It’s seems as if I go through the same mental gymnastics regarding my bipolar on a fairly regular basis. Or maybe it’s circular. You’d have to ask my therapist.
Right now, my brain is trying to come up with a way to fix my bipolar that has nothing at all to do with the chemical problems that actually cause it. And, I’ve been here before. Several times in fact. I say that I’m using radical acceptance. I say that I understand. I feel like I’m coping well. But, sometimes? I’m just not.
For instance, I have a friend who is able to read something and pick out the subtext. He sees the symbolisms. He digs deeper, further, than I ever have. I’ve never understood symbolism. My high school English teachers despaired at this, because I excelled at everything else. Subtext? Same problem. When I read, I take the words for what they actually say and go no further. If you want me to catch on to some deeper meaning, you better spell it out. But, when I’m talking to him, I feel…less than. I should have gotten the nuances. Generally, I just nod my head and let him go on. But, inside, inside I’m beating myself simple for not getting it. So last week, after taking some of this in, I started to wonder what I could do to change this reaction. Because, if I could change the way I react to this situation then I could deal with these conversations better.
So, I started digging within myself to figure it out. Why do I beat myself up? Well, I feel stupid, of course. But, I’m not stupid so why do I feel stupid? I got this far before my brain upped the ante. Maybe, just maybe, if I dig hard enough, deep enough, I will be able to change all of my misguided feelings and therefore cure my bipolar.
Because, maybe it’s just that stinking easy. Maybe, all of this preaching from therapists and psychiatrists over the years about coping skills and managing my reactions was the text and I was overlooking the subtext! Could it be that it’s been that simple all along? Could it be that I’m smarter than all of them and all I really have to do is dig a little deeper? Ok, a lot deeper, but still.
So, I began. I pulled at the threads. Tried to see where they led. Somewhere in there I was sure that if I followed enough of them, they would lead me to the knot that was the kernel of knowledge I’d been missing all this time. And that piece of knowledge was going to save us all! That knowledge would put me back together the right way. And, then, I could get a job, get off disability and start to feel like a worthwhile human being again.
Of course, it utter bullshit. I know that. You know that. My therapist always knew that. I figured it out for myself but I did talk with her about it. Which brings us back around to radical acceptance. Which I thought I had nailed.
Radical acceptance is, for those unfamiliar, total and complete acceptance of a situation. Even if you hate it! That is the definition in a nutshell. For more in depth answers look here: https://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/radical_acceptance_part_1.html
It’s hard. I always think that I get it. Sure, I’ve radically accepted bipolar. Right? I mean, I know I have it. I accept that. Handled. But, no. And the more I think about it, the more I think that I haven’t actually radically accepted all that much about my situation.
For instance, I have bipolar disorder type 1. Check. I am med-resistant. Got it. I will probably never be able to work again. Well, wait a minute. First of all, I can’t even write that sentence without the word probably in there. Second, it (quite literally actually) sounds like there are alarm bells going off in my head. I can hear the arguments swirling around in my mind about how, if I just do this or that, then maybe. Just maybe. And again, it’s utter bullshit. At least by pretty much every single person who’s ever treated me. You know, the ones with the professional knowledge. There’s a whole lot of wiggle room in the radical acceptance department there. And the work thing is part of the bipolar thing so maybe I’m falling short on the radical acceptance there as well.
All I know for sure at the moment, is that I’ve been here before. I go to the therapist, the psychiatrist. I take the fistful of meds each day. I spend a week at the hospital every two years followed by a couple months in an Intensive Outpatient Program and I’m still back here again.
Have I gained any ground? I don’t even know. Probably. I guess.
But, apparently, there’s still a ton to be done.