(I have been wanting to write what follows for days but my brain is refusing to cooperate fully. All the ideas are in my head and I know what I WANT to write but I CAN'T. Putting out on paper or keyboard what is in my head is still extremely difficult. I feel as if the connection between my brain and my hands is severed.... This frustrates me more than I can say.)
I recently posted this status on my Facebook Page: What's the point of being Bipolar if one half of you can't make friends with the other half! :D. Two lovely readers asked me to expand on this.How does one half of you make friends with the other half? In Bi-Polar Land this is an important question and the first answer that came to me was 'I haven't a clue!'. I don't have YOUR answer; all I can do is share some of the things that have helped me in the hope there might be something somewhere in there that helps you too.
1. Recognise and Accept my Shadow Self
It is Carl Jung I think who introduced us to the Shadow Self, that hidden part of ourselves buried deep in our subconscious. Because I always thought of myself as a 'good person' deep down I rejected anything that didn't fit with the idea I had of myself. It has taken me a long time to accept that the moon isn't the only one to have a dark side. So do I and so do we all. I was terrified at first of this dark side because I equated it with all that is evil. In one way I was right but in another way I was very wrong. I was right because I had repressed what I considered to be 'bad ugly' feelings for years and bad ugly things are usually 'evil'. I was very wrong because recognising this did not mean I went over to The Dark Side of The Force as they say in Starwars. Choosing to be led by our Shadow Self is what takes us over. Surprisingly, repressing our Shadow Self takes us to the dangerous boundary between Light and Dark where both extremes live and therefore where Bipolar Disorder lives too.
I'll give you a concrete example: I am capable of rage that goes way beyond anger. It is vitriolic and volcanic. When I feel that rage I actually wish I were picked on by some idiots because I would unleash the fires of hell on them and pulverise them on the spot! But I am a peace-loving person with a long history of compassion, empathy and love for others. What the hell do I do with such a destructive urge??? I can take an educated guess as to where all that repressed anger came from - I understand that and I have made peace with my past. It is still here though, as though it had burnt its print in my body and branded my brain.
This is what I do: I recognise it, I greet it by its name 'rage', I scream it out in a pillow or in my car with all the windows shut and the music blaring. When I have spent it all I regain my sense of harmony and peace by reminding myself that I did not let the rage rule me: I didn't let it out on anybody. I chose to release it in a peaceful harmless way. It is that choice that makes me the 'good' person I am.
So my question to you is this: what lives in Your Shadow Self that needs to be acknowledged and released according to what is right/good by you?
2. Diffuse my Fear
The more I was afraid of my dark side the more powerful it became. One thought helped me enormously and it came to me in a light-bulb moment (the metaphor isn't wasted on me!): I cannot switch on the dark - I can only switch off the light. There is no such thing as a dark flash light or a dark switch. Only fear itself is a dark hole that can swallow the light. The light is more powerful and it is under my control. Any object lost in a dark room can be found by the light of a single candle. Over time this simple realisation has made it a lot easier to make friends with any dark corner of my soul because I am no longer afraid of it. It's impossible to make friends with anything or anybody we are scared of. Fear, therefore, is the real enemy.
So my question to you is this: have you located your flashlight and your light switch? What can you shine light on that will dispel a big bunch of fear?
3. Watch my Language
The way I used to speak to myself was appalling! I would never DREAM of speaking to anybody else in that way, especially not a friend. So how can I expect to make friends with myself if I treat myself like a piece of dirt!?! I really watch out for those nasty words and judgemental phrases I throw at myself. I need to be vigilant because it is such an ingrained habit over so many years that I am not always aware of it. My husband is very helpful in this regard: if he catches me overdoing it on the criticism bit he uses this phrase that immediately 'wakes me up' from my automated self-abuse "I think you should be harder on yourself". This always makes me laugh and it stops me dead in my tracks.
So my question to you is this: how do you speak to yourself? Would you speak to your best friend in this way?
4. Enjoy the Breadth of my Balance
I believe (from my own and other people's experience) that Bipolar Disorder gives us access to a broader amplified range of human emotions. It doesn't give us access to any new human emotions but it makes existing human emotions more powerful. This is something I have come to recognise and accept - and this is something I am learning to even appreciate. Rather than get upset and overpowered by the sheer force of what I am capable of feeling, I am slowly learning to live with it.
The most difficult for me is when those emotions get expressed through my body and take me from comatose inertia to frantic agitation. I find emotion manifesting in physical form more difficult to handle than emotion manifesting emotionally. Interestingly, e-motion is energy in motion, and that energy will manifest and express itself as it wishes. I live with great fluctuations in my energy even with mood stabilising medication. I am very slowly learning to live with this too.
I have accepted that the only way we human beings learn to master such a challenging situation is through practise, practise and more practise. Fighting it does NOT work - practising living with it works a lot better.
So my question to you is this: what are you fighting against that you might practise instead? What is your greatest challenge and how might you slowly learn to live with it successfully?
5. Forget Perfection.
I aim for excellence. I can be excellent without ever being perfect. Both my halves, dark and light, at one end of the emotional spectrum and at the other, with the light switch and the dark corners, with the precarious balancing act and the practising challenge, both can be excellent without ever needing to be perfect.
Perfection is death. It is a point of arrival. It is static. There is nothing beyond it.
Excellence is life. It is a journey. It is dynamic. It moves and it breathes.
So my question to you is this: what if you let go of your Perfectionist Self and promoted your Excellent Self, what would become instantly easier? What would your two Excellent Halves look like? What kind of friends would they be to each other?
That's the journey of my two halves. I am still travelling and they are too.
I hope you will find something in the above that will inspire you to put your travelling shoes on ..... both pairs :D