Question: How do you maintain such a cool head in the face of all the objective pressures of the world? So called "normal" individuals find day-to-day living in the current social system unbearable and unsustainable from an economic and emotional stand point. It is to your enormous credit that you have survived and thrived, but how?
Answer: There is no incantation or potion, or talisman for the warding off of worldly influences that threaten bipolar and non-bipolar stability - no mystery. I am not naturally able to survive in this world atmosphere, at least the way that it is now and has been my entire adult life. There was likely an ancient setting that favored the mental health of someone like me, a time and place of less civilization, more community, but that consideration doesn't help the present cause of doing more than surviving in the modern world. What I must do to make my bipolar existence extraordinary is rooted in discipline, failure, and paradox.
My will is an indomitable one, I admit, but discipline is still practiced by the second; it isn't a character quality; it's a circumstantial, willful act that makes difficult and necessary tasks possible. When a suggestion of self-improvement comes to my mind, I don't hesitate to adopt a new practice, knowing well that I can use all the help I can get from others and from my own imagination. Understandably, some bipolars are not self-motivated; they depend on the proverbial bottom dropping out or their backs being put up against the wall, in order to make a life change for the better. How many times, however, does a bipolar need to have the bottom drop out, before he or she gets the message that a life transformation is in order? We bipolars get used to uncontrollable and unbearable life circumstances through our symptomatic struggles, so the answer is not clear for most. My sense of discipline has me understanding that life at the bottom is no life at all, so naturally, it might not take me as many trips to the abyss to decide that I should seek to change my bipolar ways. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done, since many of us bipolars are working tirelessly on self-improvement and have no idea that we might be working against the tide, not having particular salmon-like strength to swim upstream and make it to our ideal life goals. Discipline only works when it is applied thoughtfully. Otherwise, you find imbalance: bipolars exercising regularly, eating and sleeping well, but keeping company with people whose presence amounts to exceeding emotional stress. Influences that surround bipolars are the triggers of their symptoms, so, imaginably, discipline could easily become like raking leaves in the wind, if good personal practices are met with unwieldy social, environmental, and occupational conditions. To practice discipline is to practice it fully, within every engagement of a bipolar's senses.
I am a believer in failure as a critical life tool. Acceptance is the beginning, but outright declaration of it seems to put me in a balanced position mentally. Failure is a truth teller, a friend for the long journey. No harm ever came to anyone who faced the truth of life failures. Forsaking appearances, bipolars in particular may have more life freedom than most after overt, public breakdowns, hospitalizations, suicide attempts, and symptomatic exhibition to break as many eggs as humanly possible in order to make the proverbial perfect omelet. Not seeing or knowing the truth is a happenstance that can slow most bipolars' pathways to facing the truth. Being fearless is a noble quality that serves us well, even better, if we apply it to the proper daring circumstance. If we are liberal with our courage, we will likely stack up many failures, but as failures go, their gift is that they do eventually lead us to success. This is my story: my determination and my blindness leading me to failures, which in turn led me to a recognition of my blindness to the forces around me that were contributing to my destruction.
Sensitivity is the bipolar's strength. Although sensitivity is often deemed a sign of weakness in the human realm, it is the shared, singular feature of every apex predator on the planet. The paradox of the bipolar plight is that sensitivity brings us to our knees at the onset of our diagnoses and, yet, represents our only chance of living an extraordinary life. Discipline and failure sharpen the senses; the eyes become vigilant, the ears become discerning, the sense of touch detects deep and distant rumblings beneath the surface. A healthy bipolar will often be more fit for human existence than many non-bipolars, this phenomenon attributed to an embrace of sensitivity as a strength, an employing of its virtues in a human world that believes its own apex predators to be best equipped without much sensitivity at all.
-The Blue Bear