Getting to know yourself can help you accept and manage your illness and live a more balanced life when you have bipolar disorder.
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Knowing Yourself When You Have Bipolar Disorder Hi! I'm John Macmanamy and I live with bipolar disorder. I am both an author and an advocate. I'm here today to share with you what I regard is my first and foremost coping strategy: knowing thyself. Let's get started. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living. Without ruthless self inquiry, we are a rudderless ship on a wind tossed sea.” As a first step, I needed to learn to reach acceptance with my illness, embrace it even. Then, I was in the position to manage my illness rather than m illness managing me. But this was not enough. As a second step, I had to learn which part of me my thoughts and feelings and behavior was due to my illness and which were due to my personality. This is the distinction between state and trait. State is part of our illness. Trait is part of our personality. Let me give you an example. Often, I am animated and enthusiastic. Is this a bad thing? Way more often than not. I am productive, sociable and generate good ideas. So, maybe I'm really exuberant not manic. Likewise, I feel down much of the time. But guess what? I find myself contemplative introspective and hungry focused. So maybe I'm just thinking deep rather than being depressed but there are times when mania and depression do take over my brain. I don’t feel right. I can't think straight and I can't control my behavior. This is my true illness one that needs to be treated. It took me years to figure this out. There is one more twist to this. My personality can often get in the way of my recovery. These are traits that are independent on my illness but nevertheless interact with my illness. For instance, I have a tendency to isolate but I learned the hard way that isolating makes mea sitting duct for depression. And, this leads to my final point, each one of us unique. What maybe normal for me may not be normal for you and you are the only one who can make it come. And, that can only come from ruthless self inquiry from knowing thyself. Self inquiry also involves getting feedback from others. Establish a good working relationship with your doctor and therapist. Reach out to the people around you. Find support and become your own expert patient and advocate. This is John Macmanamy. For more information, visit Google and type in Bipolar Disorder Support groups. Thank you for watching and live well.