I would in no way assume that my approach is a blanket solution for anyone or everyone. To the contrary, it is not a solution (I said I have not beaten it, and I may never well), but this post is my personal experience for dealing with an "illness" that has been very challenging in my life. I can only account for the factors of my experiences which luckily were functional enough for this approach to do some good.
Those factors did indeed include a lot of debilitating and suicide episodes during my teen years but I chose not to write about suicide because it's a much deeper subject and somewhat detracts from the point I hoped to make. But in the interested of full disclosure, yes I had struggled with suicide daily until I changed my thinking.
The reason I said "it's only a negative thing if you allow it to be" is that when I stopped thinking of it as "suffering" I found the core catalyst for change that allowed me to dismiss suicide as an option and maintain that rationale until I could apply other measures and stabilize my situation longer term.
At it's core the illness affects your rationale by way of your moods and I feel it's important to address the fact that someone who is "suffering" implicitly has a negative perspective and will continue to suffer without positivity.
Thanks for your comment.
I know at least two people who are managing their own bipolar as an adult, with very similar stories to the OP's. Often it's the very realization that you are responsible for your thoughts, emotions, and actions, not your parents, your doctor, or The Disease, that turns in the tide in a disorder of the mind. At the right moment, this belief will cause a stronger self to emerge.
And yet, the mere mention of taking control of your mind will get people up in arms. This is Serious Business, they say. Well, lots of things in life are, and the right approach is usually to step up and take charge with a healthy dose of optimism.
Is it not stern and condescending to tell a depressive, "Buck up! It's all in your head. You just need a positive attitude"?
The OP has expanded thoughtfully on his intent, so I'm not saying that this is his view. But it remains the view of many others. I would agree with what I think is your point, that the opposite extreme is just as harmful: that this is a disease that requires passive submission to treatment by others, an idea that is indeed arrogant and disempowering.
My take is that if a person can 'function' (ie. not get nabbed by police, jailed and/or extradited) in modern society, with reasonable personal comfort and fulfilment and without relying overwhelmingly on others, then it is incorrect to describe them as "ill".
PS. It's normal feel unhappy or unfulfilled with nine-to-five (or nine) modern lifestyles; they're not natural. My advice to others is to never consider yourself depressed (and NEVER begin an antidepressant habit); instead consider yourself poorly matched to society's defaults, and try to change pace or place.
I don't have a lot of experience with therapy that I can easily recall. I did a lot of therapy around the time when the "some kid" situation originally occurred as it became apparent to my parents something was up with me, but I was <10 years old. I remember spending a lot of time with therapists trying to figure out the symptoms over the next few years, but it was all very confusing and no one (including me) really had a handle on it. As I started to get older, things escalated so it was harder and harder for them to get me to even go so I ended up with a lot of fragmented treatment and I was mis-diagnosed for probably 10 years or so I would say. So between that and the fact that a lot of those years were a manic blur, I can't say I really recall any therapy of value especially anything like inner child or regression therapy.
I would definitely entertain the idea of doing this now because even to this day there are certain triggers (said or done, implicit or explicit) that will have the same affect. Luckily I can usually self-diagnose those episodes within the first 10 minutes and adjust as it's fairly dramatic and obvious to me that something has changed biologically. It's the cycles that scale more slowly that I find it a lot harder to identify and throttle, but luckily they don't surface very often in a more serious manner then irritability or obsession. These are the cycles (the feature) that I try to use to my advantage due to the perceived increase in cognitive focus that I feel I experience.
I will do some research about this type of therapy, I'm all for any approach that helps me to understanding my triggers better.
It's great you're very self-aware, though it's helpful having someone else doing the guiding - you can let go of the having to be thinking (using your mind), and therefore your full attention can go to feeling (being in your body) and then responding, releasing, and then viewing a situation in a different light (along with some other things) - and letting go emotionally as well. The process will allow those memories to exist, and be connected to everything, to be processed/settled (in your body) instead of repressed (in your mind; which then doesn't allow those triggers to exist).
I do have a contact that might know someone who's out West in the style of therapy - or at least maybe be able to point to a resource to look at; I'm in Ontario currently - may end up having an office in Vancouver someday though. Follow me on Twitter and I can DM you what I find out? @mattamyers
P.S. I'm rather long-winded, often, too. :)
My advice (even though you didn't ask for it) is let the Paxil do it's thing for a while then start implementing exercise and nutritional adjustments into your routine once you are feeling normalized.
Treat it like an A/B test if you can. Think about the long term and try to find a routine that will work for you consistently. If you find something, talk to your doctor about coming off the medication to see if your routine continues to help without the meds. Make sure you only do it with the support of your doctor though, the with drawl from Paxil can be enough to put you back into a depression. From what I recall it wasn't too pleasant.