Half Empty Or Half Full?

Half empty or half full?

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

Fri Feb 01, 2008, 03:38 PM EST Framingham Tab

Your perception of a glass of water tells a lot about you. Imagine getting a job because you answer the question as to how a glass of water looks to you.

Obviously, that isn’t the only consideration in being offered the job. This presumes that all the other criteria to land the job are in place. Let’s look at the answers.

One answer could be, “Well that depends on your view of life…” The reason for asking the question is find out what this applicant’s position is and to see if he is willing to take a stand without knowing what position the potential employer holds.

The half-empty person generally sees a pessimistic view of life. This may or may not be a problem. The pessimistic person could be a constant complainer or on the other hand could be a voice of caution in an overly optimistic group.

The half-full person generally sees life from an optimistic view. Again, this may or may not be a problem. There is a thought that if you appear too optimistic you may not really grasp the full reality of the situation. On the other hand you maybe what is needed in a group of half empty people, providing hope. People with faith are generally half full people.

Sometimes people who express faith in a God that isn’t seen are looked at with a curious look. Let’s talk about a person who suffers with a bipolar disorder and is in a manic mode. They are happy, optimistic half-full people who may appear to be religious. They hope they won’t slip back into a depressed state. They really desire to live in an even, level state instead of the extreme highs and lows they go through.

To them life is more of a roller coaster that they can’t get off, then the gentle rolling landscape with occasional hills and valleys that others experience. I have heard the screams of people wanting off that roller coaster.

The bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes episodes of depression (sadness and hopelessness) and episodes of mania (severe elevated moods).

These episodes which commonly affect energy level, behavior, ability to function, and ability to think clearly or make sound decisions, are found in more than 3 percent of the U.S. adult population. Bipolar disorders usually appear in late adolescence or early adulthood, but can also appear in childhood or later in life.

Women and men get bipolar disorders equally. However women usually have more depressive episodes. Men usually have more manic episodes.

Having a bipolar disorder is not something someone woke up one day and requested. It is believed that a chemical imbalance in the brain or interruptions in the way messages are carried between brain cells or within brain cells are the cause of bipolar disorder.

Yes there is help. This is not just a half-full statement.

Unfortunately, symptoms of the illness can place unusual stresses on relationships with family members and friends. In many instances, even if the treatment plan is followed and there is steady improvement some relationships get damaged and need healing as well.

Reaching out to loved ones and working together to build deep, meaningful bonds is critical to helping any treatment plan.

A common misperception is that a bipolar mood changes are usually quick and drastic. In reality, mood shifts are often quite gradual. An episode – whether depressive or manic – can last for weeks, months, or even years.

People with a bipolar disorder are not always depressed or manic; they can go for long stretches of time in a “normal” balanced mood. Typically there is an average of four episodes in the first 10 years of the illness.

Again there is help.

Some depressive episodes are characterized by overwhelming feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. Symptoms may include: sadness, excessive crying, loss of pleasure, abnormal sleep, low energy, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, loss of appetite or overeating, even thoughts of death or suicide

Manic episodes are periods of elated mood, which can include racing thoughts, extreme irritability or reckless behavior. Symptoms may include: inappropriate sense of euphoria (elation), racing thoughts; talking too much, abnormal sleep, excessive energy, out of control spending, difficulty concentrating, abnormally increased activity, including sexual activity, poor judgment, and aggressive behavior.

The help, treatment options.

There are two important treatment options; medications and talk therapy. Medications prescribed by a medical doctor could also help decide which talk therapy is the best for the person who has a bipolar disorder.

The three forms of talk therapy are: psychoeducation; cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT); and interpersonal and social rhythms therapy (IPSRT).

The help and support of friends, family and loved ones is important to each therapy.

Physchoeducation focuses on providing basic education about the bipolar disorder, recognizing early signs of relapse and getting early treatment.

CBT focuses on replacing negative thought patterns and behaviors replacing with positive ones.

IPSRT focuses on minimizing conflicts and stresses that can upset daily routines and emotional stability and has been considered to be a powerful tool in relapse prevention.

The glass really is half full in the treatment of bipolar disorders. It could be some combination of medication, talk therapy and support of family friends and loved ones. One size does not fit all.

The Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ) and current President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, and Peer Support Groups in Marlborough and Milford and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May www.narrowpathministries.org and http://home.earthlink.net/~nami01704

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