I have finally settled on a motto that says it all for me – I Want To Be A Better Person. For me, that simple phrase addresses many of my issues; my arrogance, my bad behavior, my admission of having done wrong, my acceptance of who I really am, and most of all, my need for hope. I Want To Be A Better Person reflects my belief that in spite of my bipolar condition, I can overcome my bad tendencies and become someone to admire, instead of someone to fear or feel sorry for.
My journey to wanting to be a better person was long and convoluted, painful, yet even funny at times. My hope is that by sharing it with you, I will have an even greater desire to live up to my dreams and give someone else hope as well. There are countless details left out and many details may be wrong, but I hope to paint a picture of how I got to this point.
Long before my diagnosis of Bipolar, I exhibited behaviors that were considered horrible, to put it mildly. Thinking I was smarter and better than anyone, I would justify my behavior as the fault of whoever was my victim. It was always “your” fault that I was acting so horribly, and if it weren’t for you, I would be a saint. My extreme rages were outdone by my delusions, my denial that I was responsible for my behavior, or even believing that my behavior was perfectly justified.
After getting sick of my own behavior, I bought an estate that was next to the monastery that I once lived in. I volunteered to manage the computer systems department and was put under the direction of Lee, a senior monk who I have known for over 20 years. One day, I had a falling out with a friend of mine that I had hired to do some work for the monastery. We ended up in a heated email exchange that was rapidly escalating to the point that it was harming the monastery. Because I was representing the monastery, Lee insisted that all emails that I sent be approved by him. It has been almost five years now, but that experience is one that I have finally grasped.
This is the Preface from the book Bipolar In Order:
“Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music.” – George Carlin
When Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world, the common belief was that the world was flat and he would fall off. Once he saw the world from the other side and spoke of its many wonders, the world became a far more beautiful place.
Yet many people still clung to the old belief and could not accept the new evidence. It took many years for the world to adjust to the truth. To this day there are still some who believe the world is flat, but most of us consider them ignorant and unable to accept reality.
When I set out to explore the inner world, the common belief was that I would fall off the edge too. But just as Columbus discovered a world filled with beauty, I have seen depression, mania, hallucination, and delusion from the other side and found incredible vistas. With training, you too can visit those worlds without falling off, and discover a life far more beautiful than you can imagine.
What is unfortunate today is that far too many people continue to cling to the old belief that it is impossible to live a full life with a mental condition. On the other hand, a growing group of people are beginning to consider a life that is not restricted to a narrow range of experience. I look forward to the day when we all rise above the ignorance that keeps us in fear and denial of a better life.
Bipolar In Order is based on a very simple premise: we can learn and grow to the point that we see our condition as an advantage in our lives. Because this concept is often difficult for many people to accept on blind faith alone, I encourage everyone to simply begin by accepting that this new perspective is possible. To make this perspective a reality requires persistence, determination, and commitment. If you will give this perspective a chance, you will prove it in your own life.
There are so many examples of bipolar “disorder” that it is easy to understand why so many people try to avoid it instead of facing it and getting it under control. We can choose to view depression, mania, hallucination, and delusion from at least two different perspectives–either as “disorder” or as “in order.” Knowing that we have a choice of perspectives leads us to the understanding that we do not have to accept a diminished life. We begin to see what bipolar can be if we get it “in order” instead of trying to make it go away.
I am very excited to be starting this blog. I have resisted doing a blog for a long time because I didn’t want it to turn into recounting what I had for breakfast today. I wanted to participate in the give and take that blogs afford while trying to offer something meaningful. Having to write something as frequently as a blog seems very hard to keep relevant and interesting. The solution offered by Psych Central might work out perfectly – host the blog here and make it a team effort.
Psych Central has long been my favorite site for mental health issues. It has been open minded about all points of view and has attracted people from all sides of the issues. John Grohol has reached out to every community and has created a site where even my radical ideas are welcome and debated with respect and passion. I hope our blog contributes to that open minded approach and stirs much debate both within the Psych Central community and the outside world.
The biggest factor in my decision to start this blog is the commitment from our education team at Bipolar Advantage. With sixteen doctors, professors, and experts across a wide range of complementary disciplines contributing, I don’t have to worry about writing enough to keep current. We are aiming to have a new post every other day, so each author will be submitting an article a month and participating mostly in his/her own conversation.
As I am the lead on this blog, please direct ideas, suggestions, and other questions that are not related to a specific post to me. As we all know, spammers make it impossible to post direct email addresses online, so we are all forced to hide behind contact forms. I can be reached through the Bipolar Advantage Website or in a comment to any of my posts. I look forward to your thoughts.
Welcome to the new blog, Bipolar Advantage, hosted by Tom Wootton and his colleagues. We’re pleased to present you with an alternative view of this concern, focused on how it can be used to achieve anything you set your mind to. Tom said it best:
The mental health field is plagued with the bigotry of low expectations. Far too many people are talking about “changing the stigma,” while creating the worst stigma of all — the idea that we are not capable of achieving greatness. While their intentions are good, they are doing terrible harm to everyone with a mental condition and those who love and support them. This “can’t do” attitude is rampant in professionals, consumers, friends and family, and advocates.
This blog, then, will be about resetting expectations, raising the bar, and understanding how to believe in yourself once again. A diagnostic label should no longer hold you back from achieving greatness.
The mission of Tom and his colleagues is to “help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives. We are dedicated to the concept that recovery does not have to be limited to 90% of full function; true recovery means doing the hard work that brings you to 150%! We strongly believe that we can turn our ‘condition’ into one that becomes an advantage instead of an ‘illness’ or a ‘disorder.'”