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Mindfulness - Part 2

By John McManamy

Okay, so here's the situation:

I had switched from a name brand mood stabilizer that I only had to take once a day to a generic version that required me to space out my doses several times a day. Inevitably, I would miss doses. After a few weeks, I noticed that I was actually feeling better, more like myself, mentally sharper, with a certain zing and zap.

Was this the true me? Or was it the false hope of hypomania? Should I go back to the name brand drug?

It was time to revisit “knowing thyself.” Mild hypomania is one of my default settings, along with low-grade depression. The catch with my mild hypomania is that I never knew where it would take me. Life of the party or social embarrassment? Exuberant and  focused or grouchy and distracted?

And what about further down the line? The mixed episodes, the rages, the crazy thinking, the reckless behavior, those crashes into depression ...

No, don’t even think about it.

But wait, I decided. I’m allowing fear to govern my life. Here I was, feeling well, really well, with my personality intact. No way I was going to quit on that without a fight.

Okay, more knowing thyself. There would be a price, I realized, to this “true me” status - an extended range to my mood cycles, greater anxiety, a tendency toward showing my anger. In addition, my numerous personality quirks would be on display. 

Was it worth it? Of course it was.

What I needed from my meds was that they slow me down just enough so I remained in control. Hopefully, all the recovery techniques I had learned over the years would pick up the slack. In essence - low dose meds, high dose recovery techniques.

Enter mindfulness. Mindfulness - essentially the mind watching the mind - is most closely associated with Buddhism.

“Mind precedes its objects,” reads the first line of the Dhammapada, the best-known of the Buddhist scriptures. “They are mind-governed and mind-made. To speak or act with a defiled mind is to draw pain after oneself, like a wheel behind the feet of the animal drawing it.”

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