Day 37 (Saturday 6th January 2018)
It is my late grandmother's birthday today. I hope I can find a few snowdrops in the garden as a posy to commemorate her (although her favourite flowers were Lilies of the valley that flower a little later in the year). It's the first weekend of January - I hope you find some time for peace and contemplation after the chaos of the past few weeks. Today's excellent post deserves reflection - as you will understand once you have read it. Some of the most engaging and inspirational people that I have had the pleasure of working with are similar to today's author. I count myself as privileged for being able to spend time with them and we achieved some amazing things (and I learned a lot).
Today's post is a brave and guileless piece by Sara Duxbury; she wants to share her story in the hope that it will help others. She has also decided not to be anonymous. Sara is a business psychologist and highly capable coach, working for Carter Corson based in Wilmslow. I first got to know Sara via Twitter (her handle is @SaraJDux). She has a fabulous sense of humour and is highly intelligent and perspicacious - fiercely passionate, honest and commercial. She is genuinely a joy to spend time with and she will make you think. She describes herself as a "northern southerner". She commenced her career in retail and continues to demonstrate edge and flair with a genuine understanding of the importance of customer service.
Sara selected her own illustrations for her piece.
What if there is only darkness and dawn? #mystory
When I saw this year’s Advent blog theme was darkness and dawn, and reading the other blogs so far talking about journeying between the two, it struck a chord with me. I am bipolar. So for me there is only darkness and dawn, black and white. I don’t understand what the grey middle looks like. I have no idea, because my brain literally doesn’t work like that.
I have actually never said it out loud before. I think it’s because I don’t want to be labelled as being bipolar, and really I think I didn’t want to label myself. But I think it’s time I came out.
I was always an emotional child. I remember one time after my cousin came to visit for the weekend, I told my mum I’d rather the whole weekend had never happened at all, than deal with the despair at seeing her go home. Any time I got really excited, a low and a stinking headache would follow. My teenage years were spent either being ecstatically happy in my friendships and relationships, or sitting alone in my bedroom, obsessing and crying to sad songs. Getting older I remember my bipolar really coming into its own after my boyfriend committed suicide when I was 20 years old, dealing with everything that came with that only cemented my view of the world as ‘black and white’. My ups and downs became more pronounced. Fast-forward and I remember my husband dreading coming home from work if I’d had a day off on my own, he wouldn’t know if the Sara he left in the morning would be on cloud-9, or in a raging depression.
The medical definition of bipolar as according to the NHS is “Bipolar is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of depression, feeling very low and lethargic, and mania, feeling very high and overactive.
For me, it plays out like this:
I am the life and soul. Drop me cold into a room of strangers and I will make friends for life. I will make you feel at ease, I will make you laugh and I will drag you up onto the dance floor first.
My enthusiasm and passion is infectious, I will inspire you to believe in me and what I do. You will admire my drive and my ability to make a difference, you will want me as a leader in your business.
I am hard to be friends with. I am intense. I will expect a lot from you, but then I’ll shut you out. You might even think that sometimes I love you. I’m sorry, it’s just how I am with people.
I will trust you, from the first time I meet you. I will tell you anything and everything about me, believing that you will never use it against me. And I am always surprised if you do.
I’m impulsive. I always look for the adventure, and if there are consequences I won’t consider them, even if It might hurt you.
I have been in debt my entire adult life. I have no concept of money, it’s embarrassing. If I want it, I buy it. Even if I don’t know why I’m buying it.
I have woken up in the morning and wondered how the hell I will leave the house. I try, sometimes it’s ok, sometimes I have considered driving my car into the central reservation.
So would I rather I was in the middle? No. I would rather be me than you (no offence). My dawns and darknesses make me, me, and I think I am a pretty awesome person. I love my life and my work and I might even change the world one day. Even though my brain fights me daily, I know that I bring joy to people who meet and know me, I know I make them smile, and I know I make a difference by what I do. If that means I have to battle forever in the darkness too, then I’ll take it.
My biggest fear is that by sharing my story, you will judge my behaviour by that bipolar label. If you don’t like something I do, you can just blame the bipolar. You can put me in that tidy box. Well, you won’t have heard me do that in 33 years, so I am hoping you don’t start.
My biggest hope is that by sharing my story, you who are sitting there battling on both sides, or you managing someone with mental health struggles. Look at me and see you CAN be the best version of you, be DAMN good at what you do, and be a bit bat-shit crazy :)