Guest Blogger Thomas E. Hartmann on Gardeners and Cowboys

Listen to this guest post read by Cheryl: 

I really love this new guest post below written by Thomas E. Hartmann, author of Broken Mind, Persistent Hope: A Memoir of Recovery from Brain Damage and Manic Depression.

Here’s a little info on Tom to get you warmed up!

You can purchase this book in print or download in eBook version from Tate Publishing online.  And learn more about his healing research and work at Thomas has been interviewed on the Brain Injury Radio Network a couple times, and you can find those episodes on his website.

People’s experiences of brain injury and how they live life afterward are just as unique as the survivors’ experiences and lives before brain injury. And yet here, again, I find someone with a life so different from mine writing words that sound like they came straight out of my brain.

From an article about Tom’s June 2014 alternative medicine for TBI symposium: Tom says, “Awareness is the slogan for brain injured people and to me, that seems like a limited slogan because all it’s going to do is lead to public understanding and not solutions.” Yes, if you read this blog much, you’ve come across very similar, less succinct versions of what Tom says here.

Onward with the guest post!

“Gardeners and Cowboys

Certainly, while brain-injured I couldn’t think very well: thoughts did not arise easily, and impressions entered only through a narrow aperture that took some effort to focus.

Also, since I suffered from bipolar illness, too, when I did think well – i.e. when thoughts came easily and sense impressions began to flow – it was not a sign of returning health, even though it felt somehow right and familiar. Rather it was a sign of impending insanity – hypomania – and called for medicating myself into oblivion in order to avert disaster.

Since recovering my intellectual abilities thanks largely to alternative medicine, my thoughts flow easily once again. It has taken some effort to distinguish this feeling of natural well-being from dysfunctional mental illness.

I’m sure the feeling of exaggerated creativity is what is so often touted by the bipolar community as the hallmark – indeed sometime as the raison d’être – of their disorder. I would like to testify that I’m just as creative when not subject to the wild excesses of bipolar the way I once was; it’s just that I need to tend the growth of my ideas more like a gardener with his plants than like a cowboy with his herd of wild mustangs.

I also don’t think it’s an accident that gardeners are happier and live longer, in general, than cowboys.” — Thomas E. Hartmann, July 2014