Lessons I’ve learned

December 5th, 2010

I wanted to share some lessons that I’ve learned over the years. I must admit I have judge others only to fall on my butt and be in the same situation.

I remember during my 20’s, a co-worker had to take a 1 month leave of absence due to major depression. He was a friend and I feel guilty about it now, but I was thinking that’s BS I want a 1 month holiday! Fast forward to 2007 after being diagnosed with bipolar, I had to go on long term disability for an 8 month “vacation”. Being on leave for mental health concerns is no vacation. It included a lot of heartache and hard work. Lesson learned.

When people would complain that they didn’t have the time and/or energy to exercise, I would think to myself  I go to the gym 5 days a week and horseback ride 6 days a week. I always felt that I was just better at time management and was more driven than the average person. After my diagnosis in 2007, I remember telling my friend that I’m tired after going to the gym 4x a week.  Her response was that’s “normal”. I finally got it; when I was doing all those activities before it was partly from the hypomania and it was partly because my mind was continuously racing.  The riding and the gym would silence my racing mind. Do I know why people say they’re too tired to exercise? Yes.

I was extremely good at money management. It was one of my obsessions. David Bach and Suze Orman were 2 of my favorite authors. I would see my friend struggling with paying off credit cards and I would think wow she needs to get her money under control. In 2008 I had been on LTD for 8 months. The reduced pay and no expense check was a huge pay cut. During that time instead of reducing my spending I continued to spend the same. When I finally got back to work I had gained 60 lbs from the medication and was feeling very uncomfortable with my body. I self soothed by spending money on clothes to hide my body. It didn’t hide anything and the amount I spent on clothes I could have gotten liposuction. Add this to a couple of hypomanic episodes and I had to get a $65,000 consolidation loan. Do I now understand how people get in financial difficulties?  Yes.

As soon as I got into horseback riding at 14 I have been thin and athletic. I ate healthy, but I  never had to worry about my weight. I would hear people complain about weight issues and I would think why don’t you just eat less and exercise. After my diagnosis a couple of the medications I was prescribed caused me to gain a lot of weight in a short period of time.  I had tried everything to try to get this weight off including hiring a trainer at $60/hour twice a week for 6 months. Nothing made the weight budge. I have only recently started to loose the weight, but this was after a medication change.  Do I understand what it’s like to struggle with weight? Yes.

Through these lessons I empathize more with others. I hope they will do the same with me. Thanks for reading.