Random Xpat Rantings

Contemplative dominance for the modern man

How I cured my manic depression and OCD

Posted by xsplat on March 30, 2014

I’m speeding along on time’s highway towards the 50 year mark. Looking back the years clump together into themes, and I rarely reminisce upon themes that no longer seem relevant. Yesterday I mentioned to Cody that my natural authoritative command over a new puppy must have come from dealing with girls, and the years I’d spent raising and training my son. And yet I could not remember how many years that was – I so rarely think about those times it took some time to remember them at all.

There was a period in my teens and early twenties when I was manic depressive, slightly anorexic and a bit OCD. I also had periods of debilitating social anxiety. Being inside my head was often quite painful. The thoughts would race around in ways that were uncomfortable. I contemplated suicide often.

Nowadays I’m noticeably happy. I haven’t had any mania for I don’t know how long – 27 years maybe. No OCD. Thoughts are comfortable. I’m habitually at ease, and often consciously noticeably content. I can feel blisses at times, but this is qualitatively different than the manias.

And I remember what I had to do to make the changes.

At the age of 12 I became interested in self directed mind control in the form of auto-hypnosis, and I practised that regularly. At 16 I switched that habit of mind training to meditation practices. This interest grew, perhaps with the help of my OCD tendencies, and at 21 I was living and meditating full time in a Buddhist monastery, and when not there was a hermit in a forest meditating 8 hours a day.

I can remember the precise day of the tipping point that marked the disappearance of the debilitating social anxiety. I had come out of the forest towards the end of another long retreat – this one was 11 weeks. I recall my attitude change towards the puppy that had ran up to greet me; I was warm and playful. I recall my attitude change towards everyone in the monastery; I was warm and playful. And I recall people being surprised and making comments; there was something markedly different about me now. This was no personality change similar to the contrasts between manias and depressions. This was now a stable new mode of being, and was calm and content and at ease.

But oh, the price for it. Hours upon hours upon months into years of painful sitting still with diligent attention, staring at carpets and floors and walls and out through the meditation cabin window that I had hauled in through 3 feet snow over a long mountain pass trail to install in an abandoned uninsulated hunters shack.

Meditation can be a type self enforced hell. It can also grow on you and be addictive and pleasant. But for most of us it is at least initially uncomfortable. And when you set a schedule to sit still for 1 hour, you’re going to come up against physical, as well as mental discomfort. Ramp that up to 4 and then 8 hours a day, and then continue that for weeks and then months and then more months, and that discipline will at times be a hardship.

I suppose the OCD tendencies helped to cure me of OCD.

These days I’m off a regular meditation schedule, although I do continue to try to work on regular mindfulness awareness throughout the day, and have a regular standing movement awareness practice that is meditative. I have not been troubled by runaway thoughts in quite a while, so there is no urgency to correct a troubled mind.

Life is genuinely and consistently good.

And I’ve found new focuses to increase overall happiness. Focuses that were discounted or dismissed within the Buddhist community I had invested so much of my identity with.

As a teen I was also often troubled by a painful feeling of being shivering cold whenever I’d hear certain sounds, such as the sound of Kleenex rustling. That and the painful thoughts in my head led me to believe that it would be cruel to have children, as this pain might be hereditary. And apparently manic depression is hereditary; if you have it you certainly will have forebears who also had it.

And yet I’ve put myself on the trajectory towards attaining smart and beautiful wives to bear children. From what I’ve seen in meditation communities, the desire to do intense meditation for very long periods is quite rare, so this cure might not apply to my own children. I suppose I could only hope they get just the right amount of OCD along with the bipolar problems in order to doggedly apply themselves to becoming better.

4 Responses to “How I cured my manic depression and OCD”

  1. dave said

    Glad to hear you never quit man. I also have a mix of mental neurosis and am adamantly working on fixing it so I can seek dat happiness and spread dat value.

    Strangely enough the path to fixing this has been through adopting a program that came from a business in an island that you inhabit. And Qigong. The combination of them are formidable. Nothing quite like stopping the racing useless thoughts and crazy habits (i.e. having the volume set to the television screen at an even number or pacing back and forth or overanalysign dumb shit)… and just grounding and lifting the sky in flow.

    Having had zero male mentors in my life, poor, a joke of an education, piss poor teenage choices, a very lousy impractical religious upbringing, and a feminized media; one thing I do is during deep meditative states I envision and use imagination to construct a counsel of men I look up to aid me in different areas of life. I imagine what they would say. Separated into the categories of fitness, wealth, character, love, humor etc.

    Guess who was selected in the counsel in matters of amor. hehe.

    Only had a brief glimpse into your past life but I like what I see.

    This fellow had a similar story to you, but he seems to have avoided intimacy in lieu of intellectual pursuits.. at least for the time beign http://www.reddit.com/r/Meditation/comments/1u9acp/ama_ive_been_doing_concentration_meditation/

    A few questions.

    You ever feel it is much easier to just ease into mindfulness after a boxing session?
    Do you think you would have ever had neuroses of that degree had you never done drugs?
    Do you respect/love Bodhissatvas? Or do you think they are escapists?

    How has meditation aided/or taken away from you as a writer? You do know that Ernest Hemignway specifically stated that as a writer it was your job to observe and listen to everything around you.. And as someone who is more thoughtless than the rest wouldn’t it be a bit of a drag to relate to people through your texts when there’s a lot less of the complaints, bullsh!t, shaming that the rest of the modern world ascribe to?

  2. t said

    I sometimes feel that way about having a child because my mother was diagnosed with bipolar a few years ago. Not sure what to make of it in terms of myself. Maybe I do experience it because I sometimes just lie around, and also need to find a way to quiet my mind down. I think it would be worse to have a daughter in this regard, as their emotions are more volatile and harder to control.

    Just thinking out loud. It’s one of those fears that I haven’t really mentioned to anyone. I want to have children, and see myself as a father, but there is this thing…

  3. […] How I cured my manic depression and OCD « Random Xpat Rantings […]

  4. revolutionarylifestyledesign said

    Great post X, few guys have the diligence to be able to self cure personality disorders, very cool to know it can be done. I’m off a regular meditation schedule myself outside of thought watching as I go to sleep at night and do the bulk of my focus as mindfulness throughout the day. What made you stop regular meditating whe you got so much benefit?

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