Sun Tzu talked about being prepared. Eisenhower talked about being prepared. Every General, commander, strategist, you name it, has mentioned the importance of being prepared. Never, ever go to war unprepared.
The problem is I am not sure there is a way to prepare yourself for bipolar. There is no way to understand going in what the ups and downs are going to do, how you are going to react, or even how the world around you will react. And there is the rub.
One can find a way to flow with the ebb and tide of your own life. When you are bipolar you learn that even when it is hard – when the depression is so strong, there is a way to hunker down within yourself and survive. Darwin said we would. I believe that it is harder to survive the mania, it is harder to prepare for that, but honestly there are steps if you are willing to take them. For me, it’s just easier to be in denial for the most part.
But there is one area you can’t depend on, one area you can’t prepare for. You can never prepare yourself for the outside world and how they will look at you, how they will treat you, and even how they won’t treat you.
It was a couple of years ago, I was still learning about this bipolar thing I had, still trying to find what I now call the medication cocktail, and still trying to move in a world when all I really wanted to do was hide and be left alone. At work I had been experiencing dizziness and numbness occasionally in my extremities (hands and feet). It wasn’t all the time, it wasn’t just when I stood up, and it wasn’t very easy to pick out. But like many people, my first thought was I had a brain tumor and I was going to lose all my hair. I was going to be tested, since I was convinced that God is seriously determined to test me as much as possible.
So, I trotted to my family doctor’s practice and asked for an appointment to see someone. I sat in the lobby, with all the colds, flu and other ailments and waited patiently for the doctor (hey, I wasn’t at work!). And I waited, and I waited.
Finally, I was asked to come back but an older nurse, in requisite scrubs, who seemed more interested in ignoring me than caring for me. But I let it go, sat in the appropriate chair, put out my arm for the blood pressure test, and got my temperature taken. Then came the part I hate, the nurse asked me what medications I was taking. As soon as I gave her the list, it was like the whole office stopped and I could literally feel the chill. She continued asking me why I had come, and then hurried through everything else and left.
So I sat there, and I waited, and I waited. I was waiting for the doctor. I had actually been to this practice before and seen a wonderful lady doctor who had worked with me, and ended up (correctly) diagnosing me with anemia – common in mania. But I had never met this nurse.
The nurse came back, angry and what I could only see as frustration. I had no idea what the problem was until she said, “Listen, you need to take your medicine. The doctor believes that once you actually take your medicine properly you will be fine.”
I literally felt my mouth fall open. Did she talk to the doctor? Did a doctor really say that? And was she honestly accusing me of creating ailments for attention? What did she think I wanted – drugs? I was more worried about a brain tumor.
“I take my medicine appropriately,” I said in sort of awe like expression.
“Ma’am, just take your medicine and the symptoms will go away. Here are your papers, goodbye.” And then she continued, no matter what I said, to blame me for not taking my medicine and taking up her time when there was nothing she could do for me. She ended up telling me I was wasting time, and she needed to see REAL patients.
AND SHE LEFT. SHE LEFT THE ROOM, SHE LEFT ME SITTING THERE!!! I was so angry I should have stormed out and found someone else. I should have shown her what happens when someone messes with me because I am bipolar. And a nurse at that. But I didn’t. Mostly, because I was in too much shock to do much of anything. To this day, if I could remember who that horrible woman was I would track her down and confront her.
But I can’t. The truth is that no matter what profession they work in, no matter what religion they have, or background, there are going to be people who hate you simply because you are a mental disease. While if I had seen that nurse do this to my child, for instance, I would probably have slapped her, the truth is there was no way I could personally be prepared for her. Ever been looked at with disgust? Tell someone you are a mental patient!!
Don’t try to prepare yourself for the world; only prepare yourself for your own journey and your own truths. Don’t go into the world looking for a war believing you are prepared, instead ignore all the great thinkers and learn to flow. Not stand down, not necessarily be run over, but sometimes with this disease you just have to flow. (If, however, I ever see that nurse again, I will probably pop her one just because I want to help her preserve the illusion of what bipolar disorder isn’t. Kharma is a bitch!)
By the way, the title is part of a great quote, not something you should actually do, silly.