I think a common theme popping up in those of us with Bipolar (and probably depression, anxiety, OCD and Borderline Personality Disorder too) is that we’re really tough on ourselves and seem to set way higher standards for ourselves than others. We’re also damn mean to ourselves: you wouldn’t tell your best friend she had a fat butt and looked damn ugly! OK, I’m sure we do this unconsciously, but maybe we could become more aware of it and challenge it a bit.
Today I got all geared up to take Cassie out for a walk. We set out on our usual route and within the first 5 minutes it began tipping down with rain. We were totally drenched so I decided to take her back and walk her later.
When we got home, my partner made a joke saying sarcastically- “that was a long walk then”. He meant it in a harmless way. But my immediate reaction was hostile, I felt really annoyed by it. It had pushed a sensitive button!
So that got me thinking, why should a seemingly good-humoured dig offend me so much? Then I realised I had already been chastising myself for not carrying on the walk: you’re so lazy, you give up so easily, you’re so stupid!
What?! Where did that last comment come from?! Stupid?!
Anyway, it dawned on me I was so sensitive to my partner’s remark because I was already beating myself up. So his comment just lit the fuse I’d already set up for myself.
Why are we so harsh on ourselves?
The obvious answer would be that was how our parents treated themselves and maybe us, so it has become an ingrained, learned behaviour. We see how others act and copy, simple as. That’s part of how a kid learns. We think this is the norm.
But it’s not the norm, and never should be. We wouldn’t treat ANYONE else in this way! (Well maybe some would, but hopefully not).
To a small child, a harsh adult can bring us to feel that we are despicable and the lowest of the low.
Why do we continue to be harsh once we’ve realised we’re doing it?
But even when I questioned the thoughts that I was lazy and stupid, I still felt resistance to the more caring voice that said: it doesn’t matter, I can just take her out later. Not many people would walk their dog when it’s absolutely pouring with rain.
The inner bully just wouldn’t accept it and would begin its tirade over again. I’m ugly, I don’t deserve kindness, I’m scum.
Why do I feel so inherently evil inside? Why such resistance to a more compassionate voice? Do I think I don’t deserve such gentle treatment? Do I really think I’m so incredibly rotten at my core?
Going through the torment of Bipolar, you experience the utter hell that can be present in a human being. I think because we have seen that horror in ourselves, we believe that deep down, we really ARE that horrific.
I think every human being has the potential to live life at either end of the scale of great love or great evil. But in terms of Bipolar, maybe we SEE that capacity in ourselves, where others don’t? Through insecure, inconsistent parenting we have been shown how awful we can be, or how wonderful.
Now in Bipolar the pattern continues as adults, but is exacerbated: we see how great we could be (Mania) or how utterly inhuman (Depression). We don’t just see it, we experience how this would feel in terms of the way we think, feel, behave and JUDGE ourselves. We judge ourselves as despicable in depression and as superhumanly amazing in mania.
The Inner Bully as our Protection from Depravity
Maybe experiencing the depths of human depravity we apply our morals as “decent” citizens, seeing the potential we have for chaos of the worst kind, so keep our harsh judgements in order to control what we see as our innate potential for evil.
To us these harsh judgements help to keep our “depravity” in check. We see them as absolutely essential in keeping us from ACTING out any horrendous thoughts. If I chastise myself for raging at someone, it is because I FEAR my behaviour. It is out of control, it could get worse. But if I am hard on myself, it will help me feel I have some essence of humanity about me, that I can show a moral side. That there is some semblance of good still inside me. And ultimately that I can stop myself from repeating or acting on rage. The inner bully says NO, STOP! Remember how despicable you are, you must stop! Maybe that bully is just terrified.
I guess all this can filter down into smaller behaviours. Less damaging behaviours. It has become a habit to judge ourselves so harshly.
So perhaps we cling to the inner criticism because it’s the only we way know that we can control our innate bad-ness.
Out of all this chaos though, we have proved ourselves incredibly strong for resisting acting on our darkest thoughts. Galadriel in Lord of the Rings is tempted by the power of the ring, but she resists, she knows she will become a terrible, dark queen and knows deep down this is not what she wants. She is then free to continue her life as the beautiful elven mystic.
Just like Galadriel, we have to see that, despite perceiving ourselves as such terrifying creatures, we ARE NOT so. Galadriel was still Galadriel after envisioning her depraved alternative.
Despite what we learned as children and have subsequently experienced in Bipolar Disorder/Depression/OCD/Borderline Personality Disorder etc., we are still, in essence, spiritually made of love.
(Sometimes I get channelled messages from spirit and at this point they have started to speak through me- addressed to us all)
“Love is a light and shines so brightly that it cancels out the darkness. You have stayed in the light my friend, you are st
ill there and will continue to be so. Fear not. Trust us to keep you safe from the depravity you fear. You are all loved and exceptionally beautiful in your own ways. We are grateful to Rachel for helping us to speak to you. You who have seen the darkness. Do not fear, do not tremble, we are comforting you. Allow us into your hearts and minds for we long to be with you and show you how much you are loved. Let go of these dark thoughts towards your beautiful selves. They are a falsehood. See yourselves as shining beacons of love. Fill your lives with love of every kind. Fear not for your selves. It is important that you hear our message. We can only help you once you ask us. We can only help you if you feel deserving of us, which every single one of you are, infinitely deserving and worthy of love.
Go forth with joy in your heart my love. You are precious to us and we will never leave you.”
That’s the first time I’ve channelled on my blog and I don’t know how people will react to it. But I felt strongly compelled to do so by spirit and trust them. They really want us all to know how loved we are. I hope you can accept this. I’m starting to and my life is changing for the better because of it. It seems a fitting conclusion to my post.