Monday, October 31, 2011

The Bipolarity Paradox.

If one voluntarily chooses a life of manic depression, where the highs are extra high, and the lows are particularly low, citing the unnatural and overwhelming vividity of all human experience as the motivating factor, and the act of choosing that heightened quality of all emotion over plain old convenience as the guiding rational thought, the following catch-22 situation is fairly inevitable. The erratic behaviour that is a direct result of this disposition will eventually drive away all the people and things that make one happy. However, if it were not for this same disposition, those things would not make one happy enough to want them in the first place.  

13 comments:

Priyanka Mehta said...

Thanks for writing this!
A thought that I could not put in words and you with your trademark clarity put it down so well.

Tangled up in blue... said...

A friend of mine once told me that manic-depression is the only mental illness patients actually enjoy, atleast on the 'up' days! One wonders if the highest of highs is worth the plunge to the lowest of lows. And sometimes, it feels like the answer is yes. But you put quite a different spin on it, of course. The question of whether such a life could be voluntarily chosen for oneself and whether it should be.

Sherry Wasandi said...

@Priyanka: Somehow, I knew this would hit a nerve.

@TUIB: I think that life would be quite bland without this proverbial roller-coaster. Personally speaking, I enjoy experiencing the intensity of the lows as much as the highs. Makes me feel more alive, so to say. As for the high, who doesn't like feeling invincible, beating the odds, doing 20 things at the same time, and managing to do them well? :) Yes, one does burn out soon enough and compensate with gross under-performance, but it's a constant rush to the head while the high lasts!

I mean no disrespect to the several people who suffer greatly from the condition, but the voluntary choice I speak of comes from questioning if it is really a problem that needs fixing, in every case. I wonder if the answer to that changes with the degree to which one can manage the effect of this condition on the things in life that are more important than the person's emotional addiction, and the need to satisfy it.

Tangled up in blue... said...

'whether it is a problem that needs fixing, in every case.' It's interesting this, but do you know that you're echoing Virginia Woolf? She's been speculated to have been a manic-depressive and she refused all then-available 'treatments' for it because her highs allowed her to create some of the most original and incredible literature of the century. Her manic phases were highly productive and her writing prolific. Her trademark stream-of-consciousness perhaps comes from the flight-of-ideas one finds occasionally in patients in a rougher state.

Her logic was that if her illness made her write like that, she could not give it up. She did not want medication to lull her mind precisely because the breakneck speed at which it works allowed her to experience things more intensely, 'to feel the jolt of life' as she put it.

What you're saying here is incredibly similar!

Her depression was bad, of course. She attempted suicide numerous times and finally succeeded. But not before her suicidal thoughts introduced so many characters in her stories that thought about the same thing.

Presumably, she used her writing as therapy and it worked for her, for a while, atleast.

Of all the psychoses, bipolar disorder fascinates me the most. I actually wrote about it myself a while back. Here - http://bluedrain.blogspot.com/2011/04/dream-on.html

Priyanka Mehta said...

@Sherry - Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai, aaj phir marne ka iraada hai. :)

Sherry Wasandi said...

@TUIB: I always found myself agreeing with most things Woolf wrote, but never quite realised that there was any more to it.

I do believe that "feeling the jolt of life" is the only way to fully experience everything that it has to offer, and thus, the only way to do justice to a person's capacity for emotion.

Your post got me thinking of something else along these lines. If the "malady" somehow amplifies every aspect of a person's personality, can it really be said that it isn't really the same person anymore? And if that is the case, then isn't the suppression of the same personality that comes with NOT "feeling the jolt of life", also a compromise on what a person really is?

@Priyanka: I don't think there has ever been a way to express it as eloquently as that. :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

That's perfect, Sherry. You've expressed in words what I've always wondered about but was never quite able to put my finger on.

How do you separate a person from an illness? Or frankly, even call it an illness.

My aunt always said, "You can cure everything, but not someone's personality."

But psychiatry textbooks have classifications of personality disorders.

To study mental illnesses is a difficult job. It's not something that is quantifiable, hence, not measurable.

And there is no 'normal range' you can hold people's psyches up against.

It's something that frequently ties my reasoning up in knots.

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