Journey to Self – The Hidden Truth of Bipolar Disorder (Episode 3)
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s day-to-day interactions, behaviors, mood, thoughts, energy, and ability to focus. According to specialists in this field, there are three types of bipolar disorder, namely, Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, and Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia). All three types have symptoms related to either mania or depression, or both.
Instances of manic symptoms usually high energy, talkativeness, distractibility, and less need for sleep. While some instances of depressive symptoms are feelings of extreme sadness, lack of energy, lack of emotions or motivation, hopelessness, and guilt.
However, the difference between each type of bipolar disorder comes down to when they begin and how severe the manic and depressive symptoms are. There is no known cause of bipolar disorder. As research shows, it may be related to factors like genetics, environment, and brain structure. It is common for people with bipolar disorder to also have disorders like psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or substance use disorders.
It is a lifelong mental health condition, so they say, and with the help of mental health specialists, it can be managed over time with medication and psychotherapy. You see, western medication hasn’t been my thing ever since childhood. Uncle Emeka, the driver always recounts my near-death experiences as a child, it always seemed as though he was there to save me on both occasions. On this day, I couldn’t sleep so he and the nanny rushed me to the hospital to get my system flushed of all the meds. It was then I believe my detest for western medication began.
Am I Suffering From Bipolar Disorder?
It starts with Lithium for some and then a host of others like Klonopin, Depakote, Celexa, etc., and at some point, could have one taking side effect drugs to counter other side effect drugs. Therefore, self-care was my option when the battle of the spirit intensified as my orientation into this whole new world continued. Am I suffering from bipolar disorder? I researched symptoms similar to my experiences, but one thing I kept at the back of my mind was that ‘you make it whatever you want it to be’. This meant I wasn’t going to let my research affect the thoughts and conversations in my head. ‘Staying positive’ is the mantra I subscribe to. I live and preach it.
I remember a significant moment, a family member was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was in my early teens. The drugs that were given, plus the therapy and other religious and psychic remedies never led to a permanent solution as expected. This situation led me to seek a solution from within. If I am who I am, then I must have the power to remove principalities and powers from myself before I can do so for others.
In my case, after my second stint in my state of origin, performing the rites and rituals based on my traditional beliefs, a huge feeling of confusion set in. Why was nothing moving forward? Proposals upon proposals were sent out but business seemed too slow to materialize. Why did it feel like the more rites I did, meant even more rites to do? not much difference and I need to heal from within.
My history of substance abuse which was my way out of my head into a deeper place seemed to be backfiring at this point. And to think that even after years of trying out marijuana and not being hooked to it, at 27 years old, after a heated argument with my mom over the phone, my addiction to the drug began. For 6 years now I have been off the drug for a total of not more than 6 months. This is an addiction I take full responsibility for and decided to get myself out of. Step by step we go.
Mood changes, and inconsistent mood swings due to my inability to socialize to the level I know I can. Personal issues must be dealt with personally, I thought to myself. Even when genetics and environment contributed to my circumstances, I chose to refrain from taking power away from myself. I chose to look in deeper and solve my own issues internally without seeking external help. I am a god, that is what my spirituality believes, therefore, all power belongs to me through the benevolence of my creator. It is up to me to be my solution.
At this point, I had depressive symptoms; feelings of sadness, lack of energy, and lack of emotions and motivation. I thought of searching for those not like me to imitate and improve myself. But this led to more revelations about myself and a little confusion while inspiring me to keep trying.
The Next Plan
The first point of action was to cut down on all addictive habits which I was already doing. I call this, “defeating the principalities and powers hovering over my life”. And by so doing gradually pulled myself away from darkness to light. It is hard to trust help from any medical or psychic practitioner, as self-interest usually takes precedence if unlucky. So self-help it is, thanks to God, Google, and YouTube.
The first step was to rebuild my physicality by beginning my workouts again to strengthen my mind at all costs. I decided to substitute marijuana with physical training and alcohol with water. This should help, I thought, as it did in 2018 when I was having a mentally difficult time. My mind is mine to command in the right direction, and so is yours and everyone else’s. Thus, the hidden truth of bipolar disorder lies in our ability to accept and use it to our advantage.
Ellen Forney in a TEDx talk in Seattle mentioned her coping mechanism. She used it successfully for 17 years to maintain a mental balance called SMEDMERTS.
S-Sleep, which is our number one priority.
M-Meds, not everyone needs meds, and they are clearly overprescribed to help constantly pay the bills of mental health practitioners. However, in severe cases where meds are needed – traditional or/and western – take your meds.
E-Eat, our bodies need food as it affects how we think.
D-Doctor, see your doctor, otherwise, stick with whatever therapy is working for you.
M-Mindfulness and Meditation, because calming the mind is difficult and takes practice.
E-Exercise, just as eating affects your body and how you think, so does exercising.
R-Routine, this is our solid rhythm section so we can go for it with melodies.
T-Tools, we need coping tools to enable us to do all these and more.
S-Support System because it can be too much for any one person to deal with alone.
SMEDMERTS is for anyone and not just bipolar disorder patients, as we all have mental health to deal with and we all go through times of grief, anxiety, insecurity, imbalance, etc, or some other kind of mental disorder. Self-care is hard and making mistakes is part of our lives, regardless, most of the time everything will be okay with time as we progress on our individual journey to self.
Watch Out for the Next Episode >>> Spirituality and Mental Health (Episode 4)