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Depression and Anxiety: Help and Treatment

A Practical Guide to Feeling Good

Everyone is bipolar

It is a fact that humans are bipolar. That’s how we were built.

In terms of neurotransmitters and hormones, we have those that tend to calm us down, make us feel more relaxed, and give a sense of contentment. These represent the Yin, or female element of our physiology.

We also have neurotransmitters and hormones that excite, that stimulate, and that fuel intense exertion. These represent the Yang, or male element.

But we in the West have it wrong by calling it ‘Yin Yang’. In Chinese it’s called ‘Tai Ji’, the same as the slow martial art, and it represents the balance between the two extremes. And as Yin contains a dot of Yang, Yang contains Yin as well. The two are inseparable.

So when we consider the bipolar spectrum in mental health, we just need to understand that it is more important to balance the whole body and use our mental illness symptoms to provide feedback.

Don’t get too caught up in labels. They are just trying to capture specific details of the symptoms people suffer, without any insight as to what the underlying causing is. Psychiatry without a sophisticated understanding of the body-mind connection is meaningless.

Our symptoms clue us in to whether we are hyper-aroused, hypo-aroused, or a strange combination of the too.

Hypo-aroused/depressed

Depression is characterized by low energy, low mood, appetite and sleep disturbances, and negative thinking. I think it’s fair to say that there is something wrong with a depressed person’s serotonin (5HT), but we still have no clue how it works and what relationship it has to depression.

Depression is definitely a Yin state, an overabundance of Yin if you will. Yin is cold, dark, slow, black/blue, introverted, and damp. It’s like north side of a hill, which will feel much colder than the south side, which receives the warming and drying rays of the sun.

There is a distinct lack of drive, motivation, courage, and mojo in this state. These are Yang characteristics, and for whatever reason either Yang is deficient, Yin is overabundant, or both.

The solution? Boost Yang, which will dry out some of the cold and dampness that tends to accompany depression. Stimulating medications or herbs will increase Yang and hopefully increase the effect of norepinphrine (adrenaline) and dopamine, the ‘pleasure chemical’.

Caution: This is where some people can tend to ‘flip’ to an over-aroused, hypomanic state. This is because their bodies are so weak, and Yin is also deficient, so they don’t have enough energy to feel grounded and stable.

Boosting Yang without also nurturing Yin could actually cause a false flash of energy, after which the person would end up feeling even more exhausted.

Hyper-aroused/anxious and hypomanic

Our bodies respond to stress, any stress, by pumping out some serious hormones. These hormones cause a cascade of changes to virtually every major system in the body. They prepare us for action, shunting blood away from the digestive organs, increasing muscle tone, and elevating heart rate.

Small periods of stress followed by rest and recovery are actually beneficial. Its just that life doesn’t work that way anymore. We have to worry about all sorts of things beyond basic survival, which is ironic in that we’re forgetting how to survive–nay, thrive.

Chronic stress and anxiety will result in a chronic pumping out of these stress hormones. And that means we tend to become very tense, anxious, and scared all the time. Because that’s exactly what’s going on in the body, whether or not the mind is aware of it.

This is where you get all sorts of chronic problems with digestion, back pain, insomnia, generalized anxiety, circulatory problems, headaches, and just feeling stressed out all the time.

Some people actually respond well to stimulation if they tend to have an excess of Yin. This is especially true in the mood and energy departments. But there is a fine line that can be crossed, and judgement may become impaired if there is a tendency to become hypomanic or manic. Here the problem is not being able to calm down, to truly relax and recover.

Qi deficiency: Yin & Yang both deficient

This state is basically a state of deep exhaustion. The body can no longer hold up under the onslaught of chronic stress. It can no longer properly maintain homeostasis, immunity, and metabolism.

It is also known as adrenal fatigue or insufficiency. These terms are met with incredulity by those versed in western medicine, but they are no closer to understanding what is really going on, and what can be done to reverse it.

That’s because there is no western model of the structure of energy, from physical to emotional, to mental and even subconscious.

A person encompasses many different levels, from our bodies, to our feelings, to our thoughts, and even our dreams. These levels are different states of energy, and they are all as real as that which we can touch or believe in.

The beauty of energy is that we can feel it. When we have enough, we feel like we can take on the world. When we don’t have it, we feel like we can’t even get out of bed.

If our body is healthy, our emotions are balanced, and our mind is clear, is this not the picture of health? Whatever happened to being healthy? How could something so fundamental be ignored and relegated to a fringe movement?

We have no unified model of health and how to achieve it at all levels of human function.

Trust your feelings, Luke

You must learn to access your emotions and to key in to the emotions of others. You need to guard your energy because it’s very precious. Don’t just have enough energy to get by, have enough energy to do what you want to do with your life.

This is a calm energy, one that facilitates good decision making and a sense of security. Your body is not going through some sort of physiological emergency due to stress, so all that energy can now be directed towards recovery and eventually productive activities.

So you must study yourself and learn what things seem to decrease your energy, and what things seem to boost it. Everything from sleep habits, diet, relationships, vices, and even what we say can affect our energy and the energy of those around us. You must master your energy and learn to live in harmony with the energies around you.

Relationship problems are probably the most stressful events of our lives, or the thought of losing someone forever. Sometimes the stress can overwhelm people and they end up with a hair trigger at all times just because they are sensitive to stressors. That’s a dangerous thing once people go into fight or flight mode. Either way, you lose.

The most important thing to do is to recognize and honor your emotions, and honor the emotions of others. When everyone speaks honestly about how they feel, it is less about proving a point then just accepting that everyone has a sacred right to feel whatever they feel.

While our arguments may be wrong, our feelings are always right. All we want is for others to recognize our feelings and then we are more open to taking theirs into consideration. When people accept each other’s emotions they can usually work something out that makes both parties feel respected.

Always seek harmony

Practice moderation. Always seek to balance that which is out of balance. The depth of one’s understanding of Yin and Yang can help you to find balance in all areas of your life, not just your neurotransmitters.

Seek to understand the pros and cons of Yin and Yang, and learn to cycle through them with no attachment to either phase. Yin eventually leads to Yang, and Yang eventually gives way to Yin again.

So on and so forth. Oscillating. A sine wave. You build up momentum bouncing between opposite poles,  being very active and engaged for optimum amounts of time, and then quickly going into recovery mode so that you can gain momentum for the next period of work.

Sprint, recover. Sprint, recover. If you were to work out this way, you’d develop a high level of cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular development.

High intensity work followed by ritualized recovery follows the way of nature and allows people to be more positive and creative on a regular basis. The idea of the marathon is just not suitable for long term productivity.

So if you feel bipolar, you need to embrace both sides of the coin and see how one supports the other. The better you rest, the more energy you have to spend, and spending energy wisely can yield steady returns, just like investing money.

And once you are getting steady returns on your energy every day, you will start to think more long term and learn patience, slowly but steadily increasing your energy until it nearly overflows, activating your true potential.

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