My Bipolar Brain - My Bipolar Rock

September 6, 2011 Natasha Tracy

I write an obscene amount. Here, plus my blog plus I write for other blogs and do technical articles. Oh, and I'm working on a book.

This is very difficult though as I've found that a highly symptomatic bipolar brain turns into something more akin to a bipolar rock.

Thinking and Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is funny. I often have too many thoughts. Or all the wrong thoughts. Or no thoughts at all. Rarely do I actually have a stream of coherent, "normal person" type thoughts. At least not naturally. Naturally my brain is prone to flights of ridiculousness and lack of completion when hypomanic, and obsession over death and pain when depressed. And then when anxious or overwhelmed, which is a lot of the time, often no thoughts of any sort come out of my brain. It just kind of sits there. Nothing in, nothing out. A folded stone.

I Don't Think There Are Really No Thoughts


But I don't think it's really as useless and igneous as it appears. I think what's happening is my brain is busy chunking out crazy in the background and then I'm trying to ignore the crazy, and between those two things, there's no space left for anything else.

An Example of a Crazy Brain

An example. Recently I was rejected by a beautiful, young, talented, intelligent creature. Not really the end of life as we know it. However, being rejected feeds into my depression nicely. It proves how awful a human being I am and how no one will ever love me. A jump you say? Of course it's a jump. Depression lives on illogical, jumping lies. It's just what it does.

And myself, knowing the falsehood of the thought pattern, I work hard to ignore it. "Yes brain," I say, "I know you're thinking about my existence as a failure but I'm not listening."

Or, like a four-year-old sticking her fingers in her ears and saying, "la-la-la-la-la."

Crazy Brains are High-Maintenance

See, that's all quite a lot of work for me. The crazy and the ignoring the crazy. But it must be done. The crazy exists no matter what and the ignoring has to be done so as not to be sucked in beyond the event horizon. No real option there.

And so I sit and feel like my brain is doing nothing. Thoughts do not materialize. Words do not flow from my fingers. Cognition doesn't take place.

And yet somehow words magically appear on the screen. I'm not sure how I do it except to say that it only happens in the 1% of my brain that isn't already busy. And I can tell you that getting the words onto the screen feels something akin to being trapped inside an iron maiden.

Sometimes I weep thinking about what I could do if I had access to the other 99%.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, September 6). My Bipolar Brain - My Bipolar Rock, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

September, 21 2017 at 11:12 am

I know this post its old, but in case someone read it, as ive read funny how a lot of us struggle with the same stuff, as for me i have bpd type II, GAD, and OCD, Sometimes is terrible, i just find myself standing there looking to things and not been able to choose, stupid simple things, what to wear in the morning, choosing what to drink when im thirsty in a convenience store, you name i feel so dumb that people around me comes and goes taking stuff and im still there, so my technique is to walk a bit to see other things and go back as i feel ashamed to look like an idiot staring the fridges, lol, and at home sometimes is so bad that im staring my clothes several minutes to the point to feel like crying, i guess now you can imagine how it feels on taking bigger decisions, (like running screaming, lol)

Anne N. Houston, TX
September, 9 2011 at 12:44 pm

Thank you for your prompt response! I agree that she needs some convincing about her behavior. I did some more reading, including the blogs you recommended. I have started a letter, devoid of all emotion except to say that I felt abused by her phone call and that it pains me to have to tell her I think she needs counseling because the medications aren't working. I haven't mailed it. I want to hit the right tone.
I'm not sure she wants to get better. Mostly because I don't think she wants to admit there is any problem with her behavior. She is afraid of her mother's impending death. She is afraid her sister will be taken away from her. Ironically, the more she behaves as she is, the greater number of people who believe that living with her is not good for the sister. Perhaps it is time to get the sister out of the abusive environment.
I have no problem with establishing personal boundaries. I cut alcoholics who are still drinking, or who are "dry drunks" who will not deal with their behaviors, out of my life long ago.
I feel sure that after I yelled at her and hung up on her, my cousin is probably firmly ensconced in the delusion that I hate her. So I'm sure she will not call me, and I don't plan to call her. I will send the letter when I have it in a form I think is best. Bottom line is I do not want to deal with her until she is getting counseling.

Natasha Tracy
September, 7 2011 at 4:25 pm

Hi Anne,
I'm very sorry you're in such a difficult spot right now. It is very difficult to be the loved one of a person with a mental illness. You're doing a big job and it's a very hard one. I respect you for doing your best in supporting your cousin.
I have three articles you may wish to read.
#1 is about how to help someone with a mental illness. I think you have that covered :)…
#2 is about trying to convince someone to get help for a mental illness. While your cousin has gotten help, it sounds like she may need some convincing about some of her behaviour relating to her mental illness, so the same applies:…
#3 is about when to consider breaking ties with someone with a mental illness. You are human. You have a breaking point. We all do. You may have reached yours: (this link goes to my personal blog which is in no way affiliated with HealthyPlace)
I might suggest taking a break before you decide on a big decision one way or another. Everything is very hard and emotional right now, and things might look a little different after a week of peace. Everyone deserves a break from any stressor and it sounds like it might be time to take yours.
Overall, I would just like to say this: No matter who you are helping or why, you have to have personal boundaries. There are things you will and things you won't accept from people. And that's OK. People, no matter what their circumstance, mental illness or no, do not have the right to walk on or abuse you forever. You are better than that. You deserve better than that.
Hopefully you can work out a continuing relationship with your cousin that meets both your needs. Because your needs are important too.
- Natasha

Anne N. Houston, TX
September, 7 2011 at 3:58 pm

My cousin, one of the few living relatives I have, is bipolar. Recently, she was hospitalized, apparently for a medication error. I tried to be supportive and help her. She has a mother with Alzheimer's who has been ready to die for over a year; she's not eating. My cousin "doesn't want to deal with that." She has a mentally damaged sister just younger than I am, and we ferried her out to the hospital every night, then to see her mother, and then home. this cost close to $100 in gas and parking, which we felt was simply part of taking care of family.
My cousin is on unemployment, and one of the things I tried to do for her was to call them to try to ensure her income stream was not disrupted. They wouldn't really tell me anything about whether she needed to file a claim, which was all I was trying to find out. If she did, I wanted to make sure she got her information together and filed it on time (one of things my cousin was unable to do was remember anything; another was being at all organized.)
Tonight she calls me up and proceeds to tell me she doesn't want me to "mess with my unemployment." I tried to explain what I did and did not do, and she said "No, I called them today and they told me..." I lost it. I cut it off, sure she was misinterpreting what they told her. I wasn't willing to be blessed out for "things that were bothering" her if they were all as irrational as this. I told her I didn't want to talk to her and goodbye and hung up.
All the material I have read says don't yell, criticize, nag, etc. and to reinforce positive behavior. There is NO positive behavior here. She is not receiving therapy, just medication. She calls me up to complain about not having enough money, but refuses to share with me her "personal information" about her financial behavior, tips on saving money, or anything I can provide. She seems to want someone to just hand her money.
The 911 team her to a profit hospital, who billed her over $20,000K -- and there are doctor bills on top of that. She is on county medical, and I referred her to a legal aide group who would have helped her for free. Instead, she chose to hire a lawyer -- more money she doesn't have -- and believes she can "make it go away." Fat chance.
I have reached the point of saturation. I really do not know how to support someone who is behaving in a self-destructive, self-centered, way. She is very bad about projection -- accusing our other cousin of being judgmental, when in fact, she is one of the most judgmental, snobby, and critical people I have ever met.
It seems to me that by ignoring her negative behavior, I'm simply enabling her bad behavior. She is among the 60% of bipolar people who battle alcoholism, although she has been sober for years now.
I love her, but I will not allow myself to be abused, and this phone call tonight left me feeling disrespected, unappreciated and decidedly abused. I never tried to do anything but help her, and she persists in seeing it as "trying to run my life" and "messing" with her "personal business."
Can you help me find a way to deal with her? As of tonight, I feel like washing my hands of her completely -- no further contact ever.

September, 7 2011 at 1:18 pm

I love this line: "Crazy brains are high maintenance." I wish I'd thought of it. Keep them coming.

Natasha Tracy
September, 7 2011 at 9:14 am

Hi Anon,
Well thank-you. That's very kind.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
September, 7 2011 at 9:13 am

Hi Ashavan,
"But I can never remember ’cause I’m too busy trying not to die. It’s really frustrating."
Yeah. That does tend to keep a person hopping.
- Natasha

September, 7 2011 at 8:55 am

I used to describe my emotional state that way. "Where is your depression then?" people would say. "It's in the rock" I'd respond. push it out of the way and bundle it and try to ignore it. But it'd always seem to be too strong... like there was nothing else. So I'd write. But I don't really remember the writing bit. There was sitting down and a computer screen (or sometimes a paper towel or a napkin) and I'd be depressed or just crazy and I'd write. But I never remember the writing part, just the words on the page (or napkin) after. And sometimes it'd be brilliant and I'd think - How the hell did I do that. But I can never remember 'cause I'm too busy trying not to die. It's really frustrating.

September, 6 2011 at 7:34 pm

"Sometimes I weep thinking about what I could do if I had access to the other 99%." You'd be more awesome than you already are.

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