How Fragile Are You? My Story: Coping With Bipolarity

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How fragile we are. For those who love music, you may recognise this sentence is one of the lines in Sting's beautiful song about human fragility. Because isn't that what we want to hear?

"Girl, you're just being real, you're fragile now and that is normal. It's the world that is crazy!”

Entering a psychotic world

The year was 1997. I was 21 years old,  studying at university, and ready to get engaged to my boyfriend. I was a Christian, happily active in my church. I was a positive, intelligent woman, and I had my life in front of me with endless opportunities. That same year my boyfriend left me and I stopped eating and sleeping "because I was praying and fasting that he would come back." Instead I "entered" into a psychosis. I use the word "enter" because it's like entering another world, another level of reality, where everything seems so real. A psychosis is like a dream where the borders of who you are and who others are is changeable. A psychosis is also like a symbolic world where everything that happens appears to mean something deeper than it actually does. So no, I was not reacting normally, and I was struck by the reality of the words, "YOU are acting crazy!"

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I stayed there, in my psychotic world, for at least seven weeks. After that everything changed. Years later I received the diagnosis "bipolar disease" and I started to understand that my mood swings and my anxiety were part of a diagnosis that I couldn't control but that I could learn to live with.

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Coping with bipolarity

In 1999, I met a wonderful guy to whom I have now been married to for fourteen years. I am part of a church that I love. I have friends and relatives around me who are a supportive and loving network. Together, with the doctors, we have found the perfect cocktail of different medicines that work as a firming base in my body and brain. I have also taken time for therapy, and in times of fragility this has made me strong.

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Today I'm 40, I have coped with endless days of wandering between hope and despair, sadness and joy, grey tones and rainbow colors. And sometimes I've wondered why. I don't mean, "Why did this happen to me?" because that is a question that cannot be answered. Rather, I have asked, "Why have I coped with the rollercoasters of emotions and crazy psychotic experiences, but still feel like I'm strong, and loved and truly enjoy life as it is?" That is a question well worth asking.

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How Do I Cope?

I believe the answer to that question is in the word resilience. Have you heard of that as a psychological term? Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to heal from a disrupture. For example, when a broken bone in a person goes back to ”normality.” You can read more about resilience by clicking here.

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There are several factors that help make a person resilient, such as:

  • the presence of a stable adult figure

  • a good supportive network

  • having a creative talent

  • a sense of humor

  • faith in God

For more examples, click here.

The factors listed above are examples and reasons why I can appreciate and value my own life, and that has made me the person I have become. Bipolar disorder doesn't define me, it just challenges me. It has given me the chance to grow stronger, to go from fragile to resilient and from bitterness to love.

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So if you would ask me to sing a song it wouldn't be "Fragile," it would be a song and a melody with a message about how resilient we human beings are. So…how resilient are you? The choice is yours to make. 

-Veronica Schelander

Veronica is Peruvian-Swedish, 40 years young, married to a priest and recently became the happy mother of a sweet boy named Elias. She is a speaker, teacher, artist, musician, and author of the book "Gå i kras" about living with bipolar disorder, published in 2009 by the Swedish publishing house Libris. Follow her on Instagram @veronicaschelander