Updated: Dec 24, 2021
You must separate your bipolar self from your better self. How I did this was list out qualities, good and bad, of each side of myself. It can be difficult to distinguish what is your true personality- who you are if you did not have bipolar, from who you are on bipolar. I think this step helps us realize the difference in ourselves and maybe it can help lift your self esteem a bit. For example, I am incredibly disorganized. I think I would be that way without bipolar but I am extra disorganized when I am manic. I am quick to snap, which is bipolar but also growing up in a domestic violence household and having that behavior modeled for me. I am a damn bleeding heart and I need to not lose myself in the middle of a bipolar episode that may be particularly bad. I have a money spending issue. I am not good at managing my money, I overspend, I spend too much, get into debt, overdraft my account, etc. And I spend probably 3x the amount of money- whether I have it or not when I am in a manic period. I make bigger purchases and having online shopping and shopping apps makes it so much easier to spend larger amounts of money. Then, I get a doorstep of packages that I am embarrassed as hell about, piss my husband off, and feel nothing but guilt and shame. Only recently did I find out about bipolar and how this could be a symptom of mania too. I looked back at the times I made some larger shopping online purchases and I noticed that those days I had several troubles sleeping and other symptoms of mania, more so than usual.
I am eccentric. I am a preschool teacher and I am a big kid in many ways. I found a job where I can be manic, and not have my job incredibly affected by my outward display of mania. Inside, I am in an internal battle with myself but you can have a bit of mania around kids and they just think you are fun. It just looks like I have a shit load of energy. I don't, but I do at the same time. I also rapid cycle through my manic moments, so I could be manic for a half day to 4 days (4 days is the longest I think I have had mania, but I don't really know because I just started paying attention). Mania has benefitted my career in that I am able to fill my business with kids and keep them happy and having fun- and I get periods of time where I get a burst of energy. Mania has also been detrimental to my career. As I said, I am very disorganized. Mania makes me unable to go from task to task, multi task, or even fucking think straight most of the time. Depression and Bipolar Depressive symptoms, however, affect my job SO much more. From October, 2020 to May, 2021, I was so depressed that I couldn't look at my phone. I couldn't check my email or do anything remotely stress provoking. I couldn't work with the kids. I couldn't have enough energy for my own kids or other people's kids. I also am in a permanent fog when this depression comes over. Like I barely remember anything from that time period and it feels like that whole time period was a shitty, unrememberable dream.
I am also strong and driven. Bipolar has shaken this girl to her very core. This is my core. I am a god damn rock. I have survived so much shit and I am my own hero in my story. However, bipolar has shaken this up. I have not been my strong self. I have been very weak. Weak minded, physically and mentally weak. Or that is how I feel anyway. I haven't been able to do anything like I used to. I basically let my mental illness take over.
I want to find that strong girl and emerge stronger. Hopefully with this diagnosis and the right direction now, I can get back there..