When I google for the meaning of awareness, I notice common terms like knowledge, perceptions, understanding, consciousness. Its online definition is “knowledge gained through one’s own perceptions or by means of outside information.” By that, it means I know I would need to see my Doctor if my daily functionality was severely compromised by depression. This knowledge came from my perception of past experiences. So I am aware . But awareness did not come to me easily.
Awareness and Me
Awareness is essential and to keep an open mind for the element Awareness is much needed. As awareness is elusive and spontaneous, I never see it coming and it arrives unannounced. Perhaps another term to describe the moment and feeling is ‘Ah Ha! So that it is!’ the case. Awareness is elusive, either I have it or not. Most of the times being aware is about learning more about myself. Not all awareness is well-received. There are times when being aware is a brutal awakening and an end of being in denial. It took me donkey years to be aware and convinced that I had been ill mentally. I seemingly know that I am sick but I could not understand the-how, as I have been physically all right.
The knowing that I had been anxious and worried on the eve of a major exam, skipping schools for days to weeks, speaking rapidly with racing thoughts, first attempt of suicide at a young age 12 years old — these behaviors blatantly glaring at me, I know and yet the least aware that I have been sick when I was a child. The knowing is present but the level of awareness is almost none. Perhaps awareness and denial are both ends of a continuum on each end. I know but I am in denial or I know, and I am awakened, conscious of its full impact on my life. I can say too, with understanding, awareness becomes more ready to befriend me. So what is the role of awareness on managing my Bipolar journey?
Managing Bipolar With Awareness
Being aware means knowing beforehand and knowing what steps to take for the next course of action. On a bipolar-depressed day, negative thoughts were unrelenting and I would show contempt and behave unreasonably. Often it comes with an abrupt emotional outbursts, loud shouting and screaming on top of my voice, directed at my siblings. At this point in time, it is obviously late to say I was aware as damage had been done, relationship had been scarred. However with awareness it can alert me when I have negative thoughts, I will be able to ask “is this a valid thought supported with evidence?” Should I get a Yes-answer, I can ask again, “do I want and/or need to act on it?”
Similarly on a bipolar-hypomanic day, I would encounter thoughts like “Am I spending too much for this grocery shopping trip? Buying too many biscuits, stocking up too many cooking oil?” Other thoughts like getting a party dress and a pair of new shoe to go with it, buy a new smartphone, a new labtop and a labtop bag, a luggage. Thank goodness no car nor a house loiter into my thoughts. Knowing beforehand, I’m aware of the symptom of hypomania has surfaced, I can act accordingly by asking “I seem to be experiencing hypomanic symptoms, I better not buy this item now? How about take a wait-and-see approach?”
Awareness is a powerful tool to aid my thought processing and search for the underlying emotions. With awareness I have more autonomy to make responsible choices on my behavior. It certainly ease the pain of regrets should I not be aware of my thoughts and emotions on day-to-day happenings. On a wider scope, awareness allows me to be pragmatic on frustrating life issues like “Why am I unable to hold on to a job like any other normal being?” The emotions of envy and sadness can be overwhelming. What I perceived has limited my confidence and ability, I have drawn a circle that I walked into it, believing I am unable to deliver and perform. I become aware that I have subconsciously blame my inabilities on my Bipolar illness, using it as an excuse to hide behind my fear of failure or rejection.
In the nutshell, it is fun to ally with Awareness as at any instant one may have an ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment. My two best friends Awareness and Understanding (Part I) will be my lifelong companion. They help me to recover, manage my illness, and grow into a better person I desire to be.