Welcome to Episode 3 of the Two of Me Podcast .
Join me with a cuppa or on your morning walk as I share how it’s possible to see a mental illness in a positive light by sharing the positives I experience with my bipolar. I talk about how considering the positives of a mental illness can improve our acceptance of it.
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Transcript Episode 3 – The Positives of Having Bipolar Disorder
You’re listening to the Two of Me podcast. Join me, Eva Lewis – a wife, mother, business owner, blogger, and woman with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder – as I discuss the highs and lows of juggling life with a mental illness.
Hi, everyone, it’s Eva here and welcome to episode three of the Two of Me podcast. And what a challenge it’s been to get here, I had an episode all recorded, I did all the talking, and my dog just barked and barked and barked like crazy through it. I thought I could edit it out but it just didn’t work and I gave up and I’m recording it again for you. So, that’s why it’s a little bit late in being published – but it’s still here.
So, thank you so much to everyone who has been listening to my episode since I launched two weeks ago. The podcast is now on all the major platforms, including Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, and it’s recently come on I Heart Radio, which seems to be a popular one for some of my listeners. And there’s a whole list of other ones, so if you check out my blog page on my website, which is in the show notes, you’ll be able to see the whole list. So, it’s very exciting!
How On Earth Could Bipolar Have Positives?
But today, I am talking about the positives of having bipolar. So, you might be screwing up your face going, “What?? How on earth could there be positives of having bipolar? Are you serious??”
Now, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder type two in 2017, I’ve been through an incredible amount of adversity. So, of course, there are many downsides to living with bipolar disorder, but I figured there’s no cure for it, so I have to look at the good side, see the good in it and look at how it shapes me as a person.
So, in this podcast episode, I thought I’d share some of the positives that I’ve learned to acknowledge and understand. And if you have a different mental illness, perhaps you might be able to connect with this and see how it relates to you.
Discovering Yourself and Empathy
So, since I was diagnosed, I’ve been seeing therapists every two weeks to a month. And because I’ve been engaging with them – with my psychiatrists and my psychologist – I’ve certainly become more self-aware because I’ve had to place my attention firmly on my moods, my triggers, and what triggered my moods, and my motivations, and what made me feel motivated. So, you could say I have been studying myself inside and out.
So, I found that very, very valuable in learning and understanding me. And, over the years, I’ve experienced the best days and I’ve experienced the worst days and so this has brought about heaps more empathy in my life because I feel as though I can empathize with more people and their experiences.
Never Short of Conversation Ice-Breakers
I also have some great conversation starters. So, looking back on some of the absurd things I’ve done while hypomanic makes me laugh, but it also makes me cringe. They make great stories that tend to captivate people and shock people – like when I bought a business… 1000s of dollars … when I was hypomanic, only to hate it when I came down from my hypomanic phase.
Finding Those Quality Friends
But I have learnt very quickly who my friends are. And this is a good thing – it’s a good thing and a bad thing. But it’s finding really, really good friends – and these are the ones that stick around through thick and thin. They’re the people who think I’m equally as awesome when I’m in my depression cycle as when I’m in my hypomanic cycle.
So, I have gone through quite a lot of grief in terms of, you know, friendships; putting myself out there, which is very hard for me to do, only to have who I thought were friends totally pull away from me, which was very heartbreaking. But I have learnt, and I’ve learned to really cling on to those true friends who loved me for who I am.
Experiencing Deep, Genuine Emotions
Now, I’m not sure if it’s because of my ultra self-awareness or not, but I’m completely tapped into every emotion I experience. So, I deeply feel each emotion. Perhaps you might call me an empath, I’m not really up on, like, being an empath. But I do feel everything and that’s something that I need to look into.
Epic Creativity and Motivation in Hypomania
Some of my best and most creative work has come while I’ve been hypomanic. So, for example, I’ve written 2000-word articles with absolute ease, and in no time, and they have resulted in really great work. And I’ve gone, “Wow, I actually wrote that!”. The amount of fantastic work I’ve churned out during my hypomanic periods has been incredible.
And it’s not work, it’s home stuff, but last month in January I actually decluttered half of my house while listening to Tupac – that’s what I was listening to – and I was singing, rapping, at a very loud level, which I think my neighbours probably heard, but I didn’t care. I totally decluttered the half of my house. The energy came out of nowhere, but it made me feel so good. So, that is definitely a positive.
Having a Voice – Mental Health Advocacy
One of the key positives, I think, to having bipolar disorder is that I realize what I’m going through, I am not the only one going through this, there are loads of other people who are going through it. AND loads of people who are going through it worse than I am, they, you know, have a challenging time with it.
So, I have been in a position of someone I’ve worked in digital marketing for the last eight, nine years. So, I’ve been in the position to be able to advocate for mental health through the digital sphere -through my blog and my podcast – and I see that as a really positive thing and being able to connect with people that way.
Conscious Noting – The Path to Finding The Positives of Mental Illness
So, you might be wondering, “Eva, so how on earth am I supposed to see the positive side of my mental illness?” – and I get it, because I’ve had days where I have not been able to see any positive at all.
It’s all-consuming, but there is a way and I really, really feel – and I’ve learnt this, this is not something that happens straight away – but I’ve learned that it helps to accept our illness for what it is. So, this tip that I’m going to share with you it’s called NOTING, and it’s from a blog post of mine called How To Develop a Positive Mindset. And I’ve included a link to it in the show notes, so you can read through it, because this is just a small part of it.
Negative feelings are your cue
So, negative feelings, they are usually your cue to start this noting process. So, even doing something like smiling or saying something nice when you get that cue, and you capture the fact that you’re having those negative feelings or negative thoughts. And that is your cue to go “Right, Eva, I am going to start smiling, I’m going to do something nice, because I know it’s going to make me feel better, it’s going to make me feel good.”
And you’ve got to remember that these negative events, they have nothing to do with you. The negative thoughts, they’re not real, they’re just thoughts made up by your mind. So, conscious noticing – or noting, as I call it – can be applied to pretty much every situation where you want to channel a positive mindset.
So, let’s say you want to start viewing the positive aspects of your mental illness, as I’ve been talking about. So, notice, when you respond to loathing in your mental illness, how does that actually make you feel? And what sensations are in your body that are associated with these feelings? Perhaps you get, like, a racing heart when you think about it, you get a tight chest, you might feel nauseous, and anxious and things like that. Just notice these things.
Take a step back and ask yourself…
..How could I perceive this situation differently and not assume the worst? So, for me, I took a step back to realize, well, there’s nothing I can do to stop my bipolar, there’s no cure, so I just have to do my best and look at the positives.
And then point three would be to consciously reframe your thoughts. For example, I listed the positives of my bipolar. So, I made a mental list. I’ve made physical lists. And as I do it, and as I go through these lists and remind myself, I see my bipolar in a completely new light.
Respond positively to the situation
So, every time I think about my bipolar, it’s really positive or a lot more positive than it was previously because, obviously, there’s gonna be days where there’s no way you can feel good. You’re in a bit of a hole and it’s just horrible. So, accept that and, you know, a good day will come. But accepting that it’s part of who you are is really important.
I find noting a great tool when I get recurrent negative self-talk or anxiety. Sometimes it doesn’t work straight away; it’s one of those things that does take a little practice, you know because your mind, your brain, it’s like a muscle and you have to keep working it out. But, with practice, you’ll start to become more aware of what triggers your negative thinking and then, when you’re more aware of that, you can catch that negative thought before it makes things worse. And when you catch that negative thought, that’s when you can start the noting process as well.
So, don’t get me wrong, there are negatives involved with bipolar and other mental illnesses. I’m not saying it’s all hunky-dory, but continually dwelling on them doesn’t do us any favours at all. We’re dwelling on things and thoughts that aren’t really real. They’re just in our heads.
Your Action Challenge
So, I challenge you to sit down and write a list of your mental illness’s positives. Maybe it might be that you … it’s allowed you to have a greater appreciation for life. Maybe you have become more spiritual after learning about your mental illness. Or perhaps you’ve got relationships that have really strengthened – whether that be with your partner or a friend.
Okay, so that is episode three for today. I did it with no barking dog! Thank you so much for listening. I hope it’s some food for thought for you and I really look forward to sharing another episode with you again next week. Take care!
Thanks for listening to the Two of Me podcast. I look forward to having you back listening to the next weekly episode, but for more content on mindset, mental health and wellbeing, check out my website – themultitaskingwoman.com .