Saturday, July 27, 2013

Coping With Success

Why would success be something we have that requires coping skills? Shouldn't we be celebrating? Of course, it is great to feel proud of our career victories. For bipolar folks, though, this can lead to a myriad of feelings.

Some people may feel that this is a validation that they are well and wonder if it is ok to stop medication. Some people may feel like a fraud and think, "If they only knew who I really am...". Others may find grandiose ideas of their abilities are triggered by recognition. Or maybe people feel uncomfortable in the spotlight. As always with bipolar, we walk a delicate line where even good things can be problematic if we do not monitor ourselves.

Recently, I was recognized at a company meeting for my contributions to our Sales team. I was very pleased, of course, but I was also cautious. I chose to re-dedicate myself to the program that has enabled my success: getting good sleep, regular therapy, taking meds, setting limits at work and at home. I made sure to check in with myself and be centered; I didn't allow the good feeling of praise to unhinge me and elevate my mood. Rather, I tried to foster a feeling of wise content. I allowed myself to take in the success, but did not allow it to destabilize me.

Some may see this as fun-wrecking, but I also considered what I have to lose now if I allow myself to succumb to drastic mood swings that could land me on disability, or (even worse) in the hospital. Remembering how fragile and fleeting my success could be helped to keep me grounded and stayed off grandiose thinking.

So, if you are enjoying great success - embrace it! Definitely allow yourself the happiness. But, remember to check in with your wisdom and strive for a peaceful and calm sense of satisfaction. Be wary of thoughts and mood spiraling upward. If you're enjoying success, you'll likely want to keep going and overcome even more challenges. But remember to find a balance - you may be valuable but you are not invincible. And you will only be as successful as your ability to manage your illness.