It was 23rd of May, 2003 when the carpet was pulled from right under my feet. A Psychiatrist pronounced that I had the dreaded mental illness, Bipolar Disorder (a term I had not even heard of until then!). Hospitalised for a week and in the dumps months afterwards..
It has been twelve years since that day…What has been my journey like? Is it a nightmare that I would best like to forget and wish never happened in my life? On the contrary. I think that it (yes, this might shock you) might have been the best thing to happen to me at that stage.
Our darkest moments make us the strongest.
Until then I had not even imagined the extent of my own powers, and believe me, in order to keep bipolar at bay I needed all of them! For bipolar entailed chronic fatigue, irritability, focusing and memory issues, years of depression, lack of drive and absence of confidence- my cup of sorrow was overflowing.
I shall share in brief how I managed to firstly get out of the emotional, psychological and physical quagmire that I found myself in.
Acceptance was the key to the recovery process.
Denial is the biggest barrier between one struggling and the solution.
Discipline was the next step: like a workhorse, I adopted a new lifestyle that would facilitate recovery- Yoga, exercise, meditation and sensible eating. Of course, along with this I had to scale down my career goals to match my drastically reduced energy levels. Self belief and faith of course, are crucial in any journey as arduous as this and I mustered all that I could pull together.
Anybody who is a Bipolar would readily agree that medication has little impact on our mindset~ at the most, meds help regain our sanity, yet we must stick to the treatment as advised by the Doc. In order to regain a semblance of normalcy one has to strive much harder. This is where our ancient practices come in handy. Yoga helped me keep my mind focused and maintain my fitness.
The definitive change came from my shift in focus~ from struggling with bipolar to restoring wellness.
Science now supports the belief that Yoga and Meditation have immense benefits where wellness is concerned. This is especially so in case of mental illnesses where the mind has to brave great distress. I have had the benefit of having learnt meditation from spiritual Gurus of renown such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (The Art Of Living) and the teachers of Siddha Centres of Meditation. Decades of meditative practice helped me continue in the same vein even in times when the mind was in great turmoil.
To be honest, I practiced meditation daily because I simply fell in love with it. The benefits (not that I was aware of any at that time) were the icing on the cake. Recent research has proven that regular meditative practice can actually rewire the brain! I have in recent times become very interested in learning about neuroplasticity, that is the brain’s extraordinary ability to build new connections and neural pathways.
This is very exciting news for people like me because science also tells us that the prefrontal cortex and amygdala regions of the brains show abnormalities in cases of bipolars. Now, we can take hope from the knowledge that meditation can actually reverse this! Empowering thought indeed!
Physiology apart, how did I benefit from meditation? Meditation is the finest way to connect to our subconscious minds and it is also said that the subconscious mind is a reservoir of much more knowledge and wisdom than our conscious minds can even comprehend. I became privy to profound insights about myself and this made me a calmer, more compassionate human.
When I now think about spirituality, I think ‘introspection and meditation’. This process of learning, understanding and questioning made me much wiser and broadened my perspective of life. Along with my resilience, my equanimity increased too.
Amid all this, Bipolar now sulks in a corner craving for my attention!
Would all this have been possible without the terror of bipolar in my path?
Our greatest challenges transform us into who we are meant to be.
(This article was first posted by me on invitation by a very good friend and coach,
Malti Bhojwani, on her website~ thank you for the opportunity, Malti!)