In an earlier post, I discussed how I am rebuilding myself, casting aside pieces of my past and my traumas that no longer fit with who I am becoming (https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-NH).
There are a number of materials that I am using to construct the new me. Some of them are old remnants, things that I had forgotten that give me life and pleasure. Others are ways of working and remembering and loving that make me who I am going to be. What are these materials?
Memories. I have certainly lost friends because of my illness, but I have gained others and kept some of the most important. Though my memories are patchy at best, I do remember good times with good friends – laughter, love, music, meals, adventures. Some of those memories are fleeting. Some come only when someone reminds me of them. I can’t access them when I’m depressed, but those pleasant memories and steadfast friends strengthen me and give me a better idea of who I want to be.
Therapy. It was one of my therapists who gave me the metaphor of rebuilding myself, and she surely helped me do that. I hold tight to some of the things she taught me, or that I discovered with her. I have come a long way. I now have healthy coping mechanisms. I know that if I ever need it again, therapy will be available to me. It builds me up.
Medication. I do love me some psychotropics. I went through a lot of misery combined with trial and error getting to the right cocktail of meds that worked for me. I never want to try life unmedicated again. The stakes are simply too high. If that means that part of my new self will rest on a foundation that includes pills, I’m cool with that.
Creativity. In one way or another, I’ve always been a writer. Bipolar depression stole that from me. At my worst, when I was considering having ECT, a friend suggested that I could write about it. “That’s what you do!” he said. But alas, at that point I couldn’t. And I knew it. Now I can write about the bad things as well as the good and feed my new self with both. Creativity is like hypomania without the crash afterward.
Stubbornness. I’ve always said that the Coburns are a stubborn people. I know I am. And I can use that stubbornness, keep it as a part of the new me. Stubbornness is an antidote to my bipolar. Whether I am down or up, I stubbornly believe that I will someday be back to baseline, even if there is no sign of it at the moment. I will not give up. I will not let bipolar win.
Do I like who I am becoming? Yes, for the most part. I still have my old flaws, the ones I had before bipolar smacked me down, and maybe some new ones since. I can be lazy and self-centered. I sometimes fail to see the good in others. I find myself being timid and fragile when I need to be brave and sturdy.
But those are things I can work on. I couldn’t do that during all the years that bipolar sapped every bit of energy, creativity, and insight that I had. Now I can do the work and I have the tools.
I am a work in progress. But aren’t we all?