The Biggest Lesson I Ever Learned

Author: Angela McCrimmon


Anyone who shares a diagnosis of Bipolar, regardless of what “type” resides in your brain, is going to share a lot of similar traits and experiences. For example, our high and low moods are way more extreme than those without the disorder. We have all suffered a lot of loss, in one way or another, due to our unpredictable moods and behaviour, be it relationships, jobs, education. The list of comparisons could go on, but I want to bring to the spotlight a quality that we ALL have – and you might not even be giving yourself credit for it.  If you reflect on all your years, I’m sure you can recall episodes that you had to crawl your way back from, and yet again, try and create a life that had a semblance of balance and “normality” about it.  It takes real strength and courage to keep getting back up every time we fall down, but those aren’t the words I want to talk about. What comes along with that brave strength is the main thing that brings us back fighting every single time……Resilience.


The Cambridge English Dictionary definition of resilience is “the ability to be happy, successful, etc again after something difficult or bad has happened”


Does that sound familiar to you? Tell me something though, do you ever get so physically weary and exhausted for having this ability?  I am so very grateful for my resilience, but after a severe depressive episode Iast year, I had a sort of epiphany. All my life, I have told myself that if I fall off the bike, I need to get right back on and keep turning those peddles. I would recover from an episode, even when I’d been discharged from hospital on the Friday, I’d fully expect myself to return to all my usual activities and commitments by the Monday.  In my mind, I was better now and I wanted my “well” life back again as quickly as possible. No messing around.  My last depression had been triggered by a very traumatic experience, and it was one of the worst depressions I’ve ever had. The appropriate treatment was put in place near the end of my admission and it restored my hope that things would get better but I knew it had to be different.


The epiphany I had was “Angela, your resilience is great…. it’s got you through 44 years of your life no matter what truck has run you over at 100mph, but this time……your resilience needs to rest.” I had a moment of wondering where on earth that idea had come from. It’s not the way I work. We know I just get back on my feet and pick up where I left off as soon as possible!! Not this time though. 2021 had been such a traumatic year, between the traumatic event itself and the depression that spiraled from it after, I just knew in my heart that this recovery process had to be much more slow, gentle, reflective, and most of all “all about me.”


Yes, I really did just say that. I’m not usually a self-centered person, quite the opposite really. That’s what made this idea seem so alien to me, but it’s as if I could feel my soul talking to me. The only way I was going to recover properly was to fully focus on myself. I couldn’t give my energy to anyone else but myself, but I began to feel okay with the idea. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but let me share with you the wonderful experience I had when I finally set down my resilience, tucked it up in bed, and ordered it to have a good rest, and I would wake it up again in about 3 months time……


Read Part II here….
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