Let's succeed at gaining wellness. My successes came as I pressed to improve my person and my work. At every success, I looked for things I might improve the next time.
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By Jess Melancholia
I don't know a single person with bipolar disorder who doesn't have that one friend or family member who just doesn't get it. They either have no idea about mental illnesses in general or believe they are something you can "fix."
For me, it's more than frustrating; it's downright cruel. You would think your family and friends would be there to support you. Unfortunately, you get the usual confusion and apathy. Or you get the anger.
Here are three basic premises that I wish they knew:
I'm sorry this sounds harsh, but it's 100 percent true. Unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, there is no way you will ever be able to understand. My depressions are so dark and morbid that they drain me of all my energy. The thought of taking a shower or even just getting out of bed is overwhelming. Depending on how low I get, I honestly contemplate suicide because I can't bear to go on like this. My manias are so wild and unpredictable that irritability and insomnia cause major health issues. Sure, it's nice to have more energy—but not when I can't control my actions. Overspending and grandiosity can get me into major trouble in my financial and social life.
Bipolar depression and mania are far more extreme levels of emotions than you have ever experienced or can even conceive of. Trust me when I say you don't—you can't—understand. So don't even try. Just be there.
Everything is amplified when I'm in the middle of an episode, so it's much easier for me to say or do things that I wouldn't if I were well. This doesn't by any means excuse anything—bipolar is an explanation but not an excuse. A lot of outside stimuli are attacking my senses, and it's hard for me to hold back the things I feel compelled to say and do. The fact is, my bipolar affects my ability to react "normally" to the world around me.
The last thing I need is anger and criticism while I'm trying to deal with my symptoms the best way I know how. My personal catchphrase is, "Don't be ashamed of your actions; learn from them and grow."
While there are plenty of good tips out there for living a well-balanced life, like doing yoga or eating healthy, they do very little if anything to help when you are deep in the throes of depression or mania. Logic and reason go out the window. I fully believe in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as useful tools to help manage bipolar disorder, but these will not cure it. They just won't. So for someone to tell you that you just need to do this one thing (practice the Tree pose, boost your omega-3s) and you won't be depressed or manic anymore is absurd and irresponsible. It perpetuates the stigma that this is "all in your head" and you should be able to "just get over it."
Here's the bottom line: My brain doesn't function the same as everyone else's, regardless of public opinion. But that doesn't mean I am weak. In fact, it means I am much stronger than you think. It takes monumental courage and strength to live life battling bipolar. Every moment I continue breathing, I am winning this fight.
And I will never stop fighting. Having my friends and family stick by my side gives me hope that I can manage whatever happens. Through their strength, I know I have a reason to keep on going.
If they only knew how much their support means to me.
Printed as "What I wish family and friends knew about bipolar", Winter 2017
Please consider submitting your story. Many folk are living and suffering with little or no mental health care services.Thank you!
From: "Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance" <webmaster@DBSAlliance.org>
Subject: How's Your Health Insurance Working? The White House Wants to Know.
Date: August 23, 2016 at 10:44:50 AM CDT
Thank you for your past support of mental health parity issues. As a result of your advocacy, several years ago Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act. This important legislation has improved access to mental health care for thousands of Americans by ensuring that that their health insurance plan provides the same benefits for mental health services as it does for other physical conditions. The journey toward this legislative success was long, but your interest in working with DBSA was key.
Today, we continue to work with our government and other advocacy partners to ensure full implementation of this important law. One way we do this is by asking plan beneficiaries (like yourself!) to share their story with the White House Parity Task Force. They want to hear what's working well and what's not working such as does your plan:
Sharing your story will help policy makers identify best practices and ensure better compliance among all the insurance plans. Your story—good or bad—will help others. The deadline for sharing your story is August 31. So please act today!
Please subscribe to the DBSA Advocacy website to continue to receive communications from us about this and other important issues.
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