Together at the Poles

Guest Post: My Bipolar – A Journey Toward Grace

Maz writes us from Australia, and runs the blog “My Bipolar – A Journey Toward Grace“. Today she writes about her experiences on that journey.

I’ve been diagnosed bipolar 1 disorder for 33 years. I am a 57-year-old female , divorced, two kids in their 30s, one granddaughter. I live on the Gold Coast, Australia. I love music, my family and friends, a home-loving Cancerian.

It’s not that I haven’t got many stories of being up, down and everything in between, screwed by the system, used as a guinea pig with medications. It’s not that I haven’t totally researched my bipolar experience to the point of doctors saying I am the most knowledgeable patient they have met with this disorder (of course this is very disputable). I have made graphs of my ups and downs incorporating my theories on causes for each episode (i.e. stress factors both emotional and physical). I have observed the correlation between moon phases and manic episodes, menstrual cycle and episodes, reactions to different medications, homeopathics, even predsol (cortisone based) eye drops brought on a hypomanic episode. Once, a well-meaning minister of religion shouted “Satan, get out of this women” – that’s another story.

I’ve read lots of material and viewed lots of footage, for two years I tried a radical treatment used by the Pfeiffer Institute, Chicago who treat conditions like autism, ADHD, schizophrenia and some bipolar. I took amino acids, minerals etc. For five years between 1993-98 I was lithium-free and feeling great until an overseas trip (body clock) plus homeopathies brought on a serious hypomanic episode. After that I agree to start taking lithium again. The dosage of lithium has varied as I’ve experimented with what works for me. I say me because I realise we are individuals and what works for me in any shape or form does not necessarily work for others.

I’ve always been a thinker, a dreamer, a spiritual seeker and (I’m sure as with many others with this disorder) it has played out within the context of episodes. A couple of years ago I started a blog page and called it “My Bipolar – a Journey Towards Grace“.

There are stories prior to 2001 (as I was diagnosed in 1978, but had two depressive episodes from 1974-78) but for the purpose of this story, I will begin there. If you have no belief in something “bigger” than yourself (God, The Universe, Higher self etc), then the rest of my story will probably not be of interest.

After a visit to a clairvoyant where she said “you will face your fear, you will move to Queensland” (I was living on the little island of Tasmania – bottom of mainland Australia). I have noticed that people with bipolar tend to not like change. That is certainly true for me… so the day I sat and looked up at the ceiling saying “I surrender… take me wherever I need to be” was pivotal in my life.

My husband and I sold up our house, cars, left good jobs (I was in charge of a school library and he was manager of sport & recreation). My husband suffered arthritis and had a yearning to move to warmer climates. I sold my precious record collection which was an indication that I was starting to “let go”. Little did I know that I still had a way to go before I truly learned the meaning of surrender. I have written a bit in my blog about my journey to surrender.

Although “surrender” has been my biggest lesson, it has just been a part of my journey towards Grace. The famous line “when the student is read, the teacher appears” has been so true for me. Books have literally landed in my hand, people have turned up for various reasons at just the right time (I know as I look back on things). Lessons of humility, gratitude, forgiveness, responsibility, and detachment, unconditional love have all been big ones and all stories in their own rite. Also “control” issues (which is true for all humanity – we need to understand control and how it may play out in our lives). I worked hard to educate those around me as to how I needed to be handled whether high or low. I needed to see when I was being controlling (which meant lessons of ego….. ego is a big one to “get”). When being controlled, one tends to act out of fear. It’s out of fear (when it comes down to it) that one becomes controlling…. but it can cause paranoia (big time) in someone with hypomania and can be the cause of it tripping into hypermania. I could say much on that one. I have eventually educated those in my life who have influence on me when I’m unwell and (in particular) one sister who is amazing. I love her dearly and she works so well with me. To have someone like that who you can truly communicate with is so important.

These days (last three years) I may say (when hypomanic) “Vicki, I’m saving the world again, sleeps a bit disturbed, obsessed with synchronicities which are happening and my ego is winning, got the ‘ring ups’ and on the internet too much.” She will suggest I take an antipsychotic (which in my case is respiridone) for a few days until my sleep regulates and my thoughts slow down. Usually it doesn’t take long, compared with past history with sometimes up to three to four weeks in hospital. Depressive episodes are becoming less frequent, but I have that under control in communicating to friends and family.

What I want to say in closing is that thoughts in themselves are not madness. With me, synchronicities are real. Carl Jung had some great insights. Prayer works and being in touch with your heart (and intent) is so important. Gratitude for the good things really does attract more good things. It’s what you do when you have the thoughts that is important and learning about ego is key. I have included an article by Dr Wayne Dyer entitled “Ego loves Stress” on my blog page and it has helped me immensely to identify when my ego is driving me….. which leads to madness. When I identify this early, it gets nipped in the bud and suffering is minimised. You are never in control – you are not Jesus, God, the saviour or anything omnipotent. Get used to it! Don’t start thinking it, no matter what happens. It is your ego playing tricks on you. The mind is powerful… but the key is to have it operating in tandem with a good open heart.

If synchronicities are happening and you are “in the flow” – see books like “Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life” by Wayne Dyer which is about the Tao. If you are able to surrender and detach from your “dreams” (doesn’t mean you can’t still have them) then you will be guided to the places you need to be. Of course these are all just my opinions.

For more of Maz’s writing, please visit her blog “My Bipolar – A Journey Toward Grace“.

3 Responses to Guest Post: My Bipolar – A Journey Toward Grace

  • Daniel: Read about your Meetup group. I live in Amherst, a Buffalo suburb. Lots of Meetup groups here but, unfortunately, none related to any mental health/illness issues.

  • Beautiful article. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    I got much identification. And things I need to learn. I am often dominated by my ego and can understand better now why will always lead to problems.

    I do also have a strong regard for the synchronicities that happen in our lives, usually giving us a message or help itself.

    You write in a great way about what you have learned over many years. Thanks for sharing the wisdom

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Counselling from Daniel
Daniel Bader, Ph.D., RSW, CCC
Daniel Bader, Ph.D., RSW, CCC is a Registered Social Worker and Canadian Certified Counsellor with a private practice operating out of Kitchener, Ontario. He provides in-person counselling in Kitchener and email, video or telephone counselling within Canada.

To find out more, please visit the website for his private practice, Bader Mediation & Counselling Services.