For the past couple of years I have immersed myself in self-help, from Gabby Bernstein and A Course in Miracles, to Kundalini Yoga and the likes of Kris Carr and Danielle LaPorte. Self-help has moved along significantly since the days of skulking in the loser end of the book store. It’s fresh, invigorating and it’s gone viral.
If you’re someone who requires no guidance or help then you are a rare breed in today’s frenetic world. Lucky you. Since my bipolar diagnosis and entering recovery I need all the help I can get, and I am not afraid to shout it from the rooftops. Recovery: makes me sound like an addict, right? In some ways I am.
Bipolar symptoms can be addictive, and not just the highs. Like anything in life habit is comforting. I used to feel a huge relief when I hit rock bottom because I knew things couldn’t get any worse. When manic behaviour took over the excitement was intoxicating. When faced with medication I actually questioned leaving the unhealthy condition behind because I thought it was who I was. I think this is a common misconception of folk of my ilk. Daft, isn’t it? It plagued me for months, the question: what is me and what is the bipolar. Getting to know people is tough, getting to know yourself is just plain scary. So, what do you do? You look for answers in any place you can.
The first unexpected place I turned was to a spiritual healer. To this day she was the best therapy I have ever had. It wasn’t anything dramatic, just a conversation that made me sit up and realise my condition and my personality were two separate things that had unfortunately become intertwined by circumstance. Now came the task of untangling them. Then came the Wellbeing gurus.
Forgiveness. Love over Fear. Self-love. Self-doubt. Mindfulness. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had a stack of new shiny books, an online community and had found myself spouting all sorts of bollocks over social media. It just so happens that the so called bollocks actually does mean something today, more than some care to admit.
Forgiveness. Fuck it’s hard. Why should we forgive someone who has been an asshole to us or someone we care about? Why not get our own back? If someone done me wrong, yes I want to kick their ass. Do I? Nope. I have learned that there is a huge difference between being assertive and being a complete ass in retaliation. Thoughts are one thing, our behaviour is something else. I would much rather walk away with my head held high. You can’t undo a situation, all you can do is make a choice where you go from here. On the rare occasions I have held onto my anger all it has done is drag me down further. Admittedly I am blessed with the memory of a fish therefore things have tended to go out of my mind in no time. The hardest thing has been forgiving myself.
Self-doubt. It eats away at you. I can’t count how many times I have woken up cringing and covered in shame over the things I have done. The self-loathing sets in and gnaws its way right through you. All of a sudden you can’t let go and the seed has grown and grown until you look in the mirror and you despise yourself. You are ugly. You are no good. You are a failure. You beat yourself up so much it physically hurts. Let me ask you this, would you ever treat another person that way?
Self-love. It takes time and hard work. Until I was able to look myself in the eye and appreciate how awesome I am, without feeling an arrogant ass, I wasn’t capable of living the life that I deserved. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, and it is to this day my biggest accomplishment. Okay, so I have off days, who doesn’t. But, ultimately I recognise my own worth. I see the potential and even on days that suck I am able to tell myself, “Fuck it, tomorrow will be better”.
I never knew how scared I was until I stood still and had it pointed out to me by complete strangers, singing words of wellness wisdom and promising a life of pure contentment. Sounded awesome. But first you have to face a few home truths. Stop hating yourself. This took quite some time. Even now I catch myself putting myself down and having to remind myself that I would never treat someone else like that. People piss me off, sure, but I do my best to shrug it off. On those occasions when I let a situation consume me it is only a harsh reminder of why I shouldn’t let it happen. After all it stands to reason choosing anger over forgiveness is going to make you feel a whole lot shitter. Don’t you think?
Love over Fear rules. However pretentious it may sound. Maybe in the moment it is harder to do but as the moments add up the choice becomes habit. Choosing love is by far my favourite habit. Give it a chance. You never know you might just like it.