Category Archives: Emotional Wellness

Forgiveness

 

 

I-Forgive-You.

 

The practice of forgiveness is another essential practice for mental wellness. Holding grudges and resentments against others seemed to be one of my favorite past times. It was only when I was convinced of the fact that these grudges and resentments only affected me and my life and not the other person that I could change.

The explanation that worked was when someone explained to me that holding a grudge or resentment was like setting yourself on fire and expecting it to harm the other person. It doesn’t work that way and never will.

When I hold a grudge or resentment I am holding myself hostage for the perceived wrongs of others, most of the time they neither know or care about how I feel. That is the most frustrating part, they don’t even know what is going on inside of me. How could they, or anyone else know, what is going on inside of me. There are few, if any, mind readers in this world and I seldom told anyone how I really felt.

With our illness controlling our lives we always feel slighted, less than others and our emotions control our lives. In seeking help we are given medication that causes our mood swings to be leveled out. We no longer should have the high highs or the low lows. The medication does not change how we think or controls our emotional upheavals. We are responsible for that on our own, with the help of others. But we are ultimately responsible for anything we think, say or do.

When it comes to grudges or resentments we are also responsible for how we react to others and the feelings that we carry in regards to others. We cannot change other people and what they do but we can change how respond to them. Sometimes our hurt feeling, the basis of all grudges and resentments, are just because we have weak feelings. This means we need to strengthen our feelings not shut them off which is the direction many of us take not knowing any better. We need to learn to strengthen our emotions through understanding ourselves and changing our reactions. It boils down to choice and remembering that we always have a choice to react differently.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

The Practices of Acceptance, Forgiveness and Gratitute

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There are three practices that go a long way to aiding in mental health and help in keeping our shared illness at bay. These three practices are the practice of acceptance, the practice of gratitude and the practice of forgiveness.

They are called practices for a reason. Acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude are things that need to be practiced on a regular basis like a soldier drills the use and function of his weapons into his subconscious. Practice and training in acceptance, gratitude and forgiveness make them available when they are needed most, in times of crisis.

Acceptance is the ability to see and understand things as they really are, not as we want them to be. To achieve peace of mind and any serenity in our lives this is an essential practice. We need to realize that every person, place, thing and situation that is causing us grief, making our lives miserable, actually are as they are supposed to be. It is us that is out of step with reality.

As an example, dealing with some things that spring from our past actions, or inactions, can cause us to begin the “why me” serenade that leads onto that incredible downward spiral.  My response to “why me” has become “because on close examination you caused it.”

The practice of acceptance has removed one of the greatest hindrances to mental wellness for me, that hindrance is finding excuses. I had an excuse for everything.

When I accept things exactly as they are I no longer need an excuse to justify my non-acceptance. I can just move on.

A while ago the Tax man garnisheed my wages due to outstanding taxes for unreported income. The income was unreported because I had never received the income but it took quite a while to convince the Tax man of that fact. I found it hard to accept that I was losing a substantial amount of income to pay taxes on something I did not get in the first place. However the response to the “why me?” question has of course proven that I was the cause of this issue. I failed to notify someone that I had not received the funds that they owed me. It took months to sort the problem out and could have been the cause of a deep depression. By practicing acceptance of the situation I was able to avoid a deep depression and keep moving forward.

I am not going to say that I instantly accepted this situation because that would be a lie. It took a while to fully accept that I had to keep paying this money even if I didn’t owe it. I had to accept that in time it would all work out in my favor and of course it did in time. But if I had not practiced real acceptance I could have lost more than a little money for a while. I could have lost me.

That is really what the practice of acceptance does for you, it allows you to keep moving forward, rather than being glued to the couch in a depression and at risk of losing yourself again.

 

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

Consistency

consistency

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” Simone Weil

I was one compared to a sand dune. Consistency was not a word I knew or understood. I blamed many people, places and things for what was going on in my life. It was only when I looked closely at myself, my thoughts, beliefs, feelings (or lack thereof), actions and reactions could I begin to see that I was the major contributor to my problems.

A person I met recently said they were always told to “Get a Backbone.” I had heard that statement as well in my family. That is a very old saying that means develop Strength of Character but does not say that in a language I understand. Or may be like consistency, strength of character was also a statement without meaning to me.

The walk towards mental wellness has been a steep learning curve. A movement from total ignorance to knowledge usually is. I wanted to live, to be happy and yet all I thought about was killing myself. These thoughts, I have learned, are not conductive to living happily on any level.

Stephen R. Covey describes character as set of principles. Strength of character is relying on those principals when in trouble. This is what is outwardly viewed as strength just as lifting a car is viewed as physical strength. It is only when facing situations we find difficult for ourselves is there a need for these principals. As only in a storm is seamanship required as well. Anyone can sail on a calm ocean.

That is how I came to be compared with a sand dune, that utter lack of character that showed in difficult situations. No one knew how I would react. In time no one cared how I reacted because they all stayed far away from me.

The quote by Simon Weil at the beginning of this message is so true. When I developed and became rooted to the principals of Character I was able to become consistent in all my dealings with myself and others. Sadly, I have to admit this. I even lacked the character to deal with myself in a consistent fashion.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere

Today’s Site: Bipolar Advantage

Attitude

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The problem is I have BP 1 to which there is no cure. This does not mean there is not a solution. Captain Jack Sparrow gives us the solution, our attitude towards the illness that affects us. If we have the proper attitude we can overcome this problem.

Once we expend the effort, time and trials to find the proper medication to stabilize our mind. This can be one of the greatest hurdles in our lives, finding the proper medication. We then have a starting point to build a better way of living.  Without a stable mind our lives are as fickle as the wind. I can never stress this enough to myself and to you, a stable mind is the essential beginning but it is only the beginning.

“To live the life I want Action is required.

I can think and dream about the life I want,

But unless I actually do something things will

Stay the same.”

We have a mental illness, why is it such a stretch to realize we have to fix our minds not just stabilize them. That effort and action are required to reach that place I call mental wellness. The first step on that journey to mental wellness is a change in our attitude.

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” Marcus Aralias.

I felt such a sense of injury about my life and my diagnosis seemed to compound my hurt in the beginning. That feeling everyone and everything had hurt me. That I was the victim here was the predominant feeling of my life.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped validating your victim mentality? Let today be the day…You shake off your self-defeating drama and embrace your innate ability to recover and achieve.”
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

That was the question, “How would my life be different if I changed my attitude?”

If I change my attitude my life becomes entirely different instantly on the inside, but the reprograming takes time and by degrees my life becomes different on the outside as the new programing takes over. My life matched both my inside and outside while my illness controlled me. My life did not become that way in an instant but progressed as my illness progressed, it took time and a lot of terrible situations to build the reactions I established to get me through the day. It took some of those reactions not working for me any longer to see there may be something wrong with me.

My attitude can change from negative to positive at any time I choose. Like the poles on a battery, attitude can be reversed.

 

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere

 

 

False Assumptions

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A man named Mortimer J. Adler wrote two books that helped me immensely on my road to mental wellness. The first book was called “How to Speak and How to Listen” and the second was “How to Read a Book.” The reason I mention this is we assume we are taught to read, write and to speak in school. We continue assuming a lot of things based on that first assumption. We assume we know how to communicate based on the assumption we can speak. We assume we can follow instructions because we can translate printed letters into words. We assume that we can write because we can transpose those same letters back on a page. All those assumptions are false, we have no training in communication, we have no idea how to really follow instructions or express ourselves verbally or in writing. We can’t without some specific education in those areas. Unless we are very lucky to have some special individual to teach us, or come across some individual’s writings that guide us, all we have are false assumptions as to our capabilities. These false assumptions invade the minds of the so called mentally healthy in ways that when realized are astounding, imagine the false assumptions that invaded our minds living in our shared illness. We strayed very far from reality in many cases.
I define mental wellness as being close to reality. Reality means the world or state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic, notional or virtual reality. The short definition of reality is the truth. Today I want to be as close to reality as I can get.
Finding reality and what those false beliefs and assumptions are is only possible by having a strong support group that will gently, bit firmly, show you what these falsehoods are. Through this learning process, with the support of many great people, I was able to find reality in the only place it exists – here and now.
Reality only exists in the present moment, it cannot exist in the past or in future.
To live in the present moment I had to eject as many false beliefs and false assumptions from my life as possible. I test my beliefs every day and I am mostly successful at not assuming. It was in coming to accept my past and not project that past into my future that was the most difficult, but that is another blog.
Today I do not lie to myself and today I love myself.
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

The Integrity of Our Mind

“Nothing is at last sacred as the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself and you will have the suffrage of the whole world.” Ralf Waldo Emerson from “Essay on Self Reliance”.

If we treat as sacred the integrity (a totality with nothing wanting) of our mind, I have found that many things become easier. Like not falling into the trap of not taking my meds, thinking that if I am feeling well I do not need them. Or, all the things I have to do to stay somewhat sane, like feeding myself my daily readings and things like that.

Sacred in the context it is used here means declared to be holy. If we declare the integrity of our minds to be Holy (sacred) we stand a much better chance of staying on that path to wellness and not falling into that place we love so much – utter insanity, either really depressed and glued to the couch or so manic we think we can fly.

Our wholeness as people depends entirely on that integrity, but placing that integrity as sacred gives us something we never had before. That something is willingness, a willingness to do whatever it takes to be well.

In the language of the mid 1800’s Emerson is asking us in the second sentence to become self-aware.

Jesus said, in the Gospel of Thomas: “Know yourself and you will know all.”

Self-Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment. Something that I am finding as I write these messages keeps coming up again and again. The fact that in not knowing ourselves we are in constant conflict with others

Self-awareness  is the key to the lock, the lock that will open the door to let us out of our wretchedness and into a new and better life.

 

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

 

Criticism

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I was recently criticized for not talking enough about medications and the symptoms of BP on this blog. I can, in one sentence, answer this criticism. “I do not concentrate in thought, word or action on the illness of BP. I concentrate on mental wellness.”

I say that medications is essential to stabilize our minds, but I am not a doctor. Therefore anything I say on that subject is not going to be based on any education, just my opinion. The same with dealing with symptoms, I am not a PDoc, Psychologist or Counselor so anything I say will be my opinion. My opinion almost got me killed and it will for sure kill you, so I keep my opinion to myself. I have heard, and read, people say you should or shouldn’t take this or that med. How do they know? I recommended a med once and the guy killed himself after being on it for two days. Symptoms are the same, I have never experienced a number of symptoms that are attributed to BP due to BP’s individuality and its ability to affect each of differently. I have no idea how to deal with those symptoms. Of the symptoms I have experienced, I can speak on how I deal with them, but what I do may not work for you. There are many great sites if you wish to know about meds and symptoms and I will be posting links to them as an answer to this comment it will appear as Today’s Site at the end of each post.

Today’s Site is: www.bphope.com on which you will find a wealth of factual information on Bi-Polar disorder

I talk about sticking to the hard path of mental wellness and the tools that may help us to be useful, productive members of society, that is my direction.  I share my experience, strength and hope that this illness can be overcome. I talk about the mind, body, spirit connection and how you must not ignore any of these keys and if you do it will be at the expense of the other two. That all three respond like the muscles in our bodies and need to be exercised. Atrophy (decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.) of the spirt was my greatest failing and I maybe talk disproportionately on that subject. Body, mind and spirit and ways of overcoming our shared illness are the main focus of this blog.

I do appreciate criticism because it makes me look at what I am doing and in most cases causes me to improve. This criticism caused the creation of Today’s Site which will be helpful to many in the future.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

Understanding Happiness

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We think it is happiness that we seek.

If you blame BP for your predicaments and circumstances this message I hope upsets you and makes you think.
The problem is not the illness, the problem is you and your lack of action.
I want to be the first to tell you that if you are doing nothing to overcome this illness and are blaming the illness for your problems then you need to reread the above sentence.
If you are sincerely trying to overcome this illness and are trying to look for happiness in a life that has held very little of this quality, take heart, the problem may simply be not understanding what you are looking for.
Understand that true happiness is only a by-product of something else. When happiness comes into our lives, there is always a way of feeling that proceeds that happiness. That happiness only remains as long as that other feeling is present. No matter how fleeting the happiness may be the other feeling must proceed it and as soon as that other feeling evaporates happiness disappears as well. We all easily recognize happiness so we think it is happiness that we seek. There are thousands of places to look to find the formula for happiness, but few that lead you to find the feeling on which happiness depends. We think, and are told, it is happiness we seek. Seldom, if ever, are we told to seek and cultivate the other feeling, the bedrock on which real happiness is built. That other feeling is called a few names, Biblically it is called peace, in modern terms it is called contentment. If you search the happiest times you can remember, no matter how fleeting, you will find that you were content as well. For happiness cannot exist without contentment. This is a truth that most of society has not understood. The truly happy person is content before they are happy, it cannot happen any other way.

I lost my humor yesterday
Where it went I cannot say
With it went the light inside
That burns so bright to lite my eyes
Today I woke and fell to pray
In slipped my humor right away
With it came that inner lite
With a whoosh it did ignite
On Gods command I think, right?
j.p.stefanuk published in Island Wonders 2013

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

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Feeding yourself 2

I kept trying to do something, thinking that was how I became someone, rather than knowing myself and in that way becoming known.
One of the problems that BP caused in me was to feed me many false perceptions of who I was and what I wanted. This illness even lied to me about what I needed. It was in learning that these false perceptions can be recognized and changed that solidified my path towards mental wellness. Prior to that knowledge the path seemed too made of shifting sands and was never clearly defined, sort of like a road obscured with heat waves.
The biggest lie was thinking that what I did was who I was. Which led to the belief that to be anything or anybody I had to do certain things, be the boss, and hold a position of some type of esteem. With this came stress and with stress came the self-destruction that the mixture of BP and stress brings about in most of us.
Today I am a janitor at a medical clinic, which means I am as low on the status pole as you can go and therefore feel no stress. I work 4 to midnight and I work mostly alone. This is absolutely perfect for what I want to accomplish. For six hours of my eight hour shift, thanks to YouTube and Wi-Fi, I feed myself an incredible amount of positive information and affirmations. I actually planned this change in my life.
For 30 hours a week or more I feed myself knowledge and overwrite the false programing that BP has allowed into my subconscious by strangling that sentry that is supposed to be at the gate. I realize that few, if any, others have that kind of time to devote to reprograming themselves and I am not advocating that anyone does devote that kind of time. I chose to set up my life in this way for a few reasons, the biggest being I was very tired of the boom and bust cycle of my life and wanted something different. I am no longer young and any change takes time. I wanted to be around to enjoy some of the benefits.
What I can say is that reprogramming yourself towards the positive pole of life works. You can change the way you think, speak and act and in doing so change your destiny.
You can develop good habits and leave behind the life sucking residue of our shared illness. I am not advocating you do not need your meds or that you will no longer have BP. BP never goes away and it will always affect you but the degree that it affects you will lessen.
There are far better teachers than me on reprogramming and overcoming and if you are a willing student they will appear in your life. I will say that I started with the works of Louis L. Hay and Joyce Myers and their books, CD’s and YouTube channels helped in my reprogramming.
Today, I know myself and have become known to others through that knowledge. I have quit trying to be something because I was usually trying to be something I wasn’t.
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

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Why I write this blog

Over the last number of years I have made one field of study a priority – me and this illness we all share. Over time I have come to some conclusions and developed these three absolutes for myself. They reflect my beliefs about how this illness affects my life and how to deal with the affects in a positive way.

1. I have BP 1 and left unchecked my life is a disaster
2. That medications and a good medical and non medical support team can only help to a point. Achieving mental wellness is mostly up to me.
3. That a strong spiritual foundation of faith and hope, based on an unshakeable belief, can give me the spiritual character and mental strength and emotional control to balance my life.

I truly believe that these three things have allowed me to have a useful and productive life for the last number of years. Yes, I still fall off the rails once in a while, but never to the points of the highs and lows that I have experienced in the past.

I began to talk to fellow sufferers of BP and this caused me to developed my four truths of Bi-Polar:
1. Bi-Polar as an illness is as individual as the people that suffer from it.
2. Medication is essential in stabilizing our minds.
3. Developing a strong spiritual self is essential in overcoming our mental anguish and emotional turmoil.
4. We, as Bi-Polar sufferers, can be useful and productive members of society.
These truths were developed to make some sense in my own mind of the things I was coming across when I spent time with fellow sufferers and through them seeing in myself.
What I kept seeing was:
We are all individuals and this is not a one size fits all illness. Once the proper medications were found, and taken (this is a very important step, we became mentally stable, but this only dealt with our rapid mood swings and removed the brain fog.
To overcome our mental anguish and emotional upheavals we need something more. Once we found and began to incorporate this spiritual aspect we could become useful and productive members of society.

That has become my goal to help others to find their way to being useful and productive members of society.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.