I made it to 2018! And Yeap, I’m Still Bipolar.

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And here we are, starting off another year.  Last year I was reminded that being bipolar doesn’t go away just because you are happy.

Yes it is much harder to deal with if you are unhappy, but happiness does not cure me of being bipolar.  In a way this was a harder lesson than any before.  It’s been years since I’ve been truly happy in all aspects of life, so every time my chemical balance shifted in a way that I sunk into depression it was easy to “blame” my unhappiness or the parts of my life that left me unfulfilled.

I’m not saying 2017 was a perfect year.  I had life trials to endure and defeat.  I was still adapting to being a single mother of a teenage boy as well as helping him adapt to the changes and realizations that me becoming a single mother brought into his life.

I also had to learn to trust again – trust that I was deserving and “good enough” to be part of another’s life.  The end of 2016 gifted me by bringing a wonderful man into my life and for the first time since I ended my 21 year marriage, I was interested in allowing another to enrich my life via a personal relationship.

So, yes, 2017 had its challenges, but overall, it was a great year.  What’s my point?  As I mentioned above, that despite all the good, I still found myself stumbling, having depressive episodes and struggling to come out of the dark.  I was still indeed, bipolar.

It was super easy to credit my depressed episodes to the circumstances in my life up until this last year.  A year when there truly weren’t any circumstances to blame.  I have a wonderful son and family, I have a fantastic (more than fantastic, more than amazing, no words can describe) man romantically in my life, I have a job that I enjoy with a respectable employer that treats me well, a few true friends; essentially, my basic needs are met and then some.  Yet I still found myself struggling with depression.

Well, duh, you dumbass, you are an individual living with bipolar disorder, a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior.  Yes, circumstances can influence the intensity of such a disorder, but is not the cause.

That was my hardest pill to swallow during the past year.  That despite all the wonder I have in my life, I can still find myself feeling low and hopeless.  (Yes I realize I am mostly addressing the depression side of bipolar, but let’s be real, most of us don’t mind being manic.  At least not until after mania has passed and we are picking up the pieces of anything we managed to shatter during the episode.)

It wasn’t easy to accept, and it took me almost the entire year to get there, but I do accept it.  Partially because I was shown that it’s okay if I am not perfect, I am still loveable even during my imperfect phases; that despite what experience had taught me in the past, not everyone will just turn a blind eye or walk away and leave you to struggle.  And as a result of that, my bits of sanity kicked in and I remembered that being bipolar makes me who I am!  Not just the sad, hopeless depressed parts, but all of me and who I am – my compassion for others, my creativity, my sense of humor, etc.  And when I can step back and look objectively at the entire picture, I like who I am struggles and all.

So here’s to being bipolar!  And here’s to a fantastic upcoming year for us all!!!

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Drifting through…
No certainty,
No comfort,
No guarantees.

There’s a hollow spot within.
One I am unsure how to fill.

Drifting through…
Afraid of my next move,
Terrified to show all my needs,
Fearful that no one will care.

Chin up,
Forced smile,

Put on the façade that I am not struggling…

I’ve gotten so good at pretending that I am strong.
I’ve got this,
I’m good,
I’m independent.

Really I just need to feel like I can rely on someone…

Someone to see my sadness,
Someone to take the time,
Someone to notice my struggle
And help protect me from it all.

And yet pride keeps me from opening up,
From showing others what I’m really dealing with.

Too afraid of being let down like so many times before,
Uncertain if anyone really wants all of me and my struggles,
Little faith in the fact that anyone could.

I make light of it all to others,
And sit alone and cry.

Wishing…
Wanting…
Struggling emotionally…

Feeling uncertain and unworthy.

Is that Charlie Brown’s Parents I hear?

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Back here again – everything to say but no words to say it with.  More honestly, no fucks to give whether or not anyone knows how I feel.  I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted and no matter how many times I say it, no one TRULY hears me!

No I don’t mean that in a poor me way.  I just get to a point where it seems such a waste of my time and energy to even interact with most living beings.  I have zero faith that even a person I deem intelligent can understand what I’m trying to say in some cases.

That leads us back to the fact that most people talk to be heard, not truly because they want you to listen and respond.  Sometimes that’s all good.  And sometimes you have to realize walking in a circle gets you nowhere, accept that you cannot change it and move forward.  Seriously, some days I feel like I’m trapped in a room with several record players in which the records are all skipping- why?  Because people love to hear themselves complain – I guess it makes them feel empowered.

I get that we all need to vent, but at some point, if you find yourself venting on repeat, you need to make some decisions.  Decide to change it, if you cannot change it, decide to engage your super bubble armor and not let it fucking get to you.  Because once you’ve gone beyond venting for the release of a bit of pressure, for the purpose of moving forward (PAST WHAT YOU ARE BITCHING ABOUT), then you are just as much of the issue as whatever you are venting about.  Not only that, but you are regurgitating your negative feelings about it again and again and it’s landing all over the people that care enough to listen to you.
Just like anything, if you use your credits up on repeats and trivial bullshit, where will you turn when you truly need that ear?

Many people feel comfortable talking to me.  I consider that an honor and am glad to be there for people.  But if you keep putting the same fucking ingredients into your cake batter and ask me why your cake still tastes like shit eventually I’m going to smash you in the face with your cake.  Or if you keep feeding me the same bite of cake over and over and asking me if it tastes different, I’m probably going to stab you in the eye with the fork you are serving me the bite of cake with.

Oh then I’ll be the bad guy because I had to get harsh and real due to the fact that people are so self-involved even when they seek out another for comfort, they ignore what the reward is yet keep asking for a reward.  I am a patient person most of the time, but once I’m full all my gracefulness flies out the window and I will tell you straight up that you are being a little bitch or I’ll just walk the fuck away and make myself less available.

I have my own life issues – I’m a single mom of a teenager with a full time job that fights to keep her bipolar disorder in balance day to day.  I LOVE to be there for people I care about, but I can only handle so much.  If you don’t hear my subtle advice and I see no signs of improvement or no steps toward resolution or acceptance, I’m eventually not going to be able to retain the SHUT THE FUCK UP from spewing out in some form.

Seriously folks, there’s a fine line between venting and beating a dead horse.

Well I’m not depressed but … WTF am I exactly?

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The depressed me is quiet (well quiet for me that is) and doesn’t bother to express much.  It’s just easier that way, I don’t have the energy in me to discuss anything with anyone let alone try to explain things when they are not understood (which is more often than I like).

But what am I now that I’m not depressed?  It is definitely not full blown manic, and it certainly is not level.

I feel like it could be slight mania, then I still tend to have quick shifts to short lasting deflation which accompanies the bursts of energy.

Maybe it’s what is referred to as a ‘mixed state’???

All I know is…

– I have a lot of energy, but zero energy.  I literally feel like I could burst from energy that is clogged inside, yet I don’t have any giddy up/energy to go above and beyond or be proactive.
-I can be moved to over-the-top giddiness with a simple thought and want to squeal in joy and jump around like a spastic toddler but that energy can exhibit itself as over-the-top irritation which makes me want to throw things and growl whatever frustrations are applicable at the time.
-Then there is the “comedic” part.  Oh damn does this part think I am so fucking funny.  That’s it, I think it’s so funny, everyone else seems to think it’s insensitive, violent, maybe even a little psycho to have such thoughts, let alone speak them out loud.

I also know that…

-Half of me wants to just blow everything/one off and not give a damn and half of me wants to shake a bitch and say WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU while the third half (yes I did just say I have 3 halves – and maybe I do) still wants to sit down and cry or “dissolve”.

-Half of me wants to sleep an indefinite slumber and the other half wants to stay up all night long sucking in all the entertainment and information I can get my hands on.

-I have all the answers/perfect responses/know exactly what I’d say to whom; but wait; I have none of the audacity it would take to follow through with those thoughts.
-I have all the best ideas and solutions yet don’t care enough to do shit about it.  (And let’s be real, I think they are all the best but chances are they could be as loony as Bugs Bunny.)

I could go on for hours with examples but I don’t want to.  My point is I am exactly one half combined with the extreme opposite of that half all crammed into one little fleshy shell.

Half of me is proud and loving it, the other half wishing this shit would just fucking stop even though it is better than depression.

This mixed state, or whatever it is requires far too much thinking.  But I suppose I should be grateful it is not full blown mania which can cause earth shattering devastation in my life and I won’t slow down long enough to see it until it’s too late.

Some days I just wish I didn’t have to analyze my brain so much just to keep things in check.

Then I remind myself, analyzing and keeping in check is much preferred to what happens if I am un-medicated and running wild.

Not A Victim but Not in Denial

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I realized that I write more sad/dark content than I write happy/hopeful pieces.  This is not because I am always on the depressed or negatively agitated side of my bipolar coin.  After giving it some thought I realized it is because the happy/hopeful side isn’t as shunned or doesn’t cause confusion/misunderstandings the way the other side can, so I work extra hard to hold the dark parts all inside and keep them from impacting my life or the lives of my loved ones in a negative manner.

After holding it all in, it starts to rot; I write to release it (and hopefully to help others find their way through their own mazes or at least know they aren’t as alone as it sometimes feels).

Don’t mistake my writings as weakness or a drama-fest pity-party – they are far from it.  They represent the strength of surmounting the trials that my disorder can present.

I accepted a long time ago that I am fated to fight this battle.  And fight I always will.

I can proudly say that despite all the dark and ugly thoughts and perceptions that can haunt me, I have learned to keep them mostly inside and keep my life adequately in order.  Or to spew them all to my super awesome soul sister who knows me intimately enough to not misunderstand who I am based on the horrible things that are coming out of my mouth/fingertips.  Thank the stars for her truly getting it – because sometimes she has to remind me of myself and that this person/attitude is only a temporary side effect of my condition.  Also thank the stars for all the loving people in my life that do not shun me or un-love me when I hole up in order to recharge/get myself right and not bleed my blackness all over them.

Onward!  This is called life – it’s for living!

Hauntingly Undeserving

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Today is a day that I feel like everyone is wearing masks… especially those closest to me.
That they are hiding things – particularly things they don’t like about me.

It’s almost as if I NEED something to be wrong so I can at least pin this feeling on a source.  Having these feelings for no damned good reason is frustrating and disheartening.

Suddenly everyone is my enemy or they are deceiving me – not because I want them to be, but just because I’m sure it is so; or at least my niggling thoughts try to make me believe I feel it is certain deep down inside.

Give me a reason not to be happy… I cannot trust being happy… It’s a set up.

Believe!  Believe!  It’s okay to be happy and it is truly possible.

Do you believe?
Yes.
Okay good… oh by the way – it’s all a façade!

Yes, see, I told you!  I’m not enough, I’m imperfect, and I suck.  I knew it!
When will I stop believing in believing?
When will I just come to terms with it?
When will I realize that I am not worthy?
I’ve been told so, over and over.
All the while I try to deny it and believe I deserve, can and will have things in life that bring peace within me.
Yet, when I have them and there’s nothing to fight to prove, I feel my smokescreen lighten and I remind myself that I cannot have this happy and it’s only a matter of time before something reminds me of that.

I don’t deserve it.

Just hold on!

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As exhausting as rapid cycling can be, I have to admit that I like the perk of not being depressed for weeks or months on end.  I have always thought that those that struggle with Type II Bipolar are remarkable, because frankly, I’m not sure how I’d fair during an elongated depression.

That being said, after a brief three day run, I woke up today feeling much lighter.

It’s astonishing how a slight shift in my chemicals can change my world so drastically.  The same things that I looked at yesterday or a couple of days ago and felt absolutely overwhelmed by or saw as the worst of the worst possible situation now look simpler and endurable.  Nothing about these things have changed; it’s all me.  It’s the way the gloomy part of my brain chooses to whisper in my ear and distort my vision.

That’s what I’ve learned to anchor myself to when I’m going through a state that is especially challenging – be it mania or depression; or my favorite, a mixed state.  I continually remind myself that what I see and feel during these times aren’t always truthful, but a scribbled over version of reality.

Sometimes I have to remind myself 200 times in one day NOT to act on that thought/feeling; to just wait and see if I feel the same about it next week.  My depressed thoughts may tell me that someone doesn’t like me, or that I am inadequate, or that I totally suck as a mother; but that’s all it is, my depressed mind saying that to me (for fun I guess?).
I cannot think of a more effective way for me to appear nuttier than peanut butter than treating every dark whisper as a fact.
Once you open a can, it’s open.  Once you express a thought to another it cannot be unheard by them.

My best advice is DON’T DO IT.  Just hold on, wait until you see the little signs that you are rising again, before you run with ANYTHING!  (I say this realizing that there are going to be some things that just have to happen, that cannot be put on hold.  Sometimes life doesn’t give a shit if you’re bipolar and doesn’t have time to wait for you.)

At times when I am in a depressed state, I hole up and interact as little as possible.  Yes, partly because it is too damned challenging and I simply don’t have the energy; but the other part is, the less I do, the less of a mess I’ll be making out of things around me.

The people in your life will understand, or they won’t.  The ones that do not, will either get over it or they will get on with it (it being life) without you.

The important part is that you won’t be trying to undo a bunch of regrets when you shift into the next bipolar state.

It will all be okay, just keep holding on!

Trapped Inside Myself

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I’m in some kind of way.

A heavy sadness resides within, long sleeps and strange confusing dreams.

All will eludes me for no good reason. The only desire I have is to just stop, cease to be. If only I could crawl into a corner and quietly disintegrate.

What is wrong with me?

It would all be easier if I could just decompose back into the Earth.

Then there is the overwhelming sense of responsibility … There are people that rely on me. I hate letting my loved ones down. I feel selfish.

Overwhelmed, I push.

And I push.

Hoping all the while my fucked up brain will shift again.

Trapped inside myself.

Oh what an excursion! (or) How crazy am I?

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Last week, for the first time in a long time, I went on a cycling trip.  No, not a bicycling trip – I am blessed with rapid-cycling bipolar.  I haven’t done much cycling over the last two years.  I have dealt with situational depression and my anxiety disorder was a bear to keep reigned in.  Consequently, I didn’t pick up on it immediately; okay, maybe my BFF had to point it out to me when I was telling her “I don’t know what the hell my problem is, I’m up, I’m down, I’m bursting with energy and optimistic then seconds later I feel as heavy as a brick and buried… blah blah blah.”
Once she said, “Girl… you’re going through your cycles rapidly is all.” it all made perfect sense.  How did I forget what this feels like?  How did I not realize that all the high-stress situations that cropped up one after another with a side of monthly hormones tossed in threw me into a round of good ole bipolar fun?!

At least now I know why I feel like I’m losing my mind and bouncing all over willy-nilly.

The next mission is to make it through this without extensively damaging any of my relationships.

One second I can look at someone and see all the good and feel so grateful and happy to know that person; the very next second I shift and my eyes see things in a completely different manner.  I may flip from feeling like we have this great bond and you get me so well to feeling like you just humor me and probably don’t even like me.  Or maybe where I usually see all the best qualities in someone suddenly any less than appealing quality is amplified to the point that I begin to feel very put off by our interactions.  It’s one extreme to the next and back again and it’s all in my head.

No one else is seeing any of this; they are my own delusions or exaggerations.  I have learned that over the years and as a result of making muck out of the good things in my life because I chose to see these things as reality and not a byproduct of my illness.

So, I fight to keep it all in check.  It’s like having the battle of heaven & hell raging inside my head and it takes a lot of energy for me to keep it restrained there instead of barfing it all over the world and the people in my life.  It is rather physically exhausting – it encourages muscle tension, headaches, irregular breathing (sometimes when I am trying to reign in the battle that is happening in my head I actually forget to breathe – I know it sounds ridiculous, but it happens and the next thing you know I am gasping for air), inability to focus on any one thing for more than a short period of time, and many other tiring affects.
Oh goody, my body is exhausted and my mind won’t shut the fuck up?!  This means that I fall behind on things that I should be using my energy to do… laundry, dishes, enforcing punishment, creative projects, journaling/writing, scheduling/keeping appointments for doctors, etc.  I basically get through in what I deem to be a very half-hazard manner.  But that’s the best I know to do, keep it together the best I can until the cycling slows, then deal with any aftermath (which is hopefully little to none) when it has come to a conclusion.

Oh what fun it is being a responsible bipolar individual.

Detoxifying Life

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It’s so easy to get oneself entangled in a toxic situation/relationship without even realizing it.  It generally starts with compassion for others – most good-hearted people are empathetic to others.  Especially when it is someone we care for going through something hard, or someone we’ve just started to get to know whose “patterns” we are not aware of, etc.

Before you know it, you’ve been sucked into their vortex.  You’re just trying to be a supportive friend, partner, or coworker; listening to their woes.  At first you may think, “Damn this person really has some crap luck.” or “He/She is going through a rough time right now.”  As time goes on you start to realize that what you have mistaken for temporary is part of who they are; not what they are experiencing.  It becomes clear that this person is THEIR OWN STORM.  Whether it’s because they need turmoil to feel whole, they are using it to avoid looking too deeply at their own lives, they think they deserve to be miserable or any other array of possibilities, this person is CHOOSING to be the victim and in some cases smearing their negativity all over you day after day.

I am a victim collector – let me rephrase that, I used to be a victim collector.

I have a huge heart; I care a lot about others.  I was also a “fixer” – you know, the girl that says, oh that’s broken, let me fix it for you – be it your stapler, your heart, your bank account… whatever.  Helping people made me feel like I was doing something good.  And I am when I am helping someone that truly wants to fix it.

The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by toxic people – takers – victims – users – the list goes on.  And I taught them to keep dumping it on me, crying on my shoulder, etc. because in my mind when you care, you are there.  So there I was sitting in the middle of a group of people that used me for what they could get, that became over-dependent on me; a cluster of people that sucked me into their vortex of negativity.

Not only was it slowly sucking me dry over a period of time, it was also making it near impossible for me to keep a grip on my bipolar cycles and anxiety.

What a miserable life.

But guess what, when that is who is in your life, eventually they empty your tank.  You become depleted.  Toxic people are generally, in addition to the things I’ve already mentioned, not the type of people that consider how they are causing others to feel or to stop and consider replenishing the well they are drawing from.  They are selfish – deliberate or not – and they will take until you are lying wilted on the floor, then they merrily move on to the next source of nourishment.

Where does that leave you?  Broken.

Once I reached that point I sat there, crushed, not understanding how I could give so much but be of such little importance to all of these people that run to me over and over for their fix of choice.  I was astonished by the fact that when I broke, there was no one willing to help fix me.  Some dropped everything and ran; others were content to keep me close so they had someone to keep them company in their pit of darkness.

As I sat there, I realized, that as comforting as it was to pity myself for a time, that this behavior wasn’t going to get me anywhere and my “so called friends” weren’t going to help encourage me as I would them because they liked the comradeship they thought they’d found.

That’s when I had to put my shit-kickers on (my preference Doc Martin’s) and start climbing out.  I don’t know how people are content to just stay right where they are and blame everyone else.  It’s certainly not fulfilling.

It might be for some, but it wasn’t for me.  I donned those boots and grabbed my ax and started to climb.  I had to thicken my skin and harden my heart a bit (not for always, only as needed – it’s okay to put yourself first).  As I climbed I started lobbing off the parasites that were bogging me down.  Yes there was guilt associated with it, but just like a scratch on your hand, it didn’t last forever.  Others fell or knocked themselves off by trying to pull signature manipulation moves that had worked for them in the past.  I let them fall.

As I did this there were times I’d ask myself, “What the hell are you doing?  If you dismiss everyone in your life, what will you have left?”

Do you know what the RIGHT answer was?  “Me!  I’d have me left.”  And you know what I didn’t have?  The dark heavily weighted feelings that had me constantly battling with depression, stress and anxiety.

I thought, “Woah!  What is this new world?”  I had time to consider me, I had the means and energy to nurture and pamper myself a little in a manner that I deserved.  Fuck yes this feels good!  But wait… I do kind of miss having comrades.  I love myself and am perfectly content with my own company, but we all need interaction with others.

No worries!!!  I cleared all this room in my life.  As I continued to tend to my own needs and responsibilities something started to happen.  For every space left, life was bringing me people to fill them back up; this time of a more positive nature.  However, let me be clear, it wasn’t just life bringing me people, it did bring them, but it was also me assessing and choosing which ones would fortify my life, which ones were worthy of all the love and kindness I offer and would be willing to enrich my life in return.

It was all up to me.  I could elect to begin new toxic cycles, or I could resist the urge to embrace every person that reached out to me and select only the ones that would be a good fit for both parties.

Once I accepted that I wasn’t being cruel and heartless, when I finally realized that I was worth all of the love that I extended to others, my entire life changed for the better.  I am a much healthier, happier person.  As a result I am far more of an asset and inspiration to my loved ones.

IT’S OKAY TO SET BOUNDARIES AND KEEP PEOPLE THAT DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD OUT OF YOUR LIFE OR AT A DISTANCE!!!

Try it, you’ll thank me.