Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder. I am genetically predisposed and for anyone that has met my family this isn’t a shocker. It appears to be prevalent on both sides of my family tree but most easily recognizable on my mother’s side. She would die a thousand deaths if she knew I was sharing this and I am certain in typical fashion she would shrug it off with a flip remark about seeing Elvis in the Piggly Wiggly. You see, my mother has more levels of denial than Dante has of Hell. We (my siblings and I) have grown used to it. In fact, we have developed a system of deniability based on her remarks. We know exactly how far we’ve pushed the status quo by her reactionary comments.
In an earlier post (what’s in a name…) I had stated that, “Be who you are and do what you know,” was terrifying to me and that I would clarify this in another post. This is that post. It isn’t that I am ashamed of being Bipolar; far from it. I owe my life to that diagnosis. It was one of those giant Universal wake up calls that shatter the illusions (and delusions) that we base our identity of Self on. Everything I knew of me was literally ripped away and I was left with nothing, which, it turns out, is exactly what I needed. The terrifying part of this is sharing with others.
Once shared this always goes one of two ways. I either lose all credibility and everything I say and do is met with suspect and instantly dismissed with the added bonus of being treated as an intellectual invalid. OR. They don’t even flinch. I always hope for the latter but usually receive the former. This has prompted me to keep silent about my condition, at least until I know a person well enough to trust them with the information. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying, I learned long ago that what other people think of me is really and truly none of my business. I can count on one hand the number of people whose judgement of me I value and they happen to be the very same people who have stood by me when I was not at my best.
In fact, caring what other people thought of me and trying to be the person they expected was eventually what landed me a psychiatric facility. I learned that you will never meet their expectations so stop trying. Be you; confidently! If someone doesn’t like it that is their issue, not yours. This was a very traumatic lesson. The people I was trying most desperately to please were my parents. In the process of rebuilding me I lost them (for awhile) and that was hard. if your parents can not love you who can? Well, quite simply…YOU can. I wont lie…it is tough. You have to really scrutinize yourself, face and defeat your demons and then take responsibility for your life.
I, eventually healed the wounds, and accepted that I am, as are my parents, only human. If I wanted them to accept me then I needed to accept them. My relationship with my parents has improved, it isn’t perfect but I am not expecting perfection. I have learned to view my family as a life long Spiritual Boot-Camp. They are there to make me stronger and I am here to push their comfort zone. We both learn and grow. My relationship with my siblings has changed as well. I was once close to my sister but that has fractured (for the moment) and I am now closer to my brother. I realize that without that fracture with one sibling the relationship with the other would not have happened. My sister has always been between us…literally as well as figuratively.
Acceptance is the key. I no longer rush to fix what I perceive is broken. The truth is…nothing is truly broken. I accept myself as I am. I accept my family as they are. I remove expectations about how I think things should be and just let it be. I acknowledge that I don’t have the answers to difficult situations…and that is okay. The answers will come; in time. The trick is not to force them. My mental health and my life have improved significantly, it wasn’t an easy journey but I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t be the “Me,” I am today if I had.