Trust. For most, trusting oneself seems pretty straightforward. You know your thoughts are valid and you feel safe to trust your gut instinct/inner voice. 

But what about when you have bipolar disorder and your moods have lead you to poor decision making in the past? What about when your instincts seemed so clear in the moment, only for you to discover after a big decision has been made, that it was done recklessly and in an unbalanced state? 

In my younger years, I felt like things just fell into place. I listened to my gut – often even relying mainly on instinct over facts – and things always turned out okay, or even great. (Granted, I had less to lose.) But that changed as I got older and my bipolar started to rear its head. I found myself making rash decisions – BIG decisions – that I’d soon grow to regret. Quitting jobs, selling houses, buying houses, getting pets, giving up pets, starting passion projects, giving up passion projects, and so on.

By the time I learned I had bipolar disorder II, I had years of poor decision making under my belt. (Of course, I didn’t ALWAYS make bad decisions, but often enough to spook me.) So I learned not to trust myself. I had made many life decisions in the throes of a bipolar hypomania or depression. I had listened to my inner voice that never used to steer me wrong, without realizing it had been compromised.

Now, with a multi-pronged approach including the right concoction of medication for 4 years and talk therapy, I’m learning I can and should trust my gut. When I’m medicated. But you know what’s shitty and great all at once? When I’m on the verge of a big decision and I know I have to look in the mirror and check myself – I ask, “Am I truly stable? Have I been consistent enough with my meds and other management tools lately?” 

On the one hand it sucks to doubt my instincts, but I’m also grateful for the self-awareness, and mostly the mental stability, to know that I need to check in. It’s a tricky thing because it’s during an imbalanced mood that I don’t have the wherewithal to check myself. So I’m grateful for those moments, as tough as they are to reckon with. 

All this to say, these days I’m working on trusting myself again. As we all are, I’m a work in progress. I’m curious, what are you working on?

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