By Tom Wootton, Bipolar Advantage
You Have More Power Than You Can Imagine
I remember being a big fan of the TV show The Incredible Hulk when I was a kid, and the The Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and the X-Men series as movies when they came out.
I always thought they portrayed mental illness in a quirky way, but I never realized the significance they had for me until recently.
It was in watching the latest episode in the X-men series, X-Men: The Last Stand, that it all came together for me.
We are the X-Men.
Stan Lee and the creators of all of those characters have shown uncanny insight into the nature of our condition and our struggles.
All of their characters have special powers. They also have weird quirks and idiosyncrasies.
Most of all, they struggle with their powers and their inability to handle them.
In watching X-Men: The Last Stand, I noticed several characters with whom I could relate.
They wanted to live a “normal” life and could not see the benefit of a power that they could not control.
They were subjected to overwhelming pressure to get “cured” of their disease, and many succumbed to the promise of a “normal” life.
Many fought to see the possibilities in harnessing their powers for good.
As they gained the ability to handle their unique gifts, they found that they could control their super powers and turn them into an advantage.
As I struggle with my condition, I have learned that even some of the powers that had no apparent benefit were a source of great strength.
I now see that my “super powers” give me the ability to do things a “normal” being couldn’t even fathom.
I also see that my lack of ability to harness them and keep them under control has brought me dangerously close to my own death.
Like the characters of Stan Lee’s invention, I too would have done anything to become “normal,” but in the end chose to engage in the ultimate battle: learning to get my powers under control to harness them for good.
The greatest power of all is my ability to go into such deep depression that I can gain insights into the true meaning of life.
It helps me to find meaning and purpose beyond just surviving another day, and helps me to appreciate life for all of its richness.
The ability to go from the depths of depression to the highs of mania has given my life a richness that I would never give up.
Of course, with those powers comes the struggle against them and our inability to harness them for good.
In the end, we have no choice but to get them under control with any means available, including medications, therapy, and our own hard work.
However, many choose to give up on the effort to harness our powers, for fear that we will never gain sufficient control over them.
The problem is not that we are mentally ill; the problem is that we experience 150 percent of what “normal” people do and we are frustrated that we have not yet learned how to handle it.
But that does not mean that gaining control is impossible.
With incredibly hard work and the help of our entire team of supporters, we can learn to get more and more of our powers under control and actually begin to see them as unique gifts to cherish.
If we assemble a team and a solid plan that takes a slow and progressive approach, we can see modest results in a short time, and accomplishments that are truly miraculous within a few years.
As we begin to learn, we gain the ability to handle more of the power available to us. Our doctors and therapists will recognize our ability to better manage our condition and can lower our medication so that it does not hold us back as much.
Very slowly, and with close supervision, we can adjust our medication to the minimum needed to keep us in control.
As we develop insight and make a stronger effort, our range expands and we start to experience the highs of mania and the depths of depression without losing control.
As our range expands, we are faced with new challenges that sometimes we are unable to handle. However, with proper supervision, we become much better at recognizing the edges of our abilities.
Thus, we can fine tune both our medications and our efforts to help us function in a better range.
The shocking discovery came when I started learning how to see the benefits in depression.
As I learned to better understand what was going on, I learned that I could function very well in a depressed state and it afforded me insights that I never dreamed were possible.
The best changes we ever make in our lives are often the result of insights gained in depression. We might accomplish many things when manic, but the desires to reevaluate our lives and to make changes are not among them.
This exploration is exhilarating, but should only be explored with the help of a professional team. It will take tremendous effort and tenacity; there will be many times when it seems hopeless, as if you are making no progress or are even sliding backward.
If you look back far enough, though, you can always see progress which, if kept up, will inevitably lead to success.
Along the way you will discover “super powers” you never knew you had. Best of all, you will discover yourself and realize that those powers were given to you to help you along the way.
Stan Lee has often said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
It is our greatest responsibility to keep our powers under control while learning to harness them for good.
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More articles by Tom Wootton.
Video – The Shocking Truth About Recovery From Bipolar Disorder – with Tom Wootton
Tom Wootton is the author of The Bipolar Advantage, The Depression Advantage, and Bipolar In Order. He has been considered a leading consumer advocate and speaker and gives keynote speeches to conferences nationwide on mental health.
He is President of Bipolar Advantage: Outcome-Based Education for Bipolar and Depression (where you can get his books). Follow the link to get started with the program for FREE.
“Bipolar Advantage offers a comprehensive program for bipolars to find their own type of balance–to be themselves and in control at the same time.” – John D. Gartner, Ph.D, Author of The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot) of Success in America
“I found Tom Wootton’s Bipolar IN Order a unique perspective on bipolar disorder, something the author himself has. If you or a loved one lives with bipolar disorder, the book is worth taking a look at for a very different and much-needed perspective on this disorder.” – John M. Grohol, PSY.D., CEO & Founder – Psych Central
Tom Wootton also leads the related training program for therapists: Bipolar Experts :
Become A Certified Bipolar IN Order Therapist
Become proficient with advanced Assessments
Help your clients create realistic goals
Become established as an expert in bipolar treatment
Join the Bipolar IN Order Team
[Image: Halle Berry as Storm in the X-Men movies.]