I didn’t have self-assurance and confidence until I had no choice.
I’ve been asked often to share about building self-assurance and confidence while having bipolar disorder as a constant threat in my life.
I used to talk about self-assurance and confidence in a therapisty way because I hadn’t built the self-assurance yet.
Self-assurance didn’t come from going to UC Berkeley or getting a Masters Degree. When I graduated from all of my institutions I still didn’t believe I could stand on my own two feet.
When I finally earned my license as a therapist and began working in my field and earning a decent income…I still did not have self-assurance. I had confidence that I could earn a living and keep my job, but I didn’t have self-assurance (faith in my own abilities and character). I was still living with my parents and had a safety net. I was very comfortable in their nest even though I could afford to go out on my own. So in spite of helping everyone else…I still wasn’t there yet…I still didn’t believe in myself and my own abilities because I always had the fear of bipolar disorder.
The fear of bipolar disorder is the fear that everything I’ve worked so hard for could be lost very easily by an episode.
The fear of bipolar disorder is the fear that kept me from trusting myself and believing in my own ability to be independent.
The fear of bipolar disorder has been my crutch since I was 16 years old. I did not know how to not be afraid of it. I gave that fear the power to destroy me. I’ve spent most of my life fearing bipolar disorder on a core level.
That crutch got knocked out from under me when leukemia came into my family’s life. Within a moment the safety net that I relied on…that my parents had created for me…was gone. The security was gone, instantly.
Nothing changed in my family. We didn’t lose our home. My dad didn’t die. Everything stayed the same…but my entire belief system of security and safety crumbled.
It was similar to the destruction that I experienced after my first full-blown manic and depressive episode that destroyed everything I knew about myself…BUT, THERE WAS A KEY DIFFERENCE.
When my dad got sick and the imaginary safety net of always having my parents crumbled…what arose from within me was my own character and my own faith in my ability.
It was there all along (or at least for a really long time) and I didn’t know it because I had always been leaning on the crutch of safety…I was afraid to trust. I was the bird that had perfectly good wings, yet was afraid to fly in case I fell.
When my dad got sick…instantaneously, from the core within me I immediately flew. I just took off flying…I don’t know how I did it. My suspicion is that it was all the years I invested into myself.
I went through a bit of mania (multiple times controlled by medication), I went through plenty of depression (that I had to deal with daily)…yet I was still flying. In spite of episodes I still went to work each day and I immediately moved out of my parents home. I left the nest because I had to…from deep down in my core, I had to leave the nest even though at times it would have been beneficial if I stayed. (Don’t worry, I still helped out plenty.)
This is when self-assurance began to really build for me. I faced the episodes I feared would destroy me…and they didn’t…I kept moving forward. As long as I continued to move forward (even though they made it harder and slowed me down at times) I did just fine on my own two feet.
Self-assurance became my rock when I began sailing my boat…we’ve all heard about that in my prior story.
The key message I want you share is that I didn’t have self-assurance as a person living with bipolar disorder until there was no choice for me to hold onto the crutch anymore. I couldn’t fly and hold onto the crutch.
Episodes happened and are going to continue to happen in my life and as long as I take really good care of myself by sailing and working towards my goals and being responsible with my medication…and continuing to do it all in spite of how I feel…I do really well.
I really hope this is useful and I encourage you to share your stories. To learn how, go to: https://www.facebook.com/teamTHRIVE and find out about joining a private community that is being built.
If this is useful, let me know. Thanks in advance. 🙂