Bigger Picture

hand made card, collage art

Tomorrow I see my shrink for my annual review.  Since I’m not on medication anymore, we decided this once-a-year check-in was sufficient to keep me on as a patient.  In preparation, I’ve been looking back at the past year in relation to my mental health.

All I can say, is “Wow.”

I believe it to be a part of human nature to put one’s head down and focus on setting one foot in front of the other when times get rough.  Our view narrows to the immediate, the necessary and the loudest or most painful problem demanding attention.  When we watch where we step like this, it’s impossible to see either where we’ve been or where we’re going.  Not that I’m an advocate for living in the past or waiting for the future, but looking up once in a while can help us see where we are.

I’ve been so completely focused on how dysfunctional I am in the moment, that I’ve squeezed out the bigger picture.  When I consider this past year, I can see all the progress I’ve made—in setting goals and reaching them, in bettering my physical health, in developing new social networks, and in exploring my illness with new management tools.  I can see all the stressors, one after another, that I navigated and survived.  Most surprising, I can see a life taking shape out of all the experiments and false starts—the sum much greater than the individual parts.

I’m not sure what I’m feeling as I look at all this—humble and proud in equal measure, which seems fitting for a person with bipolar disorder.  I’ve worked hard and I’ve lived in Grace.  I’m not just jumping up and down like water on a hot skillet.  There is movement in my madness toward wellness and peace.  There is a gentle trajectory that is visible and real.

We all need to look up once in a while, especially if we’ve been slogging along for a long time.  That shift to a wider view, seeing the horizon on all sides, inspires a deep breath into the belly.  Here I am, we say.  Look how far I’ve come.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ManicMuses
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 08:05:03

    Oh, Sandy – you sure have come a long way. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about your successes when I am slogging through my own bipolar swamp. Congrats to a year well lived. Let us know how impressed your psychiatrist is with your progress 🙂

    Reply

  2. Moss Piglet
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 09:30:22

    In mental ‘Health’ we, every human being on this planet, are each unique.

    Not one of us has ‘Perfect’ mental wellness… and the ‘Names’ we give to types of mental illnesses are just pointers to help understand the nature of what we tend to experience.

    The biggest milestone for anyone who becomes mentally unwell enough to notice, or have others notice, is for that individual to begin to get to know the nature of their ‘illness’, start to accept it for what it is & how it tends to be…

    Once you start to understand something it becomes less scary, and you might even see the good bits about it, and prepare strategies to cope with the bad bits when and if they come along again.

    Reply

  3. Kitty
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 09:31:57

    Amen to that, Sister!

    Reply

  4. Evonda
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 14:35:29

    Lovely post. Last night my best friend told my sobbing self how far I’ve come, what I’m doing right, etc. I’ll read this post the next time I need a reality check.

    Congratulations on taking such good care of yourself!

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Oct 18, 2012 @ 15:15:05

      We forget. And we get near-sighted. Friends like yours are vital.

      Reply

      • docrob50
        Oct 18, 2012 @ 23:03:03

        as I read this post lovely metaphor of the chalk dust billowed up and out. We forget – damn it! We forget and fall back asleep. We forget the big picture or that there is a sky. We forget in spite of everything we each possess a noble heart. Bipolar or not we forget!

        Then we remember and for a moment or two we awake.

        A toast to chalk dust!

      • Sandy Sue
        Oct 19, 2012 @ 05:39:34

        Skoal! *cough*

  5. Sheryl Mae
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 18:28:05

    You did say you needed new glasses. Perhaps some rose-colored ones would help?

    Reply

  6. littlesundog
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 03:15:57

    I find comfort in reading your posts… your expression of the twists and turns of daily life, the struggles and the victories. I suppose in some way it helps to know I’m not alone, and by golly if YOU can plug along, day to day, then I can too! Nice post Sandy!

    Reply

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