In 2003 when I met with my doctor of integrative medicine to see if I could finally get a handle on bipolarity, we had a great first meeting. As I've mentioned before, she asked good questions, she listened, and most of all, she saw no reason why I couldn't get well.
I knew I liked her and trusted her from the moment we met. It's an intuitive thing with me. But she confirmed my immediate impression by her behavior--the way she treated me as an equal, her willingness to learn about bipolarity, and her admission that while she wasn't a psychiatrist and had never treated anyone who suffered from bipolar disorder, she believed that illness is about a system that's out of balance, and she saw no good reason why we couldn't resolve things.
As the meeting progressed, my primary concern was whether she would take me as a patient. At the time, she was primarily a researcher and was only seeing patients on a limited basis. But, before I left she confirmed that she would handle my case.
A few months after I began working with her, I asked her a question that had been on my mind since our initial meeting. "How do you decide which people you'll treat?" I said.
"It depends on whether I feel I can help them," she answered.
"And what are the criteria?" I asked.
"The most important criterion is whether a person blames others for his or her illness," she said. "I'm not saying people create their illnesses. But in all my years of working with people, the ones I can't help are those who blame everyone else for all the bad things that have happened to them. They never accept personal responsibility for anything. Not only are they difficult to work with, but I've learned that they never change...even when they're dying."
My doctor's answered confirmed my own hypothesis, which is that I am my own best healer. At the time, it was a feeling I had, although I wasn't clear about the degree to which I believed it. Now, I think it's the critical component of my ability to heal.
I've always known that when the going gets tough, I can always count on myself. When I was so sick and so fearful of bipolarity--because I worried that other people's behavior could so stress me out that I'd get sick--I sometimes forgot about my inner strength.
But now I know that while there are people whom I don't choose to have in my life, or those whose behavior truly annoys me, it's not what they do that matters, but how I respond to what they do.
And the blamers will always blame. The people who have a thousand excuses for what they aren't doing, will continue to have their excuses. But those of us who understand our own power, and truly believe in ourselves, will get well because we know we deserve it!