V.  Bipolarity
Recovery from Breakdown I   want   to   pass   on   here   a   lesson   which   I   have   had   to   learn   on   recovering   more   than   once   from   depression and   nervous   breakdown.   When   in   the   depths   of   the   pit   you   do   not   just   feel   gloomy;   you   lose   all   inner   energy, indeed   the   very   capacity   to   think.   Inside   you   is   total   deadness.   But   if   (and   this   may   require   medical assistance)   you   do   not   lose   your   nerve   but   stick   with   it,   as   time   goes   by   you   discover   that   the   world   has   not come   to   an   end. Thoughts   begin   to   well   up,   one   by   one,   in   your   brain.   It   becomes   possible   to   recognise   them and   'process'   them   -   I   would   suggest   at   this   stage   by   writing   them   down   somewhere   such   as   in   a   notebook   if you   can   manage   it. As   you   process   each   one,   you   release   it   and   so   make   space   for   another   to   arrive.   Little by   little,   the   pace   at   which   thoughts   arise   begins   to   grow,   as   does   your   ability   to   process   them.   You   may begin   to   find   other   ways   of   processing   your   thoughts   -   use   a   pad   or   diary,   perhaps,   to   start   listing   things   you would   like   to   do   when   you   recover.   Gradually   your   mind   returns   to   life.   A   new   'you'   emerges,   better   able   to cope with the problems of life than the 'you' you knew before. Should   it   ever   become   your   lot   to   pass   through   such   an   experience   you   will   learn   at   least   one   priceless lesson.   You   will   learn   how   to   listen   to   your   inner   self,   by   which   I   think   I   mean   your   unconscious,   as   though your life depended on it. On   recovery   you   can   allow   the   process   to   continue.   You   can   go   on   spending   time   each   day   listening   to   your unconscious,   that   now   familiar   voice   from   deep   within,   and   processing   the   thoughts   that   spring   up.   Your channels   for   doing   that   processing   will   have   grown   in   number   by   now.   Your   notebook   may   turn   into   a   regular journal   -   a   smart   volume   carefully   chosen,   that   you   can   feel   good   about   and   take   a   pride   in.   You   may perhaps   want   to   read   and   re-read   previous   entries   and   add   comments   to   them.   You   may   have   a   'DO'   list   of things   you   want   to   do   today   -   phone   calls   to   make,   letters   to   write,   shopping   to   buy,   people   to   see   and   so forth.   You   may   have   another   such   list   for   long   term   projects.   As   each   item   is   done   you   cross   it   off,   gaining enormous   satisfaction   when   you   end   one   sheet   and   start   another.   (All   this   is   of   course   open   to   those   who have   never   hit   rock   bottom,   but   they   may   find   it   a   little   harder   to   get   started.   There   is   more   than   one   route   to self-knowledge.) Further,   way   beyond   using   your   thoughts   negatively   as   a   defence   or   recovery   mechanism,   you   can   use   them positively   as   instruments   of   creativity.   If   you   are   like   me   you   may   find   an   urge   to   write   something   -   a   letter perhaps,   a   new   paragraph   for   an   article,   or   a   few   lines   of   software   to   add   to   a   program   I   am   working   on. Others   may   find   a   fresh   approach   to   a   hobby,   to   an   intractable   problem   at   work,   or   to   a   difficult   relationship. Whatever   it   is,   what   you   will   be   doing   I   call   creative   thinking .   It   is   a   process   of   listening   to   your   inmost   self and acting on what you hear. To do it you need to spend time each day, waiting to see what comes. Martin Mosse, May 1999