If you are anxious - you are living in the future,
If you are at peace, you are living in the present"
- Lau Tzu
Can I just tell you how much I hate this saying. It simply is NOT that easy, at least not for me, and I doubt most people with mood or anxiety disorders find this that easy either. Being depressed doesn't mean you are living in the past. Being depressed can simply be your reality, your present emotion/thought/energy etc. That's not to say that no depression is based of living in the past, but I have to argue that when you are Bipolar, your brain simply doesn't work the same way as someone without bipolar, those down feelings, that depression, is not simply caused by focusing on all the negative stuff that *has* happened. A lot of it is caused by the feelings that are, the present - your current and present reality. Most of my negative thoughts that cause depression are not rooted in my past (though I grant that some of them are), a lot of them take the phrase of "you are *insert negative attribute here*", they play over and over again in my head, without any grounds built into my past. Yes sometimes my own brain does bring up instances from the past that support such personal insults, but all it takes is a thought repeating itself over and over again for it to begin to be true - regardless of its factual basis. What you tell yourself, you become, when my brain tells me over and over again that I am not worthy of living, even though I can try to counter it with all the good and positive thoughts, there comes a point where I begin to believe it. That is not living in the past, that is dealing with my present reality.
It's frustrating to always be told to just be happy, or to exist in the moment. I think the steps towards happiness and peace in someone who is bipolar are different than the steps one without bipolar would take. The road to peace is a little more rocky, and a little more bumpy. We get lost easily.
I am not trying to make excuses here, we are responsible for our own happiness, but there can be (and in the case of Bipolar - are) road blocks in our way, and it isn't as simple for us. We require tools that non ill people don't require in order to find our own peace. Those tools are often changing, and are often some form of medication as well. Medication is a tool, even if we hate that we have to take it. It helps us quiet those thoughts, and even our emotions out - but does not get us to a state of "normal" - btw, what is normal anyways? It gets us to a place where we have a fighting chance of beating down those thoughts and finding our own peace and happiness. But the thoughts, still exist, our Bipolar is still there - and no amount of medication, or living in the present is going to change that.