Monday, February 16, 2015

Bipolar Runner: A Face Behind A Name

“Some seek the comfort of their therapist's office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.” 
― Dean KarnazesUltramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Today I had very thoughtful and meaningful conversations, which gives me courage to talk here about something that is important to me: mental health.

It was not a planned date*** but something that happened rather spontaneously.  

I needed help, and I could have skipped asking for help, and as always simply do things on my own - find a way.

But this year, I promised myself to reach out, even more than I started doing a year ago. Share "myself", "my life beyond the daily life" "my burden or what I perceive as such".

In other words let the load of (my) life lighten a bit by reaching out to others, who I love, I care for, admire and respect. "Let people be a part of the whole you!", I said to myself.

Even though I have discussed about mental health issues privately, and later on openly writing about it through (at the beginning) FB posts, and later on in my own public blogs (since I began writing anonymously 5 years before I started publishing public blogs), it remains a struggle to talk openly about it.

Somehow, I feel that since I've talked about it privately, and openly, there is a deadline, that I have to meet, that I would no longer talk about it OR when I do, that people will expect me to say, "It's gone! I am healed, and I am now living a life that is free from mental health issues and problems!"

Reality is, mental health issues are lifelong issues for many, some learn to live a life of quality inspite of it.  Others, well, sadly they give up after going through cycles and cycles of pain and shame.

My own "issues" have improved. Still, they remain ever present. I have learned to live better with them. I have now more wisdom to cope better. I have surrounded myself with people, who cares deeply about me, as I of them and they see beyond what the eyes cannot see.

I was diagnosed (in 2003) with bipolar disorder after yearsof repeated cycles of depression. (the cycles of depression began from 1994; although I begun feeling "strange", since I was 14).   Every time I share this to people, I know for a long time, they say the same thing, "I would not have known."

Having a name for what prevents you from having a stable life, does make a difference.

It gives you the opportunity to "reveal" parts of the struggle without having to tell your whole story.

You have a name, that gives you hope, that there would be cure for it, and eventually you will be free from it.

You have a name to share with others, who are going through the same. A name you can say, and you can recognize and nod understandingly, "Yes, I know your battles. You are not alone."

Between the diagnosis and the acceptance that you have something that you will perhaps have to deal with the rest of you life, are strings of broken relationships, disappointments, sadness, anger, frustration. Eventually, in time comes: self-discovery, self-acceptance and yes, LOTS of meaningful encounters, that matters & changes your life for the better.

Why do I share my story?

Well, it is for a random reader out there, who has no words, who feels she/he has to keep silent, has to keep it a secret that it takes her/him more effort than others to deal with life.

I write this for you. YOU are not alone. There is hope, there is healing and there is acceptance.

The only thing you have to do? Never give up.

(EDIT 24.03.15 : I read this article yesterday @ Tiny Buddha (What To Do When You're in Pain and Need Help),  and thought I would write a blog today about what I thought after reading this article.  Since I am not sure if I could, I thought I will edit the link to the article for now, so I won't forget about it. I thought it fitting to add it to this blog.)

(EDIT 24.0315:
A P.S. to this blog...
Spontaneous interaction*** - unfathomable but true, I almost forgot that I wrote this blog! It was while I deliberated what I will do with the link I edited above that it occurred to me I wrote a blog with the message about reaching out, when ones needs help.

It took me a minute to remember, who I had spent an obviously great  talk with because it lasted 3 hours, which is a shame, so I thought I will add a P.S. to this blog not only for the reader but for me as well.

Let me just add that the reason I often leave out the name of the people I meet is because I am not always confident of how they would feel about my blogs.  Even though often, I do asked in advance if I could mention their names, or even add their photos.

The lovely people I spent hours of inspiring talk are  mom and daughter originally from South Africa. I met the daughter 2 years ago because her child were in the same kindergarden class as our youngest.  They're both Dutch; the mom still reside there while the daughter moved here during her studies.

I have became friends with the daughter even though we rarely spend time together.  When we do the meetings are always heartfelt, and I consider her a lovely person.

She'll be climbing Alpe d'Huez for a good cause, in support of finding cure and treatment for cancer.

I hope this lends a bit more clarity to this blog post.)

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If I can run, so can you: big dreams are reached with baby steps!