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Meeting Men in the Sauna. Wednesday June 24, 2015

Yes – it happened again. You'd think by now I'd be used to it.

So I've finished my twenty minutes of ploughing up and down the pool and, feeling pleasantly relaxed, exercise endorphins swimming lazily through my bloodstream, I think it would be good to chill in the sauna for a while. Well, not chill, precisely, but you know what I mean.

So I enter the room, the heat embracing me like a lover and nod politely to the only other occupant, a chap sitting on one of the high benches. I sit down on the other side and prepare to spend five wonderful moments in warm meditation.

But no. Inevitably he will want to talk.

Maybe MI5 should employ me. It takes only ten minutes for this man to recount all about his two ex-wives, his current partner, what all his children are doing now, how he gets on with them, what's happening at work and his opinions on the Government, the local council and the people who run the Leisure Centre where we're sitting right now. If I could have borne the heat much longer I'm sure he would have told me his GCSE results and how he once stole a stapler from the office stationery supplies!

This happens to me nearly every time I sit in the sauna (not with the same man, I hasten to add). I think there must be something about the small enclosed room, the warm dry heat, the intimacy of our mutual near-nakedness, which encourages this sharing of self.

And it's good for everybody.

It's good for him to talk I'm sure and it's vital for me to listen.

I'm in the part of my bi-polar cycle where I hate everyone because they're all just SO stupid, and if they're not stupid then they're still stupid for not recognising how amazingly talented I am and worshipping me! (And, by the way, I do know that all this is nonsense. It's the chemicals in my brain; it's not real, it's not me.) But because I still have at least a rudimentary grasp of good manners, I'm not going to be rude to this stranger. I will listen politely, respond appropriately and yes, feel grateful that he has linked me, yet again, to the real world and real people.

Whether I'm up or down, interaction with my fellow humans is essential. It is our links with our fellow humans which anchor us to reality. Depression locks us inside our own dark dungeon, the mania of bi-polar rockets us high above the mortal world to a place where the air is too thin to support us and we can't hear or see anyone so far below.

So a link with a stranger is a gift. It is a much needed anchor for mania; a chink of light in that dungeon.

Wherever that stranger and we may meet.

A Moodscope member.

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Sophbrad Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 6:51am

Thank you for this. I need to analyse my bi-polar cycle and be able to recognise what stage I'm at too. I've no idea what is happening most of the time. I'm not sure if there is a 'normal' me who can really relate to the real world without bi-polar specs. I should get to grips with this... Thank you!

Anonymous Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 7:17am

Thank you - a very new approach for me!

PWD Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 7:25am

Your blog made me smile Mary you have a great way of writing. You must have a nice smile that makes people want to interact with you. Try looking angry next time in the sauna. I usually get the village idiot sit next to me on the bus or in a queue the worst are the ones with bad b o.


Hopeful One Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 8:04am

Hi Mary- thanks yet again for giving the non bipolar an insight into your world. Human beings are by nature social creatures . In fact solitary isolation , as the torturers of the world have discovered the world over. is one of the is the worst punishment man can dish out to his fellow men. Look at it in a positive light. By giving him space (no pun not intended as your interaction took place in a sauna) you have helped a human being lay out his problems and in that way come to terms with it if only a little. You didn't possibly realize that there is a 'therapist' in you!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 8:09am

Hello Sophbrad, I would certainly recommend investing some time and attention in analysing your bi-polar patterns. Although it may seem self-indulgent at the time, you reap dividends in being able to manage (if not control) your condition. The more you know about bi-polar generally, and your own individual version of it, the more you can mitigate its effects on you and your loved ones. Hopefully we get to the point where we are refined and not defined by our condition.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 8:11am

Hmmm. When I don't want to engage, I normally carry my kindle or have my ipod plugged in - neither of which work in the Sauna. But - my point is that, actually, this is a good thing! I met another chap yesterday - we had an animated discussion about wine!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 8:13am

It was your query, hopeful One, that enabled me to feel free to share the "up" bits as well as the down bits. In lots of ways they're just as nasty as the downs. So thank you. I hope this series will be helpful to others, as I know we have a number of bi-polar people in our community.

Sarah M Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 8:49am

Great blog again Mary. Itoo have had the sauna confessional experience...and yes most times it reminds you about humanity and how everyone has so ething going on. Just sometimes though I have snapped back ( over football!!) At a mis representation n of my face team. This resulted in silence oops. I felt a bit awkward but also justified in putting this person straight . I think however that remmemberi to just nod and agree is the best approach in situations like there. And of course listen. Loveyourblogs :)

Karen Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 9:52am

Lol! Lurved the blog are such fun!
I too get a lot from people and my husband cannot believe how much I know about people when I've only seen them whilst out walking the dog!
I am my mother! She could do it too...we used to joke saying she'll come back with their bank account details one day!!! x x x

Anonymous Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 11:00am

Wonderful stuff, Mary, just wonderful. Great humour threading through such wisdom and help. Thank you. After the first 'oh no' when encountering a talker, i settle in and wait, always assuming that the conversation was meant to be. A helpful bit of info or an insight often comes....from either side...and there is benefit somewhere. you think it's possible to be just a little bit bipolar? When you talk about the cycle, i recognize it in myself but very subtley (depression is my thing). Are there levels of bipolar or is it simply full on or off? Perhaps too big a question to answer outside a blog.... susan xx

Leah Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 11:05am

Thanks Mary for your insightful blog. It is good you have seen a pattern and realise that delusions of the high are nonsense and not real. Alas for many, they never have this insight and the highs can but them at risk. I also would like people to realise that every person experiences bipolar in a different way. Thanks again for sharing your wit . leah

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 1:51pm

Imagine how powerful we could be together Karen!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 2:02pm

Hello Susan, there are many different forms of bi-polar and yes, it's rather too complicated to go into here. I didn't know I was bi-polar for nearly 40 years. Everyone else around me did, but they didn't have the medical knowledge or distinctions to vocalise it and to let me know. With the knowledge and diagnosis 8 years ago has come great power: not to control, but at least to manage.
There are two forms of bi-polar, type 1 and (unimaginatively) type 2. Type 1 has the full blown mania with out of control behaviour exemplified by extreme risk-taking, promiscuous sexual behaviour, impulsive and dramatic decisions (buying a one way ticket to Australia, for instance), and then the depression. Type 2 has what's known as "hypo-mania", where people become more energetic, more creative, need less sleep and (sadly) can become rather self-centred and arrogant. Again, depression follows. The higher and longer the high, the longer and deeper the depression. Although type 2 people seem to have longer depressions than highs and statistically more people with type 2 commit suicide. The length of the cycle varies immensely too. Rapid cycling bi-polar can go through the pattern several times a day. The longest cycle I've heard of is seven years. Mine is annual with a four year pattern on top. So that's what I know about it in a nutshell. If you let Caroline know you'd be interested in a blog on it or a series she knows who to ask.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 2:04pm

Absolutely Leah. Maybe I do need to write that blog I mention above. Tell you what - I'll write it and send it to Caroline and then we'll see what she does with it.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 5:02pm

Hi Mary, thanks so much for your blog. I can definitely recognise elements - had 2 cycles of depression, and watching very warily for any echo of a third! Yes, the highs worry me nearly as much as the lows, but I now know how to spot the train coming. Also trying to support someone who is looping through the depression element for the first time, and I'm finding it very challenging. So thank you, very helpful, Freya x

Karen Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 5:24pm

Mm, now there's a thought....!

Anonymous Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 5:29pm

That's hard Freya, to be looking after someone else with depression too. I, like many others here, have had to go through it myself whilst supporting others with depression, so we're here for you.
Karen x

Hopeful One Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 6:28pm

Hi Mary - thanks for that and the reply to Anonymous 11.00 am which filled a big gap in my knowledge of the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder .

The Entertrainer Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 7:11pm

Aside from it being a Wednesday, your title was a give-away that this was Maryland!
You make my day!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 7:23pm

(Looks up to Heaven innocently) Lex - I have *no* idea what you mean...

Anonymous Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 7:32pm

Wow Mary, this is all so interesting! I've never know much about bi-polar and its intricacies and its fascinating. I'll join you and Karen in MI5...I find strangers so interesting :-) Having trouble commenting today so lets see if this from the room above the garage.

Sophbrad Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 9:27pm

Thank you, Mary. I will do it!

Anonymous Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 10:07pm're having trouble cos there are peeps watching us.....darn those MI6 peeps! Karen x

Anonymous Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 10:52pm

:-) love ratg x.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 24th 2015 @ 11:51pm

Love you both XXX (see you by the lake in St James Park. The password is Moodscope, OK?)

Anonymous Fri, Jun 26th 2015 @ 10:30am

Thanks Karen, I appreciate it, Freya x

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