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Bipolar Experiences - Bipolar Voda

A professor of mine died last week after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. I had him during my first semester at university for a human spirituality course, and even though I didn’t know him well, I thought he was amazing and admired him very much. He was brilliant and charming and funny, and during the service, so many of his students and colleagues, peers, and other experts in his field spoke of how caring and gentle he was, how he could shrug off anything and just be at peace.
This time of year is supposed to be special and joyful and full of fun. We all have our own ideas of the perfect holiday, the perfect family get-togethers and conversations, the perfect meal (Dealing with Bipolar at the Holidays – Expectations). But then life gets in the way and we’re all wrenched from our festive holiday bubble.
Regardless of whether or not you’re experiencing a state of depression or in a crisis or feeling pretty positive, it can be hard to love yourself and practice self-compassion. A lot of times, I hear other people who live with bipolar disorder and other mental health problems say that they hate themselves or feel ashamed of the things they feel (My Irrational Bipolar Brain Makes Me Hate Myself). For me, personally, I can tell myself, cognitively, that my feelings aren’t my fault, but it’s very hard to believe that emotionally.
Every October, I participate in the suicide prevention walk hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and every year I raise money for them, feeling as if I’m doing my part to somehow prevent all of the suicides that happen every day. Lately, though, it seems as if I’ve been hearing more and more about suicides and less about suicide prevention.
I've experienced a fear of failure for months now, as my final semester of university quickly approaches. I have been freaking out about taking my most dreaded (and difficult) class during my last semester. If I didn't do well, my graduation would be delayed, and to me, I would have succumbed to my fear of failure (How To Overcome Your Fear Of Failure). It would be the end of the world to me. For days I felt as if a huge rock was sitting on my chest, pressing down and preventing me from breathing. I felt guilty and inferior to everyone else – no one else seemed to have the same difficulty as I did with this class – and I began fearing the worst. I just knew that I would soon fall into that usual pattern of procrastinating any work for fear or failing, and staying in bed because I just couldn't face real life.
Bipolar symptoms can cause us to do dangerous things (Bipolar and Managing Extreme All Or Nothing Behaviors). Although not suffering bipolar symptoms, a family friend was killed yesterday morning in a work-related accident. He was admired and loved. After learning of the accident, I felt my heart breaking. I live my life as if I am invincible. I drive maniacally and participate in potentially dangerous behaviors, and I do it all while thinking that nothing can possibly hurt me, that I am too young, and that I have so many things to accomplish. Are bipolar symptoms a part of that thinking? Just yesterday, though, our family friend, who was loved and always helping others while doing the things that he loved, was gone in a split second – taken away from us. I'm sure he thought the same things as I do, that nothing could possibly happen to him. That he was too young and had so much to live for.
I could feel the mania of my bipolar disorder begin, irritability bubbling up, about to explode, and I wanted to cry (Bipolar Mania And The Impact of Manic Symptoms). At 8:30 in the morning, my commuter parking deck on campus was already packed. Once stepping foot outside of the parking deck, the entire campus was crowded and packed with people and cars racing around the city. I've been at this campus for ages, and this is only the third day of the fall semester. Of course it will be packed. It's time for incoming freshmen to get acclimated, explore, meet new people... Time for football (or basketball at VCU!), city festivals, and trying new restaurants... This should be exciting for me, but instead I feel the Bad Mania of my bipolar disorder coming on.
I wasn't coping with my thoughts of giving up on school very well the year before I was due to graduate. I was ready to quit school. I would sit in my therapist's office and cry at the thought of going back to campus that following Monday, and it negatively affected my mental health. I would freak out and cry at the drop of a hat, I would freeze up in class and become so jittery that I could barely sit in class.
Lately, I feel as if I've hit a roadblock in my recovery. I take my medications regularly, I go to therapy, I exercise, but I've hit a wall that I can't seem to move past (Bipolar Treatment: If I'm Doing Everything Right Why Am I Still Sick?). The other day, I received a book from a good friend of mine: Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps by Marya Hornbacher, and I started thinking about new things that I could incorporate in my life.
Typically, when people talk about bipolar disorder, the extent of their understanding and knowledge about the disorder is that we have our ups and downs. We become depressed, followed by an episode of mania (intense energy and ups). Many people who do not live with bipolar disorder or do not have experience with it do not understand that we live with so much more – the good and the bad.
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