Going Deeper into Bad-Assery

handmade greeting cards, collage artBy definition, a spiritual practice is never finished.  There’s no timeline, no stopping point, no date on the calendar that can be X’ed out.  The practice itself is the point—to keep returning to whatever activity was chosen to exercise mindfulness.  To keep using what is set before us in order to go deeper.

So, as a spiritual practice, bipolar disorder rocks.

For a couple of years now, I’ve seriously engaged my mental illness as practice.  I’ve tried to map the funky mental landscape.  I’ve gathered information from research and from my own experience to make changes in my routine and perceptions.  I’ve envisioned myself a warrior, doing battle with the vagaries of the illness.  A Bipolar Bad-Ass.

And now there’s a call to go deeper.

There’s no more data to gather, no more analysis to be done.  All that information is part of me now.  What’s called from me now is a deeper acceptance of the illness and my life as it is.  Always in the back of my mind, I held the belief that if I worked hard enough, stayed awake, fought my compulsions, slashed the delusions when they attacked, I would find peace.  Someday, I would get well.

In holding out for Someday, I skipped Today—which was deliberate, because Today is horrifying.  But, I’m called to embrace it.  All of it.  The poverty, the obesity, the solitude and the madness as well as my creativity and skills, the small pleasures and joys.  There’s a shift in the Bad-Ass from screaming in battle to something quieter.  I don’t know who she is yet, but I can feel her emerging.

Part of her Call is to be present to the Discomfort (once I pull away the drama and suffering, this is the word that fits best).  Discomfort drives the compulsions, attaches to the distorted thinking, flails and panics.  Discomfort underlies poor choices.  It warps reality.

But, it’s just Discomfort.  Greater or lesser degrees of it will travel with me the rest of my life.  My Constant Companion.  So, the next phase of Bad-Assery seems to include becoming comfortable with the Discomfort.  This feels like a koan, a riddle with no solution.  But, that’s also part of practice—holding a question for the sake of holding it.

Maybe this is part of my Bad-Ass’ journey—to set down the sword.  I can’t imagine it yet.

So, I’ll try to just sit with that discomfort.

I’m on an Adventure.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Littlesundog
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 08:39:31

    Goodness Sandy… this really made me think about my own discomfort. I never thought of becoming comfortable with discomfort. It’s certainly worth exploring. Perhaps instead of wearing myself out in this battle, the answer does lie in acceptance. I marvel at your words in this post. I find myself inspired to look at my situation and try a new angle. If I was really listening and observing the wildlife I so often spend time with, I might have gotten the message… noticed the resilience of acceptance in nature.


    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 01, 2013 @ 18:00:08

      I’ve discovered that a lot of what I need to do flies in the face of most self-help/pop psychology about ‘following your gut.’ My gut is delusional, but that’s another post…


  2. Kitty
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 09:26:38

    This piece rocks!

    I went to bed last night and asked for a dream or a sign. I had the faintest notion that I got one in the Garth Brooks song I woke up singing in my head… “I do this so this world will know it will not change me.” That is a call to Bad-Ass for me… the kind of words I look for when I need a swift kick in the pants. So I woke up inspired, but still a little vague.

    I debated reading your blog today because I really needed to get to my writing and if I’m not careful e-mail can keep me endlessly distracted. So I promised myself that yours would be the last e-mail I would read this morning. And shazamm! Your blog post is the sign I asked for! (Isn’t it amazing how that happens.)

    So thank you. I’ll fill you in on the details later.

    Oh, and… This piece rocks for you too, of course! What an amazing place to be. You taught me many years ago about “holding the tension” and your use of the word “discomfort” reminds me of that teaching.

    Journey on, Sister.


  3. docrob50
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 09:59:55

    sits down beside you – hands you half a PBJ sandwich and points to water and a bit of orange……..for the journey….we are both travelers


  4. Cat
    Feb 02, 2013 @ 12:53:11

    And know in your heart, mind and soul….SS….that you DO NOT travel alone!!


  5. Kathryn McCullough
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 16:04:27

    God, Sandy, I needed this post today! Love this meditation on bipolar disorder as spiritual practice. Thanks for saying it for me–for articulating something I know deeply—-but didn’t–at the same time, if that makes any sense.

    Life is crazy now, getting ready to move. I’m thankful I found a minute to stop by and read this!

    Blessings to you in your practice! And, as always, hugs, as well!



  6. Chemhero
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 19:07:51

    After reading your entire blog in three days, I have to say Thank you! Your niece suggested it to me after a rough few days. I’ve been inspired to start a journal of my own and to not let my own struggles keep me down. I’ve been wondering what the hell has been wrong with me since 6th grade (I’m now 19) and I may have a hunch. It’s too quick to assume, but I wouldn’t have had any guesses without your detailed adventures and your life saving niece.


    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 04, 2013 @ 05:38:53

      Meghan is a super-hero, that is so true. It might be time to start seeing a therapist, and then a psychiatrist. Most people do respond well to medications–it’s just a long road to find the right one or ones that will smooth out the highs and lows. I know this is a lot to wrap your brain around, but there’s love and support all around. You’re not alone.


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