The Best Bradley I Can Be

I’ve had many good things in my life. I have much to be grateful for. However, life has been hell. The confusion, memory loss, insecurities, manic episodes, depressive episodes and all the negative self talk made for some miserable times.

I was relieved when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Finally it had a name. Finally, many things in my life could be explained. Finally I found out that, yes, I am crazy, however, I am not entirely insane. Thank God for better living through chemistry and therapy. I’m healthier and happier. Unfortunately, I’m not “fixed,” and, unless some miracle drug is developed, I never will be.

Today, and everyday, I will be the best Bradley I can be. My only problem is that I don’t know what that is. What is the best Bradley? Who is the best Bradley? Can the best Bradley drive a car? Can the best Bradley attend classes? Can the best Bradley go to work? My doctors have given me the green light on two of those: driving and school. I’d like to think I can do more. Sadly, I’m not so sure I’m capable. Currently I’m thinking that even school may be more than I can handle.

Should I be attending college right now? Well, my doctors gave me the ok, but weren’t 100% sure it was time.  It hasn’t been going well. I’ve dropped so many classes that currently I’m on academic suspension. Basically that means I need to do well this semester or I’m out of there. That thought alone continually triggers my anxiety, therefore, making it hard for me to focus, therefore, becoming a self fulfilling prophesy.

Is it too soon? Is it too soon for me to return to work? My doctors seem to think so. I seem to think so. But, what about going back to school? What about being on numerous committees at church? Have I pushed beyond the limitations that I currently am able to handle? Have I pushed beyond the limitations that I ever will have? This isn’t normal self doubt. This is way past that. Everyone second guesses their decisions at one time or another. For someone like me it’s debilitating.  Every day I have to ask myself, “Am I being the best Bradley, I can be?”

Am I happy or am I manic?  Do I have the blues or am I depressed?  As my pdoc said to me, “Those are the big questions.”  Not real helpful there, Doc.  But he’s right.  Now that I am mostly centered it’s hard to judge my moods.

I have a very difficult exam tomorrow.  I am not prepared for it.  I have so much to study and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  I’ve had way too much distraction.  Have I been procrastinating?  You bet your ass I have. But it’s not the type of procrastination of the type that I just don’t feel like studying. I know that studying is not fun, I know that studying is boring, but I also know that studying is necessary to pass this exam and possibly this course.  Yet, I’ve felt paralyzed.  Studying was never my strong suit, so it’s not anything new.  But, as my therapist says, I’m not the guy who struggled with undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  I’m passed that, he says. He emphasizes that the new me doesn’t know what my potentials are. I don’t know, yet, what my abilities are.

What does the best Bradley I can be look like? I don’t know all those answers yet. It will probably take some time. Until then I’ll have to live by one simple rule: Be the best Bradley I can be right now. If I keep that rule, I’ll be okay.

8 comments on The Best Bradley I Can Be

  1. It all sounds so overwhelming. I’m sure if you add up all the hours you spend at committee meetings and thinkng about church business, you’ve racked up a full time job right there… It’s always such a tough question to figure out whether it’s best to drop a commitment here and there to focus better on others, or if that is just another method of procrastination (or whatever the reverse of procrastination could be).

    You are so successful in your work at the church, but I know you are hard on yourself for that work. The experiences there will serve you well in your end goal, but of course you need the degree too …..

    Do techniques like visualization help at all – picturing what your life will look like once you graduate, or short-term once you pass a class or a test? Or is that overwhelming or a great procrastination technique in itself? (I can spend hours daydreaming about possibilities that won’t exist unless I do the work in the here and now.)

    One thing I used to do was take a course every quarter “just for fun” – something that I was passionate about learning but unrelated to my studies – something like art or drama – and it would keep me active and involved at school even when I was bored to death in other classes. Is that a possibility, or would it just add too much time/expense?

    1. It is overwhelming, Alana, though most of the committees I’m on really don’t take much of my time. An hour each once a month. So a lot of being overwhelmed is more in my head than reality. Most of my anxiety is specifically from school and my brain is making it much harder than it needs to be.

      I will be taking a Speech class this summer. It’s one of my requirements, however, I’ve heard nothing but great feedback from those who have taken it.

      It would take too much time and expense to take classes for fun, though I like the idea.

  2. Sending you loving thoughts. Life has so many second chances. If now isn’t the time, it doesn’t mean that later is ruled out. Hugs.

  3. When you wake up in the morning all you can do is be the best person you can and try your best. It’s not an easy task suffering from biopolar, juggling different things in life, listening to advice whilst at the same time trying to make solid decisions when you feel overwhelmed by it all. Just over thinking on issues can drive you into a tail-spin or should I say, that’s what happens when I think way too much.

    I can’t give you the best advice as I’m no expert Bradley, but sometimes tomorrow can look after itself whilst we concentrate on today. Study a little at a time and if you’re up to it, then have a go at the exams and see how you do. You might just surprise yourself. If not, you may be able to re-take them again later. I wish you all the best Bradley.

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