For three long years, very long years in my Bipolar Life, did I constantly, every day, miss the old me. I felt I wasn’t anything like the old Laura; I didn’t have the energy like her, I wasn’t happy like her, I wasn’t as smart as her, I wasn’t as motivated like her, I wasn’t as fit as her, and I didn’t love life like her. To me, it was like we were two different people; she was now dead and I hated myself somehow for killing her.
It wasn’t until I voiced this persistent frustration to my CBT counselor, that she gave me some very WISE words of advice, “In order for me to begin my healing process, I must first grieve the loss of my former self.”
That one simple statement was my “AH HA” moment. It made so much sense! I suddenly realized that when someone you love passes, you have to go through the stages of grief in order to heal and move on.
I had already gone through the denial stage in year 1 when I explained to my psychiatrist that I didn’t think I had Bipolar Disorder but was convinced I had a little emotional breakdown. At that point I had requested if I could be weaned off my medications and he gave me his blessing. 4 days into it, all those nasty and negative, feelings, emotions and racing thoughts returned in full force. It was an epic fail and I broke down sobbing with the realization I really did have Bipolar Disorder.
Year 1, 2, and 3 I had numerous bouts of anger; not necessarily directed at others but at myself due to my inability to do the things I use to be able to do, my frustration of being numb all the time, and the failure to experience true joy. I NOW see that going through that anger stage later became a positive driving force.
Year 1 and 2 involved the bargaining stage. I often voiced the “What ifs?”, the “If onlys”, “What could I have done differently?” In that year 3, after that AH HA moment did I finally realize that me, having Bipolar Disorder, wasn’t my fault! That life altering event, that trigger, was NOT my fault!
I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t still have depressive moments, as that comes part and parcel with the disorder, but that never-ending dwelling and despair of the depressive stage of grief HAS ended.
In year 5, I can honestly say I entered the final stage…acceptance. I have accepted that the Old Laura has died, I’ve truly accepted that I have Bipolar Disorder, and with that I have new restrictions and limitations.
I started working hard on the NEW Laura, yes, she is far from different that the other, but that’s okay. Now, in my sixth year, I’m starting to get comfortable in my new skin, learning new skills, and pushing myself to the greatest extent in order to reach MY full potential.