How to tame a bear… or my bipolar mother.

Posted: October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Step 1: Analyze the situation.

Observe the bear in its natural habitat.

Is it rational or irrational? Is the bear behaving aggressively? Is the bear merely agitated? Is the bear pacing through it’s domain? Is the bear a danger to itself? It’s cubs? If you take charge, will the bear feel that it’s power has been usurped or snatched?

Recognize all warning signs. Draw on previous experiences of the bear’s animalistic reactions to play out all possible outcomes in your head. Surprises are messy; nobody wants to be torn apart by a bear.

Step 2: Declaw your bear.

Subtly remove anything that could be used to harm you or your bear, especially glass items because in the course of a bear attack, you don’t have time to get out a broom and sweep. Glass shards hurt feet. My bear leaned towards overdose, however there were some Drano and antifreeze problems. For some reason the silly bear thought Drano would unclog its throat.

An important part of this step is removing cubs you care about from the danger zone. Seeing people you love cry hurts you as well as them. Collateral damage causes a whole new mess to clean up afterwards as well as some problems you can’t fix.

Step 3: Placate.

Okay so you analyzed your situation. You prepared your surroundings. Now you are ready to placate your bear.

Essentially you want to avoid any behaviors that might alarm or egg on your bear. At this point their rage is not directed at you, however you need to keep the level from escalating.

If we were dealing with Yogi, you could just shove a picnic basket under his nose. However, this variety of bear responds better to slight affection and vague agreements. Essentially: nod and say “yeah”. This allows the bear to continue growling and feel supported and loved. Do not blatantly agree to anything said! You will be trapped! They will try to coax you up a tree with them! At this point the bear is a stranger to you! Stranger danger!

Step 4: Play dead.

Chances are you will be attacked. When being verbally attacked, respond to all growling with an impassive face. Convince yourself you don’t care to make the face realistic. Never run or leave the vicinity.  At this point, the bear gets a high from holding power over you. Power makes the bear feel strong and right. So essentially, emotion is weakness. Weakness provokes bears.

If the bear physically attacks you, do not cower! Jump out of the way and put a piece of furniture between you and the charging bear. Maybe they will trip on it. Keep impassive face to ward off further confrontation.

Showing weakness guarantees that the bear will proceed to ravage you. But, hey! It’s your limbs and your choice! Just remember that wild creatures are not to be taken lightly.

Step 5: Chuckle, giggle, chortle.

Not out loud of course …the bear will hear you. But, it is still important to comfort yourself through humor. It doesn’t matter what method you use since this event is all in your head.

You could keep a running commentary, substituting celebrity names for all involved in the bear attack. Oops! She did it again! Britney smashed a few dishes! 

You could use your imagination! For instance, if your bear starts throwing bananas at everything in sight you can picture it as a rabid monkey. Or something always entertaining is to imagine the bear dropping the attack to follow it’s passion of dancing. I think a coffee table would make a solid stage.

Or you could go out of your way and visualize life as a comedy show. Some of the things a crazy bear does would make hilarious Saturday Night Live skits.

If you are optimistic enough, you may be able to find humor without using silly tricks.You might be just one of those people who takes life in stride.

But no matter how you manage it, make sure you uplift yourself. Otherwise negatives emotions such as desperation, frustration, and anger will invade your mind like an army of ants. And once it’s in there everything will hurt more. It takes longer to recover from emotional trauma than to protect yourself in the first place. And letting your emotions run free will cloud your judgement and efficiency in Bear Control Services.

Step 6: Sleep with one eye open…if you still have it by now.

And by ‘sleep’ I mean track down caffeine and don’t sleep a wink. I’m serious. Bears can quickly slip from manic to purposefully committing bearicide. Judge your bear’s calmness level. Do not believe them if they tell you they’re drinking honey! Your bear is not innocent, little Winnie the Pooh.

Even if they are asleep, it doesn’t mean they’re safe. Manic bears tend to wake up randomly all throughout the night. Plus, if you go to sleep, you are leaving yourself vulnerable and giving the bear the element of surprise. This negates the effort you put forth earlier to declaw your bear.
Step 7: Map it out.
So if you reach this step, you are a very devoted bear caretaker. But motivation can still be misplaced somewhere along the way. Right about now you need to reset your moral compass to point north.
You are not doing this to be a good person. You are not sacrificing so much for some brownie points. You are obviously someone who cares a great deal about your bear. This is where you need to remind yourself of all the positive things you love about your bear.
When you act with a clear purpose in mind you won’t fall into the trap of regret. You made a decision and gave the cause your all. Even if you change your mind in the future and choose a path as a non-caretaker, your time with your bear was worthwhile since your cause mattered to you.
Out of the hundred acre woods:
This post was interesting for me to make. It highlights some of the actions I had to focus on and struggle with when my unstable, bipolar mother was at her worst. Growing up, I kept the essential points within this list in the back of my head, adding items through trial and error. It helped to have a few concrete concepts to keep in mind when all hell broke loose and rational thought seemed to vanish.
I never followed it as a to-do list, but thought it would be the best way to portray this since my audience was not my own head for once. Trying to figure out how to explain to others how to live such an intimate portion of my life forced me to analyze the situation from an outsiders eyes.
The metaphor of my mother as a bear was partially meant to keep the mood from becoming depressing and partially to try and help people not familiar with the effects of bipolar disorder to understand the transition from human to animal. When particularly bad, my mother suffered a complete loss of reason and control. She gave in to primal instincts, letting her emotions think for her.
    • grinningwillow says:

      Thank you for going out of your way to tell me that!

      • I relate to all of the above…and you’re so right- you HAVE to have some humour!

      • grinningwillow says:

        I checked out your blog and see that you seem to have a lot of parallels with my experiences.

        I’m glad you agree. To me, humor is the key to survival. And it’s something positive I have gained from the negative. Now I love the mindset I have created for myself. Everything just becomes a funny chapter in my story.

  1. abriluji says:

    This post is pure genius! You hit the nail on the head! 😀 Cheers!

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