If you, too, are wondering how to find true acceptance of bipolar, I feel you. None of this is easy. In my opinion, “accepting bipolar” means accepting a new (but empowering!) full-time job: Chief Mood Officer.
Where’s My Golden Parachute?
I’m a big word nerd, and I’m constantly absorbing and (over-?) analyzing the language I hear around me. This was especially true during the dozen or so years I worked in the business world. I’m thankful to have had great experiences with three amazing companies and hundreds of talented people; but my ultimate, overall impression of “business language” is, well … cynical.
Let’s take “performance review,” for example. After my first performance review, twenty-year-old-me subconsciously thought, Ah—a new business term! I’ll have to squirrel this away as important! … And it IS important. Part of what keeps companies growing and adapting to new markets is their ability to review, direct, and/or redirect their employees’ productivity.
But to the good ol’ cynical me of today, “performance review” just means “an awkward assessment of my value to the company’s bottom line.” To me, business language can easily become a collection of different euphemisms for “you are not in charge here—the company is.” And that kind of language can feel disempowering in the right (wrong!) setting.
… This seems like quite a digression, doesn’t it? Bear with me, there’s a method to my madness.
Can I Speak to the Manager, Please?
Metaphorically speaking, what if I’m both the company and the employee? In that case, I can embrace these terms and concepts—because they give me the power. Reframing bipolar management in this way provides me with a (loose) structure—and some sound advice for growth. Because, at the end of the day, I. AM. IN. CHARGE. HERE.
Below are some business terms that I’ve reimagined as guidelines for managing my bipolar. I’d love your feedback—have your people call my people, and we’ll set up a con call!
“Board of Directors”
This is the group that reviews all major decisions. It consists of You, Your Prescribing Doctor, Your Talk Therapist, and Your Chosen Support Person(s). Consult the Board of Directors when difficulties arise—they will help see you through.
Special Note: As Lead Director, you make the calls in most situations; bu,t in the case of dangerous mania or depression, you may be temporarily relieved of your duties by other members of the Board for your own safety.
Since bipolar affects not only WHAT we feel, but HOW we feel it, our perceptions of “reality” can flux and vary. That’s why it pays to document our moods, symptoms, and experiences when they occur. My best methods of daily mood tracking have been: using a smartphone app; making my own written checklist; and making my own online tracking form. Regardless of which method(s) you use, it’s beneficial to track our moods for at least several months, if not indefinitely.
*Retirement Package: If you’ve been managing bipolar for years but have fallen out of the habit of mood tracking, here’s an idea: incorporate a “monthly review” of symptoms, feelings, and behaviors into your medium-term routine. (For an example of what that might look like, feel free to download my document “Bipolar Status Review.”)
In life many of us will come to a time when a big change is necessary. At some point(s), we’re likely to need a change in medications, doctors, lifestyles, and/or (of course) our ways. The great news is that we are in the drivers’ seat on that. Plus, we have the support of the Board of Directors if we need help.
Never be afraid to “trim the fat” if there’s something in your life that causes destruction. [“Overindulgence,” you’re fired. “Overspending,” you’re fired, too. “Toxic Relationships,” you’re on the chopping block next.] We must protect the bottom line, after all.
With this job, you’re automatically enrolled in the “bipolar nation.” We are here to listen to, laugh with, and talk with one another in a way no one else can. Find a bipolar community online to take full advantage of this benefit. [Hint: you’re already in the right place!]
The concepts I learned in the business world help me remain aware of all the different moving parts involved with managing bipolar. They also help me keep things at arm’s-length—because the terms are very general and “politically correct.” So, as annoyed as I may be with business jargon, I do have to appreciate it for helping me frame (and manage!) my life.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to “accept bipolar,” I think it’s time for a promotion! Say yes to the job offer of Chief Mood Officer. There’s no money involved, but it pays in stability.
Brooke Baron has a BA in English, a minor in philosophy, and a lifelong obsession with language. She is the author of A Beginner's Guide to Being Bipolar.
Although born and raised in Alabama, she has been a proud California resident for 10+ years. During a professional stint in Silicon Valley—in both the corporate and private business sectors—she handled internal and external communications, office design and construction, photography and graphic design, executive assistance, and functioning on very little sleep.
Brooke now specializes in "New Human Orientation" from her home in the suburbs. She has a young, loving, growing family of five and is fueled by that love and coffee.
In addition to caring for the rest of Team Baron, she enjoys writing, reading, researching miscellaneous topics, and funneling manic energy into creative projects. With so many balls in the air—including bipolar II disorder—balancing her life is like balancing two kangaroos on a see-saw. She offers consulting services for the bipolar community at Better Bipolar Balance.
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