This past Thursday in America was Thanksgiving. It is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate each other and what they are thankful for (plus eat a ton of food). I thought we should take a moment and find some things that by being beautifully bipolar we can find thanks.
Since learning about my illness and especially through the first few years, I learned what compassion really meant. I don’t think that I was ever selfish, but by being sick I could recognize what other people were going through. I saw how they worried about me and how tired I made them. I would see people in situations way worse than my own and feel this nearly overwhelming compassion. And I began to have compassion for myself. I grew up thinking that the only way I could earn love was to be perfect. That isn’t true. I began to be a little more gentile with myself. I learned it was okay to have a whole variety of feeling, one of which was compassion. I am so thankful for truly knowing what compassion for myself and others feels like.
We can be thankful for our psychiatrists who get up everyday and see so many patients with mental illnesses just like us and are just trying to get it right. They work on our cases trying to find the right medication or medications to level off our moods. It isn’t an easy task. Each of us is different. Your brain make-up is different than mine. We may share an illness, but that is where it stops so it is up to the good ‘ole doc to figure our messes out. I am thankful that my doctor is on call so that when I am in psychosis I can call him and ask him what to do. He is always there, just a phone call away and I am thankful for that.
Our therapist are people who listen to us and challenge us. They take our bipolar disorder and turn it over and around. They help us to see who we are from a whole new perspective. We should commend them on their ability to listen to clients all day long, but most of all to listen to us. I need talk therapy. I need an objective ear. Sometimes I need a nudge. I am thankful for my therapist.
As much as I hate being there, I am thankful for psych wards. I agree with you, no on wants to be there, but let’s think of the alternative. Would you rather be left to your own devices and hurting yourself or worse or would rather be sleeping on a plastic mattress? It seems ridiculous, but I choose the mattress because that represents safety. In psych wards there are a lot of nurses, a psychiatrist or two and, if you are lucky, some sort of therapist. Whatever. It is better/safer than being home alone in your apartment where there are knives, pills and possibly a gun.
Some of us can be thankful for governmental support. There is Social Security Disability which allots a monthly monetary amount to those who qualify. The amount of money received has to do with how much you put in while working, before you became beautifully bipolar. If you are on Social Security Disability you will also be on Medicare which is a health plan. If you are impoverished, you may apply for Medicaid (more medical assistance) and food stamps which are received monthly. Do not feel sad about receiving help. That is what it is there for. You are no less a person than your cousin who is a lawyer. You just got stuck with an illness and she didn’t.
There is so much to be thankful for. So the next time you find yourself feeling sad and sorry for yourself, count all the good things that have come into your life since your diagnosis. You’ll be surprised.