“Being bipolar has strengths,” is a quote from an article I recently read. At first I first thought the writer knew nothing about bipolar, especially bipolar 2.
What strengths can come from deep depression? I could give you a long list of negatives from my bipolar 2 experience. But I did didn’t see any good coming from having bipolar.
But researchers are exploring bipolar strengths.
So I explored the subject and here are some things I learned.
Empathy is a bipolar strength. Suffering from intense depression helps us understand the hurt of others. Empathy is a gift needed in today’s society. Our pain helps us identify with those who are distressed. These Bible verses talk about having empathy with others.
“What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Tenacity is a characteristic of many with bipolar. Trials are like spiritual weight lifting. Over time, perseverance grows. We are stronger to face further trials. Determination leads to resilience and resilience develops hope.
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
Creativity is part of bipolar illness. Creativity in the hyper seasons and depth of introspection during depression cycles work together to help inspire innovation.
Someone with bipolar is careful about maintaining good health habits. Exercise, diet, and sleep patterns are a major part of disease control and remission.
Resiliency is one positive outcome of the disease. Resilient people know their boundaries. Awareness of the limits of energy, time, personal involvement of this cyclical disease is key to management. These skills are transferred to other crisis situations.
Bipolar disease ebbs and flows. So are the sufferings and pains of life. Managing the disease is like the up and downs of difficult life.
Treatment seldom offers clear cut answers. And that is true of life, too. Many circumstances must simply be accepted. Dealing with bipolar teaches us that the important question is not, “Why is this happening to me.” More fruitful questions are, “How will I handle this? What can I do? What am I unable to do?” This ability to accept reality helps manage other life crises.
Bipolar teaches us to ask for help. Bipolar sufferers know the importance of having a team to help both treatment and maintenance of their illness. Surrounding ourselves with people who are helpful and positive is important in continuing remission. In critical life situations it is helpful to already have a supportive team in place. Knowing how and when to ask for help is an important skill in all of life.
Personal spirituality helps in treating bipolar. Meaning produces resilience. Spirituality reminds us that what we “feel” does not define reality. Having both spiritual community and common scripture give guidance when circumstances are in flux. But most importantly spirituality gives us a source of hope.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:16-17
I continue to relearn the lesson that our God is able to bring strengths out of weakness and good out of brokenness. Being aware of the strengths helps me manage my disease better.
Being bipolar does have some strengths.