About Communication

I re-read the chapter entitled 'Communication' in my e-book 'Conversations with Batty (my bi-polar disorder) - how talking to myself kept me sane'.  I thought you might like to read it too. As always Batty speaks in italics and those conversations were written as they came to me, without any censure or post-editing:

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Are you still sulking?

I never sulk.

Yeah, right…..

OK so you really annoyed me. You never seem to acknowledge how awful you make me feel. Our conversations are always about how I should be doing this or I should be thinking that.

All  that ‘shoulding’ is YOU talking, not me. I never use ‘should’ because I know damn well it doesn’t do any good!

There you go again little Miss Batty Know-it-all.

Look, our conversations are here to help YOU so I do my best to respond to your questions in the most truthful way I know. I can start lying if you like but I am not sure that will help, do you?

I guess not – it’s just that I am fed up with you making me feel stupid all the time…

I never said you were stupid! Stubborn yes, stuck in your ways of thinking yes, disconnected from your own body yes, but stupid no. It’s YOU calling yourself stupid and it’s precisely that kind of thinking that makes me harder for you to live with. Can you not see that?

Hmmm….

Hello? Are you there?

I am tired. I am tired of it all.

OK so you are feeling low on energy right now.  This is not the first time you have been to this low place is it?

Unfortunately not.

So it doesn’t have to be a big drama, does it? You see there are two things at play here: there’s me AND there’s how you respond to me. Is it me making you feel fed up or is it you?

A bit of both.

I can tell you are low on energy because your sentences get very short.

Communicating becomes a huge effort.

I know, and there’s no need for you to feel bad about feeling bad, remember? I can tell you hate this ‘enforced quietness’ because you are a born communicator but has it ever occurred to you that I impose these periods of silence on you PRECISELY because you are so free with your communication energy?

No.

The only way you can FEEL how much energy you expand on communicating with others is by reducing your overall level of energy so that your ‘natural effort’ registers with you. If I didn’t do that, you would never stop communicating and that would impair your recovery.

(Stunned silence)

How do you feel now about those days when you ‘have to be quiet”?

I am not sure yet….

Take your time.

Actually, it has always amazed me how, on those days, I don’t even want to hear the sound of my own voice – never mind anybody else’s.

Precisely – it’s about YOU staying quiet. It’s not about anybody else.

You know, it’s not me that I am really bothered about – it’s people around me. I hate for them to have to deal with me one way one day, and me another way another day. I do feel like a moody pain in the butt! This is why I tend to isolate myself when I feel low so that I don’t impose my fluctuations on others.

I understand that can be difficult for you. On the other hand, you are uniquely well equipped to communicate what it’s like to experience these fluctuations.

The trouble is I find it extremely difficult to communicate about not being able to communicate because I have no energy to communicate when I need to communicate the most!

(Laughing) I get that…  The key must be for you to communicate about the days when you find it hard to communicate on those days when you have plenty of energy. In other words, don’t wait until your energy tank is on ‘low’ before you tell those around you about what you experience. You always say that you have a wonderful family as well as wonderful friends and neighbours so I am sure they all know you well enough by now to understand - or at least  graciously accept - what you are experiencing.

That’s true – and yet, as I am listening to you, I am becoming aware of how bad I feel about feeling bad. I think you are spot on about that: I don’t like to admit it but I do I add bad feelings on top of feeling bad. What could I do to stop that?

NOW you’re talking! I love it when you start asking powerful questions.

It’s the trained coach in me :D

So what does the trained coach say now?

Just let the question percolate for a while and see what happens. I will rephrase the question in a more positive way though: what could I do to feel better about feeling bad?

That’s a great question.

Thank you. I don’t have the answer yet but I know it will come.

That’s the spirit – and it is also the best approach for you to stay in recovery.

I know.

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You know what struck me when I re-read the above? I must have moved on because I very rarely feel bad about feeling bad these days.  If I ask myself 'how I did do that ?' the one answer that comes rushing forward is this one: I now accept how I am.  How about that  :D

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