No, the title is not a mistake, this book is written to show that there is much more available to those of us who, by the traditional standard, are ‘disordered’.
The author and his mission
The author of two other books: “The Bipolar Advantage” (2005) and “The Depression Advantage” (2007), Tom Wootton is currently writing the sequel to “Bipolar in Order” (2010). He began teaching workshops that he designed for bipolar and depression in 2002.
Tom founded Bipolar Advantage with the mission to help people with mental conditions (note: not disorders!) shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives. He is a widely recognized and passionate speaker in the USA, advocating change in the field of mental health. He desires to see a change of paradigm of how we look and treat mental conditions.
My search and struggle
Having searched the web for a long time looking for useful information to help manage and get in touch with other people with BD, I came across Tom Wootton’s website www. bipolaradvantage.com. His approach was an eye-opener to me as I finally came to understand why I was dissatisfied with so many other websites about BD I had come across.
My main struggle appeared to be the traditional view on how to treat BD. Including the general understanding that one is a victim of the disorder. Meaning you can’t help it that you have it, you have to suppress the symptoms with medication and be afraid (for triggers and) for the next episode which will come sooner or later.
My view and goal
While I agree with the first statement, that we are not guilty of having the disorder, I unconsciously disagreed with the two following statements. While medication certainly has a place in the treatment of BD, especially in the crisis stage, I am convinced there is more available to us to fight with. I certainly don’t want to live in fear of my next episode. I want to learn how to manage my disorder and live my life to the fullest, fulfilling my dreams (which includes living abroad in a country where medical treatment will not be so readily available).
From day one when medication was prescribed, I knew I was gonna fight to get to the point where I could live either without or with as few meds as possible. So I strived to get to know my symptoms, my triggers, my responses, and work on traumas I experienced and which aggravate my condition, in order to improve my overall well-being. This is still ongoing. I am blessed with an excellent counselor who has recognized my fighting spirit from the beginning stimulates and encourages me on this road and is teaching me tools to fight with.
Back to Tom
In Tom Wootton I found an author who is saying what I think and believe. He himself is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I with hallucinations and delusions, but lives without taking medication unless it is absolutely necessary. He has much to teach us, since he is himself the prime example of what he teaches.
His book challenges the overall perspective held by many – professionals and BD’s – of how to manage BD. He shows us how to set up a Life Plan addressing the following areas: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Relationships, and Career/Financial.
What do we need to get BD ‘in order’ ?
For us to get our disorder ‘in order’ we need insight, the ability to recognize our condition and all of the aspects associated with it. Through gaining deep insights we become free to choose our reactions based on the wisdom we have developed. To reach real stability is not to be ‘in remission of symptoms’, but to be able to perform the intended action under duress. These steps lead us to self-mastery, when every word and deed is based on doing the right thing instead of habits or emotion. Finally we reach the state of equanimity, meaning being even-minded under all conditions.
In other words, it is possible to learn to live and function no matter what episode we are in! Of course this is a road we walk. It’s important to keep the goal in mind, but equally important to realize it is a process that takes time and to appreciate the growth we experience on the way.
The tools to reach Bipolar in Order
The rest of the book Tom deals with certain understandings we have that might stand in the way of our growth. Half of the book is dedicated to ‘how to get there’ and ‘the advantage program’ which is an integrated approach developed by a team of professionals. This program covers every aspect of life, describing the tools we can use and the people who can help in our support network, to achieve the maximum result for our lives. Fourteen different authors share with us their specialty insights and expertise.
For more information, please look at www.bipolaradvantage.com , and tell them you heard about them from me. Thanks!
I highly recommend this book. It is available through the bipolar advantage website, Amazon (for USA) and bol.com (for the Netherlands). For us Dutchies: for the moment it is only available in English. I have hopes to change that at some point…