Thursday, July 13, 2017
Guest Post - Patrick Roland - How My Bipolar Makes Me Sparkle Even More
Two years ago this past May, I found myself in the most frightening and dire predicament of my entire life: in a foreign city - Las Vegas of all places - I was to be hospitalized on a psychiatric hold (I prefer to say "Britney Speared" because it sounds more interesting-slash-fabulous) against my will.
I can still feel the terror and uncertainty of the moment. I can also still remember how numb and mostly dead from a several day drug and alcohol binge in Sin City I was as the sudden realization of the gravity of the situation overtook me and forced me to contemplate the direction I was going in my life.
Here I was 40-years-old. And standing on a ledge. Literally. I had just narrowly not jumped out of a window of the 26th floor of a prominent casino. My mother - who has dementia and who was in Phoenix totally unaware of where in Vegas I was I should point out - had somehow found me and stopped my dramatic post Mariah Carey concert suicide attempt and I was about to face the real music.
I'd like to say this was the first time I was in a situation like this, but stuff like this was becoming pretty normal for me in the months since my partner suddenly died in January 2014. It was almost a bi-annual occurrence if I'm being honest. Still, I was determined to make it my last. And soon I was given the diagnosis I needed to really make sobriety essential to my life.
In the very hospital that I was forced into at the rock bottom of my decent into drug addiction triggered by very real complicated grief, I was given the diagnosis I needed to set all my demons free.
I was told I was bi-polar.
I think the way it's supposed to go is that when you get diagnosed with a life-altering illness that you're supposed to be sad and go through a period of denial, bargaining, depression and anger - much like the grief process - with it. But that just wasn't the case with this diagnosis. I was overjoyed. I was happy. I was even excited.
You see, I finally had a name for everything about myself I intuitively knew to be true. And that made me feel a sense of relief that I hadn't ever felt in my entire troubled life. It also made me realize perhaps the most important thing of all: I could no longer put drugs and alcohol in my body that were only making me crazier. I had to take care of myself. Now my health and well-being actually depended on it. Suddenly I felt empowered. I decided to own this new truth about myself and make it work for me. And that meant I had to completely change my life. So I did.
In that hospital I decided I was a bi-polar, drug-addict, alcoholic widow. I figured that if I finally and ultimately owned all the bad parts of me, I would no longer be undone and ruined by them. And for the most part, I've found this to be true. I'm not saying I'm perfect or even not bipolar - because that never goes away and it's annoying when people think it's gone just because it has a name - but what I am is sober, happy and for the most part, healthy. That's something that I want to fight for. Because it feels good to know who and what I am and no one can ever take that away from me again. And this is coming from someone who was bullied and abused his entire life so that should prove how powerful this realization really is.
Owning who and what I am is the single greatest thing I have ever done. Because now that I am no longer ruled by fear and shame, I am able to bask in a new reality of self love and positive affirmation. The truth is for many years, I was afraid of you knowing all of these things I am, so I did everything in my power to mask them and hide from them. But I've learned through this whole journey that the very things in life you are the most afraid of are the very things that bring the most growth. And so, in not being afraid of who and what I am, I have been able to grow in to the man of purpose and power that I am today. In facing my fears, I have become the truest version of myself I ever have been. And that's a miracle no one can take from me.
My wish for people reading this is that the same will happen for you. I hope it happens before you are forced to like I was back in that hotel room in Vegas. But however it happens, know that who and what you are is not only beautiful, standing in that truth will help you sparkle brighter than you ever thought possible.
Patrick A. Roland is an award-winning journalist, author and editor with twenty-one years of mainstream media, specialty publication, corporate and public relations experience. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona and he celebrates his status as a bi-polar, drug addict, alcoholic widow because he is now sober, happy and healthy. He hopes that by sharing his experiences and strength with others, they will find hope in the way that he did.
Patrick's website is unpackedsparkle.com
You can find his book on Amazon: Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland