Sometimes in life, it can feel as if you can’t see the way forward. No matter how hard you try, you keep going round in circles, falling deeper and deeper into confusion and hopelessness. Barely treading water, in the roughest of seas, knowing the current could take you at any moment. You try new thing after new thing, bring out all the old tricks that worked in the past and nothing seems to help you find the way. The wheels are turning but you’re not moving. You bravely ask for help and still you get nowhere. At some points you even feel you’re going backwards. It’s exhausting and exasperating. And it goes on for what seems like eternity.
Then one day you see a flash. Like lightning, illuminating where you are for just a split second. What you thought was there looks different. No wonder you can’t find the way out, the world doesn’t look like you thought it did. But was the flash real or imagined? You don’t care, you have to believe in it. It’s the only thing you have left as you’re not getting anywhere with what you were trying before.
So out of hope and desperation, you begin to move in this different direction. To explore the new ideas presented to you. Foreign in concept initially, spoken in a language you have never heard. Tentatively, as you find it hard to believe things could have been misunderstood for so long. Yet slowly, ever so slowly you start to believe. You start to understand the language and the different ways things are said. The belief becomes stronger. You see in the present moment, how things are different to what anyone has suggested before. But how long have they been like this? Is this new or has this always been there? The more you learn about the present, the more you can see it in there in the past. Until you reach what feels like the point of no return, the point you realise this new information explains everything. Precisely. From long before the struggles seemed to begin. You become a believer. Yet you can’t understand how nobody has noticed it before. And becoming a believer is daunting.
Because this belief is life long. Managed not cured. No road to recovery only to remission. Yet with the struggles of the past, remission with a reason is an alluringly, attractive option.
I’ve always had my struggles muddied by grief and the stresses of children with special needs. Yet although these things contribute to who I am, and always will do, neither have ever taken me to the depths of despair I’ve been to lately. Perhaps triggers at best, but not the cause, not once have I ever believed them to be the cause. Many “professionals” have seen them on paper and assumed them to be the cause. Often recommending the same thing over and over again sometimes increasing in intensity, (often making me worse not better) to move through them hoping that I may come out the other side and be ok.
But what I have learnt is that there is no other side to get to. It simply does not exist for me. And none of those suggestions were ever going to take me there.
And At this point in my life, I can’t keep writing off my experiences to yet another kick in the guts from life. I’m stronger than that.
So I now find myself coming to terms with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Which, although “worse” than anything I’ve ever been labeled with before, feels like I’ve found my way home.
A home I know intimately, despite never knowingly being here before.
Something I know fits me. Something I know I can work with, because I have worked with it for many years already. The current intensity is new, but bipolar is part of who I am. Since at least my mid to late teens, and something I’ll carry every day for the rest of my life. And I look forward to seeing what this next chapter has in store for me with renewed hope that I can cope with it.
Special thanks to Matt Reid for the extraordinary efforts put into the artwork I’ll wear to remind me of this life changing moment x