Dallas Symphony Concert

I attended the concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra held at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall on March 25, 2018. The music presented was the six Brandenburg concertos by Bach. I enjoyed the concert very much! I arrived early enough to attend the pre-concert lecture at which a member of the symphony talked about Bach’s life and gave details about each concerto. For example, she mentioned that Bach sent the concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg as a kind of resume, hoping that he might be given a job. However, the Margrave must not have been impressed, because he put the music aside and for a long time no one knew it existed.

These Baroque concertos, unlike those written in the Classical period and forward, were not written for a solo instrument and orchestra. Continue reading Dallas Symphony Concert

Off on a Tangent: Fanfiction

I was distracted most of March, so I haven’t gotten my three books in. Here’s why: I have a habit of getting obsessive-compulsive about certain things from time to time and one of them is writing fanfiction.

If you aren’t familiar with this genre, basically people write their own stories about characters that belong to someone else — from movies, TV shows, anime, books, even video games! They do this not because they are insane, but because the characters and their backgrounds stir something inside them and they become inspired. Continue reading Off on a Tangent: Fanfiction

Book Reviews: 1918 Flu and Britain

I recently finished these two books:

Great Influenza    20th century Britain

I would recommend both  books to anyone interested in the topics. I have read books about the 1918 influenza pandemic before, but this one went into more detail about the state of medicine leading up to the pandemic, the relationship of politics to the spread of flu, and the story of the scientists who tried desperately to find a way to fight the disease — or even understand it.

It is hard for us to believe, but the idea that germs cause illness did not occur until the mid-1800s, and even then, it took a long time to be accepted by the medical establishment. Continue reading Book Reviews: 1918 Flu and Britain

Paradigms and Creativity

I was thinking recently about one of the scientists in the typhus book. In the late 1920s and 1930s, Lukwik Fleck developed a philosophy of science in which he explained that science is a collective activity based on knowledge plus a specific mood; together these are called a thought style, and the individuals who follow it are a thought collective. The thought style consists of active elements, which influence the interpretation of reality and are socially constructed, and passive elements, which together make up what is called objective reality.

An example of this can be seen in medieval European medicine. Continue reading Paradigms and Creativity

Holistic Self-Management of Bipolar

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My primary chronic illness is bipolar disorder. Most chronic illnesses, whether physical or mental, require the individual to take regular action to maintain the highest possible level of health. The illustration most commonly used is diabetes — people with diabetes must check their blood sugar regularly, follow a plan of diet and exercise, take oral or injectable medications, examine their feet often, and so forth. Failure to carry out any of these actions can lead to serious consequences including kidney failure, hypoglycemic coma, amputations, or even death.

Self-management of bipolar disorder also requires certain actions, but it is much more difficult to know just what these actions are when a mental illness is concerned than it is when it is a physical illness. The easiest action to discern is taking prescribed medications. Having gone off my meds several times in the past, including once for almost a year, I know very well what can happen. I know the insidious downward spiral of bipolar that can lead to the brink of death just as surely as a disease like diabetes can.

So taking meds is number one, but it is not the only habit I must develop. Here are some others that are equally important:

  1. Therapy — For some reason, I’m having a problem doing this often enough.
  2.  Eating properly — Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet is the best for bipolar.
  3.  Exercising regularly — I have a shirt my mom bought me that says “Exercise? I thought you said ‘Extra fries!'” That is my usual attitude towards exercising, but I know that regular exercise, outside when possible, is crucial.
  4.  Spiritual practices — This is one I have lacked for a long time, but I am beginning to realize (not for the first time!) that I have to depend on God to help me with the symptoms of bipolar, especially my bad temper.
  5.  Having a routine — Although I enjoy visiting my daughter and my mom, the break in my routine that results can be very disruptive to my mental health. I need to keep my routine as much as possible even when I am away.
  6.  Laughter and relaxation — Laughter can definitely be a powerful medicine! If I don’t practice relaxation, I develop excessive anxiety.

Of course, there are others, but at present, I will address these. Where does holism come in? Many of these issues overlap. For example, I can keep up with all of them better in the context of a routine. Prayer and meditation are spiritual practices that help me relax; yoga is a relaxing type of exercise. A healthy diet gives me the strength to exercise and to think rationally. These are not independent bits of my life that are related only because I am the one doing them. Rather, they are strands of activity that are woven together to create the fabric of my days

I shall go into each one in future posts and then revisit how they work together.

Word for 2017: Holistic

I just read a post on Colline’s Blog in which she discussed her word for 2017, discipline. This is her theme for the year. She described how the word discipline relates to her goals for the year.

The idea intrigued me, so I looked inside myself for a word that could be my theme for the year. I thought of spirituality at first,  but I finally decided on “holistic.”

I tend to focus on just one area of my life at a time, a habit which is probably related to my bipolar disorder. In spite of medication, I still have episodes of depression, hypomania, and mixed states. During these times I may obsess over my physical health, compulsively work on my writing, or ruminate about my relationships, to the exclusion of everything else.

In 2017, I want to keep in mind the “big picture.” All areas of my life are important: spirituality, physical and emotional health, family and friends, relaxation and leisure, writing, housework and cooking. I often feel overwhelmed when I think about doing all that! But part of the overwhelm is that I think of it as doing everything at once and doing it perfectly. I will need to remind myself that I am human and that’s okay. Trying to be aware of my whole self may feel like herding kittens sometimes, but I think it’s worth a try!

Baby Steps Part 2

by Emilio Garcia
Brainade! The Brain Grenade by Emilio Garcia

In the last post, I mentioned the poisonous thoughts that arise when I try to ask other people for help. I’ve been thinking about this idea. Are there Deadly Elements (e.g. grenades) in my brain that can get triggered by my thoughts, feelings, or actions? If so, how can I find and destroy those pockets while simultaneously employing the baby steps concept?

Clearly, this is an area in which I need help…. no irony intended! Where can I get it? Continue reading Baby Steps Part 2

Facing Fears

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It is quite possible that I have social phobia or social anxiety disorder. On the other hand, maybe I am shy in a way that is completely normal. Either way, the difficulty I have being around people gets in the way of my enjoyment and happiness. Many days I don’t step foot outside of the house, even to get the mail. I just let my roommate get it when she comes home. I sometimes walk to the grocery store or the pharmacy where I get my meds (I don’t drive). I smile and say hello if someone speaks to me, but I am terrified that they might want to converse, so I leave as soon as possible. I don’t look over my grocery bill because if there is a wrong price I will have to take the item back. I would never ask a store worker where to find something, and I get embarrassed when they say, “Can I help you find something?”

You get the picture. Continue reading Facing Fears