A key to my journey through bipolar disorder
The biggest key to getting where I am today is self love. I loved and continue to love myself on a daily basis. Self love gave me permission to go on the journey. The journey begins with self love. It is the first step, the last step, and maybe the only step. Each step I’ve taken has been an act of self love.
For me, it was difficult to take the first step of self love. After all, I lost everything. I lost my mind! I had lost the life I’d worked to create for myself.
I was starting from zero. It took me about 4 months to grieve the loss of my former self. It was a self I put together through overcoming a chronic fatigue like syndrome mystery illness that rendered me incapacitated in many ways. I thought I had multiple sclerosis. Nothing ever showed up on mainstream tests and when I stumbled upon natural medicine, I was insatiable in my quest to overcome this failure of my physical body.
In healing my body from physical illness, I saw myself as somewhat indestructible. I felt like I had the tools to stay healthy forever. I had a “raw vegan” lifestyle. How could I get sick eating only raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds? This is the person I longed for, I longed to be. Where did she go?
She went crazy! She went to the hospital, the psych ward. She was 105 pound when healthy and fit. She didn’t put chemicals in her body. Now she was medicated? She gained nearly 50 pounds in 2 months! How did this happen to this she that is me?
I was completely without hope, in disbelief. I thought I knew something about health. I thought I really was getting somewhere. Now I was certified, medicated, and labelled with a bipolar disorder diagnosis. The gravity of what I would have to go through to get myself back weighed on me. I didn’t know if I wanted to do it. I didn’t know if I could do it. All I knew is I missed her. I missed me. I was a me I liked to be and now who was this me? I didn’t like her at all.
After leaving the hospital, I allowed myself to grieve for several months. The old me was dead and all I could do is sit around and watch TV eating lucky charms and popsicles. These were not ways I liked to love myself in my former life. Brainwashing TV and body harming junk food was just the opposite.
It was important for me to grieve and I allowed it. I allowed it knowing it was temporary. I would eventually stop grieving and take a step. Allowing myself to grieve was actually self love because I wasn’t resisting the pain I felt from the loss. I was allowing the pain to be and take it’s natural course. Of course I missed myself. No wonder I was sad and lonely. I didn’t have my favourite companion. My companion is the best version of myself I can be. There I was sitting as the worst version of myself imaginable, but it wasn’t an imagining, it was a fact.
When I was going through my physical illness, I read the book “The Power of Now” on the recommendation of a random stranger. Looking back, the power of now saved me. I lost all that I learned from the power of now but I knew I could find it again. I knew I could find joy in the moment.
I remember when I first heard the diagnosis of bipolar disorder 1 with psychotic features. I felt detached. I felt like it could not be true. And whether or not it was true, I knew somewhere inside me, however faint, that I could get through it. I got through a physical illness. My quest through physical illness was the experience I needed for my quest through mental illness yet to come.
It seems I got through physical illness through spirituality. My spirituality was blown apart in my mental health crisis. Nothing made sense anymore. It was easy to love myself when I was the former healthy spiritual version of myself. But could I love this mental health disaster that I now found myself embodying?
As it turns out, I could and I did. I have come a long way and I can say that I did it. What is the ‘it’ that I did? Just plain old self love. Loving the so-called good and the so-called bad. I started from zero and recreated myself. I can say my life is better than the old version of me that I lost. Is there a possibility that life can be better with and through and along side mental illness? It has been true in my experience. I’m excited for what’s next.
There is so much more I want to share.
If I can do it, so can you!!