Saturday, April 2, 2011

Writing therapy for traumatized bi-polars...a true rant

Okay, I'll write, I can't find a way to get around my warped mind, and my friends say I sound much better in writing than I do otherwise.

I have to admit writing allows me to keep away from the "under construction" hard hat area, where the world is falling in on me. I try to read as much as possible right now, keep my mind full of information and less emotion, as the torrent that is behind the mask is comparable to that of a dam with a serious erosion problem.

Reading is fundamental but it's exercise too, those who are not readers, the ones that "skim" and hate to have to read or actually the problem is surrounding the comprehension. I guess that's my topic comprehension.

What is it that I am trying to understand? There is an AP article about a Russian man who worked on the Chernobyl meltdown and he was one of hundreds that had to run into the reactor for two minutes at a time and bury the radioactive material and then run the hell out of there as fast he could. The Russians not known for their generosity, mostly poverty and a history of inequity, gave these men who risked life and limb to stop a disaster of a proportion we had not seen, an all expense paid trip to India.

The radiation is so quick to latch on experts say as the Japanese are trying to manage the unmanageable, a badly designed nuclear power plant put to the test of a huge earthquake and a tsunami. There are areas where the radiation is so dense, yet slyly invisible, a human would just begin to burn.

Imagine that scene a person walking into a seemingly normal looking area and just beginning to burn. There it goes again, my morbidity. The point of the story was that the Japanese are paying the equivalent of $5000 a day to hire runners for their catastrophe.

They call them runners because as I said you can only take so much radiation, and lines of hundreds of people are needed to run and bury something or do some quick task then gets the hell out of there. During Chernobyl which is 25 years ago now, the Soviets at the time, gave these men some lead to wear from the waste down and some goggles apparently. I didn't hear about the Japanese if they have lead suits or something of that nature, but there's a limit of exposure before imminent death.

The exposure some have endured are guaranteed to be dead in a short amount of time. But in the Soviet Union, according to this gentleman in the story, he is now 55, some people who were "over" the safe levels of exposure ended up surviving whereas some who should have lived had symptoms or died, so there was some variation in the people versus amounts of radiation tolerance.

That's when this guy says, to do a job like that you have to handle the pressure. He said if he had known at the time what was really happening, he may have made a different decision than to hire on to radiation team, but then he says, "I eat pressure for breakfast."

I found that interesting as a bi-polar we do like the adrenaline, we like it, no doubt, and all those other chemicals too that we have shooting out our eyes and ears. But we are weaker I think in that respect. We handle and seek out the pressure, but then we also cave eventually.

My grandfather, the bi-polar gene carrier of the family, was not showing his bi-polar until after he did far too many tours during WWII. He was in the Pacific and in Europe and in Africa. He got Malaria, almost died, but then went back into battle. Most people who experience war don't ever forget it or will always be different, and that was my grandfather. He was apparently a good looking guy with a lot of wit and charm, but he went into war, and came back a different person. He also went through a situation of being last man standing, meaning you have to deal with the guilt and the never ending question of "why me?" Sadly, he drank most of his life away, and couldn't handle a "regular" life anymore. He gave this for a country I'm ashamed to be a part of at this point. America needs to step up to the task. That's for a different blog for another time.

But I also see this same interesting fact about how these numbers, as in the amount of radiation a human can handle before being poisoned and or burnt, are not static or completely reliable information.

One of the books that helped me in my life was that of "Auschwitz" survivor, Victor Frankle, who went on to write about how he helped other survivors deal with issues again such as "survivor guilt," and the trauma. There is a paragraph in the book where Frankle talks about the survivors they weren't necessarily who you thought they would be. The heavier or hardier a person was didn't apply, but what did apply was their sense of humor.

His book talks about the sense of humor, the ability to have that dark humor, that would be a more likely aid in getting through the most inhumane of treatment, under constant fear of death, one learns to deal with it, and even laughs. Frankle himself lost most of his family, all possessions and his home, job, but talked about joking around about the crusty pieces of bread they would share. It was a bounty to get anything in these camps, these brutal and evil people.

And as my stream of thinking goes on, I think I have met evil and know it by name. I thought years ago much more of people than I do now. No, let me rephrase that, I used to think people were mostly good. Now I am realizing they are few and far between. People hiding behind a facade designed to keep themselves from knowing themselves. I am more appreciative when I realize I've been lucky to have some really good people in my life. People I can trust. What is happening is I'm learning about the others, the sociopaths, narcissists,  the ones who have no feelings, they are numb, in lock-down.

Another article was studying traumatic events to see if they change the way our brain works. And yes, as would be expected a definite variation in the study of people with a "change" in the way their brain operates. After years of being a POW, now the journalists, being held captive not knowing whether they are going to make it. Not understanding the language, the culture, their feelings on death. That changes a person's chemistry, and activity in different parts of the brain. Some people become numb and they don't feel anything anymore. Others are more aggressive and tuned up, while some stay in a state of shock, paralysis, and the lesson is what happens on the outside can change our whole being.

Now are we able to get a handle on it, is the question I guess I'm asking myself these days. I have had a traumatic event that was physical in nature, there was some issues of trust, but it has changed something. (On 1/25/11 I was given Narcan without being duly informed by our favorite hospital, KVHD. I was alert and awake, and ouch! on painkillers. I went into instant opiate withdrawal-screamed like a baby!) Hopefully, it will not be an ending but a new beginning, but again, things aren't always a happy ending. And if you want to really look at it, there is no ending to the story, there's always another beginning.

Death is a beginning. It begins when you're born. It's always there and different cultures have dealt with it in many ways. We metamorphosise and we emerge again. I am a believer that it doesn't end, it changes. None of us like change anymore than death and really you can see the fear of change for people to make a leap of faith, try it differently, is often a dreaded feeling. I experienced and still do the feeling of death. Chest pains, a cold sensation from head to toe, and pain like nothing I had experienced, but it was unexpected, it had all sorts of dimensions to the experience.

But what I find interesting is the skulls. In all cultures we see skulls. The architecture of a creature with none of the animation and motion. Eventually become part of the land, putting our DNA into the earth. My sister had a tough time with my newest theory that the earth will eventually blow up and our DNA with it, like a flower, blowing all it's pollen into the air, inseminating a potential planet with our legacy.

So, those who want a stable, secure life, are missing out on the idea that everything that happens has meaning, even in it's randomness. Infinity is such a great concept for a mind to incorporate and relates to the consistency of everything. The choices I made years ago how they get accounted for which is the basis for the belief in Karma.

A good movie, "Triage" and a great line by a Kurdish doctor who has a cave where he treats the wounded, says to the photo journalist who had been hit by some shrapnel, "Does your leg hurt," he replies, "yes." The doctor says good, it's not the pain we worry about it's the numbness. 

Don't be numb. That's enough therapy for one night. If I reread this I know I'll find the morbid in the madness. And then maybe I will one day be able to "eat pressure for breakfast," I just know I feel danger as well as dangerous. 5150 over 100 (blood pressure is a little high)