It's been a while since I've posted. This was an intentional decision - one that flowed out of a need for self-preservation. In my series, The Pieces of the Puzzle, I shared many of the tools that have made my diagnosis of bipolar more manageable in the last year. Indeed, it did seem that all was "under control" in that realm of my life. What came next caught me off guard.
Depression had so consistently been the predominant of my moods, I didn't recognize mania for what it was as it crept up unawares. So, in the fall, when I got into a pattern of struggling to fall asleep and waking up early, I wasn't concerned. All I knew was that I felt good. When feeling good hasn't been "normal", it's difficult to objectively say, I'm not in a good place; something is off.
Thankfully, before I did get full blown manic, a place I've been before, self-awareness, circumstances, and compassionate loved ones helped me identify what was happening. I immediately reached out to the provider who prescribes my medications. She prescribed a medication that got me back into a routine of sleep again.
Going through all of that was a very humbling and heart-breaking experience. In full disclosure, I had been so proud that I had gone down on so many medications in the past year. In many ways, I saw this as a failure, and that I was back at square one. The shame and self-hatred at the belief that I had "failed" to manage my own condition was overwhelming.
This all happened right around Thanksgiving. To help us celebrate the holiday, my dear mother-in-law came to town. My mother-in-law has a green thumb, and I asked her to help me revive a plant I'd had for over a year. This shamrock was a favorite of mine. However, despite my faithful care, it had recently begun to wilt. It just wasn't thriving like it should. Being knowledgeable in all things house plants, my mother-in-law suggested that we cut off all the life above the soil and essentially start over. I was hesitant, but I trusted her expertise. As we got to work, I couldn't help feeling sad. While I ripped up the vegetation to dig out the tubers of the plant, I felt a sort of kinship with it. I knew what it felt like to be ripped down to my very roots and laid bare.
As we began the process of replanting all the tubers or "seeds" I held on to the hope that the plant and I would recover. If only we could be patient through a period of regrowth, it might even be possible to thrive. Every day, I waited eagerly for the first signs of shoots to come springing up from the soil. It was like I was measuring my own regrowth and marking it by the plant's revival. My expectations didn't disappoint. Within a week, little shoots were popping up all over the place, giving rise to hope in my soul. Meanwhile, something beautiful began to grow in my heart as well: self-acceptance and self-love. The long and short of it is, I stopped blaming myself for being diagnosed with a disease that I had certainly never asked for nor wanted. I write about what it was like to arrive at this place in my post, Happy Birthday To Me.
It was during this time, that I also became aware of the unhealthy place much of my mania was flowing from-the need to fix everyone and everything that was wrong in the world. As a naturally giving person, my instinct had always been to seek to hand off anything good that was given to me, whether material or immaterial, to someone who "needed it more than I did." It was exhausting.
A mental image very powerfully began to represent how I had lived most of my life. I pictured someone giving me an apple and me turning around and immediately handing it off to someone else. The epiphany struck that this "uprooting" was my opportunity to figure out how to give from a more sustainable and healthy place. Simply put, I needed to grow into the apple tree rooted, firm, and free. I realized it was better to be a tree that provides life-giving fruit naturally, rather than to manically give every good "apple" I was given away.
I'll leave you with some final thoughts that, as I've rested in this season, have rooted solidly in my heart:
That's all for now. As always, my hope in sending this out, is that others will find their own path to freedom and recovery. Next month, look for a brand-new post about the pets in my life and the lessons I've learned from simply watching them. Look for, Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned From my Pets, to come out in April of 2022.