“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― C.G. Jung
I was never one for introspection. I lived my life looking outside of myself. For fun, happiness, the approval of others. I didn’t reflect on the things that happened to me ~ I just kept travelling through my life acting out, an extrovert extraordinaire.
Then one morning I awoke in the locked ward of a psychiatric wing of a hospital in downtown Minneapolis. I was wearing a halter dress and my underwear. I was barefoot. I had freaked out the night before in the emergency room of my neighborhood hospital after my ex-husband crashed a little family party I was having and tried to take my baby with him. He wasn’t my ex then, we were separated and I hadn’t been sleeping, he sensed something was wrong. I didn’t realize that. I thought he just wanted to take our baby from me.
I was diagnosed with manic depression. That’s what they called it in the 70’s ~ now bipolar disorder. The same frightening illness. I have had it for 36 years. I’m doing better than I was when first diagnosed. Night and day really. I’m a success story. I am no longer afraid of introspection. I am good at gauging my moods and sensing when it’s time to call the doctor about a medication change. I became reflective and found my inner self because it was the only way to survive this illness.
For that one reason, I am thankful for the bipolar disorder that has dogged me. It has taught me to listen to the still small voice within. I had often ignored the inner voice that was my answer to a prayer. I ignored my own inner voice as well and didn’t heed the warnings of conscience and instinct and intuition.
That gets you into a lot of trouble in life. What Jung wrote is true: …”who looks inside, awakes.” If you listen to your inner self and to your God…you learn what is really important to you. Rather than being just a people-pleaser, you become more genuine, more yourself, more in sync with who you were created to be. Then there is flow. Rhythm. Peace in your life. You are more effective, happier, a better mother, wife, person, friend.
My awakening began that morning. I awoke in confusion. I awoke naked on this earth. Stripped of my life and much of my mind. Only my inner voice and God to guide me. So I began to listen. The extrovert extraordinaire learned some new skills from that day forward, and I believe became better for it. Now I can give more to this world because of it. So, I thank my bipolar enemy who is really my friend. I have decided to embrace this disorder and not just fight it. I accept it and live with it. Yes, my daily quest is to live above the madness, but by that I mean the darkness that will try to envelope the bipolar person.
I will embrace the disorder, because it is a part of me. I do not fear it. It is just there. I have medications and Hope to control the darkness. I have my reasoned experience with it to help me listen to my body and then cue my team to help me quickly before things get out of hand. Because of these things I can live in balance as much as possible. That is living successfully with bipolar disorder defined.
This month of May is National Mental Health month. Whether you suffer with a mental disorder or not, I challenge you to increase your awareness on this important topic. With the help of other bloggers and groups on Twitter, I have started a daily paper on living successfully with bipolar disorder. I urge you all to take a look at it sometime and contribute to it too! We can use your help and your awareness and support. The link for the paper is here: bipolar daily: Living Above The Madness. Thank you!