Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Freedom to Feel

Just over a year ago, I took an abnormal psychology class at my local community college. It was a very big deal to me. You see, I took the class over twenty years ago but dropped out of school before I could finish the course. Through the years, I have always had a strong desire to go back to school and retake the class. When my chance arose, I quickly grabbed the opportunity. I took the course with the same instructor. Although, I believe that I would have gotten a lot from the class if I took it when I was barely 20 years old, I know with all my heart, soul, and being that I have gotten more out of the course at THIS time of my life than I would have during THAT time. Everything happens for a reason. The life lessons that I have acquired in the years between those college experiences have been a blessing.

The diagnostic criteria and information that the psychological community understands about bipolar disorder has changed during those two decades. In that span of time, I have had the opportunity to gain more life experience. If I would have learned about the details of my disorder at that young age, I would not have had the insight and personal revelation to see the symptoms within myself. I am able look at my life and acknowledge the experiences that I have exhibited in my past through mature eyes. With my newfound insight, my past experiences take on a whole new meaning; because of that, my life has finally started to make sense.

Revisiting all the different stages of life in my mind, I have come to appreciate every manic phase. The creativity, euphoria, and having all my senses heightened; I feel all emotions deeply, I see things with brightness and clarity, wonderful smells are enhanced, I hear beauty in all the sounds that surround me, tastes and textures are amazing, the feeling of the sun on my face or the breeze from the wind are invigorating. Even the depressive lows hold significance. The powerful sadness, the gut-wrenching feeling from a good cry, and the extreme darkness I feel with such passion; it is an intense release to give in to those feelings as well. 
I would not be that same person I am today if I have never felt those experiences.Yes, I will be the first to admit that there is more to bipolar disorder than the pretty picture that I have described.My psychology instructor has a saying. “Your perception is your reality.” Even if my condition is considered to be abnormal, I see beauty in my experiences. I feel as if I have received a gift. Throughout my life, I enjoyed feeling all my emotions with such intensity. Through my eyes, I am normal.
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