June 2015 By Atul Sharma After 15 years of living my life happily, one day I felt as if something strange was happening to me. I felt miserable and didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I could not sleep or eat properly. Life became gloomy and dark. It took me six years to know that I was suffering from bipolar disorder. Life was tough and full of darkness and fear. There were times when I would sleep for three days in a row. Sometimes I would feel so tired and weak that I would not have the energy to even get up from bed. I didn’t know how to handle all this. I kept asking God – Why me? I remember asking this question to my psychologist. She said, “Our biggest challenges are our greatest blessings in disguise.” I could not make any sense of this advice at that point in time. I decided that I would not let my predicament affect my studies. I completed a course in engineering and found a job in a company. Things were fine but there was something missing in my life. During that time I saw an advertisement in the newspaper. An NGO was looking for some volunteers for a telephonic counselling helpline service. I applied there and took an evening shift. After work I started going there. I loved the experience of talking to people over the phone, and helping them. I quit my engineering career and I joined a Call Center. My parents and friends thought that I had lost my mind; however, I followed my heart. Talking to so many people over the phone and helping them was satisfying. For some time everything was fine but things were supposed to happen in a unique way for me. One day at work, a trainer who was supposed to take a session fell ill and there was no one else to fill up for him. When I got to know about this I asked my supervisor if I could conduct that session. She agreed. I was little anxious but I gave it my best shot. The session went very well and I received very good feedback from the participants. Within three months I applied for a job as a soft skills trainer and I got it. I loved the feel of conducting training sessions, and my work became my passion. I felt happy that I was bringing a change in others’ lives. Side by side, I did my MA in psychology, MBA in HR, and a course in training and development. Years passed and after working as senior manager – training, I became a freelance behavioral skills trainer and a behavioral counsellor. One day while I was sitting in a coffee shop, I met my psychologist by chance. We were very happy to see each other. I told her about my journey of self-development and career shift. She smiled and repeated the same line, “Our biggest challenges are our greatest blessings in disguise.” It took me time to understand and realize that had it not been for bipolar disorder I would never have studied psychology and pursued a career in training and counselling. Life is always beautiful. When the dark clouds surmount the sun, we just need to look at the silver lining.
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