As I drive through town I am struck by the beautiful colors of all of the flowers blooming. It is such a welcome sight after the long dreary winter we just experienced. I am interested in one bloom in particular that seems to be intertwined with the flowers. I believe it's called the white flag bloom; otherwise known as the invisible fence. It is that imaginary line on the property that the dog is absolutely forbidden to cross. If he attempts to cross it he is met with a shock that resonates throughout his body. It is hoped that this experience will be so unpleasant that after he has tried a few times to break the barrier he will finally surrender to the shocking experience and never attempt to cross it again. The experience will be so traumatizing that even when the flags disappear he will not dare to get close to the imaginary line.
So, it got me thinking. What’s my invisible fence? What’s my imaginary line that I have been so afraid to cross because of an earlier trauma? What 'shocking' experience is controlling my boundaries? It didn't take long to figure it out. I know exactly when I hit the invisible fence. I know because my body goes into a complete state of panic. It's the panic I first felt as a child and then again when my marriage ended, and then again when I realized I had created what I swore to defend against in my adulthood. It lives in my gut and in my chest. It's a feeling that brings me to my knees every time! That's my invisible fence. Here's the thing though, the flags are gone and the power has been turned off. I am free to cross the line any time I want. All I need is a little courage.
Funny the things you can learn on a beautiful spring day while driving through town. So, what's your invisible fence? Do you have the courage to cross it?
THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER. I SWEAR SHE’S BIPOLAR”
I cannot tell you how often I have heard this, how often people use the words bipolar and manic as though they were describing the weather. It has become a quick easy way to belittle someone; a means of standing in judgment of another and feeling superior. It usually gets more than just a few laughs.
A woman stressed out from trying too hard to manage marriage, work, and home comes into the office irritated and is short tempered with those around her. The next day after a good night sleep and some self-care she handles work as though she doesn’t have a care in the world. Such a change in attitude…she must be bipolar.
If only it was that simple. If being bipolar meant that on some days you were extremely happy and engaging and on other days you were a little irritated. If only……but it’s not.
Bipolar depression sets in like a heavy fog that robs your vision. All you are left with is what you can see within yourself; the vision of pain and sadness. It is not rational. It does not care who you are, where you live, or what you do for a living. Its only purpose is to trap you in a mind space of defeat leaving you powerless to move through the fog and into the sunlight. It is unlike ordinary sadness, it does not want to help you express loss, fear, or disappointment so that you can move into a new space of acceptance. It never wants to release you.
Bipolar mania picks you up like a tornado and throws you into the wind. It pretends to be your friend cajoling you to come along for the ride. It has no boundaries, no pause, and no reason. It keeps you moving so you don’t notice what a destructive force it is. Like the tornado, when it’s done with you it leaves you to repair the wreckage of your heart and soul. Mania is not the occasional exuberance you may feel on a beautiful day when everything is going great. It is the lie that tells you that you can do anything.
If people truly knew the pain of bipolar depression and bipolar mania maybe they would not be so inclined to use those terms to describe a person’s natural emotions and expression of self.