Striving for the Gray in Life With Bipolar Disorder

Throughout my journey with depression and bipolar, I’ve realized two very important things: The extremes of life are where they (depression and bipolar) want me to be, but the gray is where I strive to be. I desire to exist in the gray, because that is the balance between the high of my mania and the low of my depression. It’s a little like doing standing “flys” on a weight machine, except you never let the weight go.

So, if you’re like me and think the gray is a good thing, here are five signs you may be in the gray:

1. You are content in the moment.

My mania wants me to plan every aspect of the future and my depression tells me to remember all the things I’ve messed up in the past. The sweet spot is right in the middle of that. That’s where I’m humble and grateful for each and every thing in my life.

2. You can have fluent conversations.

When I’m surviving in my mania, I literally forget words and how to put them together to form a sentence. I think it’s because I’m thinking about the future, what the other person is thinking about me, if I’m making sense and forming words all at the same time. In the gray, it’s like the puzzle pieces fall together.

3. You love beyond yourself.

In the gray, I am as balanced as possible which means I have room to care and love others, rather than worrying about where I am. I believe my purpose in life is to spread and share joy with others, to make them smile and laugh. To think about the good things and let go of the not-so-good things. When I’m in the gray, I can help others find their gray. To me, that’s the ultimate form of serving.

4. You are able to listen actively.

In the gray, I am able to slow down and filter one thought at a time. Instead of wanting to speak and vomit all things in my mind out, I’m balanced and available to listen — really listen — to people in my life.

5. Your anxiety is low.

I like to relate the idea of black and white to the amount of oxygen I’m receiving. Black, the low, is when you’re so out of air, you begin drowning — causing anxiety. White, the high, is when I’m hooked up to extra oxygen, and get anxious with all the extra energy I have. The gray is where I can stand, and just be.

Whether the gray is a positive or negative in your mind, it’s always good to continue to ask questions and check in with yourself. I do this, constantly, every day. Eventually, even if it’s just for a moment, the fragrance of gray finds me.

Find your balance, whether it’s black, white, gray, pink, polka dot or chevron.

xo, Holly

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