The same mental health disorder differs from person to person.  The same medicines do not work for all of us.  The issues of mental health recovery are very complex.  So, the “things” that have worked for me; might not work for you. This is why we need one another.  Corporately we have answers for one another as we encourage each other and share what “works” for us as individually in living well in spite of our bipolar disorder.  That’s why sometime ago a few of us started a website called “What I Did to Recover”.  (By the way, I know that the word “recover” can trip people up.  For me, the word “recover” simply means that I have taken back my life from the mood monster of bipolar and that I’m living well [i.e. life has purpose other than just coping] in spite of it.)

When you and I connect with one another we empower each other to live well in spite of any possible daily battles with our disorder.  Individually, no one of us all the answers.  But, together we have answers for one another.

It always concerns me when tragic violent events such as these senseless shootings happen and suddenly everyone is talking about mental illness/health; but over generalizing it, simplifying to the point where everyone is lumped together and it is all over simplified.   By doing this, the public is not even beginning to understand the complexities and challenges for each individual dealing with their particular life’s situation and experiences plus having a mental illness.

Some of us have only one diagnosis; bipolar disorder.  Others of us have the complexity of co-occurring disorders which some now are calling “complex” instead of co-occurring.  Just bipolar disorder in and of itself is enough to make life very complex at times. But, add on top of that a borderline personality disorder and now it’s even more complex.  As I watch friends of mine who have a personality disorder and lots of child trauma plus bipolar disorder, I have come to know that their struggle for wellness is compounded many times over as they strive to live well in spite several mental health issues.

Yet, I believe there are some general “living-well” principles that are true for most, if not all of us. I’d like to share a few of them.  This list is not exhaustive list but some of the “principles” that I believe may be universal to all us:

  1. In order to achieve some level of wellness in our lives you and I must be disciplined to do those things that move us toward wellness in our lives and keep us well. This is a choice.  As much as I hate to be disciplined, I choose to discipline myself daily in order to live well in spite of bipolar disorder. Choose to be disciplined it works.
  2. In order to live well, you and I need other people in our lives.  You and I are made for community.  Isolating will not help any of us to live well. If you have alienated all of the people in your life and are alone then I strongly encourage you to find seek out a certified peer support specialist and/or a peer led mental health support group and/or group therapy led by a professional therapist. You need other people.
  3. In order to live well, you and I must be committed some of the hardest work we will ever do in our lives. Living well in spite of bipolar plus any other issues you might face is HARD But, it’s worth it. But, it’s hard work that sometimes must be done moment by moment, day by day. Recovery is not for sissies! Commit to the hard work, no matter how hard the work gets.
  4. In order to live well, you and I must have hope about our future or we will give up. Hopelessness comes about when someone believes they have no future.  Choosing to believe that your life has purpose and meaning is key to overcoming hopelessness.

If you are a person of faith, then this is where your faith becomes key.  Faith gives hope because faith says that life, each life, has meaning and purpose.  Person of faith or not, your life is important.  Your life has meaning. Out of the pain and hurt of your life you have the power to empower others by just telling your story.  By telling your story to others who are also on this journey gives your life purpose.  That’s a future. And that gives hope.  Never give up. Each of us needs you. You hold some answers for some of us in our journey towards wellness. Choose to see the purpose in your life.

  1. In order to live well, you and I have to choose to look for the golden nuggets in the “poo-piles” of life. (Of course, there’s another way to spell “poo” but, I am going to stay with “poo”.) There’s a lot of “poo” in life. No one gets through life with out pain and brokenness to varying degrees. When you and I let go of our expectations of life it allows us to find the “gold nuggets”, the silver linings, even in the most difficult of times.  Part of doing this means that you and I must never loose our sense of human about how goofy life and others can be.  Choose to find the golden nuggets instead of wallowing in the poo.

So, I offer these five principles to wellness that I believe are some of the foundational principles to a life of wellness.  They are simple.  But, so very important and difficult to do at times.  I’d love to hear your input regarding them. And I would also love to hear from you about those things you have done and continue do that help you live well in spite of having bipolar disorder.  I encourage you take a look at and add to the list.  It’s easy to do, just send in what you do or have done and we will add to the list!

In the mean time, keep looking for those golden nuggets!

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