Friday, March 27, 2009

Harnessing emotion; Go from slave to master

I've pointed out before that I think the problems associated with bipolar disorder or any chemical imbalance disorder arise from emotion.

The imbalanced chemicals cause the experience of emotion at inappropriate times. This affects your thought process and your behavior if you're not very aware of it.

I have learned, over many years, to react very differently to my own emotional state. I don't dismiss all emotion. After all, some are pleasant and even very useful. If I'm experiencing an adrenaline rush during one of my favorite songs, I'll go ahead and immerse myself in it for a few minutes. If I'm angry and it's helping me focus in a productive manner, I'll go ahead and be angry for a few minutes.

However, if I'm experiencing an unusual level of anxiety, fear, depression, irritability or even glee, my first response now is "imbalance". I don't look for circumstantial conditions to attach the emotion to. I know there aren't any. I regard it much like having a cold or flu (depending on the level of severity), take medicine if necessary, just ignore it if it's not.

There is a big difference between being aware of your condition and allowing it to define who you are. I don't mind sharing my insights and opinions for what they're worth, but I'm not joining any support groups, becoming an activist or asking anyone for funding. I will not make "bipolar" that big a part of my life. It's an interesting footnote, and that's all it's going to be. The lessons I've learned from dealing with chemical imbalance are just as useful for those who don't experience chemical imbalance. Understanding your emotional system and making it work for you, instead of being its puppet, will make anyone happier and more productive.