…learning to live a life filtered by the truth of the gospel.

what next? January 22, 2015

Filed under: seriousness — Stephanie @ 7:00 am

I’m stable. What’s next? Do I sit around waiting for the bottom to fall out from under me? Waiting until mania or depression takes hold of me again? Do I live in fear of that happening? Or do I embrace where I am? Do I dwell on what might happen tomorrow? Or do I take the risk and start living out of this new reality? It’s fear versus life. Light versus dark.

It’s a hard call. I’m a pessimist by nature, always seeing the glass as half empty. Worrying about what could happen. It’s winter, I could get depressed in a minute, there’s a precedent for that. Or will I flip? Head into the fury of mania?

But what if I choose to take the risk of living in this new reality? What happens if I just hang on to the good I’ve got in the moment, unconcerned about what comes next? It’s naïve to think that my illness won’t come back. And so just in case, I’ve got to be prepared. I can make good choices and plan for what might come at the same time. It’s walking a tightrope. Fall off on one side and I’m in a place of not being ready for the depression and mania. Fall off on the other side and I’ve got my eyes so trained on the thought of being in depression or mania again that I can’t see the good in today. It’s not worrying about tomorrow while still being prepared. I can’t pretend that bipolarity won’t come back, that I’ll always be in remission from my illness. But what if I take the risk of letting go of my worry? It’s a chance I’ve got to take. Wear a lifejacket and dive right in the water of living.

So what do I do?

Plan for emergencies but live in the present. Like having a box of extra supplies in severe weather. Blankets in the car in case of breakdowns. I plan for the crises, without taking my eyes off of the good that is here today.
Do the good things like read and write instead of making bad choices. When I make the poor choices, I sit on the couch and stare into my phone instead of reading or writing or doing something else constructive. I’m acting like I’m already in an episode.

So I wrote myself a letter for the time when I find myself off balance again. It’s folded down in my journal and labeled “for emergencies only.” A letter to remind me what life can be like. A letter to guide me when all I see is darkness. A letter to calm me in the rage of hypomania.

I gathered friends who know my story, who love me anyway. Who told me that I’m not allowed to do this alone. Who have walked by me in depression. Who’ve prayed for me and with me.

A friend once told me that no matter where I am, in mania or depression, I have a map. That map guides me through the valleys and the peaks. Tells me which way to turn, what landmarks to look for.

I’ve traveled this path many times before. And every time I walk it, I break the trail a little more. I’ve started to recognize the terrain. I know the fallen trees I’ve got to climb over, the places where the forest canopy opens up and the sunlight filters through. And I don’t trip near as much as I did the last time I walked it.

It’s still a hard road to travel.

But for now, I’m swimming in the water of life.


One Response to “what next?”

  1. Ink in Pink Says:

    Not “love you anyway.” Just love you.


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