Authenticity is my prized upside of bipolar this week, also known as genuineness or realness. Why am I choosing this upside? Because it is what matters: it’s everlasting, and it’s what we remember in loved ones long after they’re gone.
People with bipolar are among the most real people I know. They have entered the depths of their souls and they have journeyed through to the other side. They are people who can say, “We’ve been there and done that, and we’ll do it again tomorrow”.
What I find great about authenticity is that I am the same person in public as I am in private. There’s no point in me pretending that I’m low when I’m high or vice versa. In fairness, I can take a short cut to realness by saying that I’m OK to a friend, since being OK is real in nearly all circumstances.
To talk the talk…
I like to talk the talk and walk the walk. Basically I try to match my words with my actions: when I express to my family that my grandmother is extremely lonely, I try to meet with her, at least to be a presence. With my friends, I always try to follow through with my plans: to be there under the clock at 5 o’clock and to make a planned call.
I have no more dirty little secrets because I have shared them with friends and barbers. Being known so well by others is really a sacred thing altogether; sometimes people see me more clearly than I see myself. And if they trust me enough to share their secrets with me, then I also try to respect their sacredness.
Another thing is that I say “no” to alcohol: it’s a no brainer while being on regular medication but I still try to say “no” with pride. People’s views around someone not drinking alcohol in Ireland is dangerous, for example, a guy nearly always says “Why are you not drinking?” at the pub. So I try to stand tall, to keep strong, and to enjoy my soft drink. I say “Yes” to a bit of fun.
Last week I was on holidays in Spain – I was genuinely moody and shaken, and my family were nudging me to come outside of myself. I remember how the special forces soldier Bear Grylls turned to his ‘secret strength’ when he needed it most. I dug deep and took my family’s advice. It’s genuine to admit that you are in a state of distress (bad stress)…to be guided back to a state of eustress (good stress).
The bipolar scale
I have endured many internal adventures with bipolar, and I can gratefully testify to the power of my inner strength. There is a general rule that if I feel 4/10 or less, then I need to keep pushing until I reach the balanced 5/10. If I’m on the other end of the scale at 6/10 or more, then I do the opposite, to slow down or go easy, which when in a state of mania is actually a real test of discipline and endurance.
Finally, if we seek genuine friendships and relationships, then the universe usually conspires to make this happen. Authentic love is not only reserved for married couples; I have a handful of friends who I value more than anything. Authenticity has a habit of bringing about what is good in human nature, like sifting gold from the soil.