BIPOLAR DISORDER, PSYCHOSIS AND
This will be my coming out article. I
am going to admit something I have been reluctant to divulge
and that is the fact that my bipolar disorder was accompanied
by delusions. This is something I have refused to admit to
people because of the perceptions it creates and it has also
been my understanding that it rarely occurs with Bipolar
disorder – most often accompanied by mania. However, over the
past year or so I have been in contact with people who also
experienced delusions about reality and that has encouraged me
to breach this subject matter. I believe it could be more
common than thought. And to be sure, my delusions sometime
occur just as easily in depressions as they do in manic
episodes. It seems to me that they are a separate symptom and
not dependent on other factors. Regardless, this article is
what I wrote to myself as a way to begin working thorugh the
madness and regaining my sense of reality. I hope that it
might work for others who suffer through from these problems.
There are certain people who are
prone to having paranoid thoughts. Usually they are highly
imaginative and creative types who let their imagination
create their own reality. Sometimes the world they create for
themselves is threatening and inhibits the ability of the
individual to function in a normal capacity. When this happens
the individual will often find themselves seeking help from a
psychiatrist. Afterward the psychiatrist will most often
diagnose them as either psychotic, delusional of
schizophrenic. Actually from a medical standpoint all forms of
delusional thinking are now labeled under the term
schizophrenia manifesting at various levels. Essentially
though the label does not matter. The important thing is what
has happened and that is that the imagination has created a
life that is both fearful and debilitating. This article is
constructed to help the individual regain control of the
reality he or she is creating and relinquish thoughts that are
paranoid, delusional or schizophrenic.
I certainly don’t claim to know how
this process works. However I am very familiar with it since I
experience it on a regular basis. At certain times it just
seems that my mind takes one facet of life and then
extrapolates from there until suddenly everything is connected
and I find myself living in a world that is both fearful and
frightening. After experiencing this numerous times I have
been forced to conclude that what is happening is an
imaginative fantasy rather than reality. I know this because
the fanciful conclusions I create during these times never end
up manifesting in reality. Therefore I realize and understand
that it is an alteration of my perception that is taking
Human being as a species always
attempt to find meaning and purpose in the events that they
experience. For certain individuals this becomes neurotic.
Rather than finding normal and rational connections between
things they begin to find imaginative and irrational
connections. Then everything seems to build to a point of
critical mass and the individual finds themselves living in a
reality that their imagination has manufactured. Often the end
result is an unhealthy withdrawal from society and excess
stress induced by fear based on the reality they perceive to
An individual can learn to control
this process and free themselves from this type of behavior.
It takes discipline and effort and a great deal of time. I
know it is possible because I have done it myself. It does not
stop the psychosis from happening but it does allow the
individual experiencing it to distance themselves from it and
accept the fact that it is an imaginary reality and not the
real world. Once this understanding is accepted the delusional
thinking will begin to diminish on its own power. Medication
may still be needed but the important thing is that the
process restores in the individual a feeling of power and
control in the world, which is necessary for a healthy human
being. Living only at the effect of everything that happens
around you is a very fearful and unhealthy way to live.
There are common aspects to this
behavior that need to be understood. It is readily apparent
that all forms of paranoia or delusional thinking manifests
itself in certain common forms. These various forms are as
1. Intimate thoughts, feelings and
acts are thought to be known or shared by others.
2. The individual often attributes
events to the workings of natural or supernatural forces.
(i.e. aliens, god, “the government”, spirits, etc.)
3. Auditory or visual hallucinations
often occur at the height of the delusion.
4. Irrational connections are often
made between disparate events or objects where a rational
individual would see no connection.
5. Numbers, names and symbols often
take on a life of their own and take on an inordinate amount
of importance in the mind of the individual.
6. Perception is often disturbed in
some manner whether it be auditory, olfactory or visually.
7. Everyday situations and events
will often come to have a special and sinister meaning unique
to the individual.
8. Thinking becomes vague, elliptical
9. Hypergraphia often manifests
itself, which is the unusual need to write things down and
record experiences taking place.
10. Events often contain religious,
philosophical or spiritual overtones and these disciplines
become a focus for the individual.
11. The individual experiences
thought echo, thought broadcasting or thought insertion from
12. The individual often feels that
they are somehow “special” or “unique” as compared to other
people. Somehow the individual feels “chosen”.
Now that we have an idea of what the
problem looks like lets formulate some basic principles for
overcoming this type of thought process.
The Ten Laws of Overcoming Paranoia
1. Paranoia always manifests by a
narrowing focus on reality. Thus paranoia can be reduced by
taking a larger focus than that of the individual.
2. Paranoia is always focused on
“ideas”, “concepts” and “thought forms” as opposed to being
focused on tangible and concrete physical reality. By engaging
in physical activity or experiencing reality in a tangible way
we can reduce paranoia.
3. Paranoia usually manifests as a
belief that the individual experiencing it is somehow chosen
as special. Therefore paranoia can be reduced by focusing on
the fact that one lives on a very large planet with billions
of people and that any thoughts of specialness are simply
4. Paranoia is always ultra-serious
regarding its focus on reality. Therefore by engaging our
sense of humor and making light of our perceptions of reality
we can reduce paranoid thoughts and behavior.
5. Paranoia tends to focus on the
past or on the future. Very rarely does it deal with the here
and now. Thus by focusing on being present at this particular
moment in time we can reduce paranoid thinking. The past does
not matter and neither does the future. All we have is the
here and now.
6. Paranoia is always self-obsessed.
Therefore we can reduce paranoia by empathizing, listening and
experiencing others. The more we move the focus off of self
the more the paranoia reduces as well.
7. Paranoia places emphasis on states
of “being” or mental reality. Reality however requires “doing”
and action. By engaging in tangible physical action we reduce
our focus on the mental aspects of life and as a result reduce
8. Paranoia always contains a very
high level of judgment. It separates the world into
black/white, good/bad, master/servant. Reality however is
always gray. Therefore by accepting the fact that most people
do not fit into simple categories we reduce paranoia.
9. Paranoia always forgets the daily
necessities of ordinary life. Therefore by doing the simple
necessities of life such as taking out the trash, taking a
bath, feeding the dog, paying the bills or anything else we
10. Paranoia tends to believe in
abstract notions of reality such as parallel universes,
spiritual manifestations, alien intelligences, spirit guides,
angels, gods or the devil. However whether these concepts are
true or not does not change your physical reality. Physical
reality remains the same regardless of what you believe. Thus
by focusing on physical reality we reduce our paranoia.
THE FALLACIES OF BEING SPECIAL
On the road to paranoia one of the
first landmarks is the belief that somehow or another “you”
are special. Many subsequent paranoid thoughts will center
around this one particular belief so in many ways we can
interpret this belief as being at the center of the paranoid
We all have a need to feel special
and unqiue. And the truth is that we are unique in many ways.
Our beliefs and our personality and our outlook are for a
large part unique to us alone. However the paranoid definition
of unique is not the same. For the paranoid unique means
unique in the sense that other people do not experience
reality in the same manner as you do. For example, it is only
the paranoid person who is able to see the spirits, aliens,
interdimensional creatures or whatever else. This type of
unique is simply unlikely and therefore based on failed logic.
One of the first things we notice in
the world is the way in which we can count on things to have
continuity in our lives. When we see a rock we know what it
will feel like and how it will behave because we have
experiened similar rocks in the past. By the same token we
know what to expect from a cat or a dog. Of course there may
be small differences in personality and behaviour but for the
most part they are the same. Meaning that they experience
reality in a similar manner and interact with the world in
pretty much the same way. The paranoid refuses to believe that
this is true for the human species in general and for
themselves in particular.
First of all lets look at the facts.
For one thing there are almost seven billion people in the
world. Therefore if you are unique in some manner then that
means you will be one out of aproximately seven billion people
with this attribute, ability or characteristic. From a pure
statistical standpoint this is just highly unlikely.
Many feel that they have been
“chosen” by some higher force or enitity to receive a
particular message. However, this belief causes pause for
thought. For one thing assuming such an entity or being exists
we can assume that if it is intelligent enough to contact you
then we can also assume that it is intelligent enough to
recognize the social structure on Earth. Thus the question
becomes why you as opposed to say the president or the head of
the UN or the rock star or the super athlete or someone else
of similar stature? I mean if you have been contacted by such
an intelligence can’t we assume that they must be seriously
lacking in judgment and intelligence to have contacted you in
the first place? Continuing with this line of reasoning you
can prove to yourself that it is simply illogical that you
would have been contacted by something or someone out of seven
billion people on the planet.
Another thought that paranoids often
come to believe is that they somehow experience reality in a
different manner than everybody else. Is this likely? The
first thing to consider is that we are all given the same
basic biology and sensory apparatus – eyes, ears, mouth, nose
and tongue. These organs function in the same manner in every
individual on earth. From this we can conclude that it is
highly unlikely that we would have different perceptions in
reality. However from medical studies we can understand where
this belief may come from. Medical experiments have shown that
when certain areas of the brain are stimulated certain effects
are generated in the mind of the patient. Thus there is
evidence that supports the fact that any experience of reality
that is different than that which others experience is most
likely caused by the brain itself processing or misprocessing
Hopefully this will give you the
courage to evaluate your belief that you are special and give
pause to the notion that such a belief is possible. Refuting
this belief is one of the first steps on the road to
overcoming paranoid thoughts.
MENTAL CONSTRUCTIONS V. PHYSICAL
The paranoid personality always gets
caught up in mental constructions of reality. What is a mental
construction of reality? It is a reality in which the
underlying power or arrangement is ordered and ascribed to
various powers or effects that cannot be experienced and
therefore must be imagined. For example, a primitive sees a
lightning storm and imagines that it is sent by a thunder god
who is angry with the local populace. This is a perfect
example of a constructed reality. Another example would be the
individual who perceives diverse events such as a strange
phone call, a magazine left at the door and a chance encounter
as all deriving from government agencies that are monitoring
their every move. Notice that in both cases there is no
perceptual evidence for either of the powers behind the given
events. In both cases the individual must have “faith” that
such influences exist. Therefore we conclude that the main
fault with mentally constructed realities is that they require
a person to have faith in something that does not exist.
As a comparison let’s examine
physical reality. Physical reality is the reality we
experience with the physical senses. Here are some excerpts
from the book “Constructive Living” by David Mitchell:
Reality is truth. Ideas and
interpretations and preferences and ideals may shift around
from time to time. Whatever happens with them you can be
pretty sure that if you face a blank sheet of paper and don’t
write on it, your term paper won’t get written. You can count
on your car getting older year by year. You can trust the
truth that you will die someday. You know that when it is hot
outside you will feel hot or when it is cold outside you will
feel cold. “
“But in another sense, no matter what
my friend Carlos Castaneda writes, no
matter what theoretical physicists
write about space within and between atoms, every time I thump
my hand against the desk, my hand hits solid reality. It
Again and again we are called to put
away “ideas”, “words” and “beliefs” about
reality and to simply accept reality
for what it is. Reality is the wind blowing on
your face. It is the snow blocking
your driveway. It is the tree shading your yard. It is the
moon sitting high in the sky.
Notice how all of these things need
no mental constuction to understand. We can see them, touch
them and feel them. We do not need to create them out of our
THIS is what we mean by physical
reality. Whether I am a buddhist or a Christian or a Hindu or
an Alien or a Genius I still have to go the bathroom when
nature urges me. I still have to find a shade to cool down in
when I am hot. I still have to physically move my feet to get
from here to someplace else. No matter what I believe or how I
interpret the events around me I am forced to deal with
reality in the same manner as everybody else. Mental constucts,
words, ascension, crystals, energy bodies or past lives do not
change the manner in which I interact with reality. In fact
reality could care less what I believe or don’t believe.
Reality will still keep coming regardless of what I do or how
I define it. This is a truth that one can count on. This is
the truth that is beyond language and ideas. This is the Truth
with a capital “T”.