Ever been so excited about something that you just can’t get it out of your head? Mix that with a manic state, and all sorts of behaviors and effects seem to spiral out of control. The problem with this, in my experience, is that I don’t always recognize my behavior. It takes someone else close to the situation to ‘sit me down,’ and help me become aware of my actions.
As a person with bipolar I recognize that I may not always have the best self-insight, and not even realize that I don’t. I am blessed to be one of those people who, when manic or hypo-manic, the ideas flow and I am a prolific writer. I just don’t seem to be able to recognize when it is time to put down the pen, or time to go to bed. I don’t recognize when I have overwhelmed people with my ideas and thoughts.
I keep inundating friends with requests to share essays and what I perceive to be ‘profound observations.’ I am terribly embarrassed when a friend holds a mirror to my face to help me see that perhaps I am “being too much.” However, after all is said and done, I am so grateful that that person was brave and truly loved me.
I would like to thank persistent, compassionate, and observant supporters who love me anyway, regardless of what comes out of my mouth or pen. It doesn’t seem to stop me when the cycle repeats itself, but at least I have had time in between to recognize that I should trust what my supporter has to say.
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names.” Thoreau.
Sometimes “Later” is my favorite word. It is the only thing that keeps me going. Knowing that ‘later’ does come, but hopefully at a time when you can cope with that which you put off.
People have the agency to change the course of their lives by taking an active role in the requirements of the day. How do you know what those requirements are?
I have found that if I can plan in advance what my requirements are, in a calm moment of clarity rather than in the heat of the moment, I am far more likely to accomplish my goals of the day and era.
Have an understanding that you control your destiny. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. You spin your wheels if you think you can control all factors that play a part in the drama of life. But what you can control is how you face it.
Developing the capacity to cope involves a desire to face things head on.
- My best method to fight the urge to put life off is to make my plans and lists the night before. That way when I am faced with a difficult day that would otherwise paralyze me or keep me down, I have a clear cut plan that I wouldn’t have been able to visualize if I was having to do it from scratch in an environment that would otherwise defeat me before I even start.
- Do the most onerous tasks first thing in the morning. Getting them done opens up your whole day. You don’t spend your time in apprehension and dread, which would otherwise color all that you do get done and increase the chance you would otherwise procrastinate it.
- The time is going to pass anyway – why do ‘hard time?’ You can’t get to the end without the journey. It can be as instructive as the end itself.
- “For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – Real Life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination!” Souza
- Choose to start from where you are. Sometimes you just have to pick yourself up and carry on.
- You can’t help but be aware that there is something you ‘should’ be doing, or opportunities to experience and live. Will you pursue it with all your hear, piece by piece, or will you slack off? There is no such thing as staying in status quo. You are either going forward, or sliding backward. “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.” Anais Nin
- Once you sideline yourself, there is a good chance that when you do come back to it, the energy has changed, you will never be able to enter the river of life in the same place as that which you passed by.
- The Hindu mystic Ramakrishna wrote that “The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.”
During my sophomore year as a university student, I had the opportunity to teach ESL, English as a Second Language. My job was as a ‘conversation’ tutor. The students had learned the fundamentals of English as they went through school in their native countries, but still needed conversation classes to be able to apply the components in actual speech. We listened to “In Your Wildest Dreams” (1986 Moody Blues,) and watched the movie “Field of Dreams” (1989 directed by Phil Alden Robinson) over and over, ad nauseum, until the students were able to fill in the blanks in the sentences with lyrics and dialog.
That my students were all Asian did not mean they spoke the same language, or even the same dialect. As human beings we share emotional languages amongst ourselves, but each person has his/her own dialect that must be learned and understood.
While at BYU I worked nights at a major hotel. One evening I was describing features available to an incoming guest, including hors d’ oeuvres in the bar. I had never made the connection between the spelling of these bite size appetizers and the pronunciation. When I tried wow this guest with this information, I pronounced hors d’oeuvres phonetically, including the ‘H.’ I knew what the spoken word meant and used the correct pronunciation all the time. But whenever I read it in a book, I thought it was pronounced ‘horsdevors’ I was mortified that I had never made the connection between how it is spelled and its use in conversation.
Like my faux pas with hors d’ oeuvres, there can be a gulf between what is understood intellectually, and what is actually experienced.
Emotion as a Second Language requires practice and sometimes repetition when you just don’t get it. Often we need a conversation tutor’s support to bridge the gap between personal understanding and our interactions with our loved ones and supporters. We know how we should be acting and feeling, the technical aspects of interrelationships, but it takes practice with them before we can make them our own
- When some emotions are taken at face value they can be treacherous. With Emotion as a Second Language, you can turn your liability into a strength. Learn how to translate raw emotions into appropriate and manageable chunks. By taking what is overwhelming and breaking it into its component parts, (like diagramming a sentence), it becomes clear that was seems insurmountable is in fact attainable and doable.
- Sit down with someone you trust and check your premises. Is your thought process appropriate to the situation? You need to break down your emotions into recognizable parts. This enables you to teach another person your language, your personal dialect, in the broader spectrum. Just because we all have emotions and can apply labels, your dialect still may need translation, even to yourself, let alone your support network.
- What you think you may be saying and what the other person hears may be completely at odds with each other. Like playing telegraph as a young child, the message is passed along person to person until at the end the message comes out garbled with the interpretations of those passing it along. They don’t mean to make it up, but somewhere in the process of telling and hearing the message breaks down.
- Had I just had someone help me bridge the gap between what was on the written page and its verbal interpretation, I could have been saved from embarrassment. But I didn’t have the insight to know I needed help pronouncing it. I didn’t know I had a problem with it. The people around me were not mind-readers and so had no idea that I would have a deficiency. No doubt they would have corrected me had they known.
- When we don’t have the self-insight to get help when we need it, our supporters can hold up a mirror so we can understand and correct our deficiencies. Several years ago my husband sat me down and told me that I could get mean when I was manic. I had no idea that the things I was saying were coming off as hurtful. I knew I got irritable when the mania was crashing, but no one had ever told me that my sarcasm increased and my patience decreased. I was so grateful that he had the courage to put a mirror up to me. My job was to listen and act on it. I had to learn a new dialect when dealing with my family.