Cycle 6 Reflection

Recovered

There was one section in my Cycle 6 plan that went…

Still in Recovery Mode

I had a major manic episode the last 108. It lasted from early June to mid-July. I’m still technically recovering from that episode. For this reason I don’t want the real focus for this 108 to be anything but fully recovering. Normally I would choose something to be my primary focus (or essential intent). I guess I actually am choosing a primary focus. My primary focus is making sure my recovery goes smoothly.

Recovering is really the only thing that transpired this last 108 days. On Day 1 bipolar depression started kicking in. On Day 5 I started spending my days just staring at the ceiling. By Day 11 I stopped journaling. On Day 27 I stopped running. My plan for running was terrible (I didn’t know it at the time). Here’s what I wrote…

Run almost every day

I want to run at least three quarters of the 108, or 81 days. I’ve run every day for 108 days straight before as it feels great BUT it ends up unnecessarily being the focal point of days that are exceptionally busy. I’m still going to keep the mindset of daily running but when days come where running is an unnatural fit for the day, I’ll just skip it. When I ran every day for 108 days straight there were many days where I was running after 10 pm. Running that late at night would conflict with “mastering the night” so I’m going to prioritize getting to bed early over running late at night.

The “almost every day” killed it. I should have stuck with running every day, or been clear about what my running protocol would be. Examples of a better protocol would have been running every other day or every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ll have a better running protocol figured out for the next 108.

The other things I had planned (mastering an evening routine, timeboxing my days, refining my Flow to Your Dream documents, and maintaining my morning routine) all got thrown out of the window. Once I downward spiralled into spending my days staring at the ceiling I needed to figure out how to snap out of that. I don’t actually know if I ever “figured it out”. It was either a result of stopping some of the medicine I was taking or something physiological.

Anhedonia

This last cycle I learned a new word, anhedonia. What is it? The simple definition from Merriam-Webster is…

a psychological condition characterized by inability to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable acts

While the word was new to me, experiencing anhedonia wasn’t. It’s happened after every major manic episode I’ve had throughout my life. What was new this time is I was never hospitalized during my (cycle 5) manic episode. I rode the whole thing out in the real world. I always thought my anhedonic state/bipolar depression was a result of going to the hospital. What I learned is that it appears to be a natural response to a manic episode… maybe.

Even though I didn’t end up in the hospital, I did end up taking extremely strong medications while out of the hospital. During the peaks of my manic episode I was getting haldol shots every three days or so. These would knock me the fuck out for a day and I’d be woozy the following day(s). I was also getting a shot of something else that was longer lasting and those continued into October. I actually started feeling better shortly after those long-term shots stopped so… I don’t actually know if the anhedonia was a natural response to mania or if it was a result of the medications I was taking. Probably a little bit of both.

This anhedonic stat lasted from Day 1 (September 1st) to Day 58 (October 28th). Two days after that…

The OBC (On Board Courier) Life

This probably deserves it’s own post, but I randomly got a job as an OBC. OBCs help move cargo from point A to point B for clients who need their cargo FAST (google “On Board Courier” for more details). Here’s what happened for me. I got a phone call on the 29th of October from a friend who said “Wanna make some easy money?” He put me in touch with the owner of a shipping company. This guy told me he needed me to fly from Taipei to Chicago TOMORROW. I said “Sure,” and the next day I had a one-way ticket to Chicago and I needed to meet a guy at the airport to pick up some packages.

To make a long story short. I flew to Chicago with 8 boxes of… car parts? (maybe, I don’t actually know). When I landed in Chicago I took them through customs and dropped them off with another guy. Then I stayed in a hotel for two days, got on a flight back to Taipei, and had to stay in a quarantine hotel for 14 days.

It was a really strange experience and the pay is supposed to be REALLY good but I haven’t gotten paid yet. That’s partly my fault because I was really slow about sending them an invoice and my banking details.

Quarantine

This also deserves it’s own post but I’ll keep this short as well. Quarantine is pretty hard! I thought I’d use my time there to be productive and get some writing done. What actually happened is I laid in bed all day first watching CNN for election news (quarantine started on November 2nd, the 1st in the US), then when the election was mostly decided I switched to the various English movie channels. My sleep got crazy. I’d stay up until 4 or 5 am watching movies, go to sleep, get woken up by the person taking my temperature, eat my (then cold) breakfast and… go back to sleep… lol My quarantine routine was not the best but that seems to happen to a lot of people who have gone through the hotel quarantine process.

After Quarantine

When quarantine was done I slowly started getting my morning routine back in place. I also started working on a simple evening routine. I wanted to have a basic framework already working before I started cycle 7.

Final Thoughts

A question that hit me a couple weeks ago was “Why have you created this 108 system?” An answer that came back which is specific to myself is that I need a method/system for “rebooting life”. Manic episodes are extremely disruptive to life patterns. Everything is running smoothly then BING BANG BONG… a monkey wrench over here, an explosion over there and (RKO, YouTube video) out of nowhere everything you’ve been working on is a flaming trainwreck. It’s an extremely demoralizing experience. In the past it’s taken 6 to 18 months for me to make the repairs and get the life train back on track. The 108-day cycles have brought that number down to an at max 4-month period to make the repairs and get the train back on the tracks.

Along with shortening the recovery process I’ve been able to extract more learning from the two manic episodes which have occurred since implementing these 108-day cycles. For example, something which has been a pattern for decades which I only clearly discovered during Cycle 5 is that over exercising can turn hypomania into a full blown manic episode, or make a manic episode worse. I have a long history of thinking that I can “run the crazy away” by exercising myself into exhaustion. Logic kind of dictates that if you have too much energy using it all up would help bring you into a more relaxed state. This, unfortunately, isn’t true for me and now there’s research backing that up…

For instance, one study in the review found that for some people with bipolar disorder, exercise helped ease hypomanic symptoms, which are less severe than manic symptoms.

[ . . .]

However, that same study noted that for other people with bipolar disorder, exercise could exacerbate manic symptoms. It could cause a worsening “spiraling” effect for both manic and hypomanic episodes.

I suppose Cycle 5’s experience with running is which made me try to deemphasize running in Cycle 6 but… I’ll fix it all up nice and neat for Cycle 7.

Anyhow… at the end of the day it’s all about figuring out how to make the failing and learning cycle shorter and more efficient. It would have been nice to know about the exercise thing 20 years ago but… better late than never! >.<

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