There is this thing called “The Wise Mind”. If you are not familiar with it, here is the 30-second overview.
It is assumed that we operate through two different lenses within our mind. There is the Reasonable Mind. The Reasonable Mind is largely based on research. Statistics. The ability to make decisions based on the information that is provided. Analysing it and thinking it through to a “reasonable” solution.
Then there is the Emotional Mind. The Emotional Mind is largely based on…well, emotions. Whichever ones are present at the time: fear, anxiety, joy, happiness, anger, stress, and the list goes on and on. The emotions of the moment hold sway in bringing about an “emotional” decision.
The Wise Mind is located in the Venn diagram overlap. It is able to take reasonable information, combine it with emotional feedback, and come to a place of wise decision making.
Healthy people spend the majority of their time operating from the position of the Wise Mind. Especially as the decision looms larger with its ramifications and impacts. However, I would contend that MOST people operate with at least some leaning towards the Reasonable Mind or the Emotional Mind. Not necessarily an unhealthy leaning, but a bias none the less. This contention on my part is not without plenty of agreeance, potentially including yourself. It is all very similar to the right brain/left brain theories many of us grew up listening to.
I would also contend that unhealthy people (especially HIGHLY unhealthy people) are operating from an almost exclusive Reasonable or Emotional mind position. AND…that as you delve into the world of emotionally or mentally ill individuals, you will find an exclusive mind operation in many instances.
Which brings me (or us) to me (or us). Here is what I believe I have learned about myself recently through reading, studying, reflecting and therapy interaction regarding the Wise Mind.
First, on a day-to-day basis, I have grown up through the first 40-plus years of my life operating with a Reasonable Mind largely to the exclusion of the Emotional Mind. I thrive on intellect. Logic. Information. Data. Facts. The tangibles. Let me emphasise, not only with a leaning towards the Reasonable Mind but with a barrier being erected to block out the Emotional Mind. And for a given period of time, things progress rather smoothly.
Then along comes a trigger event. A piece of information. A moment of activity. A human interaction. Something that the Reasonable Mind can not make sense of. It simply cannot handle it in and of itself. However, due to the barrier, rather than being able to move into the locale of the Wise Mind, the pendulum radically swings to break through the wall into the Emotional Mind causing a complete meltdown. Now decisions instantly begin to be made from strictly an emotional point of view. Illogical. Radical. Fear founded decisions.
Proactive becomes reactive. Rational becomes irrational. Informed becomes ignorant.
Looking back, the people who have witnessed these swings in my life have most often responded to my rantings with “You aren’t making any sense.” (i.e. Not reasonable) Or “What’s going on?” (i.e. This isn’t making any sense) Maybe “Where is this coming from?” (i.e. These dots don’t logically connect)
It’s coming from a place of complete imbalance. A mind operating like a teeter-totter with the evil kid on the playground doing that thing where he pushes off the ground with all his might to send you on a downward death spiral only to immediately drop his fat ass to the ground again and shoot you right back up in the air.
Ironically enough, the solution seems quite logical. As I operate from the place of the Reasonable Mind I need to continually be pressing myself to open up more and more emotionally so that I might find myself moving towards center. Towards the home of the Wise Mind.
Problem is, one of the other factors working in the Reasonable Mind is past experiences. And past experience tells me this side of the wall is where I want to stay.
I live my life in constant conflict with myself. If not constant, nearly. My recent encounter with a kidney stone once again provided a stark example of this reality.
There is my personality, and then there is my illness. Not the kidney stone one. The other.
My personality is one of those somewhat hard care, highly driven, perfectionistic, some use the label…Type A personalities. That means my thinking is often characterised by a spirit of “suck it up.” Other phrases that commonly spew forth from my mouth are, “life’s not fair”, “deal with it”, “it is what it is”, “quit complaining and move on”…you get the idea. Worse yet, you have probably encountered someone like myself and these past few lines immediately brought them to mine. Double worse yet (if there is such a thing), you also are such a person.
Then there is my illness. Bipolar. Which, while once would have provided me with the identifying label of being a manic depressive, the more I age just provides me with the label depressive. I find my bouts with depression to come more frequently and more intensely. And they are polar (see what I did there…) opposite to the mentality of my personality.
In fact, the reality is that the depressed person has a counter to each of my spiritual pep rallying cries –
“Quit complaining and move on” – but I don’t want to.
“It is what it is” – but it shouldn’t be.
“Deal with it” – but I don’t know how to.
“Life’s not fair” – but it should be.
“Suck it up” – but I can’t.
As a parent, I know the frustration of seeing a child down in the “mulligrubs” and unable to coax them out of it with a little cheerleading. Unable to do that for myself? Well, that’s just plain debilitating.
So I wrestle internally. At times my personality gives way to a greater sense of compassion for the other in front of me, and on very rare occasion the person inside of me. At those times, I find it in me to just be present rather than to be a drill sergeant. On other rare occasions, I am successful at picking another up by their bootstraps or even pulling myself from a plunge towards darkness through more tender and kind words of encouragement. Most of the time? I just wrestle.
Wrestle between a personality that is telling me not to cry over spilt milk and an illness that just wants to crawl back under the covers and cry.
8 mm. I live in America and have minimal familiarity with the metric system so it seemed like such a small number to me. Eight. Millimeters.
That is what it took to bring me down three weeks ago (See – Present Day, April 2nd, 2017). To practically derail my life for an entire three-week period. An 8 mm kidney stone. The stone. The wait. The stint. The removal. The recovery.
I will not bore you with all the details (you are welcome), or with any of the images (you are SOOO welcome!). Let’s just keep this simple, straight forward and honest. There are awful combinations in life. Take for instance large amounts of cocaine, heroin and alcohol. Terrible combination.
Well, for those who do not know, Bipolar (or any number of mental illnesses) combined with chronic or pseudo-chronic pain? Bad combination. Throw in morphine and narcotic pain medications? Really bad combination. As a final ingredient to the recipe let’s toss in a splash of a highly physical job that starts at three in the morning? Yeah, I was pretty much fucked.
Things were actually supposed to be quite smooth following the insertion of a stint between my kidney and my bladder. Should be minimal discomfort they said. Shouldn’t hardly be noticeable they said.
I really like my entire medical team including my doctor. There was, however, one problem with just about all of them. They were young. Very young. As in, too young to have ever had a kidney stone. In other words, it was all book knowledge. No experience. Or put another way, they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.
The day after. And the day after that. And the day after that. The pain did not go away. The discomfort that was indescribable to my wife. The inexplicable lack of energy. From the Tuesday the stent was placed inside my body until six days later (two days ago), when I grabbed that string and pulled that son of a bitch out of my body, it had become the physically most discouraging period of my life.
The day of the stone was worse than the day of my heart attack. The week after the surgery was worse than the week after my heart attack. Not. Even. Close!
And so I have been sidelined. With no creative energy to write (or think for that matter) as I suffered through day in, day out of blood clots, cramps, and fatigue. As I took over the counter pain killers to stay awake enough to run my route before popping a narcotic to sleep enough to do it again the next day.
But I have survived. Once again my pee is flowing freely and bright (sorry…couldn’t avoid ALL the details), my energy is back, and life is rainbows and unicorns. At least for today. And for today…I’ll take it.
It started at 2 a.m. a few days back. March 29th to be exact. The pain came on a like a lightning bolt stabbing me in my lower back. Right side to be exact once again.
After roughly an hour of cringing, curling into a ball, and sitting on the toilet with the shower curtain wadded up in my mouth to keep from screaming and waking the rest of the house…it subsided. Until 4 a.m. When it hit again.
Needless to say, the Wednesday morning 6:30 a.m. alarm came far too early. Though fortunately for me that any other day of the week the attack would have hit in the midst of my launch of the 3 a.m. workday. I attributed both attacks to something I had eaten the night before. Maybe too much dairy. I have always had a rather sensitive system. And with the pain gone for the time being, it seemed like it must have been something temporary.
Until roughly 4:30 p.m. that same day. When it struck again. This time, harder than ever. This time, powerful enough to leave me vomiting into the toilet. This time, too strong to ignore. I had heard of pain that could make you throw up, but I had never felt it. Until now.
My wife and I attempted Urgent Treatment Center no. 1. A 90 minute waited with a way overcrowded waiting room. Especially for the display of pain and nauseau I was experiencing. Urgent Treatment Center no. 2. 45-minute wait (I’m not sure these people understand the definition of the word “urgent”). It didn’t take that long for them to notice my pain, and by the time I was escorted to an exam room they indicated they would never be able to run the tests needed or provide the pain medication necessary for the condition they thought I was clearly facing. Namely…kidney stones.
Off to stop no. 3. The Emergency Room. A few hours later, two shots in my ass containing anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and more importantly – morphine! A CT scan, and sure enough, the discovery of an 8mm kidney stone which I was simply and initially advised by a nurse was a “pretty good size stone.”
While I awaited the doctor and further instruction, I found this on my phone indicating that my little 8mm gem fit the worse case scenario of both sides of the graphic –
The doctor provided further pain medications and a few other necessary prescriptions along with a follow-up appointment with a urologist within the next 48 hours to resolve the challenge I was facing. The next day we would discover that the referral was “out of network” and that an “in network” provided could not see me until the coming Tuesday afternoon. Yep, that’s right, six days from the initial attack (still 2 more days from today!).
These are the big things for normal humans that can become the unmanageable things by bipolar people. My wife joined me at 3 a.m. the next two days for work as the pain medications had me so drugged I could hardly stay awake while driving down the interstate. The same pain medications that can leave you plunging into the lethargy of depression, a state that I happened to have just pulled myself out of about 10 days ago (see recent posts). Not to mention the anxiety and unknown of when the next attack will come. The compounding stress and reality of mounting medical bills. The fear of exercise or strenuous movement that could once again dislodge the stone and send me into excruciating pain resulting in becoming stagnant for a number of days and giving inactivity the opportunity to dig its claws deeper into my life with weight gain and unhealthy daily life practices.
I don’t believe in god, and part of the reason is simply a hope. A hope that he or she doesn’t exist. Because if the mother fucker does he is an unrelenting bastard that can’t seem to find it within his means to just leave me alone for awhile. An abusive childhood. Teenage suicide attempts. An adult life battling bipolar. A heart attack two years ago. A mental breakdown last year. A multi-thousand dollar kidney stone trauma this year. I have to hope that there isn’t some being up there who could look down upon me, along with millions of others, and just say…“You know, I think he has probably had enough for awhile. Let’s just let him be.” Yeah, I’d rather just hope he doesn’t exist. Believe he doesn’t exist.
60 more hours to go. Hoping that a relatively tiny ass stone, though rather big ass in the perspective of its location, stays put and doesn’t send me back to the bathroom shrieking in pain. Back to the pain killers falling back into the haze. Hoping that this next life stretch can be navigated and maybe, just maybe a period of normalcy experienced.
Unless of course, this just is normalcy, in which case…well…my bipolar mind is best not going there.