Monday, February 2, 2015

Bipolar

Almost three years ago, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. For so long, I've hid behind shame and frustration and anger and heartache and embarrassment at the diagnosis and what I've felt it means for me. I've been overwhelmed and worn down and exhausted at fighting through the ups and downs that are my life. I have fought the diagnosis, fought the reality of it, fought the meds, fought the restrictions it seems to have on me, fought the results.... and ultimate fought against who I am.

I am not Bipolar. I am Rachel. 
I live with Bipolar. 
It has taken me a long time to understand that, differentiate between the two, and accept it. 

Most of the time, you wouldn't really know. Not unless you are familiar with it yourself in one way or another to see beyond the facade I put up, see past the outside to see me bouncing within, or unless you have spent enough lengths of time around me enough to see the highs and lows manifest, and see the ups and downs take their turns. Most of the time I hide it, or try to, and when I can't .... I hide me. 

The lows I am not even going to talk about. Not today. They are deep, wide, and sometimes frightening. Too frequent a visitor. Too much to open up about today.

The highs are euphoric.  When I become truly manic,  there isn't anything I can't do. I have more energy than three people combined and have more thoughts going through my brain all at once than anyone could really comprehend. My brain and mind are working faster than I can talk.  The ideas are amazing, the options unlimited, the possibilities endless and the energy to do it all is there. I have never done more gymnastics than a clumsy somersault in my life, but suddenly I believe I can do back flips one after another across the yard.  I have never run more than a mile at one time, and suddenly I think there is not reason why I can't run a marathon... today. It doesn't really matter what it is -- I think I can do it, and more, right now.  No idea is too big, no goal is too large, no plan seems unrealistic, no challenge too big to overcome.   It sounds like a lot of good lines from a positive, inspirational talk. It sounds healthy.  Reach for the stars, be the best you can be, go farther than you think you can, be limitless...... and it is all good advice.  It's all great.... and for me -- it's Superwoman Mode. 

You see, for me, there has to be a healthy balance. For someone without bipolar, you picture what you are working for, make a plan, set a goal, reach for the stars, and you do it one step, one day, one minute at at time. It's true -- there isn't anything you can't do!  For me -- Superwoman Mode is when the bipolar mania makes me think I can do it all without taking those steps in between, without the daily dedication to the goal, without the recognition of what else is there. Superwoman Mode is just fine -- until Superwoman is mid flight and hits a low and has no way to stop herself from crashing. 

Superwoman Mode doesn't work so well then.   And it hurts when she falls. I've come to fear it.... because the lows are to low. However high I go, I know the low is twice as low, and 
scary.

The struggle for me has come partially in knowing how to balance something that is the essence of unbalanced. How to live with all of it. How to work with all of it. And how to do all of that without limiting myself because of all of it.  

I am Superwoman. If even for a brief few moments. 
I even wear sparkly shoes and kick ass... sometimes.
I am me, too, and I am learning to embrace me, without being limited to what I think I am when I am on a low. 

One of the things I have worked on is really being aware of what expectations I have on myself and on others. In my relationships, in my friendships, in my work environment... everywhere I interact, what am I expecting?  Sometimes my expectations are so high. And sometimes so low. My best relationships are the ones that there are no expectations, just appreciation, acceptance, and communication.  

I"m still learning. I'm still growing. And I'm still learning how to fly when I am high, and find a way to land safely before I crash.  Meanwhile, there are a couple things I've realized along the way. 

By accepting my limits, I can learn to work with them. 
By working with instead of against them, I become free.

And it all begins with embracing me. 

Amy Purdy (Double Amputee, Snow Boarding Olympian, #DWTS, #2015 Superbowl Commercials) said in her #TEDTalk that "... in our minds, we can do anything and we can be anything.  It's believing in those dreams and facing our fears head-on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits. ... innovation has only been possible because of my borders. I've learned that borders are where the actual ends, but alo where the imagination and the story begins. ... It's  not about breaking down borders, it's about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us." 

I've learned that I live with bipolar. With it, I have limitations. I have borders. I have challenges. And partially because of it I live a life that is static, always moving, never the same.  I choose to dance with it, and the more I do -- the less it has control. 

I live with bipolar ... I love me. 

Dance.


Rachel










1 comment:

  1. Hello Rachel,

    Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. This is such a wonderful post and you worded things so well! I don't have bipolar but I do struggle with depression so in many ways, I can relate. Thank you so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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