This is the final article in, what’s turned out to be, a series on How Bipolar Disorder has Been Changed for Me. If you haven’t read the first three they are:
1. How Journaling has Changed Bipolar Disorder for Me
2. How Food has Changed Bipolar Disorder for Me
3. How Positive Thinking Changed Bipolar Disorder for Me
Journaling has given me the tools I need to gather important information. Healthy food and exercise have helped improve the physical part of me. Positive Thinking helped to make my mind healthy. However, being whole and healthy involves 3 aspects; body, mind, and soul. If any one of those is unhealthy, the whole package is flawed.
So What about the Soul?
Personally, I’m a strong Christian; but whatever your spiritual beliefs or practices, it directly affects your soul. Belief in a higher power helps us to realize that we are part of something larger. There is a place and a purpose for each one of us. No one is an accident; and we are each very loved by God. This kind of peace of mind can help mental health issues as much as medication, therapy, food, or exercise. Everyone longs to feel these things. It’s a basic human need.
Forgiveness is the Key
Forgiveness. Do you know the definition? I’m willing to bet that you believe you do. I know that because I believed it myself. The one biggest thing that has helped my state of mind the most is letting go of all the burdens that I was carrying. To let go, means to forgive; others, God, and myself. It wasn’t until I learned how to forgive that I realized I didn’t truly know the definition to start with. The dictionary defines it as 1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve. 2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
An Exercise in Letting Go
I figured out what forgiveness is all about during a counselling session. I was asked to write letters to each person (including myself) that I needed to forgive telling them that I forgive them and why. I didn’t send them. I didn’t need to in order to forgive. You see the most important point about forgiveness is that it’s a gift to yourself. It’s not something you do for the other person. Forgiving does not mean that you’re telling them what they did was OK. It does not mean that you suddenly have to go back to being best buds. What it means is that you are letting go, in your heart; the pain, anger, and frustration that the other person has caused you.
When I wrote the letters my counselor had me rip them up stating out loud that “I forgive ____ for ____” as I ripped. Then I tossed them into the trash. At first I wasn’t sure that ripping up paper was really going to alter my whole life; but it did. The symbolism of throwing out the problem and the hurtful person released the pain from my heart. As such the confusion and other ugly pictures were let go from my mind. I no longer carried the pain or bad memories. Granted I didn’t actually forget, but the memories are no longer painful or haunt me. In some cases I had to continue to forgive over and over for a while, but eventually all was gone. I even forgave my abusers. I can think about those people now and what happened and I no longer feel anger, hurt or frustration. The bad dreams have stopped. I feel lighter and at peace.
The final steps are faith in God, and to talk to Him (or your higher power) on a daily basis. God loves you. He wants you to be at peace with Him, others, and yourself. He wants us to be happy. What greater treatment do we need to help BPD than to be at peace?