I was only about 14 or 15 when I had to make a decision that would determine the kind of life I would lead. It came because of a comment my mother had made:
Nobody wants to be around someone who is depressed and crying all the time.
She did not realize the affect that it would have on me.
Living with Bip, the bipolar dragon, is not conducive to a quiet and organized mind. The constant and sudden mood swings. The whisperings of sadness and fear. The smothering darkness of depression.
The inability to control any of it creates feelings of overwhelming frustration, anger, and helplessness. This is why I cried so much.
I would not let the dragon in my head determine what kind of life I would have.
I would choose the life I wanted.
I would live that life to the fullest.
Easier Said Than Done
As Bip grew, he was harder to deal with. I knew I would never be able to control him. He was demanding, obstinate, moody, and stronger than me. Feelings of helplessness and anger grew as I realized this.
It is out of a desperate need for order that I became obsessive about schedules, routines, and organization.
Follow through became a compulsion as I struggled to meet the goals I had set for myself.
It was at this time in my life that I learned how organization could make a huge difference in how I approached life. If I knew what needed to be done at any given time, I could actually do it.
This is where I began my step-by-step lists, outlines, and schedules that would be the rope that guided me through the chaos caused by the dragon my head.
- The end goal was broken down into individual milestones.
- Each milestone was organized into a step-by-step map.
- Each step was broken down to a sequence of individual activities.
- The activities were written on a list of things to do with a date of completion.
Compulsive Follow Through
This is where thought and action met.
I became compulsive about completing my lists. As long as I stuck to the list and the due date I could complete any goal no matter what Bip’s mood was.
On days when Bip was out of control, I could shut down my brain and run on automatic pilot. It wasn’t conducive to doing my best but, at least things got done.
My Homework System
Using the developed obsessive-compulsive method, I created a study system. Each day I would look at my assignments and do three things:
- Separate them into categories according to due dates: immediate, short-term, and long-term.
- Break each assignment down into individual steps.
- Create a list of activities required to complete each step.
I would, of course, do all the work due the next day first. Then I would do one or two things on each short and long-term assignment’s check list. This kept me on track to meet my educational goals.
Not Conscious Thought
While the decision to live the life I wanted was a conscious and purposeful decision, the rest was not. Even though I would like to say that I worked this all out consciously and concisely. That would be a lie.
It developed slowly over time as I strove to live the life I chose.
As Bip grew in size and strength, I found ways to cope. Mom and I learned about depression and ways to counteract its effects. I learned about organization and how it could help me. I put what I learned into action with the help of family and friends.
It’s My Life
I have always chosen to live the life I wanted over the life of darkness that Bip wanted.
It has been hard.
It has taken all the mental, emotional, and physical energy I could muster.
I was always exhausted.
I have few regrets.