I am not bipolar. I am a superhero!

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

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