Before you call to fire me, or freak out because I called you bipolar, let me explain.
We all have poles, we all have ups, downs, and in-betweens. This means you are human, and you are not a sociopath. So from one day to the next you may have a mood change from high to low, or vice versa. Some days you are on top of the world. Other days you feel beneath the earth. This is why I suggest we are all bipolar, not in a diagnostic, clinical way.
Unfortunately, bipolar is the word to describe a subset of people who experience a reaction that is not desired when going from one pole to the other. Some of you know that when we talk, it is about your normal, not society’s normal. You also know that I ask if you are hurting anyone, or getting hurt by the reactions. If not and nothing adverse is going on then you are good to go and normal. What happens at times is that people loose friends, jobs, spouses, children, and money, and so on due to the adverse reactions they experience when either high or low.
You are in dis-order when you are in danger. Contemplating suicide, homicide, abuse, or any other form of harm. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder then you are aware of the Dis-Order stages, Crisis, Managed, and Recovery. One may find it difficult to manage their emotions, control the intensity of the feelings in the mind. Most of the bipolars spend the better part of their time in the managed stage. The recovery stage is a very unstable stage which just means it most likely will happen again. There is one study that really demonstrates this well, the STEP-BD study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact the medical model proves that the treatments that only recognize that bipolar is a disorder, disease.
SO LET’S GET IN-ORDER
There are many tools available to manage the dis-order. This is not easy because life is not two dimensional. But we can discuss that freedom happens when we decide to not be in a state of discomfort. We learn to become functional in intense manic and depressive states, in the end becoming comfortable and thrive in these situations. Stability is achieved when these manic and depressive moments are now part of our comfort zone, and finally we have self-mastery. A few of us have achieved it. The reason that this stage is occurred by so few people is because it requires a level of dedication and work to get beyond the levels of discomfort all together. I think of the Dali Lama as one who has achieved self-mastery.
So there it is, you must practice to get you bipolar dis-order in-order. This is not easy. This will take practice. Perhaps you will need some guidance along the way. Some of us just need to be reminded that you are not sick, abnormal, or even crazy, you are a normal person experiencing a great deal of discomfort.
Shannon Shadman, LPC, MSMHC, NCC, M.Ed.