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David

Lately, I’ve been reading, listening to actually, the Psalms of David. The Biblical character King David of Israel has always been pretty interesting to me. The name David means “beloved” in Hebrew. He’s the guy I’m named after and for that reason, I’ve always felt some level of connection to him. I relate not so much to the giant slayer, great king, warrior parts of his story, but rather to the “broken” parts of his story that often get glossed over in Sunday school. He was the little shepherd boy, and the least likely member of his family to be chosen to be king. Much about his life is written in the books of Samuel and Kings in the Hebrew scriptures and a good bit of the music book of the Psalms is credited to him. But what makes him such a compelling figure in my mind is not his great military achievements or his musical gifts or even his groovy dance moves. What makes David most interesting to me is his flawedness (is that even a word?). In other words, he screwed up a lot, and that’s what I can relate to. His list of documented screwups includes polygamy, adultery, murder, pridefulness (trusting in his own military might), parenting failures, and even snatching the Lord’s bread (did you not tell him that they were the Lord’s chips?) to eat with his pals.

Even with that laundry list of failures, he’s described as a “man after God’s own heart” and Jesus the Messiah would later be called by the Gospel writers “the Son of David”, apparently in a good way. Having so much flawedness (there’s that word again!) in common with David, I have to wonder if he was bipolar like me. I’ve never taken on a giant before, but mania has sure made me feel like I could have. With nothing but a slingshot, even. And then there’s the sexual misconduct piece. I won’t go into that in detail here, but I can certainly relate to saying inappropriate things when mania strikes. With all the manic qualities, let’s not forget David’s epic extremes of depression and recovery. And his prolific creativity also, having written a “buttload” (another Nacho Libre reference if you missed it) of songs. Maybe I’m stepping on some sacred toes, here, but in my opinion, there’s a good deal of evidence that David was bipolar. At least I’m not the only person to wonder.

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Pokémon Therapy

Is Pokémon therapy a thing? Because if it isn’t it should be. There’s something very relaxing (at least for me, anyway) about “catching ’em all”. My son made a GameBoy Micro for me. It’s a custom-made console that is built out of half a Nintendo DS (which has a beautiful backlit screen) and it plays GameBoy Advance and GameBoy Color games. He removed the top screen, soldered a tiny capacitor (this thing is SO small) to the circuit board and resoldered a speaker, removed the extra two buttons, and built up the body of the DS with epoxy sculpt, sanded it down smooth, and painted it matte black. My son is only 14 and has already far surpassed my electronic and modding skills. If you can’t tell, I’m one proud dad. Anyway, back to Pokémon. I’d seriously, not kidding like to do an experiment to check my blood pressure and pulse after a stressful day and then compare it to a reading taken after say a half-hour of playing the game. I wonder if it’s been done? About to Google it now. I’ll post my findings here later.

Well, that was easy. Pokémon X (and I’m assuming Y) is specifically mentioned as a stress-relieving game in this article. My “resurch” is complete. Pokémon playing is good for mental health!

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Call Me Malcolm

I’ve been listening to a UK Punk/Ska band suggested by a friend called Call Me Malcolm. Many of their lyrics are about mental health. Here are the lyrics from Inside Out, a track from their album I Was Broken When You Got Here. And here’s a recent video from the song What You Burn.

I’m loving this band so far and plan to feature them in some way in a music issue of TZHI (more on that later). Their lyrics and music are an audio version of what TZHI is all about, normalizing the mental health conversation and helping others know they are not alone. I’m stoked!

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Mental Health Stickersheets

I’ve created some sticker designs for mental health awareness, see the image below. Thanks to @jenboki and @thepowerbirdherd for the suggestions!

The above stickersheets are currently being printed by our friends at StickerYou. I am inviting any and all artists to submit their own mental health sticker designs to be printed on stickersheets and sold with a portion of the proceeds going to a mental health charity yet to be determined (mental health charity suggestions welcome). Any artwork should be submitted in hi-res (300ppi) and RGB .jpg format between 2.5″ x 2.5″ and 4″ x 4″. Please submit between 8 and 12 designs maximum. You don’t need to include a cut path, as StickerYou’s stickersheet layout interface will automatically create them. You may include your Instagram handle or URL (small) somewhere on the designs. Please email your designs to: thiszinehasissues@gmail.com. Please also include a short artist bio and if you like, share something about your connection to and/or reason for supporting good mental health practices. If you need some inspiration for good things to put on your sticker designs (feel free to use any of the above ideas) see below:

  • I did some art
  • I had a bath
  • I had a good laugh
  • I did yoga
  • I took a walk
  • I exercised
  • I went to therapy
  • I ate healthy food
  • I meditated
  • I practiced mindfulness
  • I took a deep breath
  • I did a craft
  • I was kind to myself
  • I wrote in my journal
  • I am enough
  • I played some music
  • I wrote poetry
  • I watched a good movie
  • I put my phone away
  • or whatever else your creative mind can think of to benefit mental health

 

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The Truth About Broken

I’ve been reading The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love by Hanna Blum for the purpose of reviewing it in TZHI #3: Bipolar Disorder. Blum was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder at the age of 20. Her book has been described as “a collection of captivating true stories that will never leave you after reading.” I’m looking forward to reading all of it and learning about Blum’s journey with bipolar. One thing that stood out to me is her vulnerability in stating early on that she didn’t write the book as someone who has it all figured out. She wrote rather from a perspective of someone learning to embrace what makes her different and someone who is learning to love the “unfixed version” of herself while encouraging her readers to do the same. That’s probably enough about the book for now otherwise I’ll end up writing my review here.

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Music and Mood Part 2

After yesterday’s post questioning whether or not music could trigger mania, I did some Googling and so far haven’t found much written about a causal connection between music and mania. What I did find of interest in this scientific article is that among classical musicians there is a higher than average rate of mood disorders with bipolar being one of the most prevalent. Another point of interest and a common thread in articles I found is that people experiencing mania sometimes prefer to listen to loud music. I can relate to that generalization. I wonder also if the loud music tends to feed the mania, which is what at least my own mania drives me to do. This would definitely be something to explore in a music issue of TZHI.

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Music and Mood

I’ve been listening to a lot of ska music lately. I don’t know if there’s a direct correlation, but my mood has been lighter and happier. If you’re not familiar with ska, it’s a style of music that originated in the late 1950’s / early 1960’s in Jamaica. Ska music emphasizes the upbeat or the upstroke of the rhythm, and typically includes a horn section complete with trumpet, trombone, and often saxophone. It’s sometimes described as being “happy music” even though the lyrics can be dark, or even depressing when read without the music, for example, The Science of Selling Yourself Short by Less Than Jake sounds bright and happy but is all about a tragic life. Most recently I’ve been listening to the mostly instrumental ska music of The Skatalites. It’s very “happy music” that for me is difficult to listen to without wanting to dance. Even my teenage daughter who is rarely moved by much of anything dances a little when I’m playing ska.
After thinking about it, I’m wondering if I’m drawn to ska music presently because it resonates with my good mood, or if it is the reason for my good mood. It’s the old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Since I didn’t know the answer I decided to Google “music and mood”. This is one of the first articles I found. The article suggests that even “sad” music can bring pleasure and comfort to the listener, however, the article also suggests that for some people sad music can produce negative feelings of “profound grief”. So I guess the jury is still out on the effects of sad music.
The article cites a 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology which found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks. This study might point to the conclusion that the mood follows the music, but this leaves the question of why people experiencing a deep personal loss tend to prefer sad music. That would lead one to the idea that people choose to listen to the music that resonates with their present mood.
For me, I’m beginning to think that it’s a little of both. Perhaps we’re drawn to the music that resonates with our mood, and then it amplifies whatever we’re currently feeling. Sort of a feedback loop, if you will.
I wonder if there have been studies of the effects of music specifically on people with bipolar? If my assumption is correct, there might be a degree to which listening to upbeat music could lift one’s depressed mood, but that at some point it would lift one’s mood too much, producing mania. An interesting question, one worth exploring more.

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Miscellaneous Thoughts

Today has been a great day. The weather has been lovely and I’ve gotten in a couple of walks today reaching my step goal of 10k steps. I’ve been reading my friend’s book some more today and it’s so good. Also, I watched a little bit of a very good documentary. I’ve noticed that my blog’s post dates are off so I just now fixed that. I took another look at the mental health stickers I drew a while back and I’m thinking I need to have another go at drawing them. Sustaining a daily blog post is much harder than I thought it would be. I suppose I don’t have much of anything else interesting to say, so I’ll just leave it here for now.