It has been useful for me to distinguish between purely rational ways of thinking and more magical, or as I like to call them, “non linear” ways of thinking. Here are some notes:

  1. Drugs produce magical thinking. Generally I’d strongly encourage anyone with a bipolar disorder to stay away from even weed and alcohol. The high is a state of mind in which our capacity to reason is clouded.

  2. Be mindful of engaging with the esoteric aspects of religion: By “esoteric”, I generally mean the parts of religion only understood by a few people. The Pardes story in Judaism described what happened when four great rabbis came into contact with the mystical truths underlying Judaism: One went mad, one died, one tried to destroy the roots of the mysticism, and only one was OK. Lately in mediation practice I have been very focused on being present in this reality, avoiding language like “the rhythm of the universe”, and such.

  3. Know when something is a phenomenon in reality, and when something is a symptom of a disorder: For example, if you are starting to put stock in telepathy, perhaps do some research and reassure yourself that believing in thought broadcasting, and thought insertion are well known symptoms of a mental health disorder. Likewise the sensation that everyone is talking about you could be a well understood delusion of reference. If something feels like it could be a symptom, like it is something only you are experiencing, chalk it up to the fact that you have a disorder, not special powers. This can go a long way towards making the symptoms abate.

This way of being in the world is not at all incompatible with feeling and perceiving other’s emotional states, with love or friendship, or even necessarily with prayer or meditation. I have just found it useful to walk on the rational side of the tracks rather than put too much stock in anything else. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t another way of going about staying sane, it just works for me.