As I experienced the full range of human emotions with bipolar, I learned quite quickly when to stay with emotions and when to move on, to pick myself up if needed. For example, I felt sad after experiencing a rift with my house mates. In the company of my friend, I stayed with my sadness and I was quiet and low in energy. I was OK being in this state. And eventually my mood naturally lifted. Other times, I asked my friend questions and smiled. To change my environment can be wise too, such as going for an ocean swim.
Accept the reality of the situation
Walter J. Ciszek S.J. was a Jesuit priest who lived through 23 years of Russian prisons and labour camps. I read his book He Leadeth Me and the most profound part for me was that he learned to accept “the reality of the situation”. For him, this meant facing every moment as a prisoner with openness and opportunity. For me, this meant fully accepting my bipolar tendencies and circumstances. I got caught up with anger and frustration trying to fight off my extreme moods. Real change came about the more I said “Yes” to bipolar and “Yes” to my reality. I’m still tempted to reject situations but I am mindful of the wise thing to do.
“Turn your wounds into wisdom”
I really love this quote from Oprah Winfrey! We all have wounds – we all have been hurt and rejected in our lives, even princes and princesses, and yet many of us dare to love and love again. I have felt wounded through my experience with bipolar: a feeling of disconnect or extreme loneliness. I turned to my faith during these times – a yearning for depth and great love. I attended to my emptiness; expressed my heart’s desires; and held onto a hope without deception. I recommitted to love myself and others better – to love evermore, each and every day.
Discernment is like a captain who navigates his boat through the winds and currents, and he always tries to follow the true path. A wise person is already pointed in the right direction, and so his decisions bear much fruit for now and for the future. People with bipolar learn to be tuned into the still, quiet voice. Lately, strong images have arisen during my meditation, for example, a man whispering in my ear. I have learned not to react impulsively to these images but rather to test them out and return to stillness.
Lifting our heads from our phones
Calm is very important in a wise person’s life. I find that my morning meditation practice, a form of treatment for bipolar, leads to a tangible sense of calmness – something I can tap into throughout the day – talking to people, working on my tasks, walking with a fresh breeze in my face, even running. Too many of us learn to ‘love’ distress and anxiety: we say it is the way of work and the world. Just five minutes of silence seems pointless. Please, friends…let us lift our heads from our phones and see the beautiful ordinary!