The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Manic Depression

What is the difference between depression and manic depression?

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner:      Fred, welcome to the show.


Fred:                Hi.


Dr. Kenner:      Tell me, what is your question?


Fred:                I was wondering what is the difference, or how can you tell the difference between depression and manic depressive?


Dr. Kenner:      Manic depression is now called bipolar. And the two poles mean that you swing from – guess what – feeling really depressed to feeling what?


Fred:                Manic.


Dr. Kenner:      To feeling manic. To feeling like your mood is just super energized. It may be real irritable or it may be just feeling on top of the world. But the key to manic, because it’s wonderful to feel on top of the world, isn’t it? The key to it is that it’s not reality-based. That you’re feeling great, feeling like you own the world, you’re making decisions that are entirely irrational. They don’t make sense. You may have sexual indiscretions. You may be going on buying sprees. You may be driving like crazy down a back road. You may be saying things, losing it and saying things to people that are crazy and in your regular state of mind you would never say such things. So tell me, do you know someone who you suspect is manic or is it yourself?


Fred:                It’s myself.


Dr. Kenner:      What have you noticed?


Fred:                It seems most of the time, it seems like I’m in a depressive state, but every now and then, every once and a while, I’ll feel on top of things.


Dr. Kenner:      When you’re on top of things, can you tell me the craziest thing you did when you were on top of things, if you did indeed do something crazy?


Fred:                I would talk brashly to people and be real, I guess, direct and more … I wouldn’t say things I would normally say.


Dr. Kenner:      I don’t know if you’re just being more honest, though? Sometimes we repress so much and then finally you just let go and tell people what you’re really thinking and there’s actually more integrity and more honesty there, even if you don’t say it tactfully. It’s wonderful if you know assertiveness skills, but short of that, at least you let go. What did you say, and to whom?


Fred:                I would say somebody had borrowed my car and they didn’t seem like they wanted to return it and so I just confronted them about it and it ended our friendship.


Dr. Kenner:      Well, it sounded like you made a very good decision. I’m glad the friendship ended. Why are you laughing?


Fred:                Well, it makes me feel good to know that, that it was a good thing that I did.


Dr. Kenner:      If someone borrowed my car and they weren’t profusely thankful that I lent them a car and they didn’t fill it up with gas and maybe washed the car when they returned it – assuming it isn’t my sister or someone else – I would do that for someone else. I would fill up the car and I would wash it if they were that generous. If a person does not do that, then they are not a friend worthy of having. They’re going to be users. They would use you. So you had the guts to stand up for yourself?


Fred:                Yes I did, and then it kind of threw me into a depression, to tell you the truth.


Dr. Kenner:      Because you’re not used to doing that?


Fred:                Because I’m not used to doing that and I’m not used to standing up for myself.


Dr. Kenner:      How did you learn not to stand up for yourself?


Fred:                I don’t know. I’ve just kind of –


Dr. Kenner:      When did you learn to be polite and bite your tongue and not say what you’re really feeling and stuff it all, until your head feels like it’s going to explode?


Fred:                I don’t want to offend people and I just kind of stuff it.


Dr. Kenner:      You don’t want to do that to yourself. You want to learn what is called, well, a body of skills called assertiveness skills. And you can learn them many different ways. Basically, if you think of the old type of phones, you have a mouthpiece and you have a receiver, right? With communication skills, you need both ends. You need to know how to listen actively. And get the person’s full context, and then how to ask questions, and then how to say precisely what you mean, with laser accuracy, without attacking the other person but without biting your own tongue. There is a way to do that. It’s called the pronoun “I language” as opposed to finger-pointing language, “You did this. You did that.” You can learn those skills. There are workbooks. You can go to my website, I know there’s a book, trying to think of what I’ve got. I know there are assertiveness books but I don’t think I have them up on the website. I’ve given many courses in it, but that’s not there. I think the book Couples Skills is there, which even though it’s talking about couples, will give you skills. The book that I have recommended many times is actually a parenting book. It teaches you all of these skills but with pint-sized kids. But they’re the same communication skills that you would use with an adult. There’s a book called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. That’s at my website, And that book teaches you all of the assertiveness skills you’d ever need. If I were reading that book it could be “How to talk so my husband will listen and listen so my husband will talk,” or how my mother will listen. It teaches you beautiful communication skills because it’s simple. It teaches it with comic strips and vibrant examples. Very relatable examples. I highly encourage you to get that book and even though you’re not dealing with pint-sized kids, that’s an easy way to get the skills. There’s also a book Messages by McKay and some other authors. That one is not on my website either, but that's a decent book.


Here’s what I recommend – if you think that you’re bipolar, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice if all you’re talking about is that you’re repressed, meaning you’ve learned how to bite your tongue because you don’t want to offend other people. You’re offending one person when you try not to offend anybody else. Who is that?


Fred:                Myself.


Dr. Kenner:      You bet. And you need to be your own best friend. Learn the skills. We learn math, we learn about Attila the Hun, we learn about history in grade school or middle school or high school, but we don’t learn assertiveness skills. Learn those skills. You may browse the bookstores yourself and find some that teach assertiveness skills. Then you’ll be able to speak up. I would not get trapped in thinking that you have some heavy diagnosis and that you need medication. If that’s all you did, then that’s wonderful. I think that’s success, like breaking through a barrier for yourself. If there’s more to yourself that you haven’t shared with me – for example if you’re speeding down the road 150 miles an hour on a 30-mile an hour road during a manic episode, then that’s different. I’m assuming that’s not the case?


Fred:                No, that’s not the case.


Dr. Kenner:      Then congratulate yourself for standing up to this alleged friend. Find better friends and thank you so much for your call Fred.


Fred:                You’re welcome. Thank you.


Dr. Kenner:      You’re welcome.