Sometimes we are forced to face the sides of of us that aren’t so great. You know the ones that you are in denial of or perhaps you didn’t really realize are there.
So here’s mine. I’m selfish.
Recently I had a conversation with a very close friend. I hadn’t heard from her as much and when I asked her if everything was ok she said to me, “silent just means busy.” Because I’m selfish my mind cannot make that connection. It assumes that if I haven’t heard from someone in a while, or they cancel their plans I’ve done something wrong something to upset them. She has a really solid understanding of mental health and she also told me that mental health can be very selfish, and she’s very aware of this and tries not to let it be. And she’s correct it can be.
I am not intentionally selfish. In fact I do consider myself very caring and very generous. But there are times when I’m so wrapped up in my mood that it makes me forget that other people have things going on in their lives. That everyone has their burdens, their issues, their struggles. That we are all just really trying to do our best with the cards we’ve been dealt.
I haven’t posted on this blog in a while because all of a sudden I had this fear that it made me seem attention seeking or selfish. That I was just looking for a free pass to excuse things I said, actions and choices I made and sometimes continue to make. The truth is the selfish side of me is looking for that. It’s seeking attention. Or maybe it’s more forgiveness and empathy.
There are things I’ve said or done that have either been misinterpreted. Some things I don’t even remember saying but I also can’t say with 100% certainty that I didn’t. Here’s the thing about a manic episode for me. I am I impulsive and I have unlimited energy it’s not just fun and happy it’s this massive heightened emotional state and it can cycle quickly through all the range of emotion. It often starts out extremely light hearted, maybe silly. It can go through and look like a lot of fun, it turns risky sometimes reckless often without thought of consequences. It then quickly shifts to anger, jealousy, compulsion, obsession. I push people away and then become furious because they listen to that request or because they are scared or maybe sick of the way I’m acting. I eventually crash and then it’s tears, lots of tears. The guilt sets in (that’s the worst part) and I feel physically ill and I agonize over how I can fix things. That’s where elaborate gifts come in because I want to show how grateful I really and how sorry I am. I’m embarrassed to say how much money I spent last year trying to buy back forgiveness. I mean I bought someone I know an apple watch when I wasn’t working, and my LTD claim had been denied so I had no source of income but money from selling my house. But I just wanted everything to be okay again.
But here’s the thing that is different now that I’m on medication that actually treats my Bipolar Disorder instead of working against it. It’s calmed my emotional brain which has allowed my rational brain to have a turn. I’m starting to be able to use the strategies I’ve been learning to manage the emotional highs and lows. Instead of feeling like the world is against me, that all of these terrible things have been done to me and that I’m a failure I can see that nothing has been done to me that they’ve just happened and everyone has challenges but copes. Sometimes really well and sometimes not at all.
I’m starting to be aware that Bipolar Disorder makes me selfish. I’m starting to take a step back and show more empathy toward others. The kind that I so badly crave. I’m learning to forgive myself and forgive others too. The truth is, nothing that has happened was the fault of anyone, my friends, family or myself. It was simply the byproduct of an illness that I didn’t understand, that was misdiagnosed, and not being treated properly. I knew that I wasn’t okay but I didn’t know how to navigate its storms.
Sometimes I may be selfish still because I also think that we need to once and a while. But I don’t always want to talk about me and how I’m doing. I want to hear about your life, your wins, your loses it’s not adding on to my burdens. I want to be the kind of person that is compassionate and understanding. I think I could actually be really great at that!