It’s Christmas night. Phoenix has taken human shape and is sitting on the upper deck of an ancient ship together with the captain of the ship. They are sitting face-to-face on a big log which reaches from the right to the left corner of the deck. The ship is running at high speed. The captain is aware of the near collision onto the rocks and jumps suddenly over the board of the ship. While jumping, he shouts: “This is what we have to do. Sorry for not telling you beforehand. You had no time to prepare for the jump.” Phoenix is frightened. However, he jumps into the water. However, they both know that the journey continues by a distinctly smaller vessel.
Phoenix is wondering how he understood to jump into the water. This is not how he usually acts. He knows how to fly onto the branch of a cinnamon tree, when he is in need of a rest. This time he, however, knew and dared to act differently. Besides, Phoenix is wondering, how he knew that their journey will continue by a smaller vessel.
Next moment Phoenix is in the lobby of a hotel. It is still night-time. And Phoenix has still human shape. There is need for turning off the lights of the hotel-lobby. Phoenix knows that there is a system for turning the lights off. The hotel does not have it, however. Phoenix decides to search for the system. He comes to a place where there are lots of people whose life fills with turning the lights off. This is the only way of life they are aware of. There is also a shop where you can go in for buying a system for turning the lights off. A shopkeeper, whom Phoenix meets with, points out that the people here use the lights-turning-off system too massively. However, they are not aware of their misusing habit. Phoenix wants to buy the system and take it to the hotel-lobby. He is aware of that he can use the system properly.
In the following moment, there is a slight awareness that the second Christmas day is dawning. Elias wakes up and understands having had a dream. The dream feels odd and at the same time important. Never has Elias dreamt about Phoenix and never has one figure appeared in two gestalts at the same time. “The dream must have something to do with my depressive period that started for a week ago”, concludes Elias.
Elias has for the whole of his adult life suffered from bipolar disorder, and now quite a long hypomanic period changed into a depression period. Without any advance warning.
Elias continues contemplating his dream, trying to understand the meaning of the dream:
The captain in the dream was aware of the consequence of too high a speed. Thus, something or someone in me knew that the manic phase will come to an end. Someone in me also knew how burdensome the manic phases are to my psyche: “I have to continue my journey by a smaller and slower vessel”.
What about the Phoenix in me, what should I think about him? Elias remembers that Phoenix is a mythical bird that builds its nest from the branches of cinnamon tree and then torches it. Thus, the nest and the bird will burn into ashes. After three days, however, the bird arises from the ashes. According to another story, Phoenix comes to help, when a need for help is at its most.
Could my unconscious have some information about how to pace my mood variations and thus alleviate the intensity of both periods, ponders Elias.
What do the people represent, who concentrate on turning off the lights and at the same time, are unaware of other possibilities? Do the turning off the lights represent that now the manic period has come to an end? Why does the shopkeeper say that the people of the dream use the lights-turning-off system too massively?
Elias is baffled, until the following idea comes to his mind: What if the point is to try to keep the manic energy in control so that there would be no big need to “turn off the lights”? Does the turning off the lights have some linkage with a deep depression? Could I lower the depth of the depression, if I could control the manic energy? asks Elias himself. Simultaneously, a spark of hope starts to arise in him.
This is the end of the Christmas Tale.
I wanted to write down my thoughts about the bipolar disorder and do it in the form of a Christmas tale. I wanted to touch one light-bringing viewpoint to this challenging movement of psychic energy from one extreme to another that some people struggle with. In a manic phase, a person consumes his psyche’s energy so intensively that the depression period is needed for the survival of the person in the longer run. During the depression, the psyche’s energy turns inwards. It is time for loading and repairing the psyche.
In manic phase and seen from the viewpoint of analytic psychology, conscious mind is in danger of drowning into the whirlpool of the strong unconscious energy. In a depression state, again, the energy disappears almost totally inside the psyche, and one has real difficulties to see the value of this phase. It is often so that a person expects the manic phase and fears deathly the depressive phase.
Both phases challenge highly the conscious mind – and the ego in the core of it. The difficulty becomes even harder because the manic state challenges the ego very differently compared to what the depression phase does. Thus, it is not enough that the conscious mind learns to co-operate with either the manic phase or the depression phase. It must come to terms with both states. And it must keep the reins in its own hands, specially during the manic phase.
What if the unconscious side of a person with a bipolar disorder knows more than his/her conscious mind knows? As if some personified energy form like “the captain of an ancient ship, Phoenix or the shopkeeper of the lights-turning-off-system”. What if this wisdom that transcends the wisdom of conscious mind relates to how one can live a full life with bipolar disorder? What if this, who knows, would like to say to the conscious mind:
- I’ve always known that you have ability to understand both manic and depressive states.
- Look at your psyche’s energy with acceptance. The bipolar flow of energy is part of you.
- See the reefs of the manic state, take control in your hands, use your energy constructively and be moderate in all your doings.
- See the mind in depression, too. It repairs you and heals you. It’s time for resting like the nature is doing in winter. Depression is like Great Mother, who is not dead but asleep when resting. She’s asking you to sleep like her – together with her.