The other night I was up late and I took a trip over to Bipolar Beat, a blog about, well, you know. It's published by two specialists in the field, and at least one of them has BP. I came across a post called 10 BP Self-Help Tips. At this point, I've pretty much got this one down, and I continue to demonstrate exemplary compliance so no one can ever say I didn't give it my all. You know, in case I'm involved in a scandalous exposé, and the first thing in the news story will be: She was mentally ill and although this had nothing to do with why she was knowingly comingling her recycling and her regular garbage, it makes this story much more compelling!
I read the list and it got to a point where it physically hurt to keep going. What I read was my life as a compliant patient, but I didn't feel exactly validated. I was doing everything right and I had been since the beginning, but doing those things made life better for the people around me. My stability had benefits for me, but getting there was a trip down a very long trail of loss, sadness, and resentment. It reminded me that when life was nearly unbearable, I was the one who was expected to do the heavy lifting in terms of getting well. There was no outstretched hand offering me help or hope. there was little tolerance for the manifestation of my illness, almost no compassion, and little if any appreciation for what achieving stability entails.
I posted a response to the post in my moment of frustration. It wasn't very well received. It was my version of the list:
1. Stay home.
2. Lay low.
3. Give up everything that ever made you feel happy.
4. Kiss your really big dreams goodbye and work on acceptance.
5. Sleep, but not too much or too little. If your sleep continues to be a problem, well, try harder.
6. Learn to embrace structure, even if it feels claustrophobic.
7. Engage in only those behaviors that ensure other people won’t feel uncomfortable around you.
8. Read everything, believe some of it, and share what you’re learning if you want to, but know that the people in your life have no plans to put in much effort themselves to understand the things they demand that you understand.
9. The people who know you don’t really want to help you get well; they just want you to act normal again
10. Exercise. Don’t exercise. It doesn’t help much either way, and the drugs will make you gain weight regardless.
11. Keep your doctor appointments. Those quarterly 15-minute medication reviews are just so critical to your success.
12. Understand that your therapist only cares if your check clears. You can’t buy sincerity and compassion.
13. If your credibility is something that matters to you, for the love of god, DO NOT tell anyone what your diagnosis is.
14. Be a friend to yourself. You may well be the only one willing to stick around during the bumpy parts.
I have been diligent about doing everything I’m supposed to. I admit that this has brought stability to my BP, but at a very high cost. The discipline required to stay on track can be oppressive.
I know this is supposed to be a list about BP, but most of it applies to my situation, too. 7, 8, and 9 make me rather anti-social and nasty. And proud of it, too.
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