The following is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir, BrainStorm: From Broken to Blessed on the Bipolar Spectrum.
Here’s what it’s like for those of us on the bipolar spectrum. Imagine you wake up every day with an excruciating, immobilizing headache. Your limbs are too heavy to lift you from your bed. The winds are whipping freezing, icy rain. You’re cold, hungry and thirsty, but you have no food or water. You’re chilled to your core.
Now imagine all that lifts. Your headache gone, your limbs loose and agile. The sun is out and there’s a balmy, gentle breeze. You have fresh ample water to drink and organic greens from your garden to nourish you.
And what happens, when you’ve emerged from that wind-whipping storm into the bird-chirping spring? Gratitude in abundance. Gratitude like a flowing stream. Gratitude that warms your heart and overflows to all those around you.
When colleagues were surprised at my good cheer in the 2020 Covid times, (mindful that my attitude is colored by my extreme privilege to live free and safe with food and water and family that I love) and asked me why I’m so happy, I explain how the threat of Covid is a walk in the park compared to what my brain has done to me. My brain free and clear? It’s a glorious day.
This gratitude, perhaps like the virus, seems to be highly contagious. And that’s a good thing. Gratitude is a mood lifter, a force that reorients us to the mystery, wonder, and awe of creation. No wonder that so many spiritual practices begin the day with thanks. The one I know and practice is renewal Judaism, where the whole morning prayer sequence is basically thank you, thank you, thank you, wow! Did I remember to say thank you? The prayers are an ancient technology that tell us that this is how we need to begin our days. And when my brain is good, that’s easy. An abundance of gratitude born of bipolar II. Did I ever think I’d say “thank you” for that?