Knowledge I’ve Gained Due to Having Bipolar


There are an amazing number of “experts” out there

It seems that those who believe they know most about your condition are the most ignorant. Arguing is not worth the effort. I suggest gently teaching them as needed. Ignore if necessary. There are other ways of dealing with them, but they’re likely to get you 30 years – life.

I can accept this disease and not like it at the same time

I have learned to accept my disorder, it’s a part of me, I know my limitations and make accommodations for it. That all being said – I hate it, but I accept that I hate it.

I can make a difference

I have no idea why I started this blog 6 years ago, however, I’m certain it had more to do with narcissism rather than altruism. It didn’t take long, however, before the emails started coming. Emails from those living with bipolar disorder thanking me for letting them know they weren’t alone. Those who have friends and family members with bipolar who would send a simple message, “Thank you for helping me understand.” Today I still get those positive messages, but most are here in the outside world. Even casual acquaintances know. It’s probably because I talk too much. It feels good when I meet someone who cannot come out of the bipolar closet and they let me know I’ve helped them. A quick “Thank you” whisper in my ear has made my day many times. If you are in an environment where you don’t feel safe talking about your disorder – you are not alone.

I am not the only one

This is the beauty of blogging, and Twitter, and blogging, and Facebook, and blogging, and other forms of social media, and blogging is that we are reaching out to each other, sometimes from across the world. In the past many of us suffered alone, feeling like no one could possibly understand what we’re going through. The net is a wonderful thing and it’s provided so many ways to connect with others like us. I’m not sure which method of communication I like best, though. Maybe blogging?

I’m not a victim

I don’t like saying “I suffer from bipolar disorder,” though I admit sometimes I do. Dealing with mania and depression are indeed suffering. I think, for me, to say I’m suffering sounds too much like defeat. I much prefer to say “I’m living with bipolar.” That way I am acknowledging I have it without implying it controls who I am.

My brain lies to me

I’m ugly. I’m stupid, nobody likes me, the world would be better off without me, I’ll never amount to anything. These are the things my brain tries to tell me are true. It’s easy to fall under its spells and accept them all as truths. It takes a lot of work, but be forever vigilant. When I start to believe these things I put a halt to them, usually through meditation. There are many types of meditation and I don’t stick to any particular one, however, there’s one technique I’ve found works best for me when that monkey chatter in my head begins telling me how awful I am – I list off in my head everything I see. It’s hard to explain so I’ll try by giving an example. This is how I do it if I’m walking down the street:

I’m walking on the sidewalk, I’m walking down the sidewalk, I’m passing a red car, I’m passing a red car, that house is yellow, that house is yellow, I’m passing telephone pole, I’m passing a telephone pole, I’m walking on the sidewalk, I’m…

And so on. It may sound ridiculous, and it kind of is, but it keeps those self-deprecating messages out of my head. They may creep up a time or two. If that happens, I acknowledge it, then gently push it aside and put more energy into the meditation.

Keep a Short List of Must Do’s

Regular readers are probably tired of me writing about the Short List. I can assure you I’ll likely write about it again. There is not one single thing that helped me more on my journey than the short list. The short list is a list of things that have to be done no matter what. You need to tape it to your mirror or put it on the refrigerator or anywhere you’ll see it regularly. The first rule of the short list is to keep it short. Very short. Make sure it’s realistic. My original short list was:
1. make bed
2. shower
3. get dressed
4. go outside (even if only to the mailbox)
That was it. If I found I could not complete an item then my expectations were too high. If you find you can’t get yourself out the door then take it off the list the next day. The goal is to be successful. Add items only when you can. With time you’ll see your short list getting longer and that’s a good thing.

2 comments on Knowledge I’ve Gained Due to Having Bipolar

  1. Love this post. I, too, just a short time ago adopted a “must do” list for every day. Right now I’m calling it my “do or die” list because it is one of the few things that keeps me from falling right into the desperate abyss. I also do a similar meditation when my brain is talking to me too negatively, too loudly. I always appreciate your blog, Bradley — often makes my day. Big hugs, my friend!

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