Training Checklist: Plug the Leaks

In this last installment of the Bipolar Bad-Ass Training Checklist, let’s take a look at first aid.  If a warrior doesn’t use the time between battles to bind up the bullet holes and sword gouges, she won’t live to see the next fight.  Too much leakage.  With bipolars, it’s not so much a matter of blood and guts.  What leaks from us is chi, vital energy wasted through emotional spewing.

Just like blood loss, the lack of vital energy leaves a body weak, unable to perform, unable to develop the awareness required to manage the illness of bipolar disorder.  The illness itself generates strong emotion.  During episodes, I radiate depression, anxiety, anger, resentment and fear.  Between episodes, I’m still somewhat volatile.  I leak like a sieve.  Awareness helps me slow the waste of chi.  But awareness requires chi.  So, during the pause between episodes, I must use the time to staunch the flow and build up my reserves.

The most important thing I can do is look at how I waste my emotional energy.  How much do I worry and about what?  Where am I throwing up resistance against what is, fighting against reality or the inevitable?  Where is my anger coming from?  What thoughts of lack and want trigger feelings of loneliness and poverty?

I need to assess how I spend my time and with whom.  I recently volunteered to tutor high school kids, but I found the anxiety it created overwhelming.  I’m very attached to the notion of being productive in society, being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.  But, if I don’t let go of that attachment, I’ll continue to waste all my chi on that desire and have none left to manage my illness.  I simply cannot afford it.

All of us have a toxic relationship or two—someone in the family who is consistently critical or judgmental, a friend who never follows-through, a boss or co-worker who sabotages every effort.  I can spend a lot of time and energy fussing over relationships—wanting acceptance and love from people who can’t give it, trying to fix someone who neither needs nor wants my help, dodging barbs and criticism.

Sometimes reclaiming chi in relationships is a matter of inner work—addressing the issues that create feelings of inadequacy, desire and judgment.  But, sometimes reclaiming chi requires letting go of the relationship completely.  It may seem cold, but as a warrior with limited resources, I have to do it.

Other things that eat up vital energy are the habits and patterns in our lives that have become unconscious.  Where have I become rigid?  If I don’t make it to the Y by 7:00 every morning, I get irritated.  This is a waste of chi.  I’m attracted to men who are not attracted to me.  This is an old pattern that still operates unconsciously and burns up vital energy.  In order to reclaim this energy, we simply watch our reactions when a pattern emerges or our rigidity is threatened.  We observe the emotions that rise.  In this way the habits and patterns become known to us instead of hidden.  They lose energy that then comes back to us for use elsewhere.

Once I’ve plugged the leaks in my vital energy, I can better determine the best use of my chi.  What activities, relationships and commitments provide a return on my energetic investment?  What will fill my emotional well?  In Bipolar Bad-Ass terms, what will make me stronger in the coming battle?

This is the ultimate goal of training—to make us stronger, smarter, better equipped and better supported.  Becoming a Bipolar Bad-Ass requires a shift in perception from seeing ourselves as victims to acknowledging ourselves as the heroes we are.  The Quest we’ve been given is hard and long.  Along the way lies temptation and heartbreak, wounds we think will never heal, betrayal, and many nights lost in the wilderness.  But, a Bad-Ass rises up, spits the blood out of her mouth, and keeps going.

I’ll see you out there.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Josh
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 09:03:52


    Josh… 🙂


  2. Kitty
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 09:54:22

    This really struck me, “reclaiming chi in relationships is a matter of inner work.” I’m in the process of buying a house. This is the first time I’ve been ready, willing and able to do something of this magnitude alone… read: without a man. I tried to do this 5 years ago and all it took to stop me was having my father say, “You can’t do this. Why in the world would you even want to do this?” This time was different: I did all the research and house hunting and actually made an offer before I even told him. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to stand up to his criticism, but I was at least strong enough not to invite it in. That first offer didn’t go through, but the Gift had already been received. He never once said, “You shouldn’t do this.” He said he didn’t understand why I wanted to do it, but that he understood why I was doing what I so clearly wanted to do.” That was the end of the conversation. No chastising. No self-doubts planted or reinforced. And then I got it. He hadn’t changed; I had. In that 5 years, I had grown into a woman who could stand strong in her heart and state clearly what I was going to do. Not what I wished I could do or what I was afraid I couldn’t do. There were no “question marks” in me this time… so there was no weak spot for him to plant any doubt. I think it’s so important for us to notice when we change, notice when we do it right for ourselves. I needed to see that I had to change first. And once I did my inner work and took away my own doubts and fears, there was nothing to worry about in talking to him.


    • Sandy Sue
      Apr 26, 2011 @ 15:19:58

      I had to think about all you said a little while before responding. Firstly, I’m *thrilled* for you—for the Gift, for the house-hunting, for standing strong. Sooo much gold there. Secondly, you’re absolutely right about us marking the changes we make in our lives, the new and improved choices. We tend to concentrate on everything we *think* we do wrong and lose track of all that good stuff. Celebration is required.

      This third point is the one I I had to ponder awhile. If I were you, and I had done this wonderfully empowering thing, healed old thinking and acted from a different place, I’d be just as grateful and proud. But, I’d also know that I couldn’t maintain that state of wholeness around my dad. The strength and power I feel in one situation with him doesn’t carry over or build a foundation for the next. I’ve done my work around him for decades, and the best I can do is occasionally be in the place you described. Which is huge! But the emotional turmoil I’m in the rest of the time is just not worth the cost.


  3. Sherry
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 12:48:57

    I really should have read your blog before I sent you today’s email. You hit the nail on the head as far as dealing with some of the troubling people in our lives. I need to think on how to handle certain folk and not dispell all my chi energy. I had to sleep for 2 hours yesterday afternoon. Something to think about. Love you.


  4. Jess
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 09:35:01

    Your insight is wonderful! I’m glad you are able to articulate it for others to read, and I’m glad it’s working so well for you!

    Take care,


  5. Fiddle gal
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 00:07:30

    Lots of food for thought in this post. Thanks again for sharing.


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