1. Acknowledge it
2. Accept it
3. Deal with it
4. Embrace it
5. Re-deal with it
6. Revel in it
7. Incorporate and make it a resource.
Repeat as necessary.
I have a good Dr. Not a great Dr. but a good Dr. My criteria: He doesn’t discourage me from participating in my own treatment. I’m one of those people who will read EVERYTHING about my diagnosis and then quiz said Dr. about my conclusions, so this is important to me.
Oh, and he’s smart and blah, blah, blah.
My Dr. also does not freak out when he asks me whether or not I’m thinking about suicide and the first answer out of my mouth isn’t “No”. My answer is, “Yes, I do think about it, and I’m not planning on it. I think that I understand how a person can experience such pain and despair that suicide is the only option they think they have left.” He asks because it’s on the checking-in checklist.
So, no I’m not suicidal. I am bipolar and we have a huge suicide rate. It’s chemical and other stuff. We also have a special handshake and now that my meds are evened out, I get to learn it. Something else to look forward to.
Today, I am in “Acknowledge It” and “Incorporate and make it a resource” modes. It took about 7 months and 4 med adjustments (aka Step 5) to get here, but here I am.
As is often the case with most ‘7 Stages…” lists, I’ve popped around among them. As is often the case with me personally, I want nothing more than to skip ahead to the good parts. I mentioned my fast-forward to #5 earlier, but naturally #6 is a favorite. There’s actually a website called Famous Bipolar People. Hello Agatha Chrisite and Abraham Lincoln!! Howyoudoin Curt Cobain (oh wait a minute on that one. didn’t turn out so well.) Anyway, I’m awed to be in such good company. The association I like most are the people who don’t eventually / inevitably kill themselves but hey we didn’t ask to join this club so I can’t really discriminate against other members – so hello Stephen Fry AND Ozzy Osborne (who’s not officially dead but we’re all kind of wondering what’s up…)
Being bipolar isn’t the only reason that people commit suicide. I’m just dwelling a bit on a personal cause and effect chemical process because, frankly, it’s pretty mind-blowing to be unable to stop the thought “hey, I think I can understand it.” It’s one of those hitting-bottom realizations that (hopefully) lead to step 1 and so on. For those for whom it’s a personally painful thing, I deeply apologize and sympathize. I take a light-hearted approach now because I feel it’s most constructive for me. Writing about it is one way I’m accepting thoughts that I couldn’t control. I’m better now, but it shook me up.
Anyway, back to step 1… It terrifies the shit out of me to acknowledge this. I expect to be excluded from parties (although the social phobia that accompanies being bipolar often does that for me), to have all my conclusions held suspect (although as a person who voluntarily tries to start a new theatre company in this economy my conclusions should technically be held suspect) and to be generally shunned and whispered about (see social phobia above).
I started writing my own personal outing the moment I was diagnosed. I have a strict anti-secrets rule and this is significant. For various reasons, the first 4 posts I drafted were trashed. This particular post was began on April 14, 2012. It’s time to testify. It’s time to release feeling scared, guilty and ashamed. Period. Exclamation point. It’s time to own me again. It’s time to re-embrace my strength and courage. It’s time to be the person I used to think I was. I questioned myself – my basic being. I shook to the core. I doubted the reality of my beliefs about myself. That’s one of the things that this chemical imbalance does. Well, it’s fucked, let me tell you.
It’s time to be able to talk about and offer perspective on a pretty damned significant thing. Own it, baby.
O,O,O! Speaking of ‘fuck’ you should have heard me on the phone with my best friend the day I was diagnosed! Talk about ranting and wailing and gnashing of teeth. In retrospect, I won’t share actual content because it was far less imaginative and erudite than I’d like. It mostly involved repeatedly using the f-bomb in any ear-burning combination imaginable. Adjective, noun, adverb, heck I’m sure it was a contraction at some point. I owe her. Again.
So. Here I am. Out of my personal closet. Writing my own ‘7 Stages’ list. Because that’s who I am.