(I am referring to people who have one or more of the following:
* Bipolar disorder or similarly challenging mental health issues requiring ongoing management
* Been abused in childhood or adulthood, resulting in aftereffects that require ongoing management
* An addiction or compulsive behavior, that requires ongoing management)
Not everyone learns about longevity to reach the same length of time as the very oldest among us. Some of us use those folks’ wise testimonials and motivating lives to build better lives just for today or to survive major life challenges.
I have bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being a child sexual abuse survivor.
I learned recently that bipolar disorder, which is hard on the body, and combined with the high rate of suicides by people with bipolar disorder, actually and significantly shortens the lifespan. This was further brought home to me when I discovered last week that a contemporary of mine had committed suicide. She had been one of the members of my Sisters Healing Together peer support group for women survivors of incest with a special focus on compulsive overeating (at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia).
She and I had a lot in common: we are both female, black, incest survivors with mental health issues and an eating disorder. We both were highly prolific in our respective crafts and well respected for our work. But in our 40s, we both found it very difficult to maintain employment and keep a roof over our heads, resulting in years of homelessness and navigating various social service resources, as helpful or unhelpful as they are or tend to be.
The effects of child abuse and mental health issues often wreak havoc on the economic status of a persun. I learned this when attending a program several days a week to learn how to live well with bipolar disorder. Several of my classmates had mental health issues and all experienced homelessness. Many had been abused as children.
One of the ways I research longevity is by learning about centenarians.
How this all ties in to centenarian inspiration is that just because you may not think of yourself as having the realistic potential to live past 100, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways you could be inspired by their stories or learn from them.
In my 20s when I worked at bookstores I used to love to read books about people who lived long. I am a late bloomer so my favorites are about those who didn’t become successful or reach their full potential in life until their later years. Their stories told me it’s never too late! And maybe I needed to hear that, as a persun with as many dreams as challenges. I wanted to write, make music, make art, travel, and more. I didn’t see many examples of people like me at the time, so I just kept looking for inspiration.
Yesterday I was watching YouTube videos of centenarians and I realized that what I was learning about and being inspired by (their common denominators of their healthful lifestyles which included great attitudes, outlooks, and relationships), was likely not going to result in my living to 100. But it was helping me to get to my better today and tomorrow.
It may not be feasible to start doing several or even “just a few” things today to live a better tomorrow, but adding one or two could help immensely.
Inspiration for the persun with bipolar disorder who may also be a survivor and/or in recovery could help you live longer and better. It could help you be strong enough to survive your next challenge, or a current one. It could help you refocus on a dream or a goal. It could motivate you to reach out to someone and break a mood of isolation. It could help resist or prevent yet another suicidal thought. Inspiration helps!
So, never feel bad that all of your soaking in of inspiration isn’t making your life mimic everything you’re seeing. Inspiration isn’t meant to make you have the same characteristics as the role models: it’s meant to help you feel better and live better, and perhaps for you that means just a bit, just for today, and one day at a time. Regardless of the results of your using inspiration, you and your life are better as a result. Trust and know that all is well, and remember how beneficial the daily practice of gratitude and appreciation can be.
Your life, however it unfolds, has value right now, today, as it is, and how, what and where you are, and you are worthy of enjoying it.
The only thing keeping us from enjoying our lives exactly as they, and we, are today, is our choosing not to do so, or forgetting that we can.
Life is short, tough, sweet, and beautiful. It is more intense for those of us with multiple challenges. But even we can learn to appreciate our lives exactly as we are, today, no matter what, and no matter how long or briefly we may live. All of our lives matter and can be enjoyed, appreciated, and improved. Let’s try to remember that, and be inspired every moment of life, however we can!
Cassendre Xavier has been writing about bipolar disorder, survivor issues, spirituality, personal growth, soulmate attraction, and raw foods at Wisdom Magazine’s online edition since May 2009. Cassendre was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 1993, at age 23. She has been a member of Philadelphia’s LGBT, polyamorous, and New Age/ancient wisdom spiritual communities since 1991, and from 1996-1999 facilitated Sisters Healing Together, a peer support group for women survivors of incest with a special focus on compulsive overeating, which she also founded, at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. Under her self-assigned spiritual name Amethyste Rah, Cassendre released the popular Affirmations for Survivors guided meditation audio series (“Self-Love” and “Spirituality” in 2007, and “Sexuality” and “Life Skills” are forthcoming). For more information, please Google search “cassEndrE Xavier” or visit http://youtube.com/cassendrexavier.
[Picture taken Saturday, May 26, 2018 as I prepared to sing at the Lansdowne Farmers Market.]