NAVIGATING REALITY

 

 

"NO ONE owns the map of reality," I declare in Chapter Seven of NOT JUST UP AND DOWN. Four chapters later, I completely contradict myself by producing such a map.

Even if we're not visual people, we often need to picture concepts in our heads – convert, as it may be, intellectual abstractions into concrete reality. Something we can see.

London's iconic subway map provided my inspiration. Significantly, this map does not include home. Finding your own way home is up to you. But familiarizing yourself with the map will help you set your course.

Don't be bewildered by the apparent complexity. In my book, I walk you through it, each step of the way. By the time we're through, you will have an appreciation for how the individual components stack up and relate to each other.

Okay, let's look at the map ...

From a bird's eye view, the top is devoted to genes and environment. The bottom green line represents personality and temperament. The grid in the middle is all about our moods. Bottom, top, and middle all connect. Each is affected by the other. The trains run in all directions.

Note the circular hub in the middle. This represents cycling, which is what drives bipolar. The three vertical red lines feeding in and out represent bipolar I and II, plus recurrent depression, which can be regarded as a sort of bipolar III.

Off to the left is an orange vertical line representing chronic depression, which may be a different phenomenon entirely. Nevertheless, we cannot overlook its apparent relationship to bipolar.

To the far right is a brown vertical line representing schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is more properly regarded as a thought disorder than a mood disorder, but we do have a clear overlap in the form of the hybrid diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, illustrated by the lighter brown line.

Running horizontally across most of the vertical lines are our various mood and anxiety and psychotic states. Significantly, I accord "normal" the same status as depression and mania. These lines have the effect of binding depression and bipolar and thought disorders together across an encompassing spectrum.

We also see the binding effect in action with the top and bottom lines representing genes/environment and personality. With the diagnostic distinctions blurred, we can't just rely on conventional explanations. We need to zoom in closer. Below are three close-ups drawn from three different sections of my book, each highlighting the various aspects of "normal."

At the far left, we see the same exact same behavior represented by two exclamation points. In my Knowing Thyself article, I give the example of Marilyn Monroe and your stereotypical librarian dancing on tables. Marilyn is in her element. The librarian may bear keeping a close eye on.

In the middle panel, we see depression highlighted from three different perspectives - in a unipolar context, in a bipolar context, and as a natural part of one's temperament. Different considerations go into each.

On the right, we investigate "normal" in different contexts. The circle at the top represents normal as an interval between mood episodes. At the bottom, we see different and overlapping aspects of our "true normal" – positive, negative, and nothing to write home about.

When we're finally able to zoom back out, we can connect our micro and macro worlds into a clear picture. We gain a sense of orientation and perspective. We can map out our present and plot a course for our future.

We are set to journey home.

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