This is an old email thread I received by a man named Vladimir Karas in response an article I published in 2017 titled “Becoming Bipolar.” I had only been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for 5 months at that time and had been writing for even less, but thankfully I was very confident in my diagnosis and treatment. I was starting to feel what I assumed normal people felt for the first time in my life, and no one, not even Vladimir, was going to take that away from me.
Vladimir, or “Val” as he calls himself, has impacted my life in many ways, but, unfortunately for him, not in the ways he wanted or anticipated. He taught me that ignorance abounds in regards to mental illness. To say that mania is a result of drinking too much coffee and that depression is actually just low blood sugar is infuriating. AND WHEN HE SAYS BIPOLAR DISORDER IS JUST A HOAX. WHAT?!?! As if we needed more people telling us that mental illness is “all in our head”. Honestly, what the hell Val? But I choose to laugh it off.
In fact, I hope every single one of my readers laughs out loud at the absurdity of his suggestions. For the very first time, I am telling you now that, if you agree with Vladimir, please do not bother commenting. Don’t waste your time.
In the end, I decided not to respond to “Val”. Fundamental differences is the nicest way to put it. But I figured you all deserved enjoy a good chuckle today. So here you go:
I am not a shrink of any conceivable sort, let’s say I just got a developed “horse sense” about human nature after reading some over 1000 books on those many topics, and made over 72 trips around the Sun.
So, let it sound as a disclaimer: I am not telling you to get off your meds or your appointments with your knowledgeable medico—but I have my little “anti-diagnosis” to tell you about, this regarding your official diagnosis.
I don’t think you really need a diagnosis. You sound like a very intelligent person with a great sense of humor—which in itself calls for a second thought. Namely, practically all neurotics, pre-psychotics, and full-blown psychos have their field of consciousness heavily contaminated with some emotional exaggerations, which greatly affects their reasoning.
Yours is brilliantly clear, with a fantastic sense of introspective self-evaluation, which again calls for only one diagnosis: sound healthy.
So, why do you feel crappy, you ask. Well, back in 70’s I read a book called “Be Glad You Are a Neurotic”—now, not implying that you are one, but with an intention to mention what that smart author said.
He said that there are perfectly normal folks who simply have a very rich potential which is trying to rush out all at once through a narrow bottle neck—metaphorically speaking. That produces inner conflicting tendencies over how to process the world—which then affects your emotional homeostasis, making you depressed at times, or giving you a rush of energy.
Growing up beside your mom who had similar problems doesn’t mean anything hereditary—modern biology talks about epigenetics and our ability to override our genetic predispositions. Also about neuroplasticity, hinting at our ability to consciously make new neural pathways, not being stuck with the old ones.
Let’s put it this way: you didn’t “inherit” it from your mom, you just got over-exposed to her condition, and being an impressionable kid you somehow thought “that was the way to be when you grow up”. It gets a little more complex than that, but basically that’s what it means.
My friendly and unofficial advice: start tricking your mind by consciously loving anything that looks less than normal to you in your emotional and mental make up. Befriend it, welcome it. Oftentimes, all it takes is just that—to harmonize something that seems to be out of whack and what we don’t like about ourselves. Love resolves inner conflict and fragmentation, especially the one that shrinks are making bigger with their diagnoses.
So, stop seeing anything “wrong” in you, love it all unconditionally and nonjudgmentally, love the totality of yourself. Then see if anything changes.
For, as long as you are seeing something “wrong” there, you are just getting more of the same to see.
Think about it. If you want, write to me on my email address which will pop up automatically. And, unlike all your doctors—I won’t tell you: “I hope you get well soon”. I’ll tell you: “I hope you have a natural flexibility to start seeing how you already are O.K.” – Val
I appreciate your close read of my article and your sharing your opinion. However, though I use present tense, I went through this diagnostic process 8 months ago. Yes my mom has depression and at the time I wondered if that was why I felt depressed. However I am not diagnosed with depression anymore (and I am very thankful that I am not).
In my upcoming posts, I will explain my 3 months enduring serotonin syndrome, forcing me down a rapid cycling bipolar spiral before two extreme manic breaks and two hospitalizations over the course of 41 days. Manic hospitalizations are a significant part of the diagnostic criteria for bipolar 1. So yes I do believe I am bipolar, because 5 months into my medication I’ve settled into a stable state. For now.
I am working with my therapist to accept this diagnosis, and I’ve found that telling my story reminds me that it is real, and humorous, and important. My current goal for therapy is to build my self-confidence, by loving my self “unconditionally and nonjudgmentally,” as you put it. Thank you. – Cat
I promise not to bother you anymore with my amateurish yapping about your diagnosis, but just for this one more time I hope you may find it forgivable.
I see that you are quite comfortable with being proclaimed a “bipolar” by the psychiatric profession, and really, who am I to try to debunk that verdict?—but just bear with me for another moment if you will, because I might try to do exactly that.
Namely, there is a growing evidence that bipolar disorder is actually a hoax—just like most of invented psychiatric disorders based on “brain’s chemical imbalances”, or an erratic production of main brain’s neurotransmitters, like GABA, serotonin, dopamine, endorphin and alike.
I am sure you may even find something like “bipolar hoax” on Google, if you would bother checking it out. I didn’t, I am just remembering what I have read generally about the fishy business of psychiatry. I even wrote an article on Hub Pages called “Psychology— a Professional Amateurism”.
Psychiatry has never proven that such imbalances actually exist—but they keep the “business” running smoothly. Just like psychoanalysis has statistically shown an extremely low success rate, but is still practiced worldwide as a bona fide therapeutic modality.
Listen, AGAIN, I am not telling you to fire your shrink, that would be highly immoral of me. I am only offering you a spare solution, if one day psychiatry proves not to have been of much help. It should actually make you feel good that there are these “spare” explanations for your mood swings.
So here is what I see as an alternative “diagnosis” based on mood swings—no matter how severe they might be, and even if requiring hospitalization.
For example, you may be perfectly O.K. brain-wise and still have these mood swings as a result of a hypoglycemic episode, that is, if your body is not metabolizing sugar well, and you have a sudden drop in blood glucose. That’s the “low” of it.
Then, people instinctively reach for a stimulant, like coffee, or a soft drink, lots of it, and then they get a “sugar high” which gives them a feeling of being invincible and capable of doing outlandish feats. But then the sugar drops again, and there is this vicious cycle which could be easily mistaken for a “bipolar” disorder—if there is such a thing after all.
Furthermore, there could be certain food sensitivities that can easily play a number on emotional balance. An internist, endocrinologist, or even a naturopath could come up with a non-drug solution by suggesting a modification in what you eat and drink.
Now, yes, it could also have something to do with an “emotional profile” of a person, their level of emotional maturity. Emotional maturity is something that we gain by mobilizing our conscious effort—to re-train our minds for an intimate reality that’s more life promoting than the emotional repertoire that we may instinctively drag on from childhood.
Here I mean a boost in self-esteem, self-confidence, a sense of direction in life, and not allowing those irrational emotions to sabotage any of it, by not taking them seriously. Just look how an immature person can have a real tantrum or a hysterical outburst. Most of these emotional displays are merely a matter of poor stress management and a lack of self-discipline. With a lack of a strong conscious intervention we may feel at a mercy of emotions “happening to us”, without our “having a say” at that. Someone said that “mind is an obedient servant—but a cruel master”. I always liked that one.
You see, Cat, there are two ways to run our show—one is passive and always involving an authority, whether familial, medical, religious, political, any. And another one is active, by thinking for ourselves, by becoming sovereign in mind and taking a full responsibility for our lives.
As you must have noticed, most of the world’s population are obviously opting for placing that responsibility onto the lap of someone else. That makes medical and pharmaceutic businesses bloom. The whole culture market is insisting on “following” some leaders, not pulling ourselves by bootstraps and running our own show.
Well, here comes the end of my story. Like I said—sometimes think of it as that “spare” interpretation of your mood swings, because you may need one if your therapy stretches into months after months. It’s always good to have something “in reserve”. With these thoughts alone I am writing this lengthy email, not to play a smart ass to you with my theorizing.
And as I promised—I won’t bother you with any new ones. Have yourself a great weekend, Cat. – Val
Screw you Vladimir.