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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Van Halen for Bipolar Depression Relief

A few months ago some friends and I saw Van Halen in concert. As it is with any event or trip planned in advance, I have concerns about the mood state I will be when I am actually experiencing the activity. It is seemingly impossible to predict what my mood state will be and whether my mood will be good enough so I can have some fun!

Since I was not drinking at the time I got the coveted duty of being the responsible driver for the group. In a way this is an honor. It gives me recognition of sorts that I am being victorious over alcohol, my arch nemesis of the psychoactive substances here on God's green earth.

The show was pretty good and I had killer time for sure. I liked the venue and lights. But don't be surprised if you hear a change in David Lee Roth's voice. It's starting to fade. No bueno!

I had some serious depression three days in a row leading up to the show. All sorts of negative self-talk was dominating my thoughts. The signs were pointing towards trouble ahead.

Trouble Ahead

So, leading up to the show I asked myself two questions: (1) Are my depression symptoms going to be whacked at the concert? (2) Was my experience there going to suck so bad that I should not bother going?

Yep, sure enough. I was still having some troublesome symptoms as we arrived at the Staples Center. Good 'ole depression was present and accounted for.

Most of my difficulties were about getting "stuck" or "off track" and dwelling on irrelevant material. I was ruminating big time.


Rumination is being stuck on a thought, belief, or idea for a long period of time. You can't seem to get whatever is in your head out of your head. You find yourself turning a matter over and over in your mind with the tendency for an overdose of reflection and pondering.  

Negative thought rumination is probably the most bedeviling of my bipolar depression symptoms. And it was certainly alive and active during the concert. Rumination creates overall mental discord and a perpetuation of many depression symptoms. It impairs thinking processes and leads to social withdrawal. This, in turn, creates distance between the person experiencing bipolar symptoms are their family, friends, and other support persons.

A New World Order

As the concert progressed I found my thinking about and dwelling upon the experience. I began to notice changes from other events I've been to in the more distant past. The show had a strange, "New World Order" feel to it.

I haven't been to a concert in many years. But it was hard to believe how much the experience had degraded. And of course I ruminated a lot about this. A few things I found myself dwelling upon were:

  • how hardly anybody stood or danced to the music,
  • it was more of a passive, observer experience;
  • the "audience Nazis" were in effect, bolting several times in groups of three to attack non-conforming audience members;
  • light from cell phones replaced the flickering lights from cigarette lighters; and
  • most conspicuous of all, nobody was smoking the reefer.  


When I woke up Friday morning I knew right away it was going to be better than the last several days. I could sense something good kindling inside even though the sky was totally gray and my mood was sub par.

I knew I was less depressed than the days prior, but I still did not know how the day would unfold. Things can still decline at any moment. You just got to be ready to ride the roller coaster for that days run.

I often have pretty good or fair mornings that are followed by afternoon crashes, naps galore, and irritability. It was a fairly common experience during the days leading up to the concert. I wondered if things were going to start out good and then crash in the afternoon or evening.

Timing is Everything

So it turned out that Friday was a great day for the concert because it happened on a transition day. I was moving out of a state of bad depression towards "normal." So my depression symptoms were milder, I had good energy, and generally had my wits about me.

All the usual symptoms that show up for me were there during the show, but they were much milder and some were almost imperceptible. I had an okay mood, good energy, okay mental acuity, and I seemed fairly grounded.

Final Thoughts on Rumination

In managing rumination I am declaring that I will reduce my perfectionist thinking. Ruminating on perfection just adds stress and pressure to the things I do.

I just need to remind myself to keep my expectations in perspective. Everything will not be "perfect" and that's okay. What is perfect anyway?

So, starting ryte now I be not longer be a purfectshunist and see how it goes and then maybe stay this way, just sayin. Jest leeve comet below if yuse think i shuld stay impurfecshunist.

But seriously, overall the concert was great! It was just what I needed to bust through a funk!


  1. Sharing personal experience is the best experience. I see some good tips in your post.

    1. Hi Anxiety Relief - Thanks! My intent is for each reader to obtain something worthwhile for themselves or their lives when they visit this blog. Take care, Jeff

  2. Hey Jeff - Grace here! I can relate to what you said here: It gives me recognition of sorts that I am being victorious over alcohol, my arch nemesis of the psychoactive substances here on God's green earth.

    Everyone has moments of self indulgence, but for others it's more toxic. I'm learning Judaism right now and one of the things that stuck out to me was that the "restrictions" religions have is not a lack of freedom - it is actually the opposite. Taking a kosher lifestyle or working out as examples, limiting yourself to certain foods and making changes to your daily life for exercise is actually more freeing than most people think.

    By exercising your ability to CHOOSE the things that make you feel better or give you desired results is all the freedom you need. By not acting anxious or needy by a substance helps you move towards freedom. And when we train ourselves, it becomes habit.

    What you said about feeling victorious is a really good sign

    At least for me it is.

    1. Hi Grace! So good to hear from you. Sounds like things are good with you. I am glad.

      Thank-you for your encouragement and sharing what is working for you. I'm glad you are developing in Judaism. I have a lot of respect for the OT. I get what you say about "restrictions" not being restricting. It's true for me too with Christianity.

      I must say however, that the things of my disorder are probably not how you think. I say this because if you have not experienced something it is hard to relate to someone who has. I'm sure you have been depressed, most have. But the unrelenting oppression of my bipolar depression is pretty remarkable. I wish others could experience it just for a bit and see how truly evil it is.

      I tell you this: things like exercise and diet do not even touch this monstrosity. I'm not saying they can not help at all. It's just for me it is very, very little. It is like draining a big swamp using a bucket. It doesn't make much of a difference how many buckets are removed. It's still a giant body of muck. I say this with much appreciation for the things you mention.

      On a good note I am having a relatively good day so far! And your note here made it a touch better:) Thank you.

      I love you and be blessed,


  3. oh of course Jeff! I totally understand. I wasn't trying to say that I can relate to what you're feeling. Glad you are feeling better and just thought I'd say hi!

  4. Hi Grace - We're good always. I am glad for you and your life! I think it is awesome! Take care, Jeff

  5. Dear Jeff,

    Are you still blogging? Hasn't been an entry for a while...

  6. The answer is: Not Lately. I plan on writing a lot more but the depression demon is under full attack. - Jeff