I wrote that Mindfulness Doesn’t Help My Bipolar Disorder. And I think mindfulness, at least how I was taught it, just doesn’t significantly, positive affect a serious, neurological illness. I find it works best in people who experience stress and anxiety. And many do agree with me on this.

That said, John McManamy does not. Here are his thoughts on mindfulness in bipolar disorder.


Mindfulness is essentially the mind watching the mind. The practice has been around forever. It is a staple of Buddhist practice, and is also the basis of modern talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), even if its proponents fail to give it credit.

In all likelihood, if you have had success in managing your bipolar, you are employing mindfulness techniques, though you may be unaware of it.

Mindfulness in Action in Bipolar Disorder

In 2005, Melbourne researcher Sarah Russell published a study that surveyed 100 “successful” bipolar patients, asking what they did to stay well. What she discovered boiled down to mindfulness, though she didn’t use that term. Rather, she talked about “moving swiftly to intercept a mood swing.” This had to do with how patients “were responding to their mental, emotional, social, and physical environment.”

Dr Russell observed that these patients were adept at identifying their mood triggers. They were microscopically attuned to such things as subtle changes in sleep, mood, thoughts, and energy levels.

How People with Bipolar Can Use Mindfulness

A good deal of the time, the intervention is fairly simple – a time-out, a break, some quiet moments, a good night’s sleep. In cognitive therapy, this is where we work on changing “it’s the end of the world” to “let’s see if we can find a solution.”

As with any bipolar treatment or management technique, there are no guarantees, but cultivating a keen awareness of what is going on in our brains at any given moment is a surely a much better strategy than passively being taken by surprise.

The second edition to Goodwin and Jamison’s Manic-Depressive Illness characterizes bipolar as an illness that takes on a life of its own. Indeed, that is our apparent fate, to be at the mercy of the relentless cycles that define our illness.


Read the rest of Natasha Tracy’s post here: http://bit.ly/2blx2VT


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