Question: What are some examples of beliefs that might be standing in the way of one's liberation as a healthy bipolar? What were they for you?
Answer: Beliefs are believed by most to be sacred, even when they are far from relevant, personally upholding, and inclined toward the highest mind. The beliefs that many of us bipolars wrestle with, in respect to their usefulness within our aberrant lives, are beliefs that we inherited from others, namely our parents and elders. Religion has its say in our consciousness from an early age, but that is religion as it is customarily translated by family and ethnic/social tradition. Tradition could be defined as a blueprint of beliefs, with the beliefs not really needing to be embraced at all or understood. Holidays ring plangently of tradition beyond belief system, the popular, long-standing cultural rites taking precedence over any proportional religious or mystical fervor. To question beliefs and traditions in this world is essentially to question religion and not too many young, newly diagnosed bipolars have the mental armor or training to do so, when it could well save them from years of undo suffering in the mind.
Religion as I see it is a freedom of choice for conformist non-bipolars and a mental prison sentence for any bipolar. The gift of being born without a disposition to react to the poison of the world atmosphere through bipolar symptoms (depression, mania, hypo-mania, psychosis, agitation, poor judgment, suicidal ideation, and suicide) comes with its own unique caveat: Be careful not to assume that a non-bipolar symptom-free life is a mentally healthy life. Healthy, symptom-free bipolars have a fighting chance to become like the tortoise from the fable of the tortoise and the hare, winning for themselves entire mental freedom, if they steer away from beliefs that belong to others. Non-bipolars who hold fast to others' beliefs and traditions will likely manage that practice their entire lives, just as many generations of non-bipolars before them have managed to do so. Surviving a loveless marriage, enduring a meaningless job, remaining faithful to a religion's pre-ordained God, are not necessarily signs of well-being; they are public exhibitions of the dull power of not being inherently sensitive enough in the mind to suffer conditions like these and recognize that they are destructive to anyone's sense of mental health and freedom. A looming shock to a non-bipolar could well be that the healthy, symptom-free bipolar has taken the lead in the human quest for mental freedom.
Conventional ideals drove me deep into bipolar symptoms for decades. I was never overtly conventional in my bearing or my ideology, but it's not the big picture that shapes bipolar health; it's the finest detail of convention that can become like the straw breaking the camel's back. Pursuing a career in the arts is imaginably an unconventional pursuit, yet, there are many ways to follow one's artistic passions. The business of the arts is not unconventional and it is the dream of many artists like me, bipolar and non-bipolar, to be sponsored or signed by a representing business entity in the arts. The purest thought might be that someone in the world loves my creative work and simply wishes to help me realize the dream of reaching the widest possible audience. The common pitfall of unconventional bipolar artists, despite a possible noble will to reach out inspirationally to an audience, is that they are adopting conventional beliefs about the arts in order to realize their unconventional dreams within the arts. Just like the non-bipolar religious people, non-bipolar artists can likely survive the conventions of the respective businesses of art, music, literature, film, dance, and theater, but it doesn't mean that they are living well within the stricture of this natural mismatch of commerce and artistry. Bipolars usually fare badly in this conventional design and there are many suicides to tell that lurid tale, from Vincent van Gogh to Montgomery Clift to Marilyn Monroe to Whitney Houston to Robin Williams. I escaped that bipolar fate by a hair in 1997 and live to tell another story, that of an unconventional pursuit of an unconventional passion.
In order to solve a problem like having a jellyfish in your toothbrush, you might have to get creative. If you are a creative being in the least, then it won't be the greatest challenge of your life to look for new ways to overcome the chronic bipolar obstacle of being raised on convention and needing to circumvent it at all cost, all the time. Our beliefs should lean toward the unconventional, if we are bipolar. Otherwise, it would appear that these beliefs do truly belong to someone else.
-The Blue Bear
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