We Are Not All the Same: How Bipolar Disorder Varies from Person to Person
It’s essential to recognize living with bipolar disorder is a different experience for every person, with complexities such as co-occurring disorders.
Bipolar disorder differs from person to person. The same medicines do not work for all of us, nor do we all even have the same type of bipolar. The issues of mental health recovery are very complex. So, the “things” that have worked for me might not work for you. This is why we need one another. Corporately, we have answers for one another as we encourage each other and share what “works” for us as individuals living well in spite of our bipolar disorder.
When you and I connect with one another, we empower each other to live well in spite of any possible daily battles with our disorder. Individually, no one of us has all the answers. But, together we have solutions for one another. Corporately we have answers for one another as we encourage each other and share what “works” for us as individuals in living well in spite of our bipolar disorder.
It always concerns me when everyone is talking about mental illness/health and over-generalizing it, simplifying it to the point where everyone is lumped together.
By doing this, the public is not even beginning to understand the complexities and challenges for each individual dealing with their particular life’s situation and experiences, plus having a mental illness.
Some of us have only one diagnosis; bipolar disorder. Others of us have the complexity of co-occurring disorders which some now are calling “complex” instead of co-occurring. Just bipolar disorder in and of itself is enough to make life very complex at times. But, add on top of that a borderline personality disorder, and now it’s even more complicated. As I watch friends of mine who have a personality disorder, lots of child trauma and bipolar disorder, I have come to know that their struggle for wellness is compounded many times over as they strive to live well in spite of several mental health issues.
Yet, I believe there are some general “living-well” principles that are true for most, if not all, of us. I’d like to share a few of them. This list is not exhaustive, but some of the “principles” that I believe may be universal to us all:
- In order to achieve some level of wellness in our lives, you and I must be disciplined to do those things that move us toward wellness and keep us well. This is a choice. As much as I hate to be disciplined, I choose to discipline myself daily to live well in spite of bipolar disorder.
- To live well, you and I need other people in our lives. You and I are made for community. Isolating will not help any of us to live well. If you have alienated all of the people in your life and are alone, then I strongly encourage you to seek out a certified peer support specialist and/or a peer-led mental health support group and/or group therapy led by a professional therapist. You need other people.
- To live well, you and I must be committed to some of the hardest work we will ever do in our lives. Living well in spite of bipolar plus any other issues you might face is But, it’s worth it. It’s a difficult job that sometimes must be done moment by moment, day by day.
- To live well, you and I must have hope for our future, or we will give up. Hopelessness comes about when someone believes they have no future. Choosing to believe that your life has purpose and meaning is key to overcoming hopelessness. If you are a person of faith, then this is where your conviction becomes key. Faith gives hope because it says that life, each life, has meaning and purpose. Person of faith or not, your life is essential. Your life has meaning. Out of the pain and hurt of your life, you have the power to empower others by just telling your story. Telling your story to others who are also on this journey gives your life purpose. That’s a future. And that gives hope. Never give up. Each of us needs you. You hold some answers for some of us in our journey towards wellness.
- To live well, you and I have to choose to look for the golden nuggets in the “poo-piles” of life (Of course, there’s another way to spell “poo” but, I am going to stay with “poo”). There’s a lot of “poo” in life. No one gets through life without pain and brokenness to varying degrees. When you and I let go of our expectations of life, it allows us to find the “gold nuggets,” the silver linings, even in the most difficult of times. Part of doing this means that you and I must never lose our sense of humor about how goofy life and others can be!
So, I offer these five principles to wellness that I believe are some of the foundational principles of a life of wellness. They are simple. But, so very important and challenging to do at times. I’d love to hear your input regarding them. And I would also like to hear from you about those things you have done and continue doing that help you live well in spite of having bipolar disorder. It’s easy to do, just send in what you do or have done and we will add to the list!
In the meantime, keep looking for those golden nuggets!