“To Thrive” or “To Struggle & Suffer” with Bipolar Disorder requires tremendous effort and energy

It takes just as much energy and effort to struggle and suffer with bipolar disorder as it does to thrive with bipolar disorder.

When I share this, often people’s first response is often disbelief.  They say to me, “Robin, how can that be, I don’t have to do anything to suffer and struggle with Bipolar Disorder. I’m not making the choice to struggle and suffer, it’s because of what happens to me everyday.”

When people share this with me it makes me sad. People do not know how much power they have. Nevertheless, they give it away to forces that cause them to struggle and suffer.

Our effort and energy is our power. What we do with them is the difference between thriving with bipolar disorder and struggling and suffering with it.

Here’s one perspective I like to share and explore in response to feeling they have no choice in struggling and suffering:

If we imagine a scale between 1-10 where 1 = no effort and energy at all and 10 = an exhausting amount of energy and effort…

  • How much effort and energy does it take to hide bipolar disorder and episodes from your family, friends and colleagues?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to try to control your mood and your feelings?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to resist how you are feeling?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to deny what you are feeling?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to try to break free from bipolar disorder?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to experience something beyond your control that is painful?

Hiding, controlling, resisting, denying, breaking free, and being in pain take tremendous amounts of effort and energy.

By investing our energy and effort into these ways of being, we maintain a lifestyle of suffering and struggling.

We don’t have the ability to control what happens to us or within us, but we do have the ability to choose how we respond.

We don’t have to hide bipolar disorder from our lives. That is a choice we make.

We don’t have to control our feelings and moods. We have the ability to invest in developing an awareness of our feelings and moods which enables us to choose how we respond to feelings and mood.

Just because we have a feeling does not mean that we have to believe it.

We do not have to find evidence to support or justify our feelings.

And we do not have to allow our feelings to control our thoughts.

We can simply acknowledge how and what we are feeling and let it go.

When we resist or deny how we are feeling, the feelings only become stronger.

The act of resisting gives what we don’t want more power.

Instead, if we acknowledge that we are experiencing something that we don’t want to experience, we get to develop our awareness of how it works and invest our effort and energy into intervening.

For example, if we are experiencing depression, we have to identify what depression wants from us / Where is it getting its power?

When you thrive with bipolar disorder you have the awareness:

  • Depression is…either simply like any other living thing trying to exist OR the consequence of mania in which the brain and body have exhausted itself of all resources.
  • Depression gets its power by isolating us so that it is the only voice we hear.
  • It gets its energy comes from the energy we give it by surrendering our interests, our appetite to eat, the will to shower, and ability to sleep well or sleep too much.
  • It develops strength by causing us to feel sadness, guilt, shame, blame, and any bad feelings about ourselves. It robs us of memories of happiness.

We give depression our effort and energy by suffering and struggling to not be depressed.

In the face of depression, we must use our energy and effort to not be isolated, be interested in something, eat, shower, and choose what and how we think and what we want to believe about ourselves, our lives and the world.