Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Take Charge!Bipolar can be beat.
My life is like that of many Americans. If you met me, you’d encounter a happy, measured individual who loves his work and adores his beautiful wife, Jennifer, and our precocious daughter, Tyler. I’m a therapist, life coach, public speaker, and author. I enjoy wide-ranging interests and many loyal friends. By every measure, I’ve achieved success. You could even say I’m living the American dream.
I’m also living successfully with bipolar disorder. I’m able to experience the wonders of the world around me, because I control my illness. It no longer controls me. I have no delusions, figuratively or otherwise. To remain stable, I know I must take care of myself both physically and emotionally. I stay on a prescription regimen. I maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. I do everything in my power to balance my moods so that I’m not shifting from the abnormal highs to the abnormal lows that defined my youth.
I’ve come a long way since I was first diagnosed at age 15. My personal journey with this disorder has been filled with messy twists and turns. As anyone who suffers from a mental illness understands, it dramatically impacts not only those living with it but everyone in his or her sphere. That’s me. That’s my family. I’ve witnessed the darkest sides of bipolar disorder, particularly the mania, but I know that with treatment you can experience light. After more than 15 years of nearly perfect health, without a manic or depressive episode, I’m proof that there’s hope for those of us living with this mental illness.
You may wonder why I’m telling my story. My book Beating Bipolar is not about just surviving; it’s about thriving. It’s about arming yourself with information and pulling together practical strategies for navigating an illness that doesn’t have to rule your life. I’ve seen the positive results from medications and therapy. I’ve worked with clients who have made so much progress with this illness that they’re functioning like friends and neighbors who aren’t saddled with a mental disease. They’ve blossomed into healthy, participating adults who have developed relationships, contributed their talents, and accomplished their dreams.
But we all have one thing in common: Those of us who have carved out healthy lives work at it each day. We’re well aware of how bipolar can zap your energy and mess around with your head. We also know that there’s often no straight line between diagnosis and the best treatment plan. There are many ups and downs . . . hits and misses . . . in finding solutions.
Yet, like us, when you choose to understand, accept, and otherwise overcome the challenges of bipolar disorder, the rewards are many. When you decide it’s worth your time, peace of mind, and future happiness to come to grips with your illness by seeking treatment, the payoff will be immense. You’ll be stronger when you’re in control of your illness. You’ll be healthier when you’ve balanced your moods to stay sane. You’ll be poised to rebuild your life with inner calm, peace, and joy, because you will no longer have the emotional baggage of your illness or past weighing you down.
That’s not to say that you’ll be free of grief or problems. Just because you experience measurable relief doesn’t mean you’ll have clear sailing. Life doesn’t work that way. But when you view bipolar disorder as an opportunity, rather than an albatross, you’re free to examine who you are and where you want to go from this moment forward. You lay the groundwork for many positive consequences: improved relationships, wiser choices, and the capacity to be courageous and confident.
When you take charge, you’re no longer on autopilot. What do I mean by that? Well, you’re not just going through the motions of living, because some faulty mechanism inside your brain is driving you to think and do crazy or strange things. You’re piloting your own life. No matter what inner struggles you face, no matter where you are in your journey, it is within your ability to call the shots and be comfortable with the outcomes.
So now is not the time to retreat. Now is the time to be bold, brave, and open to a wonderful transformation. If you haven’t already experienced change with your mental illness, you may wonder how you can ever achieve it. You start by knowing your disease and then taking advantage of the strategies I’ve outlined in Beating Bipolar. They include the many tools that modern medicine and psychotherapy offer today that weren’t available years ago. By being diagnosed officially, treated effectively, and open to the support of others, you can make dramatic changes in your life.
Although you’ve been laboring under the cloud of a debilitating illness, rest assured that the sun is about to shine. I’m not just offering you pie-in-the-sky platitudes about realizing lofty goals. I truly believe that you can be healthier and happier than you are right now. Once you’re no longer dealing with the self-destructive highs of mania or the suicidal lows of depression, you can embrace the moment. You can plan for the future. By opening your mind to healing, you’ll move from darkness into light! That’s what I did!