Wednesday December 15, 2021

Whatever you resist, persists.

This idea was presented to me 30 years ago in a Personal Development Course. We were talking about problems with weight, relationships and work. If you hold onto an idea of “how things should be,” when they are not that way, then nothing changes, and you stay miserable.

I have seen this with my parents-in-law as they struggle to become used to the care home. They have lost their independence but have yet to accept it’s gone forever. They are suffering and I feel for them. Only when they accept their dependency, however, will they start to enjoy all the amenities and activities the care home provides.

I realised that I have been resisting too.

I was diagnosed with bipolar over fifteen years ago, although I have lived with it since I was seven. In many ways, it has defined my life.

I’ve always held onto the idea that, if life throws you lemons, make lemonade, so I’ve tried to use this condition for good. I am open about it and attempt to educate people; I write for Moodscope here; I serve on my GP Patient Participation Group as a mental health representative, and I go into the GP Surgery to talk to trainee medics about Bipolar.

But I have resented it. I’ve received those lemons with bitterness. I’ve counted the things my bipolar has cost me: relationships; exam and business success; lost opportunities. I’ve said, “If I’d known before, I wouldn’t have married; I wouldn’t have had children: I would never have inflicted my condition on others.”

This past year has been particularly rough. I’ve had three severe depressive episodes in quick succession, and other health problems too. For the first time in seven years, I had to accept help from friends in writing this blog.

From this, however, has come a revelation: this bipolar is a gift; I am now grateful for it. Furthermore, I wouldn’t change a thing.

My failures in life have been a gift: they have given me humility – an often-unappreciated virtue – vital for happiness. Accepting help from others has been both their gift to me and my gift to them. My husband and children have grown in compassion, empathy and understanding from going through the bad times with me; that is a gift for them. Experiencing kindness from strangers and people who do not know me well (many of you here) has been a gift. My life is richer and more complete for being given the gift of bipolar disorder, and I am grateful.

We are rarely given life’s lemons in a presentation basket tied up with a bow; most often they are thrown at us and hurt when they hit. But making lemonade is not merely making the best of a bad job: it is turning bitterness into joy; it is turning accepted wisdom on its head, which is the greater wisdom.

And don’t stop at lemonade: think lemon chicken, think lemon drizzle cake and delicious lemon meringue pie.

A Moodscope member.

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