An Unquiet Mind

I was sold on the title alone. The unquiet mind is just about the best description yet of what it is like to live with Bipolar Disorder. night meditate

“I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In sort, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Before anyone put a label on it, or on me, I was actively searching for ways to still the madness. Growing up in a household with 8 very lively human beings was always a challenge. There was never space, rarely was there quiet; not even at night, when there were always at least 3 sisters sharing a bedroom.

Even when getting away to college for the first year, I was housed in “emergency housing”, a semester-long situation that involved rooming in a makeshift dorm with 9 other freshman women.silence

By my second year, I had acquired the much-coveted single room. It was small, but efficient, and it was mine alone. I was almost 20 years old, and I had my own space for the first time, ever.

It was then that I discovered yoga, and very soon after, meditation. It was to be the temporary calm in my ongoing storm.

It helped with, but did not prevent, the depression and mania that followed just a few short years later that almost led to my undoing. A disorder that I refused to accept or treat until it was almost too late.

It came and it went away. I assumed it would always be temporary, and I could deal with it on my own. My family’s orientation was to avoid medicine and psychotherapy at all costs. They never knew about me; it was never discussed. They certainly never knew how close I came to paying the ultimate cost.

And much like the author of this book, I enjoyed the “mildly manic” state, stayed there as long as I was able; until people started looking at me with concern and fear; until they started suggesting that I needed help.

If not family, friends noticed. They saw the temperament change; how quickly I went from zero to ten on the anger scale; how the tears were followed by jokes and laughter. They saw the bravado and untamed fearlessness; the inflated sense of power and abilities; the risk- taking to the point of danger; the reckless wandering in places and situations that would make a rational mind cautious.

I was in my 20’s, and while I was bright and accomplished in some ways, I also had lost my edit feature. I said what everyone was thinking, but knew better than to express. It created conflicts in my relationships, and in my career. I was out of control, but it lasted months, not years. That came later in the form of regret and depression.

I nursed myself through these ups and downs into my early 30’s before getting the help I needed; the help that saved my life and allowed me to move forward.

But I never forgot those quiet moments of meditation. They worked for as long as they could. And it helped.

I recently stumbled upon this 9 minute segment. It is a great introduction for anyone who wants to try. It surely will do no harm.

Hoping for a 2015 filled with moments of quiet, peace, and a focus on the present.


This entry was posted in Childhood, Depression, Education, Family, Inspiration, Memories, Mental Health, Work and Career and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to An Unquiet Mind

  1. Semra Polat says:

    Salat is a meditation of the highest order ….

  2. I just finoshed that book as well. I loved it. One of my favorite parts was when she was writing about the Genome project and the ethical dilemma in finding the gene that causes Bipolar. I loved when she said if the world rid this disease it would also rid the world of great creativity and passion. How the world would be one that was bland. The Unquiet Mind is definitely a recommended read for anyone.

  3. Van, always enjoy reading your posts and how you have progressed to good mental health. It’s not an easy journey. Good that you found the way! Christine

  4. mandy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Just when I think I’m getting it all together, a post like this jars me, and I know I have more work to do. I relate to so much of what you’ve written, and I have asked myself if I should look at BP as a possibility for the lows/highs. Usually I’ve visited doctors when on the dangerously “down” side, so depression is the only thing they’ve looked at. I will make a note of that book–it looks excellent. Personal stories help me more than anything, and your story certainly has been meaningful. I just saved that Mindful Meditation. I listened to a couple minutes and thought “I gotta do this!!” Thank you so much for opening my eyes to new things today! ♥

  5. I sure hope you’re ok with this. I don’t want to shake anybody up, for sure, but I wish someone had opened up to me years ago about these things. I was in my late thirties when I walked into a Dr. office and proclaimed my own diagnosis…it took me that long to figure it out on my own. I wouldn’t recommend my methods, but by then, I had gone through at least 2 manic episodes, mostly positive and charged with energy, but there were some irritable down sides that I chose to ignore. My mother was manic-depressive, and it was troubling for me to see the pattern repeated, so I resisted as long as I could. Life events, normal to most, forced my hand.
    p.s. The meditation, even as simple as this one, can be so helpful if done on a regular basis. We all deserve those 9 minutes of peace. ☺

    • mandy says:

      Funny thing about me–besides my weird sense of humor–is, I love learning new things and always open to figuring out what makes me tick–or not tick. Your post didn’t shake me up at all. Instead, I feel a sense of relief to know there might be a little more self-discovery on the docket. I’m just grateful for your transparency so I could learn more. I’m usually the one who goes in and tells the doctor what ails me now. They still bill me the same, which I don’t appreciate 🙂 I can’t wait to try out the meditation tonight!

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