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What Shakespeare Knew

In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.
It wearies me; you say it wearies you.
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.
That I have much ado to know myself.
– Merchant of Venice
Poor old Antonio, baffled by the cause of his sadness, tired of it and tiring others.  But how he caught it, found it, what it’s made of, where it originated, this he knows he has to discover.  I have much work, he says, to know myself.
I am now properly diagnosed as Bipolar and am receiving effective treatment.  But I don’t think this absolves me of the responsibility of trying to understand myself, trying to separate my illness from the rest of me.  In some ways, I am just meeting myself for the first time.  In 37 years of being bipolar, I never really got the chance.  Real healing isn’t about the medications I take.  Real healing is understanding the person that medications make it possible for me to be.  Much ado to know my healthy self, indeed.

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

Therein the patient
Must minister to himself.


No pill or doctor can fully “raze out the written troubles of the brain”.  Bipolar Disorder is rooted in the brain, but it has emotional, psychological and behavioral implications.  It is not a broken leg that can be set, a laceration that can be stitched up.  It’s a comprehensive illness, and I have to be part of the solution.  Bipolar disorder has cost me a lot, without question.  But along the way, life happened, too.  I made some poor choices, damaged relationships.  I have some resentments, and a lot of lingering hurt and regret.  There isn’t a pill for that.  In these, my most private struggles, I must minister to myself, stitching up my own internal wounds as I have the clarity and strength to do so.  Medication has stabilized my bipolar disorder, but the rest of it, the messy, deep, borrowing rest of it, is my job.  And mine alone.

This post first appeared on Bipolar Steady And Strong, please read the originial post: here

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What Shakespeare Knew


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