When I was stuck in the black hole of bipolar depression, I discovered the only way to improve my life. To heal, I had to allow myself to learn.
Healing & Personal Development
I’ve centered my life around healing and the work of personal development, which is really about discovering what you don’t know, for the purposes of helping yourself grow and become a happier, more confident, and effective version of yourself. There are many challenges we face, and bipolar can be a big condition to manage, but those of us who live with bipolar can learn new ways to effectively live our best life, too. We CAN learn.
Learning Is Empowering
They say, “never stop learning,” and, well, I believe this too—especially when it comes to living with mental health struggles. I know what it is like to feel completely disempowered by a brain-based disorder like bipolar, to completely underestimate myself and my abilities because of it, and I know too well the powerful feeling of being blocked by “I can’t.” It’s like repeatedly running into a brick wall.
But I can say I also believe in our human potential and that, individually, we do have the power to transform our biggest limitations into our greatest strengths. It was a difficult challenge for me to transform my past “I can’t” into a solid “can-do” attitude, but even this is something we all can learn. And operating with a “can-do” mindset actually makes bipolar and life easier because it reduces a lot of the resistance we tend to create in our own experiences.
Self-Doubt & Ruling Out Opportunities
We may doubt a lot about ourselves that we can actually do, but we should not doubt our ability to learn. First off, there are many people living with bipolar who are educated and have earned bachelor’s, master’s, even doctoral degrees. I know I used to do this; I tended to rule out achieving something before even considering the possibility of me being successful at it. This only hurt me in life, and it reflected my low self-esteem and low self-belief at the time.
Once I took on the project of personal development and growth, this was something I learned to stop doing. I learned to stop saying that certain opportunities weren’t for me when I started learning about everything it is that I didn’t know and that would help me to become a happier, more confident, and more effective version of myself.
Learning My Way Out of Bipolar Depression
Looking back to 11 years ago, I remember being so angry, hurt, and upset. I was stuck in this vicious cycle of feeling depressed, hopeless, and even suicida1. It was from this low, this rock bottom, that I eventually discovered that I could “learn my way out” of this black hole. In fact, learning new ways of living—of thinking, speaking, believing, and behaving—was really the only way out.
I taught myself what I didn’t know:
I taught myself how to get out of a bad headspace.
How did I manage all of this? I taught myself what I needed to know by reading books, searching for information online, listening to speakers, attending seminars, even reading memes!
And you know what? Even with depression, anxiety, and bipolar, I really had no problem learning new things, grasping different concepts, incorporating innovative ideas into my thought process, practicing unfamiliar solutions, adopting different ways of handling myself, and maintaining self-control and discipline. I had no problem learning or executing long-term personal-growth projects.
Setting My Mind for Success
My depression, anxiety, and bipolar did not stop me. Nothing got in my way of being able to learn for myself once my mind was set. I established a drive or desire within myself, and I was committed and determined to see it through. I even learned the habit of self-motivation, too!
It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always linear. And it definitely wasn’t instantaneous. But I was glad I stuck with it because I actually gained so much. Learning new things improved not only my mental well-being but also my life, overall.
Learning New Things Is an “Inside” Job—with Great Benefits
I share this with you to encourage you—anyone who seeks to improve themselves, their mental well-being, or their quality of life. Sometimes, we think of learning as something that exists or happens outside of ourselves—like a cooking class, tennis class, or dance lesson. Or wanting to learn to fly a plane, scuba dive, or make jewelry. There are so many hobbies or ways to occupy our time and mind that we may overlook directing ourselves inward and assessing our own needs, emotionally, psychologically, and also from a healing perspective.
It’s when we do this that we can help figure out what it is we need to learn, what it is that we don’t already know. And when you know what you need to learn, then you can learn how to do it, too, by making and taking on a commitment to yourself and your best life.
Because, I have found, anything we learn benefits us. Dedicating time, making the effort, following through with personal-development work … all of this benefits you and your life. It is good for building self-esteem, confidence, and a positive self-image. For me, personally, it has significantly reduced my manic episodes and deep bouts of depression, and it has brought inner peace to where there was once rage.
There are many benefits—emotionally, physically, and otherwise. All just from learning! Being open to it, and then doing it.
Debbie Jacobs is an advocate, writer, and healing specialist living in Alexandria, Virginia. She lived most of her adult life with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, and then was diagnosed with bipolar. She speaks out on how self-improvement is life improvement and believes we all can live happy lives by making positive changes to ourselves. Her influences are Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Les Brown, and Tony Robbins. She does positivity life coaching and is in the process of writing her first book on her healing process of accomplishing positive thinking, positive effective coping skills, and healthy self-esteem—what she calls “freedom and happiness.” She shares her work to motivate, inspire, and help others make positive changes to themselves for their freedom and happiness, too.
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