It should be understood that bipolar disorder manifests itself in ways that are uniquely
personal to the individual living with the illness. The tendency to fall into one character trait or the other is highly dictated by that particular person’s core identity and life experience. Where a person derives pleasure is often where their excess or deficit will manifest. So how then does one take the reins on how they allow their trends and tendencies to manifest during an episode? Primarily I believe this may be accomplished through committed and deliberate introspection. An introspection that demands one not only confront their flaws and vices but also confront the root of how those attributes came to exist.
A very close friend once told me that during a manic episode I become an exaggerated version of myself, meaning all my actions, anxieties, beliefs, insecurities, and traits begin to manifest themselves in ways that are shocking to others and unmanageable to oneself, magnified and off-putting.
Understanding ways to rein in behavior during episodes also demands you look closely
at the events surrounding each and every episode. During an episode, it is not uncommon to become subject to not just a bipolar diagnosis but any array of sub-diagnosis from generalized anxiety disorder to insomnia, to religiosity. These additional diagnoses can confuse an already complex illness and although I at times wanted to reject the validity of their prognosis I found it was better to face them head on. One must understand the concept of comorbidity in which a co-occurring disorder is only present in times of an episode. Initially, I found certain add-on diagnoses, especially that of religiosity made me question core pieces of who I thought I was. For a period following my first episode, I chose to remove thoughts and to feel regarding my spirituality completely from my life. I wanted to suppress the diagnosis by eradicating the belief within myself. This, however, was not the optimal way to deal with such a pivotal piece of my trending behavior in an episode. An individual’s spirituality for instances is a core element of
their life and in many cases their good being. After some time I was compelled to return to my former beliefs and feelings of spirituality, but because of my past, I frequently must remind myself that it is a source of vulnerability.
In subsequent episodes, I was able to consciously understand that my heightened feelings of spirituality were not necessarily the manifestation of some great all encompassing otherworldly power but rather a symptom of my primary diagnosis. Keeping pieces of harsh realities is also crucial to combatting the full force of traits and trends that arise during episodes. In essence, one must be intimately familiar with their Achilles heel to be able to fully combat and assuage their emergence during an episode. Since trends and tendencies during an episode are so intimately intertwined with one’s core personality, it can be at times difficult to separate the trait from being a natural piece of your personality or a symptom of your illness. What I strongly advise is in regards to trying to identify and manage one’s Achilles heel is that you do not allow vulnerabilities to lead you into making you want to sacrifice pieces of your identity. Often I felt my biggest defense was to prove the illness wrong by not exhibiting behaviors related to the diagnosis. I found this helpful in some instances whereas in other instances it resulted in my sacrifice of core pieces of my identity. The trick is to find out who you truly are
beyond the illness and then understand how the illness manipulates and transforms who your truly might be in times of crisis.
Since bipolar disorder is so all encompassing, arising at unannounced intervals throughout a person’s life it may be difficult to separate oneself from the illness and oftentimes it can lead to feelings of self-hatred for the person we see ourselves to be. One must understand that it is possible to maintain who you are in spite of the illness you live with. We must both understand the highly influential pull of our diagnosis without forgetting that we also maintain the ability to influence the illness in ways we feel it influences us. Bipolar is not an easy diagnosis but it does provide the opportunity for an individual to experience a wide array of perspectives and feelings that many unaffiliated wouldn’t even begin to fathom. We must appreciate the unique life experiences it provides without letting it destroy our ability to maintain a high quality of life. The illness doesn’t have to define you but also it should never be ignored.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community