I think people who battle bipolar are warriors.
I suffered from depression for many years. At 19, I had attempted suicide. I had been in counseling and prescribed antidepressant medication. However, counseling and medication didn't work for me.
I never recognized my hypomania, but I knew I was displaying odd behaviors. For example, when my ex-wife and I were looking for houses, I would spend hours looking at ads and even drive to homes that were foreclosures and try to find ways in to look at them. I saw a house with dead grass and knocked on the door to see if it was in foreclosure.
I was always dealing with deep depression and self-hatred. There were days where I would go to work, go home, and then go straight to bed.
At 38, I kept hearing a voice telling me that I was a horrible father and that I deserved to die, and this went on for a couple of days. I was at work, and the voice wouldn't stop talking. As a result, I was crying, and then I left my job early, went home, and went to bed.
My ex-wife came home and found me in bed and asked what was going on. I told her. She phoned a friend, and he met us at a psychiatric hospital, and I admitted myself. I spent nine days in a psychiatric hospital. They wanted to let me go home sooner, but I needed the break. It was there that I received my diagnosis of bipolar type II.
This all happened in November 2004. It was both nice to finally have a diagnosis and also terrifying.
I think people who battle bipolar are warriors.
In some sense, I feel like I've had to stop living so that I can maintain my stability to be able to hold down a demanding job and provide for my four daughters. However, there are some changes I've made since my diagnosis:
I monitor my sleep. I need a full 8 hours of sleep nightly. I do have to take Seroquel to sleep or else my mind races. I had brain spect imaging done, and for one test, I had to sit in a dark room and be still for a long time. When they imaged my brain, the part that should be dark was lit up like a Christmas tree. I can't shut off my mind, so Seroquel helps me sleep.
I eat mostly whole foods, limited sugar, no caffeine (except for green tea), and try to reduce processed food.
I exercise when I have time or when I'm feeling well.
I read lots of books about bipolar, the brain, and personal growth. I also read the Bible.
I remind myself that I struggle with/against Bipolar and try to give myself grace.
I limit extracurricular activities, also known as limit my social life. I need rest to recover from the war that is life. Every day is a battle for stability, and I am a warrior. Part of my assault is doing next to nothing.
I share my struggle with others and also let them know they don\'t need to fix me or make things better. I need them to love me and understand that I can't just "Get over it." Bipolar doesn't work that way.
I have mantras and scripture verses that help me. I love Psalm 18. My mantras are; "Slow your roll," "Be at peace and at rest," "Live in the moment." Another good one is, "This too shall pass."
I remind myself when I'm in a deep depressive episode that I've been here before, and I always come out of it. It truly does pass.
God has been there for me – especially through His word. It reminds me that I am deeply loved, precious, and competent. I know He created me for a purpose.
Even in my weakness, I can sympathize with others that suffer if I take the time to take my eyes off myself. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Just because I have Bipolardoesn't mean I'm useless. No, I have a mission to accomplish as long as I'm here.
My sister has also been there for me. She loves me and knows my struggles. She challenges and supports me, and I feel like I can be my real self around her.
I'm alive. I think people who battle bipolar are warriors. The very fact that we get up every day to face the battles that we know lie ahead shows we have a warrior's spirit and heart. We are not weak – we are mighty and strong!
I am proud I face each day and make it to the next. I'm also proud that I'm a loving father to my four daughters. I am divorced but have made sure to stay active in my children's lives. There are times when I can't do much more than watch TV with them, but I am present.
Lastly, I'm proud that I've held an extremely demanding job in management for 16 years. There have been very dark seasons, but I'm still holding on.
Give yourself the same grace you would give a loved one struggling with Bipolar, or someone with a disease. We did not choose this.
Love yourself. Learn to listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. If you're manic or excited, proceed with caution. How does mania/hypomania manifest itself in you? If you spend too much, leave your credit cards at home. If it's anger, learn techniques to control anger. Read. Watch videos. Listen to Podcasts. Find stuff you enjoy and do more of those things.
Find a good therapist. You are not your diagnosis. You are a wonderfully unique person with much to offer the world. Listen to your thoughts; don't just accept them. Challenge them and cast out the ones that are not true or are destructive. Love yourself deeply.
We are not weak – we are mighty and strong!
I love to write poetry. It can be very dark, but it is therapeutic. Here is a poem I wrote:
The Green Valley
I try to press forward, the mountain will not move. I try to walk around it; its circumference is too vast. I try to climb to its peak yet the rocks cut open my skin with their jagged edges. The rain pelts me, each drop like the sting of a bee. Heat and pain radiate through my body. I look for shelter and find none. The rain turns to hail as I am pummeled, battered and bruised. I am told the lush green valley lies on the other side, yet I cannot attain it. I am burdened by the weight of my clothing as it absorbs the moisture. My feet stick in the muddy ground, each step harder than the previous. Every inch seems like a mile as I sink to the ground, overwhelmed by the storm and the enormity of the task at hand. Perhaps there is no valley on the other side. Perhaps this is my lot in life. Maybe the mountain is as eternally high as it is wide. The stories of the lush green valley fade away under the droning of the hail. I slump over and lie down in the mud as the hail methodically beats me into a deep sleep from which I will not awake.
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