By Emma Belle
When we are diagnosed with a Mental Health Condition it can become so very easy to blame all of our behaviours, symptoms, reactions and all of life’s problems etc on our diagnosis.
Since being diagnosed with Bipolar 10 years ago and owning my own baggage along with doing some serious unpacking, I have learned that blaming our mental health condition for everything actually makes it the scapegoat.
Receiving my diagnosis was a blessing in many ways as it explained so much of my past and why things had been the way they had been. It helped me to get the right specialised help and support to get me stable, so the correct diagnosis was vital to bring some stability to my life and health.
Once I was stable though, I still found myself in a cycle where I felt helpless like ‘this was just how life would be forever’. It wasn’t very empowering, to be honest it was disempowering and became so disheartening that I often found myself saying things like “so is this it then? Is this as good as it gets? I just have to take medication and deal with this condition forever?”
What I didn’t realise was I hadn’t even started scratched the surface. I needed to get real and start the work on learning about myself, my conditioning as well as my mental health condition.
Why did I think the way I did? Where had my beliefs really come from? Where did I get my teachings from? And who taught the people that taught me?
Some of my extreme reactions to life events were NOT to do with bipolar, they were to do with my lack of emotional education and the absence of modelled boundaries on how to keep myself physically, emotionally and mentally safe.
A good percentage of my behaviour was down to my conditioning, not my mental health condition. This doesn’t take away from the fact that I have Bipolar and that my condition needs to be respected, managed and looked after on a daily basis, but the diagnosis and treatment didn’t suddenly fix all of my conditioned behaviour. This was behaviour that I had learned throughout my life as a way to cope with situations I was never taught how to navigate healthily, as a way to keep myself safe, but had left me caged and misfiring often.
Another thing I have learned is that one can trigger the other. So something that triggers my emotional wounds through my conditioning, can really trigger my Mental Health Condition and send me in to a depressive phase or a hypomanic phase. Being in either one of these states of mood can re-trigger me to have feelings that bring up old emotions/self-talk that lead to me turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms that I learned as a result of my conditioning, which in turn worsens my mental health...
....I could go around and round here, but you get where I’m going with this.
If we want to get off the crazy merry go round and take charge of our Mental Health, really own it and become mentally wealthy we have to get to work on the whole picture, not just one part of us. In order to be mentally wealthy and balanced we need to tend to all parts of ourselves; our mental health, our childhood conditioning, our health, and nutrition, our self-talk, our environment, ALL OF IT!
I have built a robust tool kit over the last 10 years that brings me to balance. The skills and tools I learn are not something you just do for a week and then ‘we get back to normal’ or ‘get back to how things were before’, that isn’t how this works! We have to live in a way where we are so aware of our story, where we have come from and how that shows up for us in our present lives that we no longer live life walking around with our eyes shut.
I know that it’s possible to own our mental and emotional health and really be fulfilled and peaceful in this space, whilst taking full responsibility for ourselves rather than looking outwards for the answers all the time.