A diagnosis is a label for a “disease,” or a set of symptoms that are a physiologic (and very normal) process of the body.
Medicine comes up with a label for an issue so that medicine can be prescribed.
Without a label, there is no medication and no income to be had.
Only when you diagnose an individual’s shopping habits as compulsive shopping disorder can you treat it medically.
Only when you have pre-diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroid, ADHD or any other condition can your doctor treat it with drugs.
Then, you can start calling it “my diabetes,” and you can own it so it becomes a part of you.
Ownership allows you accept living with the symptoms or the disease. So then you can cover them up.
Is the answer to your symptoms to cover them up? Or is it be aware of them and learn what caused them so that you can fix the problem?
Thoughts on Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a psychological disease characterized by extreme highs (described as mania) and lows (periods of depression).
Apparently, bipolar disorder and depression run in my family.
My grandmother’s sister once came down to greet family on Christmas morning in her underwear. Going off your bipolar disorder medication makes you do crazy things I guess.
Medicine diagnoses bipolar disorder so that it can be treated to medically flatten out the hormone responses.
Medication can make the highs and lows seem not so high or not so low.
But they come with side-effects.
If you’ve ever been depressed or sad, you wonder what can help you come out of it. Alcohol? Sex? Television? Gambling? Food? Drugs? Prescribed or not? (Things that increase the amount of dopamine or serotonin in the brain and allow you to feel good).
Having tried multiple strategies, my favorite strategy at this point is to embrace the low (I learned this term from new friend Garrett Kramer, author of Stillpower) and realize I’m going to come out of it.
When you’re in the darkness of the valley, you recall the path that got you there. Too many bad meals strung together, not enough sleep, spreading yourself too thin with life activities, or failure to achieve your goals. You learn not to take that path again.
The great thing about the path down into the valley is that it soon leads up out of the valley. Embracing the low allows you stop resisting where you are. Instead of staying put on the path or getting lost trying to backtrack, you can move forward, one foot in front of the other, and come out the other side.
Life Has Bipolar Disorder. You Don’t.
Do the mountains and valleys of life need to be blunted so that all of life is experienced on a plane?
Without down, how would you know which way is up?
Without sadness, how would you know if you were ever happy?
Without death, how would you remember that your life on Earth is finite?
Have you ever noticed how people who live where it snows in the winter appreciate the warmth of summer much more than they do in places such as Florida, Hawaii, or Texas?
My theory is that all human beings have bipolar disorder just as all human beings experience depression.
Some may be more hormonally sensitive than others and therefore, need to be more conscious of their life’s actions. Their wiggle room for mistreating themselves is smaller and their path into the valley is much steeper, wondering how they fell so quickly.
The big picture is that it’s natural and healthy to be happy sometimes and to feel sad other times. Everything teaches us a lesson and acts as a reminder of how good life is.
Happy people will be the first to tell you that happiness isn’t about being up and happy 100% of the time. Happiness is about feeling alive and inspired as much as possible. It’s about feeling the rawness of reality, whether you’re up or down. It’s about embracing the lows just as much as the highs. Resistance only perpetuates the low. Happy people pay attention to the world, feel all that life has to offer and learn the lessons that life throws their way, and come out of the shadows into the sunlight again.
What do you do when you’re depressed, sad, or down in the valley? Do you have a strategy for coming out? Do you have any experience embracing the low?