Bipolar and Meditation

Apr 2020
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somewhere
Hi. I'm interested in any connections between meditation and bipolar disorder, both out of curiosity and practical concern.

I've been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder with psychotic features after a manic episode. I recently got a meditation app called Waking Up and started doing the guided meditation as well as listening to some of the theory behind the practice included in the app. The decision to start meditating was due both to curiosity as well as the potential therapeutic effects. The possible negative effects of meditation, particularly for someone with a mental illness, and uncanny parallels between mania and meditation, has been a concern though.

While I think mania is often described as a sort of antithesis to mindfulness, a time in which you are entirely unmindful of your own behavior, I've noticed similarities between the two. (Perhaps because I have just started, though, this is more from hearing about meditation as opposed to practicing it). The symptom of a rush of ideas and creativity which is often associated with bipolar I generally viewed as an increased awareness of my own thoughts as they came, allowing me to extract them out rather than being clouded by them. I also had a sense that there was a direct connection between my thoughts and my actions without anything in the way, namely self doubt. This caused the reckless behavior associated with bipolar and put the sense of self-agency into question. And despite the idea that mania is about feeling good, a major concern for me was a loss in emotion altogether, and with it happiness, as my emotions become things which I can consciously control. Apparently there is a similar concern with meditation. The sense of spiritual revelation further suggests a connection.

I have read that meditation can be of extreme value to people with bipolar, and that it can serve a real risk, so there seems to be conclusions made on both sides. To clarify, so far I have found it beneficial, calming if nothing else, and I don't have any sense of relapsing. I am curious, however, of people's opinions on this.
 
Mar 2020
52
7
US
Buddist meditation comes from the idea that stoicism will take you to nirvana. It is meant to eliminate your emotions, including happiness. For someone with bipolar this is a useful however foreign feeling. It wouldn't hurt you to explore it.

Bipolar is not only happy and sad but an extreme of all brain chemicals including adrenaline and stress. You'll find yourself cycling through all of them very fast during bipolar episodes.

Just as useful as eastern meditation is a western educational understanding of brain chemicals and the nutrients that provoke them. This might enhance your meditation.

Also I suffered when I meditated with qui gong, chi, and reiki. Qui gong, chi, and reiki encourage extreme empathy that turned into a chaotic 2 year long personality disorder episode for me accompanied by voices and energy transference. I couldn't stop it till I engaged in western exorcism, numerology, and neuroscience. It was very difficult to end and still lingers a little bit from time to time.

If you're going to meditate, try non spiritual meditation. IMO. I find the ocean to be the most effective form of meditation as well as boiling water, falling water, and hot baths. For some reason water seems to be the ultimate meditation tool. You can record sounds of them and play them on repeat for efficient access to their sounds.

Also arm weights or arm braces help me expell emotions and sleep more efficiently. Bracing and weighting the arms seems to have to do with emotional release. I suppose it's because it's like having someone grab your arm.

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Apr 2020
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somewhere
If you're going to meditate, try non spiritual meditation. IMO.
Yes, I don't think I'm trying to do spiritual meditation at all.

My concern is whether the experience of mania has similarities with experiences during meditation though. It seems a bit paradoxical but there do seem to be parallels.
 
Mar 2020
52
7
US
I'm sorry. I just reread your post.

I'm not a professional.

It sounds like when you were meditating youre thoughts became clearer and then you got excited and it lead to mania and loss of self control.

I would guess that you had a release of emotions which may have been tied up in your mind.

It is a good thing that you had clarity of thought. The only thing that could be expected from clarity of thought is more efficient thought processing, which made you excited and gave you an adrenaline rush.

Am I right?

Perhaps intense exercise to make you tired would have a greater calming effect. Or perhaps you need to go through the emotional releases of your current meditation routine for a long time until your emotions seep out of you. It might take some time.
...
I had an incredible dream the other night after several days of little sleep and waking up very early. The dream summarized my whole life in a science fiction type story. The clarity was something I never experienced before. It might have had to do with the level of stress I was under, the reminiscence of the location I was in, and maybe even an act of God. There were probably multiple reasons that I had such a clear experience.

I took my lesson from the dream, which unusually so, I remembered when I woke up, and I made some important decisions about what should motivate me.

Maybe this has to do with the type of meditation you have been going through.

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Apr 2020
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It is a good thing that you had clarity of thought. The only thing that could be expected from clarity of thought is more efficient thought processing, which made you excited and gave you an adrenaline rush.
This sound accurate. To clarify though, the mania occurred months ago and I just started meditating recently so the meditation didn't cause the mania. I don't think the meditation is particularly emotional, but I definitely think exercise is good.
 
Apr 2020
6
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somewhere
Maybe this has to do with the type of meditation you have been going through.
Sorry, I didn't see this before. This isn't the case for meditating but memories played a role going into mania. There was an apparent significance and meaning of past events.
 
Mar 2020
52
7
US
I meditate and memories come back to me. I think that's a big point of meditating.

I have times in my life that have shaped me, and when I reflect on them, spring up involuntarily, I unprogram them.

Maybe you have a significant amount of memories that you might have to remember in order to understand how they've impacted your life.

If this is the case I'm afraid not even meditation will immediately make you different.

Try going through what you have to go through with the meditation until it's all brought to peace. As far as I can tell.

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Apr 2020
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somewhere
To clarify, first I had mania and then months later I started meditating.

Mania included remembering memories and extreme emotions as well as the other things I described.

Meditation included increased awareness of thoughts, a question about self-agency, and a concern for future loss of emotions. Those are similar to when I was manic, not significance of memories or extreme emotions. I'm generally calm when meditating.
 
Mar 2020
52
7
US
Sorry for misunderstanding you

"increased awareness of thoughts, a question about self-agency, and a concern for future loss of emotions."

I feel this my whole life. I can't verify that it isn't what life is all about.

It's possible were both suffering the same thing. We'd need a third opinion to know if anyone doesn't go through this.

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