Reaching Out, Looking In

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write to you all.  My goal for writing every few weeks has been difficult to maintain between work and graduate school, but I’m still here!  Lately I’ve been more active on Instagram (@bipolarmomlife) because it’s quick and easy to write a short note of inspiration or even just to check in with readers.  But lately I’ve been receiving messages that have left me feeling rather sad.  There are so many of my fellow readers out there suffering due to the chaos mental illness has brought to their lives.  They are asking for advice and wanting to know how I “do it all” or how to begin picking up the pieces of their lives after yet another episode.  I have a few thoughts about this both from what I’ve experienced myself and from what I’ve seen as a psychiatric nurse that I’ll share with you.

There will always be a point where the magnitude of what we’ve just gone through, be it a manic or depressive episode or a period of psychosis, begins to become clear and the dust settles.  Maybe your spouse has left you as a result or you’ve lost your job or become estranged from your family.  The weight of that moment can feel insurmountable.  BUT if you sit with it and allow for some space to develop between you and your actions, you’ll find that as time goes on, you become stronger and more capable of picking up the pieces.  Perhaps this looks like getting back on medication for some of you.  For others, it’s apologizing and agreeing to go to therapy, or starting to look for another job.  The point is that healing is always possible from that moment forward.  No, you can’t change the past or what you’ve done, but you CAN rebuild.  Those moments of despair will not last forever even though it often feels like it at the time.  Sometimes it just takes someone to remind us of this!

I, under no circumstances, have it all figured out or manage to do it all.  I recently shared my January mood chart on Instagram.  It was HORRIBLE!  Believe me, it was much worse to experience than it looked on paper. I nearly dropped out of school.  Rage and Remorse were the name of the game for me.  Once I realized how negatively it was effecting my family, I went back to my doctor to change the plan.  I explained to my children that my actions were NOT their fault, and apologized to them and my husband.  And then… I worked on rebuilding.

Someone also asked me what I meant by the unconditional self-acceptance I referenced in my last blog post.  By this, I in no way mean that the goal is to be meditating on a mountain-top in a state of complete ecstasy and freedom from inner-turmoil.  What I mean is that we are able to look at all aspects of ourselves without the negative self-talk.  We accept the fact we are all works in progress.  We can summon self-forgiveness when we experience setbacks and move on a little wiser for it.  Self-acceptance is not complacency but rather something we have to practice as life provides us with teachable moments.

I hope this helps a little.  As for now, all four of my boys are screaming for dinner so off I go!

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