You know, somebody actually wrote me and asked me if there was a recipe for optimism. Now before you get all critical or laugh it off, let me tell you that I really thought about this! I know there really isn’t a “recipe,” per se, but there is something to be said for it. Because another supporter asked, “How can I be optimistic when my loved one has bipolar disorder?” Now do you see why I gave it some serious thought? Well, let me tell you a few things about optimism first. “It is or it ain’t,” as a friend of mine says. “You can’t have it both ways.” Meaning that if you’re not optimistic, then you must be pessimistic. You can’t see the glass as half-full and half-empty at the same time. See what I mean? You’re either an optimist or a pessimist. I encourage optimism, because I believe having a positive attitude is just as important a part of management of bipolar disorder as the other parts, like medication and therapy.
But let’s get back to optimism (great subject, isn’t it?) It isn’t something you can learn. Or something your parents can teach you. Or a secret a friend passes onto you. Or something you can do research about, or study in a laboratory. Optimism isn’t something tangible. It isn’t something you can touch. It isn’t something you can even experience with any one of your five senses, for that matter. But optimism DOES exist! It IS real! And some people DO have it! In fact, those people are very glad to have it. Optimism just IS. It is a choice. It is a decision. One that you can make, if you want.
So how can you be optimistic if your loved one has bipolar disorder? For every day that your loved one goes without an episode, you can be optimistic that they’ll go the next day without one, too. If they’re taking their medication like they’re supposed to, you can be optimistic that they’ll stay medication compliant and continue to do well. If they’re going to all their appointments with their doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, and any other medical or mental health professional regularly and as scheduled, then you can be optimistic that they’ll continue to do so. If they’re following their treatment plan faithfully, they you can be optimistic that stability is in their future. If they’re healthy, you can be optimistic that they’ll stay healthy. And especially, if they’re doing all of the above, you can be optimistic that the two of you can enjoy your loved one’s stability in the future.
And as far as a “recipe” for optimism? Well, there really isn’t one (but you knew that :))
But if there were, it would probably go something like this:
RECIPE FOR BIPOLAR OPTIMISM
Take one part positive thinking
Add one cup good attitude
Add an ounce of adventure
A cup of excitement
A bunch of understanding
Another bunch of support
A lot of patience
And top it all off with good feelings
And hope for tomorrow
Well, I have to go!