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Not authorizing my illness into my life was like being blindly obsessed with uncovering the answer to the devil's chiding riddle: "How deep are you willing to dig to reach heaven?"
While meddling with this mystery all alone, I picked, shoveled, and burrowed until I plunged headfirst into the worst flaming inferno I could imagine. It wasn't until then, when the devil's spike shish kebabbed my heart and held it over the fire, that I finally began to see my own confusion and start to authorize myself as someone with an illness who needed to trust and receive help from those who loved me.
My incident, in purgatory's deepest barbeque pit, was a rejected proposal for marriage from the girl I loved. I don't know for sure if she said no because of the poor way I was handling my illness. I do know that before I left for Taiwan she had written dozens of notes and letters expressing deep and lasting love. Also, if her kisses were twenties, I was a millionaire. Once, she had even asked me how many children I would like in our family.
After my manic episodes in Taiwan and Montana all of these exploding expressions of love burned out and drifted away like silent wisps of gray smoke after the grand finale of a Fourth of July fireworks show.
After she said "I can't" on that devastating day, I finally stopped denying my illness and started authorizing it into my life. Telling myself I was fine and that everyone else had the problem was a front I couldn't fake anymore. My illness had charred my life's greatest goal and I couldn't hide the burn marks. From that point on, there was no denial of reality and I finally began to talk openly about my illness.
The thing that surprised me was when I started honestly talking to people about my illness, they responded with understanding, tolerance, and love. No one thought I was a fragile freak, or treated me like a whacked-out wimp. No one cracked crude jokes or spewed sour sarcasm behind my back.
As time went on and I spoke with high achievers and people I looked up to about my illness, it was amazing to discover that most of them either suffered from some type of mental illness themselves, or knew someone who did. When I saw how they were loved despite their dependence on pills or how they respected others despite mental illness, I thought that perhaps I could be dependant on medication and still be loved and respected, too.
With the caring assistance of those around me lifting me up out of the hole I had dug for so many years, I slowly started to realize authorizing bipolar disorder did not make me weak, unworthy, or weird. I learned it is okay, good, and even healthy to allow others to assist me when I couldn't help myself. People who loved me thought better of me when I asked for needed help than when I pretended to be perfect. The truth was that acting like I didn't have weakness or illness actually distanced me from others because I didn't seem real or genuine.
Authorizing bipolar disorder into my life was like yanking two-by-fours out of my eyes. It helped me to clearly see that everyone else also carries crosses. It allowed me to stop falling down and start climbing up. And it opened my soul so that others could come in to soothe my scalded heart, mend my mangled mind, and offer a helping hand.
Taking the blind leap-of-faith from the stepping-stone "Identify" to the eye opening "Authorize," allowed me to clearly see just how little I knew about my illness…and myself. Just like the time my fishing line tangled with the snagged up line of someone who had sliced his line and split, bipolar disorder and my personality had become interwoven, knotted and difficult to work with. Only close examination and clear understanding could help. Standing in the bipolar rapids, I could see the next stepping stone, "Understand," was big enough for me to sit down and start untangling myself and my illness.