I have given the name “complex healing states” to states that have some of the qualities of up and down. A complex healing state is different from a psychiatric “mixed state”, which combines some of the toxic symptoms of up and down. Here the difficult symptoms of one of the poles is combined with one of the positive gifts of the other side, e.g. something encouraging may happen when you are down – when it never usually would happen. Most of psychiatry is solely focused on symptoms and does not recognize that mania and depression each hold gifts to be harvested. More on complex healing states is in the page/tab at the top of the blog.
Complex healing states are healing fundamentally because they get the two sides mixing it up – up and down learning from each other, rather than polarizing from each other. But additionally, they are healing because they say they are. It’s actually a little more complicated than that.
When someone is really depressed, they may genuinely believe that nothing helps. I’m a prime example: when I am deeply depressed, one of my mantras has been “nothing helps and nothing matters”. So when someone says “Why don’t you go for a walk?”, the answer of someone in a state like that is likely to be, “Tried it – didn’t work.” And that answer can come to all manner of interventions that seem like they might help. You don’t believe they’re going to help, so you’re liable to not do them.
If however your goal is not to feel better, but just to make things more complex, then you’re liable to try it – because there’s not just a chance of succeeding, there’s almost a guarantee of succeeding. If you do something that tends to sit on the up polarity – if you walk the dog, if you write, if you call a friend, you have just made your state more complex. And if you are either taking on faith that complex healing states are good, or if it seems intuitively plausible to you that they are good, or if you have already had the experience of them being good for you, then when you create a complex state – when you take a down state and make it complex – you get encouraged. Because you are doing something that you believe can help. And guess what, being encouraged helps – right there, things start to shift.