What Recovery Looks Like (I Think)

If you’ve been following bpnurse for the past few weeks, you know that I’ve just started a job that is already challenging me to think WAY outside the box. The learning curve is steep and I’m having to unlearn a lot of what I picked up working in long-term care for so many years. Even the simplest things can no longer be automatically assumed to be the way they seem on the surface.

For example, some guy pulls out in front of me in traffic. Ordinarily, my first instinct is to cast aspersions on his ancestry and/or make unflattering comments on his lack of intellect; now, I analyze the situation. Then my thought process goes, “BPN, how do you know that guy is a brass-plated turd? Did you actually SEE a brass-plated turd sitting behind the wheel? No? Then presume that he just forgot to look and get on with it!”

It must be said that I’m getting progressively more nervous about the job. I fear that I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew, that I’ve overreached—again—and am going to drown in my own foolishness. It’s scary and exciting all at once, and the combination of those emotions has NEVER been a good one for me even though, like hypomania, it’s both intoxicating….and somewhat addictive.

I’ve said many times that I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but dammit, every time I fall on my face, I just get back up again and ask for more. And if that’s not the definition of an adrenaline junkie, what is?

Truth is, boredom is a fate worse than death, and I know I will NEVER be bored in this position. That’s why I’m going to fight, claw, scratch, whatever it takes to prove I can do it. I’m fully aware of the potential for crashing and burning, and I’ve heard that people do wash out of the program; but this is the second time in my whole life that I’ve had the intestinal fortitude to push through my fears and doubts and just do it anyway. The first was nursing school, when I almost quit in the fourth week and only the thought “If not this, then what?” saved me from making a catastrophic mistake.

And then, like the proverbial bolt out of the blue, it occurred to me this morning that only a few months ago, I’d have crumbled under this kind of pressure. I know. I’ve seen me do it. Over and over and over again.

I’m not crumbling. There will always be cracks from the falls I’ve taken, but I’m in one piece and somebody used a stronger glue to put me back together this last time. I seem to be better able to tolerate the uncertainties in my life—and there are a lot of them!—and I’ve finally developed some of the self-discipline that allows me to be less at the mercy of my illness.

I’m not denying its existence, nor the eternal vigilance it requires to keep flare-ups to a minimum. I got too big for my britches last fall when I was in remission, and that attitude was promptly (and forever) squelched by a one-two punch of mania followed immediately by a depressive episode. I know the reason I feel well now is I’m getting enough sleep, taking my meds on schedule, seeing my doctor regularly, and tending to my spiritual life.

I also know that I am most likely NOT going to go the rest of my life without having another mood swing, no matter how good the meds are or how strict I am about taking them. It will be terribly disappointing when it happens, but I’ll survive it. My record of getting through them is 100% thus far.

Best of all, I’ve somehow found the strength to push my limits again—only a little more gently this time—and refuse to let bipolar disorder dictate how I will live my life. No matter whether I make it in this job or not, I’ll always have the satisfaction of having had the courage to try. I came SO close to giving up on myself last year……now I know what they mean when they say “If you think you can, or think you can’t—you’re right”.

This is what recovery looks like, for me anyway. Long may it last!






Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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