I’m taking Jani Franck’s wonderful (and affordable) Creative Journaling e-course, Our second week of the month-long course focuses on gratitude. The Day 1 exercise was to list 3 people we’re grateful for. Mine grew to so many I was limited only by the size of my journal page! I’m so grateful for mentors/ guides/ teachers, friends, some of my family, and strangers becoming online friends! On Day 2 we listed or doodled about 3 possessions (My life is so abundant!). Day 3’s assignment will likely challenge most of the class, but I’ve done a lot of thinking about this already…and am extemely grateful to be on the other side of this four decades-long “hard life lesson”!
Day 3: This Hard Life Lesson–What I’ve Learned the Hard Way
It’s not hard for me to choose from the many possibilities of hard life lessons offered by my getting-to-be-quite-long life story (single parenting, Mom’s death too early in our beginning-to-resolve troubled relationship, chemical sensitivities, painful endings of too many relationships, “mistakes”, this loss, that loss, …). Because one huge challenge almost killed me (literally), and at many points I declared it had ruined my life. [Note passive voice here, yep, that old poor-me victim consciousness!]
“WHAT on Earth?” you ask.
“Bipolar II,” I answer. [“The dreaded” modifier implied and understood]
For this assignement, I’m going to do an art page, but I need the newly risen Sun to warm up this cold Winter day so I can set up my paints outdoors. This journal page will not be one of my signature colorfully cheery kid-marker doodles! I will do it with the darkest blue watercolor (acrylic being too shiny). Blue, color of the West and home of the emotions in my Medicine Wheel, dark because depression is “seen” as darkness in western culture. [Note to self: memorize name of this color! 2nd note to self: blog about Wisdom of the Dark.]
I’m imagining jaggedy, disorderly pokes at the page with the end of the largest square tipped brush, overlapping blotches covering a lot of the page, darkest on left side and bottom (representing my “foundation” of depression and my life extending a bit past “mid”life). Then some words of gratitude diagonal across the upper page, getting happier toward the top right, where I’ll paint the sun. Maybe I’ll paint the waxing crescent moon top left as well, for balance….and add glimmers of sunlight yellow down into/inside the jaggedy blue, because it was the hypomania that gave me courage to survive the depths.
[Not yet having achieved the artistic expertise to match my emerging identity as an artist, I may or may not post the painting here. It will for sure be on the course Facebook page where I feel safest to share].
I am grateful to my BiPolar II “disorder” for teaching me that quality of life is a totally subjective thing. That nothing stays the same forever. That there is always hope of something better after the hardest times. That healing IS possible! That even the most established cycles can be transformed. That “stability” is not static and boring, but more continuously joyous in a quieter way than hypomania’s unsustainable flights. That the overall effect of Lithium orotate, Equilib, and Traveling Light Discovery and Breakthrough processes is a marvelous “dynamic equilibrium” that is long-term sustainable with infinite possibilities for further healing on all levels. That there always IS hope, somewhere, somehow, that it’s okay to ask for and accept (and pay for) it. That choosing life was the right choice after all!
I’m also grateful to BiPolar II for giving me a doctor’s excuse to bail out of the oppressive academic science career world, where I never really fit, for living close to Nature at my own rhythms and inspiration, and for helping me become the strong person I am. Amazing things are possible when “survivors” become “thrivers”! I’m also grateful that the experience of this life-threatening illness, and its eventual healing, have given me the ability to become a healer in my “wisdom” years. Blessed Be!