I had an epiphany last night while lying in bed with insomnia. My best ideas always come when I’m lying in bed. My idea? It’s that bipolar, to me, is like the movie ’50 First Dates’.
If you haven’t seen 50 First Dates, here’s a quick overview.
Henry (Adam Sandler) meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore). They get along swimmingly and finally, Henry things he’s met the woman of his dreams until, he discovers that she suffers from short-term memory loss due to an accident, and forgets him the next day. Henry has to try and win Lucy over every single day and makes a videotape to explain her accident and their relationship, and he plays it to her every day in the hope she will remember.
So how has this got anything to do with my bipolar?
No, I haven’t met anyone because I’m already married to my wonderful husband. But I do suffer short term memory loss thanks to my Bipolar. To live my truth, I need a lot of reminding.
You see, when I’m feeling good (normal) or the slightest bit hypomanic, I am the real me. I am confident, I am happy, I have decent self-esteem and self-worth, I am creative, and I am FAR less critical of myself and my life. BUT, when that switch flips over to my bipolar depression cycle, a cycle that can last around three months, I completely forget about all of that good stuff, it simply doesn’t exist anymore. Instead, I see myself and my life as the complete polar opposite for absolutely no reason, well, there is a reason and it’s because I have bipolar.
The reason the 50 First Dates movie popped into my mind was that I was thinking to myself, “How can I stop this from happening? How can I remind myself that I really am worthy, that my thoughts aren’t real?” I thought I could write a letter to myself in the hope that when I do eventually slip into my depressive cycle, a letter from the past ‘happy and confident’ Eva might trigger some positive thinking. Then I thought, “Heck, let’s not do an old school letter, let’s do the real deal so future me can really see what I have to say and how I’m feeling in the hope that it’ll be the trigger I need. Let’s do a video like Henry does for Lucy in 50 First Dates.”
So that was that, and here it is. I don’t know if it works yet, you know, helping me remember all the good stuff. I guess I’ll tell you later this year with an edit to this post.
Just be aware, this is a very raw and truthful video. It’s taken me a while to crack up the courage to post it. It’s personal but, I’m sharing it with you so you can see how much of an impact mental illness has, and, I hope it can act as a reminder about the negative mind.
Our minds are muscles
Since my diagnosis, I’ve come to appreciate how remarkable our minds are; they’re not just a big, unchanging mass. Our mindset can change, albeit slowly and with consistent effort. I’m working on it. Just like going to the gym to strengthen muscles over time, I’m doing my best to strengthen my mind, reminding myself of what is real and true and pulling myself back into the moment whenever I can. Reminders, affirmations, talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, positive quotes, practising gratitude, notes to me…some people dislike them. Still, for me and others with a mental illness, they are an exercise tool for the mind, they all help to reinforce and build stronger pathways, just liking lifting weights regularly. To me, they are what weights are to bodybuilding.
It’s obvious to me that when I’m happy and feeling good, I can take it for granted. As someone with a mental illness, I appreciate each day that I feel good and am not living through the depression hell. Don’t take your mental health for granted, look after it, savour it and when it’s good, be grateful for it and nurture it.