Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Big Bad Buddhist Bipolar Books o' the Decade

Meters swum today: 1400
Playing in the background: The ceiling fan

Probably most of us have wondered what we'd do if we were presented with the news that we had a serious illness. By "serious" most of us probably mean "fatal" but it doesn't need to be. Even if somebody hands you news that you have, say, diabetes or Parkinson's or some other massive systemwide malfunction, you will probably spend some time contemplating What This All Means and then decide what to do. Ie, if I found out I needed a septuple bypass and I was 82 years old, as recently happened to a family member of my shponsor, would I have the surgery or not? There's a number of factors to be taken into consideration. How comfortable am I now? If I drop dead, will it be sudden or lingering and painful? What's this surgery like? How's the recovery? What will my life be like afterward? In the case of the septuple bypass I might have Just Said No to the surgery. Ann's dad ended up having the surgery, though, and he's doing very well. Better than before, in fact. You never know how some of these things are going to turn out.

Which is kind of what happened when somebody handed me the news that I might have bipolar disorder, recently confirmed and now being medicated. So what did I do? I went skydivin', I went Rocky Mountain climbin', I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu...

Well, actually I went to a Buddhist meditation retreat, which was maybe the strangest choice ever. Try being on a manic tear and meditating sometime. I hopped into the church bound bound bound bound bound like one of those boings that we have out in the garden (see previous post), threw myself onto a cushion, apologized to everybody in advance for being obnoxious, and then attempted to sit still for the next roughly eight hours. Yeah. That was interesting. Must have been so for my fellow retreatants, too, saintly folks all.

I also did what anybody with a librarian in the household is bound to end up doing; read books. Lots and lots of books. Joan is my book pimp; anything I want, she can get it, from the latest NYT bestseller to an obscure text about the perfection of wisdom. Course, I sometimes have to wait a while, being as the library has wait lists for a lot of popular stuff (budget cuts, ya know.) But I've got four different books on bipolar disorder, and two of 'em have made my Books o'the Decade list already.

The first one is Bipolar Disorder for Dummies. You gotta love the title. If you're not medically inclined but you need to know how not to go completely insane, this is a great place to start. Any of the Dummies books are automatically fantastic (pretty sure I also have Container Gardening for Dummies, Lawn Care for Dummies and Buddhism for Dummies. No, I am not kidding about that last one.) This is also a great reference for family members or friends who have to live with you. Let's face it; bipolar disorder = not easy to live with. You never know which of your two or three roomies you're going to encounter on any given day. In fact, I'm sending a copy of this to my parents, also saintly folks, who are hosting me and Joan for four days in November.

The second one is New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder. (Sorry for lack of graphic but I seem to be having Issues this morning.) This one is a little more medically technical, but it's full of cool stuff about how the brain works, how it doesn't if you have this thing, and even has a couple of brain scans so you can actually see what's going on. Plus a lot of stuff about hope, optimism, the power of positive thinking and a whole long chapter about the different new kinds of psychotherapy, which is an essential part of treatment (and also one I haven't started yet) along with drug therapy. Almost all of the new schools of thought and even most of the old ones talk quite a bit about mindfulness. As in, don't worry about what's going to happen to your brain tomorrow; today everything's good, today you're taking your meds and they're working, today you can handle stressful things, etc. It's like Buddhism has infiltrated the psychology profession while nobody was looking. Well, that's okay. We could use a few Buddhist psychologists.

And have I figured out what else I'm gonna do with my life? No. What I'm mainly figuring out are my new and exciting limitations. Climbing to the Mount Everest base camp; probably out. Can't be that far away from modern medicine. Flying to Europe: Maybe still in, but the time difference will have to be very carefully managed. Guess what knocks my system all wonky; sleep disruption. And guess what I'm very good at from many sessions of wild hyperfertility. Yep, you guessed. I think flying to Australia might be out. That's a time difference of twelve hours and I'm just not sure how I could possibly do that in anything remotely resembling a vacation-size time period. Getting a book published: Still in. Or it better be, anyway. I have a new heater to pay for somehow. Staying up all night writing is definitely out, even on holiday weekends. Alas. And I was all set to jump into NaNoWriMo on November 1, too.

Well, guess what. I'm gonna do NaNo anyway and write the sequel to No Accounting For Reality. Right now I'm calling it No Accounting For __________, because I don't have a word to complete the title yet. Stability? Serenity? Sanity? I dunno. It's about statues coming to life all over Dallas. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment.


Marcia Wall said...

Ok, I'm sitting here waiting for a friend who (40 mins ago) said that she would be here in 5 mins. Oddly enough, I'm not mad. Why bother? Her loss. Anyway, so I'm getting to read your blog and I like it. Especially the part about Rocky Mountain Climbing (and yes, I get the reference).

I also want to check out that book about New Hope...

I'm really not up with all of the apps, how would I subscribe to your blog so that it actuallyl showed up in my email? Just like McDonald's, I'm lovin' it!

Becky said...

"I went skydivin', I went Rocky Mountain climbin', I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu..." that is great because as I was reading your blog I was actually listening to this song LOL! Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the list of books on bipolar disorder, and wanted to mention another great one that I recently stumbled across. The book is titled, "bipolar bare: my life’s journey with mental disorder- a memoir." I liked this book because it is an actual memoir about someone who has this disorder. I learn better by others' examples. It was great to be able to relate.