Many times when trying to describe the mindset of Bipolar to others, I talk about the rational and irrational aspects of my mind, and how they need to work together, but at certain times are not in balance.
When I use these terms, I am attempting to do so in a non-judgmental way. For example, following a train of logic (1+1 = 2) is rational. Having a feeling (I am happy) is irrational. Also, they, at least to me, are not necessarily exclusive. I know cockroaches are potentially quite disease ridden, and show a lack of cleanliness. My disgust of roaches (irrational attitude) comes from a rational thought process. So in that case, rational leads to and supports you irrational state (not insane state, just emotional). There can be thought processes which go the other way - say, for example, one really likes plants. The irrational esthetics (not a bad thing) can lead you to have a nice garden that you plant and work with. The thoughts into designing the garden, your tools, etc. all come from the irrational desire for plants.
This type of balance is, I think, the typical, or at least optimal, process for the human mind. It's not always the case, but one that I am sure can be achieved by everyone. Now, there are unbalanced times, and that is when a person is not at their best. When it becomes unexpected, with possible severe intensity and rapid changes, that is when the irrationality is bad. Rationality can also have negative consequences, such as removing you from humanity on various levels or over controlling your life with inconsequential thoughts when it becomes to overriding of a state.
However, we fall into various patterns which allow or cause one side to be the controlling factor, causing problems. An example might be when we hit a state of enjoyment or sadness, and if we are not carefully about the stressors, can become overly emotional. Perhaps we are sad, but it becomes an over riding depression, or happy and the mania makes everything seem great. Worse yet, at least for me, is when I hit a mixed state, so every pet peeve causes me to be somewhat aggressive in my responses, and a horrible OCD cleaning or organizational spree overtakes me.
But when we can make it work - the creativity is wonderful!!! We just need help sometimes to follow through with ONE of the billion of projects we can come up with - well at least I do, for some ADD type symptoms can show up with mania, esp... the hypo-mania I usually fall into.
Thinking - that can be the worst. So many thoughts and feelings overwhelming you with their screaming, clawing, howling voices slamming me like a run through heavily wooded areas, with occasional underbrush guiding you along an unseen footpath of twists, u-turns, and circular thinking. Any time you may pause, and see some of the trees, there is a shock - almost an awe, of where your mind has gone. Then the memories, the feelings, the ideas come back again, and I sprint back into the gloom in a futile attempt to find the other side - just a mere armslength away.
This thread still needs a bit more thought, but it is a start. I hope to be able to verbalize some more thoughts on this for you, because this knowledge, this attempt at controll and balance, is what the skills are primarially for that we learn. We need this balance - heck, everyone does, but it is something that we must be more aware of in ourselves.
Please also ask questions by e-mail. I will be happy to post answers about such things for you!