Two anniversaries this week: Seven years here at HeathCentral and six years since the publication of my book, “Living Well With Depression and Bipolar Disorder.” Nothing has changed. Everything has changed.
It’s funny. If I were to update my book, I would make very few revisions. Years later, I stand fully behind it. Yet if I were to write a new book from scratch, it would be very different. What gives?
Back when I joined HealthCentral in 2005, my illness was my orientation, my very identity, even. It was as if my brain were a 12-step meeting and I was getting up and announcing, “I’m John and I’m bipolar.” On one hand, I was facing the beast I needed to be facing. On the other hand, it was a limiting thought.
Maybe you can guess where I am going with this: Simply managing our illness is not going to make us one hundred percent better, and thank heaven for that. The human condition is way too complex. I had an appreciation of this seven years ago, but my understanding is much deeper today. These days, I look at the bigger picture, from God to neurons.
“Knowledge is necessity,” has been my mission since Day One, but the emphasis has shifted from learning as much as we can to ruthless self-inquiry. Seven years ago, my condition seemed to explain my whole life. The pieces all seemed to fit nicely into place, that is, until the pieces no longer fit nicely into place.
Understanding my bipolar, in effect, only picked the lock to the first door. The others did not automatically spring open as a result.
So, are we “postbipolar” in the sense of being “postmodern”? Have we moved beyond labels? The brain science and the recovery movement are both pushing us in that direction. We know that the brain is not organized according to the DSM. We know that dealing with life is a lot more involved than simply managing our ups and downs.
We learn to pick more locks, open more doors. We gain new insight, new wisdom. We journey on ...
We come to that first door - again.
In the final analysis, we all know we are but one depression or one mania from wrecking our lives a second, third, fourth, eleventh time. Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed.
Many thanks to the community here at HealthCentral. You have been vital to my education and to my recovery. Here’s to seven more years together ...