Update on 28th July 2017
Since writing this post, I’ve been looking a lot more into CPTSD and the side effects of Prednisone, used in treating my UC. And it’s very possible I was misdiagnosed or perhaps more likely that the diagnosis, that I talk about in this story, needs to be re-thought in and of itself. Diagnosis are a dangerous label to put, because the way I see it and have come to us understand our minds….
“If we believe something about ourselves, then that becomes our reality.” (but that’s another blog post for another day – ask me about it, if I haven’t already written it.) – but when I wrote this story, I fulled owned it and had already envisioned the rest of my life.
But the way I see if, I’ve never actually met someone, who I thought was in any way mentally disturbed, not even the people who played video games with reality or thought they were on fire. They seemed perfectly sane to me. Genuinely. Just maybe they were thinking themselves in a slightly off direction sometimes.
I decided to still leave the story in here though, uncut and raw, because it’s still a good story with a good message. “Take ownership.”
To tell you the truth, I’m both excited to write this story and dreading sharing it…
But they say that when something scares you and excites you, that’s when you’re on the right path and you should keep going. At least I heard that somewhere and found it profound enough to remember.
Thoughts have been running through my head of…
Should I share this or not?
Will it affect my business?
How will people judge and see me differently if they know this about me?
And these past days I’ve been reflecting on something…
I grew up in an abusive home with alcoholism, which I’m still making my peace with so there are some things still lingering… For one, we never talked about the abusive behaviour going on. Even to this day, it’s taboo. We just don’t talk about it.
We don’t talk about the humiliation my stepbrother and I went through, or the degrading remarks we received on a daily basis. We don’t talk about how much aggression was in the home and how tense the apartment, we lived in, felt – the electricity in the air like an overworked fuse box ready to explode. We don’t talk about the abusive behaviour and the violence.
It’s like a secret that never happened.
And I guess that’s why I recent secrecy so much in my life. Why I always do my best to just be honest and open about things, even when it might get me into trouble or at the risk of losing a job (I would have been an excellent whistleblower!). I’ve even got this quote hanging on my wall:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” – George Orwell
Along with my own extension of that:
“Honesty is my shield. Truth, my weapon.”
So I decided I would rather be open and honest, and live with whatever judgement I would face and whatever challenges might arise from doing so. I’d rather be myself 100%, than try to be someone I’m not. I’d rather risk losing a few potential customers and friends, than I would want to gain more, who don’t really know me. Quality over quantity.
And of course there is one last quote that goes well with all of that:
As I’ve mentioned before, last year was a mess. A genuine, massively chaotic, heart- and soulbreaking, fucked up mess. In fact it was such a big mess, that I finally decided to look into some of my more self-destructive behaviors.
- Why would I so thoughtlessly throw away all my money and neglect my health?
- Why would I end a great relationship that made me truly happy?
- And why would I so blatantly disregard my own needs for months and months, ultimately leading to a mayor breakdown?
Over the last decade of reading books upon books on self-development and going to hundreds of workshops, then I’ve become to develop quite a strong sense of self-awareness. So asking myself these questions, I had a pretty good idea of what the answer was even before I went to get diagnosed.
And so when I told the psychiatrist my story, she confirmed my suspicions…
Also known as Manic Depressive.
Truth be told, when I heard this I thought: “Cool, another challenge to be overcome. I’ll add it to the list!”
- Poor eye-sight
- A bleeding colon
- A traumatic childhood
And since then I’ve been reading into the disorder, educating myself a lot more on it and I’ve gotta admit…
It’s not an easy one.
And it’s got some damned troublesome symptoms. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but let’s just say that I go through some pretty intense mood swings. One day I’ll be feeling like the king of the world and literally the next day I’m might not want to even leave my bed. And when it gets really bad, well just take the two examples before and multiply them with 10x and you’ve got a rough idea of what happens.
It’s not a pretty sight… And to be completely honest, the fact that my mind is so out of balance and out of my control compared to what’s normal, well, that’s actually pretty scary…
It’s hard to fix a problem when the thing you need to fix it with is the same thing that’s broken.
But here’s the thing though (cause you know I’m a damned good optimist).
I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. At least dating back to when I was around 15-16 years old. So I’ve got at least 12 years of experience with this. It’s not really new. And luckily I live an extremely healthy life, which means that I will be much more in control than most people are.
- No gluten, no sugar, no dairy, no additives, I track how much I sleep each night, I track my mood every day, I exercise regularly, I practice yoga and mindfulness. And I don’t smoke, take caffeine or drink alcohol.
I’m set up pretty well.
On top of that. I’ve never let any of the challenges of my life define me or hold me back. And I’m not a fan of popping pills morning and night, so what’s been the natural remedy to feeling depressed?
To work on my mind, my thoughts, to exercise, to get moving, to create meaning in my life and to force myself out of bed. Which I’ve gotten pretty good at (even if the snooze button is sometimes used a little liberally).
Which brings me to the point of this post.
Being bipolar is just another superpower, I’ve got.
One of my friends once joked that: “You’re just playing the game of life on a higher difficulty setting.”
Which was a pretty morbid way of explaining my life, but it works and it makes the whole thing feel lighter. I even came up with another quote for that one, which is this:
“Playing at a higher difficulty level, makes for a better player.”
Because that’s the truth of it. Challenges make us stronger and adversity makes us grow…
So I ask myself, how is this my superpower?
To start with.
I’ve had to really take charge of my mind and my life. I can’t just wake up like everyone else expecting my mood to be normal, nope. I gotta start from scratch each day and build myself up. And it’s fucking tough going, because sometimes just getting out of that damned bed takes every ounce of strength I have. It feels like my mind and body is so slow, that my life is covered in darkness without any pleasant experiences to be had and there’s no point in getting up, but I do it anyways… And then I eat some healthy food. And then I go for a run. And I do something to make myself feel better.
It gives me an immense amount of willpower and strength. It teaches me leadership. It teaches me how to keep myself going forward, even when all my energy and motivation is gone…
And on the other hand side, the manic phases where I go down paths that inevitably lead to chaos and destructions. That has taught me great self-insight. It’s taught me to track my process, to plan, to steer and control, so that I don’t end up going too far off track (albeit that does still happen, so I’ve got more to learn on that part). It’s made me really great both at planning and following through on what I start.
And how else is this my superpower?
One phase makes me very introspective and compassionate. The other makes me extroverted and gives me vision.
Not bad skills at all to have as a business entrepreneur to tell you the truth. I get to travel the full spectrum of life quite frequently and though it’s tough, then I actually think I get more out of life because of it. Certainly I get to feel a lot each month, week and day – and isn’t that what makes us feel alive?
And that’s why this is my superpower…
Because it has made me extremely conscious in the decisions I make and it has greatly influenced my self-awareness for when I move forward with my projects. It also means that I only say yes to the things, that I really want to do and that I love to do, because I know that I might need to be able to do them both at an extreme high or at an extreme low. And no matter what challenges my disorder has chosen to throw at me I will never let it influence the work I do for my clients. I’m in control and I set healthy boundaries in my life, so that I can stay professional, productive and do the things I want to.
So I get shit done. That’s the important part. Whether I’m up or down.
At the same time I get to go into the deep emotions and be introspective and on the other side of that I get to be a visionary filled with energy. So I understand the customers I work with who are really struggling with staying the path through their struggles, and I understand the customers who’ve got so much fire and so many ideas, that they can’t seem to stay the course for long because then they want to do something else.
These are the traits of both a good leader, coach, and an effective business entrepreneur.
So feel free to just call me the Bipolar Warrior 😉