This is not the first writing I have done to post on here, but I think this is the hardest lesson; and the best thing to start with.
I have spent the better part of the last 13 years figuring out how to define myself. For a while I had a definition, but it wasn’t accurate. Or completely healthy.
After my diagnosis of Bipolar, that’s how I defined myself. I didn’t tell people “I HAVE Bipolar,” but would, instead, tell them “I AM Bipolar.” Language. Language. Language. Words have hidden meanings if one cares to look. I never used those words that way with my anxiety. I had anxiety, but it was never me.
Why? Why did I not HAVE Bipolar, but WAS the Illness.
Well, after my first major episode I started researching. I picked up the book Bipolar for Dummies (my doctor said she could have given me books that she thought would have been far more my speed when she found out) and a few others. The more I read the more I defined myself. Don’t get me wrong. Researching your mental illness is a good thing. The problem was, coming out of an episode like I had and picking then to do the research was completely unhealthy. An episode can be all consuming. Finishing one and immediately immersing yourself in works about what the Illness could do… I’m sure you can guess where I’m going.
Every little bad day I had was because of the illness. This Bipolar me. Not because I was just having a lousy day. Duh! Everyone has those days. Us with Bipolar might just have ones slightly more magnified on those lousy days.
That last part. Yeah. It took me a while o figure that out. With a good doctor and amazing support I got pass that. I HAVE Bipolar, but it isn’t me… but now what? Still need a definition.
I was desperately looking for something to make me me. I had been volunteering at the same nursing home (of which I became an employee eventually) since 2003. I took great pride in being there, loved all of my seniors, and felt it was my haven. That became the definition of me. I was that place. I was there between five and six days a week (sometimes seven). I’d get there at 10:00 to volunteer and leave at 5:00 to go to my actual job until the middle of the night. I’d go in on holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day to open the gift shop because, while employees were scarce, the residents and their families love having it open. After becoming an employee, I’d stay off the clock if a senior needed me for something. I’d think nothing of it.
Well, I’ve been on FMLA because of a manic episode. I got a call on Thursday from HR stating that I was out of FMLA. I have two weeks to come back or they will no longer be able to hold my job. The first reaction was of my world crumbling around me. This has been ME for so long now. I was absolutely exhausted and fell asleep after getting home.
I woke up feeling slightly better. I took my Walk that night and began my prayers as I took my steps.
The next morning I woke to a sense of relief. I love this place, but the circumstances there were getting rougher and rougher. I would never quit no matter how miserable I was. It had been my safe place so acknowledging the toughness came long after my fall into the abyss of over-stressed. The guilt of not wanting to go there was eating me alive because I was doing a disservice to my seniors… and to myself. This was God helping. This was God doing it for me.
Another thought occurred as I had talked to him on Thursday night that continued into my prayer on a Friday night. I defined myself once again my something that could become unhealthy in so many ways. Neither the Bipolar or the job ARE ME.
I AM various things to my family:
I AM various things to the outside world:
A horse owner/equestrian
A book lover
A dog owner
I AM me. That’s it. That’s the only definition there is in the end.