Monday, May 28, 2007

The Quaker Way (Part 3)

An old friend who's known me for years emailed me to say that she was sure I was attracted to the Quaker Way because of the bonnets. Well, the fact is that I am a "hat" person but I had to laugh. Actually, the Quaker philosophy is new to me and is certainly something I plan to explore further--with or without a bonnet.

The fact is that the more I thought about Parker J. Palmer's discussion with Friend elder Ruth, the more interesting I found it. What if...the bipolar "limitation" isn't a limitation at all but rather a potential?

Marja from Roller Coaster and I probably agree on this (see her comment from my earlier post). What I mean is that for years I was proud of myself for persevering despite adversity. And I believe that one of the main reasons I felt this illness was an adversity--in addition to the psychic pain of the depressions--was because of its stigma.

But what if being bipolar truly isn't a bad thing? What if God chooses us for this illness because we're more sensitive than other people? More moral? More creative? More insightful? More spiritual?

What if being bipolar isn't a weakness but a strength? We feel things more deeply because that's truly the normal way to respond to life. We change jobs more frequently because who in his or her right mind would choose to keep the same job for a lifetime? We are more passionate about things and conversely lose interest in them because when your emotions are more intense it makes sense that you can't sustain them forever?

What if...being bipolar is a gift from God rather than a curse? Perhaps, the limitations we perceive are truly potentials if only we change our orientation?

And if God would sweeten the pot by providing every bipolar woman with a bonnet and every bipolar man with a hat, then perhaps in the future being bipolar might be considered an honor and a privilege. It sure is something to think about!

P.S. Dootz from SurfCountry suggests that perhaps part of the problem is that the American Psychiatric Association has labeled it a disorder. But what if it was called something else? He suggests Supra-Passionate? Maybe we all need to play the "name game" and come up with a new name that stops dwelling on our limitations and celebrates our strengths and potentials?


marja said...

Beautiful!! You're right on, Susan. I for one am thankful for how God made me. I don't regret any of the hardships. They were painful - and I wouldn't ask for more, though I know more will come - but it's all part of the deal. How can we feel great joy if we don't know what great pain is? I've come to think of the pain as fodder, something I can make use of to help others. I learn from the pain. Pain transforms me a bit more, every time I go through it. Pain refines a person.

And what would this world be if it weren't for some very great, creative people who were bipolar. Handel, Abe Lincoln, and - I believe - Winston Churchill, and so many others. I believe that the psalmist David might very well have been bipolar as well. And the Bible refers to him as "a man after God's own heart."

But I don't know if God chose me to be bipolar because I'm creative or spiritual. Rather, I think the bipolar came first and the creativity and spirituality followed as a result.

I'll have to look up Palmer's books. You've got me curious about him now.

"Dootz" said...

I definitely think bipolar is a gift, not a "disorder" - sadly, its name was given as an APA designation.

Perhaps we should rename it as Supra-Passionate or something like that. Seems we have emotions and spiritual lives that are on transmitter-steroids, but when channeled correctly, can be used for amazingly good things.

Good perspective, Susan.


Anonymous said...

Yayayayay! I recently discovered that I am bipolar and I am having a very difficult time making peace with my diagnosis. I've been trying to reframe it in a way that makes sense to me, that makes bipolar disorder less of an intrusive invader and more of a presence. I am so grateful that I came upon your blog. You've made me proud to be who I am.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Anonymous,
I hope you come back to this section and read my response. I've got to tell you that the label is ridiculous. If you had cancer, no one would label you the Cancer Vixen or whatever.

Realize that there aren't a lot of positive blogs on the topic even though I include a list on my blogroll. (It's just kind of a reciprocal thing for the people who read me.) So, don't freak out when you read all the negative stuff.

I believe this illness can be contained. Whether or not it is biochemical, there are plenty of ways to stabilize yourself--using medication in conjunction with counseling, and alternative medicine options.

I'm developed a broad stroke wellness program and will soon be seeking a team of people to help me implement it.

Best of luck!