I subscribe to an online newsletter and print magazine called “BP Hope”, for people with Bipolar illness. It has some wonderful articles about how to maintain your equilibrium in times of chaos, of which there are many in my life. I usually find solace there and some helpful tips on how to better live my life and to stay stable with my ups and downs. So I was a bit surprised to have such a strongly negative reaction to the posts I read when I sat down to catch up some past issues yesterday. I read a few dozen blogs and articles. (Yes, I was being obsessive…) They all had good ideas. But they burned me out! By the time I was done I was feeling like shit for my inability to carry out all these good ideas. It was just too much for me.
I try so hard to be sane and stable and work assiduously to keep a good attitude about life and love and all the rest. But I’m very sensitive to criticism, and tho these articles certainly weren’t meant to be taken as such, I took them that way. While I was reading all these good ideas I gradually fell into a deep hole of depression that stuck with me for the rest of the day. Not terrible, but still awful, because it called into question all my good intentions. Just because I still haven’t “gotten there” yet I think I’ve failed. I think this even after being diagnosed with BP-I for over 22 years and being “stable” for the last 2 years or so. Shouldn’t I know better by now? I guess not, judging by my reactions to these articles. “Stable” is a relative term…
Yeah, I know I’m being too hard on myself. It goes with the territory sometimes. I agreed with most of the ideas I read about, and I do a lot of them a lot of the time, but there were still so many others that I haven’t mastered yet it made me feel like none of it was valid. It goes that way on occasion. It’s a classic CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) sort of situation. I’m falling into the trap of all or nothing thinking that has plagued me for my whole life. I know better, but I still fall for it. I can’t always change my thoughts the way I need to, and I think I should be able to. I am superman after all, aren’t I?
We sometimes say of people with Bipolar that we’re the piece of shit the world revolves around. Boy, does that fit me to a “T”. There’s way too much of the piece of shit part in me, but here I’m manifesting the other pole, where I think I’m a god and should be able to do everything I want to. I can’t. None of us can. It’s classic BP grandiosity, and it sucks. I doubt that I’m the only one who does this sort of thing. In fact it’s pretty common for people living with a mental illness that causes our brains to misfire and go to places they don’t need to go, just because we encounter something that challenges our perceived sense of self. I get that challenge a lot. Mostly I’m fine with it and I try to take it as constructive criticism, or maybe just good intentions meant to help me survive. But then I go and try to do Everything I read about so as to be perfect. It’s ridiculous I know, but there it is.
What I’m learning from this, again, is that I have to take it easy, and not try to engorge a whole bunch of information in one sitting. It’s way too much and I can’t handle it all. I need to take it in smaller doses and absorb it thoroughly before I jump onto the next good thing. I do that a lot and I do try to control it, but sometimes I’m not very good at it. I’m so impulsive – another classic BP trait. I need to slow myself down. I’m clearly a bit hypomanic in the way I approach life all too often. I rush into things and don’t think of the consequences. It’s so typical I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I’m not alone. It’s all part of the BP syndrome after all and we all fall for it at times.
Overdoing things is a big issue for me. I’m currently struggling with the pain of a bad back spasm I got from too much gardening. I’ve been hurting for a week now and it’s all because I didn’t stop when I should have. It’s a bad pattern of mine and I need to adjust it. It’s the same thing I did with my reading. I just think I can handle way too much more than I realistically can. And it hurts me in so many ways – physically, mentally and emotionally. But it shouldn’t drive me into depression just because I overdo it. It doesn’t help me at all to beat myself up. So just stop it Steve! Uh huh… Right…..
We all need to be more careful of ourselves. We’re fragile beings and need to be gentle with how we treat our bodies, minds and emotions. I’m just one example of a person with Bipolar going to extremes. It’s the nature of the illness, but we don’t have to let it control us. I know I can do better, without thinking I’m all special for doing it, tho that’s hard. We have to keep trying. Eventually we might get a clue and even improve our lives. That’s my plan. I just hope I can stick to it. This time…
Be at peace,