Let me ask you something: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? An artist? A musician? An author? A teacher? A ballerina? Or even the President? Whatever you wanted to be, I bet it didn’t include bipolar disorder, did it?
So what did happen to your dreams? I mean, maybe it wasn’t the bipolar disorder that knocked
your dreams to the side – maybe it happened before the diagnosis? What happens to our dreams between childhood and adulthood?
Most likely there was some adult (parents, teacher) who told you that your dream wasn’t realistic. Some dreams (doctor, lawyer) maybe are realistic, but ballerina or President? No. Maybe not so realistic.
We give up our childhood dreams to become responsible adults. We graduate from school, grow up, get a (real) job, get married, buy a house, raise children…and before you know it, we’re too old to follow our childhood dreams even if we wanted to.
Or is it? Maybe too late (or unrealistic) for childhood dreams, but still possible for adult dreams. And yes, you can still have them despite bipolar disorder. You just might have to be a little more creative.
What if we were to call them goals instead of dreams? Like, “I’ve always wanted to cruise the Mediterranean…” Or, “I’d like to visit Europe someday…” Or, “I’d like to go back to college and finish my degree…” Or, “I’d like to finally write that book…” Or, “I’d love to lose those extra 50 pounds…” Or, “I’d like to learn ballroom dancing…”
You get the picture. The point is, these are all attainable goals. And I’m sure when put this way, you can think of a few yourself.
Perhaps the reason you haven’t pursued your dream is because it’s too big. But if you put your dream into terms of long- and short-term goals instead, you can turn it into manageable, bite-sized pieces.
Here’s what I mean: Like the example of going back to college for that degree that you want. That would be your long-term goal. But the short-term goals would be to think of it in terms of semesters, or even courses.
Writing a book could be a long-term goal, with writing chapters as the short-term goals. Losing 50 pounds as a long-term goal could be broken down into 10-pound short-term goals. See what I mean?
So what does all this have to do with bipolar disorder? The fact that you can still attain your dreams even with the disorder if you break it down into setting goals, because with bipolar disorder, the setting of goals is something that is attainable, because you have room for flexibility. You can work around mood swings and episodes.
Understandably, some of your goals might be limited by bipolar disorder. For example, making plans to travel is one of the things that people write to me all the time about, because it’s difficult to do when you’re dealing with bipolar disorder.
I get questions like, “What if we’re going on a trip and my loved one goes into an episode?” Or, “How can I keep my loved one from going into an episode when we’re travelling?”
I’ve gone into these answers in-depth in my articles, website, and courses, but I’ll just tell you briefly here: It can be done, but it takes a lot of planning, and you need to make sure that your loved one is STABLE. Stability is crucial in avoiding bipolar episodes when you’re travelling.
You also need to plan for every eventuality. You need to have safety plans in place, just like you should when you’re home. And make sure you have plenty of back-up medication.
The point is, though, you can still, for example, fulfill your dream of visiting Europe – you just have to plan for it (set it as a long-term goal).
I know a woman who has been successful at setting goals and achieving her dreams. Her secret is that she does the hardest part first – that way she gets it out of the way.
Well, I have to go!