What I’ve Learned in from a lifetime with bipolar

I had a lovely holiday season. In fact, I feel the best I have in years. It’s undoubtedly due to changing patterns that didn’t produce happiness or joy, and developing new traditions that do (clearly an ongoing process). I would money on it that it’s due to the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)  I underwent for a few months beginning last August. I begged or it from my doctor who wasn’t against, we just had to find the doctor.

Also, it’s also due to all the months this year I spent on the same regimen of medication and move on. What I learned about myself (in a nutshell) is that I march to the beat of a different drummer. Whether it’s due to bipolarity (my psychiatrist didn’t think it is) or not, I embrace life fully and completely. In putting myself out there…often times, I meet people who can’t or won’t meet me halfway. While that used to disappoint me, it doesn’t any longer. I see it as their problem–not mine.

Self-Awareness
Self-Awareness

With the death of my grandmother, I now feel my own mortality, and that truly puts things in perspective. I realize that I’m just not interested in spending time with people who cannot honestly express their emotions or feel threatened that I can. I don’t want to waste time on people who bemoan their situation, but do nothing to change things. I want to be with people who are enthusiastic, passionate, and uplifting.

When things don’t work out, I no longer feel bad about it. I recognize that I have a God-given ability to problem solve (which is a wonderful gift although I truly didn’t understand that) and find alternatives that work.

What I’ve also confirmed this year is that my orientation to life is different than many other people. Actually, it’s always been that way, and it’s a good thing. My values are different. What I want is different. And what makes me happy is different. I don’t  want to be anything other than different.

While it’s not always easy to feel that way–and this surely was one of the causal factors of my depressive episodes–I know I can remain well if I follow my heart. So far, it’s worked really well during the holidays, and I believe things will continue getting better and better.

I believe my happiness and joy have returned because I was able to release a lot of anger inside. I’ve spent a long time in therapy discussing , and sharing my outrage over the behavior of my siblings, my mother’s, and doctors whose behavior was truly devastating. This was compounded because I had spent a decade–in which my doctors had prescribed medication that almost killed me–experiencing exactly the same kind of treatment from friends and relatives.

For a long time I felt that many of the people I had cared most about had destroyed my ability to trust, and my optimistic core, which has always been my trademark. What I learned is that talking things through…with someone who listens and has insight is a truly healing experience.

While there’s a whole lot more I now understand, I have also learned there are things I’m not interested in sharing in a public forum. So, this is the end of my journey for now. Health and happiness to all.

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