Since learning I have bipolar disorder I have come to the reluctant realization that progress doesn’t always occur on my timetable. In my mind I can see how things will be when I’m “all better” but every time I race towards recovery, I inevitably stumble. It’s like trying to run before you know how to crawl.
I force myself to be social and interact with my friends. I go out and immerse myself in their lives and their problems, shoving my own to the back burner and neglecting to address them. I am enraptured by their drama; Cancer, breakups, career changes, drug addictions, etc., and am consumed with the desire to make it better. And while I’m caught up in their stuff, I am almost purposefully ignoring my own issues. While I want to be that supportive, compassionate person, I need to realize the simple fact that I am just not ready. Not strong enough.
As I struggle to give them my all, I am slowly slipping backwards into the unforgiving abyss of depression. My moods darken, daily tasks become insurmountable and I withdraw. Before I hit my rock bottom I remind myself that I wasn’t ready. I assuage the impending guilt with the reassurance that my heart was in the right place; it just wasn’t the right time.
I’ve become aware of the fact that in order to slay the dragon of drama and unhappiness in my friends’ lives, I have to rescue myself completely. I need to be secure on solid ground with no chance of slipping before I offer my hand. That requires baby steps. Patience. I have learned that I need to show myself the same love and understanding that I have generally reserved for others. Master one step/level of recovery at a time before advancing to something else. My heart is strong but my mind is incredibly fragile. So while progress can be frustrating with its snail’s pace, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to get healthy and strong before attempting to be supportive or else we’ll end up in this vicious cycle of repetition. Remember, baby steps.