We all want to feel accepted. We all want to be a part of a tribe and can spend years of our lives trying to find our people. Feeling accepted however, isn’t the same as seeking constant approval and admiration from others around us. The only person who *really* needs to approve of our selves is ourselves. Be happy, and so what if someone else is more successful, more wealthy or more ripped than you? Are you happy? If the answer is yes, then brilliant. You’ve hit the jackpot. If you’re not how about focusing on your why to your what?
This week I started reading through “The Bipolar II Disorder Workbook”. The book advises that you don’t read through it all quickly, but instead read a chapter and work on the activities suggested before moving on. This approach to reading and using the book encourages the reader to utilise and work through the book like you would therapy with a therapist, rather the rushing through and not utilising the skills and activities suggested throughout the book.
The first two chapters provide the groundwork for understanding the disorder and the usual treatment options offered, how they work and why they are offered. The explanation for Bipolar II and how this differentiates from a Bipolar I diagnosis is very clear,
“First, everyone with BPII experiences one or more periods of depression; however, depression may or may not bareness in BPI. Second, people with BPII experience hypomania,a less severe version of mania, the episodic high or elevated mood that is the defining feature BPI.” (McMurrich Roberts et al, 2013)
The discussion of treatment options within Chapter 2 are extensive and explorative. It is good to read about which drug categories are used and why, in addition to which therapeutic programmes and treatments are best utilised for the treatment of Bipolar.
The first activity chapter is about working on acceptance. The notion of what is classified as acceptance, and what is not is very well explained so that during the exercises you can be honest with yourself with how much you have, or perhaps have not, managed to accept your Bipolar diagnosis – in addition to highlighting circumstances that you are or are not accepting in other areas of your life. In encouraging acceptance of your Bipolar diagnosis, the book teaches you methods of general acceptance in everyday life: which is a good skill to obtain and have.
My next chapter to read is, “How To Manage Depressive Episodes”
S, McMurrich Roberts, et al. 2013. The Bipolar II Disorder Workbook. Managing Recurrent Depression, Hypomania and Anxiety. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
For years I had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I dissociated, and at one time in my life, I engaged with many of the unhelpful coping mechanisms that accompany the disorder: binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, drinking, cutting, and overdoses. I was constantly trying to understand, and ease the immense pain that I felt from living, breathing, existing on this earth.
I had therapy.
I had years and years of various therapies with various therapists of varying intensities and specialisms. CBT, talking, EFT, schema, metallisation, all of which geared towards healing my inner turmoils in order to build a more stable future. Of course, that’s what all therapies are about right?
But it wasn’t working. I was frustrated. I’d cry in frustration – seriously, why am I so fucked up?
“you’re at the start of a long journey?”
“WHAT! The START. I’ve been in therapy for 8 years, how is this the start!?!?”
Because nothing, nothing I did was working on easing my depression – if you believed I was depressed that is. My psychiatrist didn’t. From their responses I gather they considered me to have a hidden agenda within my suicidal obsessions and deep rooted depression. I didn’t. I was quite literally depressed, nothing more, nothing less. Yet still, I had to get on with it even though it felt very real to me, it wasn’t – and so on and so forth.
And I wasn’t sure if it was just me, but for some reason I just didn’t ‘get it’. I did everything that was advised, and everything recommended from various self help resources. I used my therapy, went to as many sessions as possible – and I engaged. I tried, really. fucking. hard. REALLY. FUCKING. HARD. Yet still, I lived in a descended fog of despair and hopelessness. Fuck this. Seriously. Fuck. This. Shit.
Until I started walking on sunshine. Holy shit. I’d been missing the point for so many years, yet now, now all of a sudden, I had all the answers I’d ever been pining for. Of course life was wonderful. No. It wasn’t. Life was fucking magical, and so was I. It’s the highs and lows of the borderline disorder they said: until I lost my shit.
I lost my shit thoroughly for a whole week, or maybe longer, and finally, some bitch social worker named Penny sectioned me. I was re-assessed, and upon release my GP stirred up a fuss pulling my current diagnosis into question.
“You’re not the first, and you wont be the last to be lumbered with this diagnosis because they just don’t know quite where you fit and can’t put any other label neatly on you”
And she pissed a lot of people of, but she didn’t care. She wanted me to have the correct treatment, and could from her own expertise say that she’d seen me on both ends of the mood spectrum. Finally, my diagnosis was officially changed, I don’t have a personality disorder… I in fact had bipolar disorder, and so many jarred edges clicked into place like a the cogs made for my machine.
At first, this news came with a relief. Finally, they were listening and understanding the mood difficulties that I face. Finally, they were taking me seriously when I was down, and when I was walking on magical unicorn sunshine. Finally, I was given medications at a dose that would actually help a person, rather than eager sprinkles of psychiatric drugs that do nothing, to anyone, in the guise of “trying to help’. I’m quite sure they were trying to induce the placebo effect- but it never worked.
However, from this relief spawned a new vulnerability, and a new set of realisations. Shit, this isn’t something I can “get over, move on from and forget”. Shit, this isn’t going to go away as I’d been told it would for years. Shit, bipolar is life long, and I’m going to have to stay on my meds, and shit, I’m losing hope that those depressive episodes will never reappear in my life.
Within my sigh of relief, at the same time, I had a whole new set of circumstances within which to adapt to, to accept, to manage, and to acknowledge. It is not only a new label under my name, on my file somewhere that is likely a meter thick with truths woven between chapters and chapters of bullshit: but also, I have a new treatment plan to accept and use. I have to accept that these problems are probably going to be challenges for a lifetime, and that these challenges are going to have to be managed, but never recovered from: and that believing in my own invincibility last time i was sectioned, might not be the last time that I thoroughly lose my mind altogether for a while. And that uncomfortable thoughts like, “I want to shoot myself in the face” may continue to haunt me for lengthy periods of time again in the future. And that, it is now important for me to adhere to my keep well strategies and routines even more so, for longer than I had initially planned for, in order to prevent a relapse. And all of this I started to take in one evening, on my own, after the sigh of relief had passed and gone into the wind, leaving me bare, vulnerable and having to re-evaluate my understanding, acceptance and management of my mental health conditions.
I now have answers, more answers than what i have previously had: however, I also have more learning to do, more understanding to gain, and more insight to develop. It is rather daunting, but with the support of those around me, I am rather confident that such skills will eventually be acquired, and such resulting challenges managed, I hope.