Disclaimer: This is a serious (& hopefully informative) post. Don’t expect me to fall into a vat of fruit juice at the end.
So here’s the deal. Nobody’s road is straight, smoothly paved and level all the time. Of course, some people’s roads are more hazardous than others’.
I’m bipolar and that means my road is hilly – roller coaster hilly. But lately, I’ve been driving through flatlands. Imagine the Painted Dessert in Arizona with its innumerable shades of brown and pretty dessert flowers.
Three months ago I was fired from a job I struggled to maintain. My performance was inconsistent at best and had been steadily deteriorating over the previous year. All involved knew what was coming. I didn’t want to quit because that was my livelihood, my career. I was supposed to be good at this and enjoying it! Instead I was emotionally stressed, getting physically sick, depressed and worried. Even if I managed to improve my performance, I’d then be doing well in a job I no longer liked nor wanted.
Sometimes getting fired is a blessing. My road leveled. The driving became easy.
I began receiving unemployment, filed to restart disability and began to reassess what I wanted to do and my professional capabilities. I was in a good state of mind to perform this reassessment: not manic, thinking I could do everything and anything, neither depressed, thinking I was incapable and useless.
Then I hit a dip in the road.
Disability was months away from restarting and I received a notice that my unemployment benefits were being held. Immediately, I assumed that my former employer had contested my eligibility. I could appeal the decision, but it would take weeks for a resolution (that might not be in my favor). Making the $20 I had in my pocket last that long would be tough.
I had a difficult weekend. I canceled planned social activities and slipped into depression. Because I was depressed, neither could I work on my reassessment nor any of the projects I envisioned to get me off public support.
Tuesday of the following week, Unemployment called. They needed the name and address for a second employer for which I had done a few temp assignments. Once they had that information, my benefits would be released. That’s it? Really?!
The road leveled.
The only thing that had caused it to dip was my perception of a problem. Then because I’m bipolar, my perceptions tend to amplify my responses – positively and negatively, i.e. hypomania and depression.
That week I learned a useful technique to help manage my bipolar disorder: just keep driving. The road is never always straight, smooth and level. There will be hills to drive up and down, there will be construction and obstacles to navigate. Sometimes I’ll be driving at night (note to self: turn on headlights).
How my car drives depends as much on my driving ability and the operating condition of the car, as it does on the road over which I’m driving.
When my front wheels hit the dip, I didn’t slam on the brakes and stop driving – Definite no no –although I did slow down to a crawl. I drove through. The back wheels dipped and the road was level again.
The only way I’m going to reach my final destination is to keep driving, no matter the road condition, shape the car’s in, or my driving skills. A map can help me find better roads, a mechanic can help me keep my car in tip-top working condition and I can always improve my driving ability.
Just keep driving.
Stay tuned for Further Adventures.
—gregamoswrites (and stays out of fruit juice)