Surviving with Bipolar II

It’s been years between when I last wrote on this blog,however, I am back. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2014 on my 29th birthday. Exactly on my birthday. What a gift to receive. Learning I had this chronic mental illness was both a blessing and a curse. I finally had a name to put to the ups and downs of my moods. However, now I had to learn how to manage it effectively and was told that it was not curable. It can only be treated just as if you had diabetes.

My mother also has Bipolar, although a different type. I was familiar with the instability that the illness brought and was terrified. My mother was in and out of hospitals. She had tried to commit suicide a few times during my childhood. She was constantly moving us from place to place, school to school. Due to her illness, she was heavily medicated and would either sleep a lot or be out spending money.

Now that I’ve been diagnosed, I see a lot of the same traits and characteristics. I never experience the mania, just something called hypomania. It’s an irritable, yet productive state where my mind is racing. I can’t move fast enough. I get annoyed when people can’t keep up with my train of thought. But mostly, I experience the depression. The kind of depression that wants to kill you. Hence the title, surviving with Bipolar II. There is no living with it. I either feel too much, or feel nothing at all. Most of the time, I feel nothing at all.

Life goes on, but I lay in bed. Slowly wishing that I wasn’t constantly being put on new medications. Many of the medications are expensive and because of my illness I am not working. This puts a great burden on my husband. I guess healthcare in America does not see that mental illness creates holes like these. The people who need medication but might not be able to get it. I have been put on a cocktail of anti-psychotics, anti-convulsants, and anti-depressants. Let’s not forget the benzos that allow me to forget my anxiousness over the whole situation.

The things that people say to you when they find out you are depressed range from funny to downright ridiculous. I’m not just sad. I’m not moping. I’m not playing the victim. I have an illness. An illness that threatens to take my life everyday. Only those that have the same illness will understand. Unfortunately, that’s how it works. I wish more people would have empathy and compassion, but they don’t see it the same way.

I will be using this blog as an outlet not only to discuss this topic but many others. If you are a fellow, please follow.

Five A.M. and Leaning In?

Insomnia is creeping in as the stresses from the work week have followed me into the early morning hours of Saturday morning. I can’t leave work at work which has always been a huge problem for me. My life must be bigger than the vacuum of the 8 hour work day. Yet, instead of beating myself up over it which I tend to do with most things I think are unacceptable, I got to thinking.

What if wanting improvements in the workplace aren’t something I should berate myself over but should share? As women especially when we are dissatisfied with something at work, it’s hard for us to speak up. We are seen as complainers. I was told that I was seen as a complainer by a member of management recently. It really irked me. When men share their views on what might be better, they are seen as revolutionary thinkers. When I share, I’m a complainer and I better step in line with the status quo. I better play nice with the Old Boys Club and only assist and never suggest. I’m there to be the one who interfaces with the customer base, not with management.

To put it lightly, I’m frustrated. I’ve had this kind of treatment in a few workplaces now that are male dominant. The men continue to make the decisions even though the women play vital roles in the day to day logistics. When I’ve see a better way, I try to implement it only to have my efforts undermined. Men don’t want women to play in their sandbox. They would rather throw sand our way and bury our sandcastles only to make sure that theirs is the only one seen.

Obviously, I’m generalizing and know that not all men are like this. I’ve had some really great male mentors in the span of my work history also. Yet, lately I’ve not had any or seen any progress toward being heard. Yet, maybe I wouldn’t need to look for male mentors if there were more women mentors out there. Where the hell is the women leadership? Why do I look around at the lower level employees and see my gender counterparts but when I look up the corporate ladder I do not? It’s definitely not something that is inspiring. It tells me that no matter how hard I work, I’m not going to reach the pinnacle.

Women have been pushing glass ceilings for years. Yes, we have women in government, in corporate business, in educational leadership. But how many of us are there? How many of us still have men undermining us? I don’t want to work in an environment like this any longer. I’d rather find something autonomous for myself than suffer in silence at a workplace that has labeled me “a complainer.”

By the way, seeking improvements is not complaining. It’s making a better environment for yourself and others. It’s making suggestions about something should work, how processes can be more efficient. But I guess that isn’t important. It’s better to follow what has been done for years because that is what is comfortable. God forbid anyone push past their comfort zone and actually change something. *gasp* Someone might actually have to do a little more work in the short term to cause a ripple for the long term. We couldn’t possibly think long-term, could we?

It’s five a.m. and I’m barely making sense. Besides, I’m just complaining. Eh?

Don’t Deny Your Truth

” When I stop denying the truth, it loses its power to destroy me.” – Voices of Recovery 

I think many of us feel a sense of shame over uncontrollable things. Our ego and our pride tells us that we’re somehow not good enough as we are, so we must deny who we authentically are and create something better. By doing this, we create and perpetuate misery because we are not being true to ourselves. I know this is especially true for myself. I was so busy making sure that everyone else’s world was okay, that I forgot to check in on my world. 

I always have felt like an outcast, not surprisingly, I’m finding that many others have, too. That’s the beauty of sharing your experience and story with others- you see that you’re not alone in your truths. I felt that by hiding behind my past, my eating disorder, and my Obsessive Compulsiveness, I was not getting the support I needed. These are not definitions of who I am, but they are a part of me. I do struggle with them daily, but they also have led me to find out some amazing things about myself. 

For example, if you need something done and you want the attention to detail that only an obsessive compulsive person can obtain- I’m your girl! Not everything about a disease or illness or even an experience has to be a struggle. It remains difficult through denial. People tend to want to fight themselves on these type of issues because they don’t want to have the issue in the first place. However, denial leads to destruction. Fighting yourself while the rest of the world fights you is a lonely place. 

Let go and ease into your self. We all have our own secrets, our own depth.No one is unique in the fact that they struggle with their identity and truth. We all do. So why not just try to acknowledge and embrace it? 

CALM.com- Meditation

If you are looking for a bit of calm in your life and are addicted to the internet as much as I am– have no fear. Calm.com is here! I was watching my daily dose of Youtube videos when I heard a beauty vlogger talking about meditation. It’s something that has come into quite a few of my conversations as of late because I’ve been suffering with intense anxiety attacks. I’ve always been what I guess would be classified as TYPE A personality. I want to do things myself, I want them done right, and I want them done as precisely and as quickly as possible. This not only causes me stress, but puts a tremendous burden on my mind and body’s well being. 

It has been suggested to me that meditation would help. However, the thought of sitting still for more than a minute without outside distractions nearly has me jumping out of my skin. I’m the queen of multi-tasking and the hurried approach. I’m the type that wants it set up, executed, and torn right down when the event is finished. I’m not standing around small talking. So to be able to sit still, listen to raindrops on roses and quiet my mind sounds damn near impossible. 

So far, it is. However, the site www.calm.com makes it so incredibly simple. I’m going to keep trying. 

How many of you meditate? Why do you do it? How do you do it? Have you noticed a tremendous decrease in your anxiety or stress level? 

Join the conversation by leaving a comment. I’d love to know. 

It’s Been Awhile

So much has happened since I last wrote here on this blog. I’ve started a job which I hope leads to fulfilling my passion. I’ve taken on more responsibilities, most of which are in conjunction with who I want to be and what I need to do to achieve that. I have allowed myself to let the universe provide me with opportunities and I’ve ran toward them instead of turning my back on them out of fear. Fear has stopped me from a great deal of things and I’m sick of standing behind it saying, ” If only…” There will never be another day that is better than today. Today is all we have. 

If there is one thing I’ve learned from being in program for my eating disorder, it’s that you take it one day at a time. If today doesn’t bring forth all the spoils, work as hard as you can to make them happen tomorrow. I still never give myself a break, but the people in my life do. They provide me with a cushion of love and support and make suggestions as to how I can do things better. Suggestions are so much better than demands. The demands I place on myself. Silly me still striving for perfection and falling on my face each and every time. The places I could go if I just let myself GO! 

My journey feels so much more rich than it used to. It used to fill like an empty shopping basket and now I feel like I’m just stuffing in more beautiful garments. I feel like I’m allowed to be more authentically me. I don’t have to hide so much and I can definitely call bullshit if I need to. I’m feeling lighter. 

 

Making Peace with ED

She sat wondering when it would all make sense, when this personal journey of hers for the last ten months would bring happiness, fulfillment, and peace. She wondered if she had made the right decisions and if she trusted herself to make the right decisions moving forward. She was judging every thought she had. Was she progressing or regressing? She felt lighter on some days, but on other days she felt so very heavy. The heaviness was what she tried to escape from, it laid on her chest. It sucked the breath out of her. It caused panic. 

She felt that she was taking the steps toward leaving behind her disease, but she was only waist deep in its murky waters. She was trying to navigate delving in further, but was afraid of drowning. Getting further in meant that she had to trust that she would be okay without the life preserver that she thought was keeping her alive. She had to retrain herself to swim, not just to tread water. She had to trust others to keep an eye out for her on the shore, just in case she did panic or get caught up in the riptides. It was a difficult thing to do and she struggled. 

She wasn’t used to writing down how she felt. She was used to stuffing it down, avoiding it.  Yet, here she is everyday putting pen to paper in a journal that chronicles the journey to recovery.  That takes courage. That takes strength. Old habits no longer served her, but she found her old friends waiting for her when the new friends seemed intimidating. How easily they welcomed her back. Yet, those old friends weren’t really friends at all. Simply put, they were abusive, destructive, negative, and toxic. The new friends were joyous, assertive, self sufficient, full-of-life and that scared her. Could she live up to that ideal? 

The weight was a blanket of protection. It told people to stay away without having to say a word. It helped her to disappear in the background. It helped her to play out the role that she had been told to play years before. It kept her from succeeding. It allowed her to self-sabotage and self-destruct. It hid behind a smile, it hid behind helpful cheerfulness. She was dying on the inside, but you’d never know on the outside. You’d just see a woman who stood to lose weight. 

She developed a food plan and exercised. She gained a group of people who understood her plight. She was able to be transparent with them. She started becoming more honest. She struggles with assertiveness, but her awareness is heightened. She has better coping mechanisms. She hopes that someday this won’t take up so much of her life, so that she may go on with her life. 

 

Taking a Personal Inventory

How many of us tend to blame the outside world and other people for our problems? Sure, they probably play a part in it. But what role do you play? What responsibility do you take? Any? All? I’m guilty of playing the victim, the poor me, and the insecure, powerless one. I fail to even attempt things I want to do because of fear. I accept things I shouldn’t accept and don’t try to change them because the thought never even occurred to me that I could change them. 

I recently took a personal inventory of my flaws and my assets. I found it much easier to accept my flaws and speedily write them down. My assets, although I did eventually rack up quite a few, were harder to come by. If someone asked me to define myself, I’d struggle with my very own definition. My sense of self is very minimal and it’s almost like I look at myself as a spectator. I keep that mentality of I’ll be okay eventually instead of saying, ” I’m okay now.” I’ve struggled with being what I thought people wanted to see from me. I played a part, became very good at shoving down my feelings, opinions, and self. 

Taking a personal inventory is very eye-opening and also very tough. It allows me to take responsibility for the things I want to change in my life. It gives me back the power and the choice. But it also has ripped me a new one when I’ve realized how much I’ve let slide in my life. It makes me realize that some of those decisions I’ve made weren’t all that great. It  allows me to see the resentments I’ve held onto because of ego. It helps me see that when my self-esteem and security are threatened, I retreat inside myself. 

If you had to take a personal inventory, what flaws and assets would be on your list? What changes would you clearly see you need to make? Could you define yourself? 

Interesting things to take a further look at. I hope all of my readers are having a fabulous week and have an adventure filled weekend. 

Don’t Escape From Your Responsibility

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Ultimately when we become disappointed and cynical with the world, it’s our natural inclination to turn from the very thing that disappoints us. However, you can’t change things if you turn away from them. You can’t take the action that is needed if you are too busy escaping. 

LOVE yourself back to life so that you can make a life worth living for not only you but for everyone and everything around you. 

It’s a Jungle Out There

It’s coming up on a year of unemployment, self-imposed. The first six months I needed to get things in order and figure out where I was going to be, what my next career choice would need to be, and what I had to do for myself to create a sustainable life. After that, it was quite a bit of hits and misses. They seem to be continuing. I have no problem getting a job. It just needs to be the RIGHT one. 

Most of us take things out of desperation. I’m desperate, too. I have debt piled to the ceiling. But…. I know that my worth is much greater that what some of these jobs are willing to pay for what they are asking me to do. I can easily take it and dredge through. But I will suffer, my marriage will suffer, and my life will be utterly pointless. I don’t need to wake up with dread every morning and have a boss that reminds me of my former stepmother. 

I’ve already lived that life. I survived that life. I don’t want to survive anymore. I want a complete life. I want to have a chance at recovery and joy. If that’s asking for too much, then I don’t know what else there is to do.  

How many others of you are stuck in positions that have nothing to do with your passion? How many others of you are on autopilot? How many others are working for someone who can bark orders but never physically do any work themselves? 

Live a life your proud of, or you’re not really living. I had 27 years of not living. I can’t afford anymore. 

Impromptu Beach Jaunt

I was expecting to get quite a bit done today in terms of reformatting my Resume and finding contact information for certain pet food manufacturers. I’m in the process of switching my career path so that I am able to work in the pet industry. I know some of my readers already know I volunteer at a local shelter and also collaborate with my husband on a petcentric blog. It’s just something I’ve grown increasingly passionate about. You have to do what you love. 

I didn’t know that today was going to be in the 80’s and sunny and beautiful. Around noon, I told myself, ” Gosh, I really want to go to the beach.” I wasn’t feeling all that wonderful when I got up. ( Welcome to being a female…) But, as the day progressed, I felt better. So instead of just thinking about going to the beach, I went! I grabbed a blanket, water, a hat, and a magazine and I was off. 

It turned out to be a beautiful break in the middle of the day. I know most of you have intense occupations and can’t just go to the beach on a whim. Some of you don’t even live near a beach. But I highly suggest that as the weather gets nicer where you are, to take a drive or walk to a park during your lunch break. It will refresh you like no other. 

Here are a few pictures of my adventure: 

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