By Tim Reside
The SUPER POWER by which I continue to survive and resiliently thrive is the daily choice to live transparently vulnerable. My SECRET WEAPONS are acceptance and surrender (not capitulation). These proactive weapons give me leverage.
I live with a brain abnormality that periodically distorts my perceptions and thinking, dramatically affects my moods, and has often pushed me to uncharacteristic behaviors that confuse family, friends, and me. I have bipolar disorder and have lived with it since 1979.
Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, a leading authority and herself a diagnosed bipolar, writes that bipolar illness “encompasses the extremes of human experience. Thinking can range from florid psychosis, or ‘madness,’ to patterns of unusually clear, fast, and creative associations, to retardation [slowing down] so profound that no meaningful activity can occur.” That quote well describes my experience.
As long as I resisted acknowledging the presence of bipolar disorder in my life, it persisted in destructively getting the upper hand. When I finally owned my need for help—asked, sought, and knocked on doors looking for it—help showed up, and hope rekindled.
I find my leverage by accepting the facts while simultaneously surrendering to the ultimate truth that at the deepest level of my being I am whole—and wholeness feels like love, healing, and purposeful existence.
I am free of the need to deny this body weakness. I have learned that it can be managed to a certain advantage. I need not hide. I am free to affirm my strength and its ultimate Source. I am free to move from strength to strength even as I responsibly monitor and manage symptoms.
I consider myself a recovering bipolar because I embrace healing-recovery as a proactive lifestyle of response. I know there will be times of relapse when I need extra help but continuing to “get back up” is itself a part of what nurtures resiliency.
While the disease is incurable, it is treatable. I effectively compensate for the effects of this brain anomaly by staying faithful to spiritual practices, treatment protocols, taking my daily medications, and practicing therapeutically beneficial coping methods.
By grace, I am able to manage the disease rather than let it manage me.
“I will praise You, my God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. … Your strength is made perfect in weakness … when I am weak, then I am strong” (Psalm 139:14; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Meghan Caughey writes that we are inherently whole at the deepest level of our being, and the path to wellness is the journey of discovering and expressing this wholeness. Our deep wholeness can guide us in making choices about what we need to be well. This intuitive sense is powerful when combined with all of the available resources and information to help us make informed choices.”
Quote Source: The Wellness Model: Supporting Whole-Person Recovery by Meghan Caughey, MA, MFA
TIM RESIDE is the President of Bright Tomorrows. Tim has completed 108 credit hours of study in Practical Theology, inclusive of 36 hours at the doctoral level, and holds an MA in Practical Theology. Tim has been successfully coping with and overcoming bipolar illness since 1979.