Nurture vs. Nature

“I’ll Take Genetic Abnormalities for $500, Alex.”

“Catherine Zeta-Jones, Demi Lovato, Kurt Cobain, Carrie Fisher, and Marilyn Monroe all have this same genetic commonality or abnormality? “

“Uh…. What is Bipolar?”

“Correct.”

While Jeopardy may be on a bucket list of mine (I’d be laughed out of competing), the point still remains- holy shit, these people suffer in similar ways that I do, but they are highly renowned, respected for paving different parts of their own industries, successful, charismatic, but at the end of the day all are living with this condition. It’s probably no shock to any of you because all of these people also share similar stories of dark lives or troubled pasts- three of them dead at an age all would consider too soon. I’m not saying this to scare anyone, but I have often wondered was it their lifestyle that brought this on, was it genetic, or a combination of both?

The same questions I ponder for myself. Was I predisposed? Did my family screw me in the gene pool? Were my decisions/life circumstances that happened what brought this on? Why the hell am I not rich and famous then. This is bullshit. At least they didn’t have to build all this character bullshit going on the ins and outs of regular people life. I think you all catch my real point here.

The Nurture-

Simple things such as sleep, drug use, sexual activity, trauma, etc all play helping hands into this complicated diagnosis. By not sleeping, you are sending a message to your already hyperactive brain that you do not need it and your biological clock starts going haywire and can shoot you into a mania, and then when you do kind of want to sleep you won’t be able to unless you get help or crash into a depression. You using drugs, changes the chemistry of your brain and inhibits bipolar. The trauma you’ve experienced can trigger you at anytime or going into situations with erratic behavior and then experiencing trauma as a result. These are all controllable aspects. You have to eliminate these variabilities in order to make diagnosing and working towards treatment realistic. How can you work on your brain functioning if you do not deal with the trauma from your past? How can you get the right medications if you alter your brain with substances day in and out?

Your brain may be working against you, but at the end of the day you always have a choice. It just becomes very complicated to this entire mental health discussion if you are seeking help and not working to change these habits. There is no medication in the world that can save you from yourself- unless you’re in a coma, but then you’re an eggplant and this conversation doesn’t matter. I have had to learn this after many years of heartache, trauma, and repetitive decisions. I had to learn these all the very hard way.

For instance, when you have experienced bad situations and then respond to said situations with a lack of care in yourself, how do you expect to come out on top?

If you sleep around to get love, because you are lacking love, do you think you are going to receive an emotional commitment from somebody who is getting everything they want physically? People in this world are in tune to recognize getting what they want. If someone only desires sex and they see you willing to give it up, but you expect/are trying to receive an emotional attachment to make that pain inside go-away, this will end badly for you; over and over and over until there is nothing left for you to give. Then you give up. If I didn’t give up and haven’t given up, you are not allowed to either. That is the easy way.

The Nature-

According to UCLA & UC San Fran- scientists know there is a “strong genetic aspect, but they cannot identify it.” Psych Education totes that,” bipolar disorder is roughly equivalent to when diabetes was treated without insulin. We do not know the fundamental cause and cannot therefore target our treatments accordingly.”

induced_sadness_bipolar_2006

These images of the brain show the reactivity when one is in a manic phase, the middle one is when the disorder is treated with Lithium and the third is when the brain is depressed. It’s quite impressive to physically see what my brain does when it’s in these cycles. What’s distressful about this being a physical condition that affects primarily the brain is that over time it is proven that the frontal lobe shrinks.  Shrinks. My brain is slowly becoming damaged and dying off, but, luckily, the drugs being used to treat mood disorders are proving to help reverse this shrinkage (another important reason to not give up on your medications).

Touch your eyebrows, just below your touch and behind your forehead is where your frontal lobes are. These are single handedly responsible for managing emotional responses, avoiding inappropriate social ques, make decisions, etc. This area of the brain is HIGHLY reactive in those with mood disorders. It’s over-reactive, like your mother who saw your new tattoo. Think of this like filling up your car with gas- you can slam on the gas everywhere you go, but your tank is going to run out quicker. Your car is the brain, you slamming on the accelerator is the disease, and the gas meter represents the shrinkage in your brain- except eventually your car will give out. When your frontal lobe begins to shrink there are a plethora of issues at hand: unusual behaviors, trouble communicating, difficulty with work, difficulty walking, emotional issues, dementia, planning and sequencing (thinking through steps, prioritizing, and multitasking).

Another intriguing aspect of the brain affected is within the temporal region. Touch your temples as if you have a headache, between your ear and your temples are the temporal region. Located in here is one of the COOLEST words, Hippocampus. This itty bitty part, hidden within the temporal lobe, is necessary to make new memories (this is the first part of the brain to go in an Alzheimer’s patient- hence why they can’t remember what day it is or something recent because they cannot create this memory anymore) and it is most severely affected with mood disorders- Bipolar, Schizophrenia, etc. Regardless, both of these areas of the brain are over active in mood disorders and will die off/shrink over time causing more physically noticeable issues.

Me Nurturing My Nature-

So now that I’ve scared the ever living shit out of myself, I’m trying to disseminate my points. We with mental health issues often feel and are told that we have some sort of disadvantage. Which I’ve created a blog to give myself an outlet, but there is so much good within each and every one of us. I’ve talked about how addicting the Mania is. How you can function without sleep or food, you have these grandiose ideas that you all of a sudden are going to make happen, your mind is on cloud nine and won’t turn off.  If I could bottle this up into a drug I would be a billionaire. Yet, as I’ve done more and more research looking at the people above who also have/had this condition and everything they made possible in art of various forms to us, some of the most successful people in this world have bi-polar disorder. It’s when things go wrong that we wonder, shame, remain fearful, etc. With everything that is great in this world, comes a downside. In order to feel good, you must know bad. In order to feel happy, you must know sad. In order to love truly and deeply you must understand pain. While yes, Bipolar is scary, dangerous, debilitating in so many ways, we can all work to find that good and use it to motivate ourselves- some of these are natural boosts within our brain chemistry, that we just have to figure out how to turn into an advantage.

Think of it this way: we have heightened responses in areas of our brains that are connecting unrelated ideas, seeking novelty, taking risks, being aware of others’ and their opinions, and energy levels naturally day in and day out. Meaning that in the right manipulation of the Bipolar, we will be seen as creative, curious, courageous, socially polished and very productive- I personally strive to see that no one views me otherwise. I hold myself to these standards and work daily to maintain this person that I am within my own confounds. Welcome to a healthy bi-polar brain.

Having too much of these responses makes us appear disorganized, jumping from project to project, bad judgement about harm, anxious, paranoid, scattered activity, or unable to focus. Having too little of these responses begins to create a lack of disinterest/care in any of the above. The paragraph above is healthy; this paragraph represents unhealthy jumping between the mania and depression. Welcome to mania and depression.

My memory is so on point- sometimes. I do not know how or why, but I can repeat over and over and over someone’s name or a number and have no damn clue what I said just seconds before. I can know I have plans on a certain day and then completely space them the day of. Or I heard one thing once 17 years ago and recognize it today. There are weeks of my life I don’t remember. There are predominant years that are an absolute blur. My work space is incredibly organized; my room is completely chaotic. I’m incredibly well-mannered and fun in social settings- I also can get incredibly anxious and just need to leave. I have courageously hoped in to help save lives, but also done incredibly stupid decisions about trusting a person I just met. I have beautiful pieces of art or DIY projects I have created, and dozens of unfinished projects just sitting around. I am a beautiful whirlwind mess, and consistently complimented on great things I do, and I can’t explain how or why I do them. I can watch a video once and sit down and be a make-up genius. I can draw still-life art. I can make up a killer new meal. I can comfort anybody during anything. I can hold a conversation with anyone about anything. Sometimes I can even predict things before they happen. I’m incredibly intuitive. I can take care of everybody. I see the souls within people and can physically take on their pain or their happiness. I am pretty damn good at hobbies and my career that I invest myself into. I can rock any baby to sleep or roll over and die in a pile of puppies or garden to fruition. Why is it so hard to see these great aspects within myself though? Let alone appreciate them within myself? Especially in the middle of a fit- everything goes black and none of these matter. Because I do not understand them myself, and that is what I am working towards. One stop on the Crazy Train, at a time.

Ponder for the next few minutes, everything you are good at or love to do. Write these down. Look for patterns in your life, your mental illness, and your moods. Remember to immerse yourself in love and to appreciate these rare things within yourself that others would love to be and be proud. Every fucking day.

Maybe do a random act of kindness? Start there.
Love,
M

Do ya own research, here’s mine-

http://psycheducation.org/brain-tours/memory-learning-and-emotion-the-hippocampus/

https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/frontotemporal-disorders/basics-frontotemporal-disorders

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17762510

http://psycheducation.org/the-biologic-basis-of-bipolar-disorder/1035-2/

http://psycheducation.org/the-biologic-basis-of-bipolar-disorder/chapter-5-the-big-picture/

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/coming-soon-249997

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