I have a secret. I am a superhero. In some ways we all are superheroes. I can hear the critics now, “Bipolar disorder is a curse. Only suffering comes from a disease like that.” Bah, I say. Bah. Life is what you make it. Bad things happen; good things happen. Babies are born; loved ones pass on. We lose jobs; we get new ones. Life stinks, then it gets good again. I get depressed for a while and then my mood swings up again. The key to all of this madness is that it is not madness. It is a gift – IF you let it be.
I previously wrote that some of the Greek philosophers thought of mania as a divine gift. In truth, it is what you make it out to be. If you are constantly negative and believe that life sucks and you were dealt a raw deal – yup, that’s what you got. But if you look at the good things you are given, life gets a little brighter. Sometimes, you can make the raw deal into something good. Using life’s lessons to help someone else who is facing a similar issue is a great example.
So, here is where superpowers come in to play – I believe I can make a difference and I do. I believe that I am super and I am. My “divine gift” has gotten me through some pretty tough situations. For example, I had a conference that I was coordinating for work. It was extremely time consuming and was enough work for three people, but I was the only one to do it – not to mention all my other regular duties. I was working literally around the clock. In the 3 days leading up to the conference, I only got 3 hours of sleep total (2 one night, 1 another and 0 the third night) – to make it worse, I was also teaching one of the workshops! So my superpower kicked in – I went full on manic. It may not have been the ideal situation, but it got me through. I survived and the conference was a big success!
However, for every superhero, there is some sort of “kryptonite.” Mine is the depression. No mania comes without a corresponding depression – for me it tends to match in strength. After that conference, I slept for about 22 hours straight and had severe depressive symptoms for several weeks. But everyday I still got up, got my son to day care, went to work, and took care of my family and myself. Why? Because I could. Because I wanted to. Because I am stronger than my depression.
Part of my superpower is positive thinking and striving to make a difference. I know what it feels like to be at rock bottom. I tried to kill myself several times when I was younger. I used to cut myself. But the pain always ended at some point, and I found that I was stronger than the pain. I am stronger than depression. As soon as I feel the darkness lift, I use my superpowers to grab on to the sun and brighten my world. More than that, I use it to brighten the worlds of other people. I found that helping others helps me to grow and heal. I use my experiences to make a difference. That is part of why I blog – to try to help others by sharing what works for me, and hopefully showing them know they are not alone. After I came to terms with being raped in college, I volunteered for a sexual crisis hot line to help other victims because I got through it and they could, too. I might not have X-Ray vision like Superman, but I can see the world that I want to live in and want to help others see it, too.
I used to think that superheroes weren’t real. I used to believe that I deserved all of the bad things that happened to me because I have bipolar disorder. It took a long time for me to start believing in myself, but when I did, I realized that having bipolar disorder would only define me if I let it. Most important thing is that I am a superhero to myself. Because I believe in the power of positive thinking and never giving up, and most of all, because I believe in making the world a better place than I found it, I am a superhero.
I have survived things that most people couldn’t imagine and no matter how low they’ve brought me, I always get back up. Life continues to put challenges in front of me; some will knock me down, some may make me lose hope for a little while, but I will find it again. I will find the strength to pick myself up, dust myself off and face the world head on. And I will use my strength to help others find their own strength, too. After all, isn’t that what superheroes do?
Read the rest of Beka's posts for IBPF here.