Updated: Nov 3, 2021
The Cambridge dictionary defines rock bottom as the most unhappy that someone has ever been in their life – the lowest lows that one has ever seen in their journey – not something that one would typically consider worthy of celebration. So, how did Daniel learn how to celebrate his rock bottom moments? We find out in his extremely candid conversation in episode 537 of The Habit Coach podcast with Ashdin Doctor.
What Bipolar Disorder looks like?
Daniel’s rock bottom moment came 6 years ago at a time when everything seemed to be perfect – he had a job that took him all over the world, cutting across time zones, and meeting new people. However, the fast-paced professional career took its toll, triggering a genetic gene for bipolar disorder, something that Daniel had seen his father struggle with for close to 40 years. He experienced an immense surge of energy that seemed to come from nowhere, taking over his life – “I remember I was in Hong Kong at the time. I was intensely emotional for no reason whatsoever. I remember going to a bar to grab a drink, coming out and seeing a dog, and breaking into tears. I remember almost being hit by a bus when I was crossing the road. I would sleep for 2 hours a night and wake up with a million ideas running through my head. I was convinced I was going to change the world with my ideas. I would speak very loudly and speaking for 15 minutes without a pause. I had so much energy within me, and I had no idea what was going on.
People around me realized that something was wrong, and flew me back to India, where I met with a doctor who diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. At the time I thought I was going to be just fine, but the doctor was right – the low came about 6 months later.
Hitting Rock Bottom
I was at an event in Rajasthan with a hundred people. It was the middle of the night and I started getting massive panic attacks – I couldn’t breathe, and I didn’t know what was happening. For the next three days, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get out of bed or take a shower. That marked the beginning of a 6-month long severe depressive episode. I couldn’t get out of bed, make it to work and didn’t want to meet anyone. That’s simply not who I am. So that was definitely my rock bottom”.
The journey upwards
Daniel’s way out from the rock bottom was long drawn out, and he says he is “still getting out of it”. For Daniel, it was a 3-ingredient recipe that helped him pull himself out of his rock bottom, built on the foundational elements medication and therapy. This long journey to living his life at maximal potential was founded on Daniel’s decision and belief that he was going to live a full potential life, irrespectiveo f a mental health issue.
‘Self-awareness’ – “It has been 6 years and I have done so much work on myself – understood how meditation works for me, understood what exercise regimen is ideal for me, figured out that reading and talking to people calmed me down, estimated my limits of alcohol and caffeine”.
‘Support’. One important source of support was his wife, whom Daniel describes as transformational to his journey – “She knew when to push me, and also when to be okay with the fact that it was just a bad day”. In addition to the support from him wife, there was support from friends, colleagues, and medical professionals.
‘Self-compassion’ – “keeping a balance between pushing yourself and taking it easy, being kind to yourself and knowing that this is going to be a long journey”.
Coping and learning to live with a mental health issue is a journey; one that is challenging and riddled with innumerable difficulties. It is so important to acknowledge the uphill nature of this long journey. But while this journey is difficult, it is not impossible. As Daniel says, “when we unleash the creativity and wisdom of people who deal with mental health issues, the world will be an beautiful place!”
To understand yourself better, learn coping mechanisms and with a community of people who might be on the same (or similar) journey, explore our Essentials Program coming up in November this year.
To listen to the entire interview on The Habit Coach podcast, click here.