch it by surprise as its shows itself in a brief flash on the surface of consciousness. But this attempt at revealing the secret self, chasing after it as if it were an enemy that must be forced to surrender, does not give the desired results. Just as soon as it appears, the unknown self evaporates and recomposes itself into the familiar attitudes of the superficial self."(cit english wikipedia)
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by AvantGarde » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:38 pm

Interesting! Would love to read it. I'll write it down and search it in the bookstore :)
Maybe they have a portuguese translation.
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by posytif » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:50 am

Hi,

I am new to this site but I read the article in question and it helped me understand a lot of confusing things about my behaviour. I have struggled with bipolar since my teens and it's pretty bad.

The question I have re identity is this: How do you learn who the real you is and who the bipolar you is? As someone who thinks in concepts, I really would love to hear your ideas on how to separate the two. I am struggling to understand what points are good about me because I feel like I am a total psychological mess!

Thanks,
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by AvantGarde » Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:01 am

Hi posytif, welcome :)

I don't think there is so much a distinction of identities, as in the bipolar symptoms are part of our identities, as in they are different parts of us, and like all parts of us they have their opposites as well.

This in therapy becomes much clearer and easier to deal with. Are you in therapy?
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by hal » Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:14 am

Welcome to BPS!

posytif wrote:The question I have re identity is this: How do you learn who the real you is and who the bipolar you is?feel like I am a total psychological mess! Thanks,
I'm not sure if you're inquiring from a personal viewpoint or looking for a philosophical discussion. If the latter, it's an interesting intellectual discussion. Otherwise, I would say it's like any quest that has a strong personal dimension. First, the answer can come only through personal experience, although part of that includes discussion with others: a component of any quest and what you're doing here.

Who am I? I like Maya Angelou's answer: "You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive."
. . . all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone.
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by posytif » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:13 am

Thank you both for your input. In answer to the question "Are you in therapy?" I have had several bouts of therapy but my therapists couldn't answer questions like that with ease. I do agree it's a personal quest and I am interested in the various philosophical viewpoints on how we determine who we are.

I agree we are a sum of all our life experiences but I spoke to my partner who also has bipolar, and he summed up the difference fairly well for me. There are aspects I worry about - I am intrigued by the idea of schemas as related in that article. What I want to know is can I talk about a psychotherapeutic approach to understanding my mood reactions with a clinical psychologist? Do they address questions of identity in different situations or not? Never tried to so I am wondering. I suffer badly from mixed episodes so I frequently feel aggressive and totally depressed with a racing mind and extreme frustration which the pdocs are always trying to address but can't seem to solve fully. This means I swing between and identity of being powerful e.g. aggressive and ready to take on anyone, and that of a failure since I just want all the madness to end and get very suicidal. I just don't know how I find myself in that mess.

I think that this is getting off of the point of the topic of this forum so I will leave it at that. I think that I have some good questions for a new therapist I will be seeing. I will see what he says and then if needs be post something a little more philosophical on here!
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by AvantGarde » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:24 am

It's all good, we are known to hijack threads around here :)

A good therapist won't answer anything, just so you know. They would want you to figure out your own ideas about it. They may have their own, but that says very little about what it means for you. For instance, for me psychosis is a different lens on reality, since reality is shared and basically a giant communal hallucination, so my own personal hallucinations or delusions don't differ that much from what is real, you know? I willingly accepted to share the shared reality, as I think it's a better outcome for what may be future psychotic episodes. My tdoc (therapist) on the other hand, thinks psychosis is like living in a dream, where no rules apply. I don't agree with his stance, but we came to a common ground that we don't have to agree :lol: They are people after all, with valuable opinions that you may or may not share.

Nobody can tell you what your identity means for you, just yourself.
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by cln1812 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:44 am

BP is part of my identity but not all of it, not even most of it though it certainly has shaped who I am. I can't say the same when my eating disorder was bad. At that time, my whole identity was tied up in being anorexic. It was scary to give it up because I was the girl with anorexia, that was me, but at least with the eating disorder, you've got some choice there, it doesn't have to be you, you can change your behavior and suddenly your identity shifts (scary as it is).

With BP though, it's always there. It'll always be a part of me. How much I let it control who I am often depends on the moment and how I'm feeling. I love the times when I can just forget about it. Though I never can just forget about it completely; if I stop taking my meds every night, it rears up strong and overcomes me.
The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.

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