Sunday, January 25, 2015

Great Ideas



Lying in bed, staring at the shadows
Projected scenes on the ceiling
Baby beside me, quiet now, sleeping soundly
My clothes still on
Contorted amidst mountains of
disheveled blankets
Pillows helter skelter all around my
head
Mascara caked from the last 2 days, blinking slowly
2:35 am and my head is full of great ideas

Feelings and thoughts take shape
like images from a movie
Starting on a Monday, ending on a Sunday

Sly smirks while meeting in airports
Piggy back rides through crowded streets
Splashing in ice cold water
Peals of laughter echoing in
cathedrals
So inappropriate

Running wild
Heedless and carefree
No plans, endless nights
Flashing lights
Cobblestone streets and foreign words
Falling in fragments all around me

Showing me your hometown
Drawing pictures in the sand with
damp fingertips
Having playful arguments and
making up again
Going back to where it began

Tickling and making faces
Snapshots of all the places
Smoking cigarettes, reveling in the
stench while dissecting Descartes
Lost in conversation

Slow motion movie smiles
Amateur rock stars in
stupid looking sunglasses and cheesy selfies, photo booths

Listening to your accent
Secrets that get whispered in
tangled hair
Dispersing as if they were never
there

Playing tag, spinning around
Watching pink and orange frothing
sunsets in silence on park benches

Eating and drinking into a haze
Rising and falling
Impetuous
Laughing and laughing and laughing
And stomping my feet
I can be crazy and it’s ok
Because I know that secretly you like it

Sullen pouting, hot tears pouring
You wiping them away and making it
all better
Me kissing your nose, holding you close and
whispering goodbye

All the random moments, every one
special while it’s fleeting
Time ticking down so fast
Cannot last forever
Just one short week
to cram in a lifetime of experiences
Amazing beauty

And that is the agreement; We Agree To Let It Go
Stopping at the best part, never letting it stagnate
We separate, return to what we
knew before
Savoring the bitter sweetness
Two people on opposite sides of the
world
Coming together out of nowhere for a brief time,
then disappearing again
Creating something
invisible
Buried in a make believe time capsule
Everything we wanted
To look back on one day and smile
and say
That we lived

10/30/2014



Monday, January 19, 2015

Awareness is crucial in managing bipolar disorder off meds



Our circumstances can make us depressed. Seems like a fairly obvious statement, yes?

Sadly though, this fact is overlooked in the mental health field a lot, and even in our own personal lives. I know after being diagnosed with bipolar, I started to buy into all the messages out there – I NEEDED meds, it was bipolar that was making me depressed, I should monitor my moods so that I could alter my meds, etc. Sure, I had counseling but it mainly focused on – bipolar! Everything in a round about way came back to bipolar. I thought I was gaining clarity by listening to these messages. After all, these doctors and nurses and counselors were the experts, right?

During that time I was making videos a lot and still journaling so I have a lot of detailed accounts of how I was feeling and what was going on in my life. It is amazing to me looking back how unaware I was the vast majority of my life! I had a great deal of INSIGHT into my FEELINGS but very little AWARENESS of WHY I felt that way. I made one video about depression in 2010 and how nothing was going on in my life to make me depressed, and that it must have been bipolar. Yet, I was completely unaware of my surroundings and how they were affecting me.

During that particular time I made that video, I recall exactly what was going on, and my life was NOT going great at all. My husband and I were having major conflicts. It had been going on for months though so I think I just discounted it as having an effect on me, when I now see it was one of the main causes of my depression. Also, we were living with relatives at the time which was becoming stressful. We were looking for our own house, also stressful. I was taking care of twin 2 year olds, stressful. I can’t believe I didn’t take all that into account when looking at my mental state and the way it would fluctuate!!! I just thought, ohhhh, it’s bipolar…that stinks…maybe tomorrow would be better. In a way it kept me from addressing things in my life that were affecting me, because I was putting too much emphasis on the wrong things (bipolar/biological/medical problem) and not enough on other things (relationships/family life/stress level).

I guess I felt compelled to make this blog today because I think the current message in the mental health field is doing a disservice to those diagnosed with depression or bipolar. Here is my 2 cents…

I believe that many mental illnesses (including depression and bipolar) begin with an inherent sensitivity. This is something currently being researched in the mental health field and I do believe this is barking up the right tree, so to speak. I believe this sensitivity makes a person more likely to be affected by external stimuli. This can then manifest as many different things – anxiety, depression, mania.

For example – take an average person and a person with bipolar. Put them in a situation where they are going through a break-up. The average person will feel sad and maybe even depressed. The bipolar person may dwell on it incessantly, feel suicidal, perhaps even attempt suicide. The same stimuli but much more intense emotions related to that stimuli. (Keep in mind this is just a random example, of course this isn’t true of every average person or bipolar person! I’m just making a generalization.)

So, if I were to go to my psychiatrist and tell them all this, (in my fictional example) one of the first things they would be concerned with is: medication! Upping meds, changing meds, etc. They have the viewpoint that these things must be dealt with by pharmaceuticals. I used to believe that and I went along with it all. Now, I feel differently.

So many times over the course of my treatment, everything got lumped under the category “It’s because you have bipolar.” Is it? Well, no not really. Does being depressed because I have marital conflict mean it’s related to bipolar? Hardly. If I addressed the bigger issue (marital problems) could I help mediate the effects on my “illness”? I say yes.

Bipolar or not, we are all human beings. We feel low when we get divorced, lose a friend, have a family member that dies, lose a pet. Now, those are BIG things. But even little things affect us too. Having a stressful day at work. A sick child. An upcoming deadline. Interpersonal conflict. Too often, these things are not addressed in psychiatry or in counseling as far as ways to cope with these issues in healthy, non-medical means. Somehow, everything always comes back to an illness, even if it is a legitimate problem. To this day, within the bipolar community, whenever I say things that others view as extreme, they caution me that I must be having an episode. I deeply appreciate the care and concern. But it really goes to show just how ingrained the idea has become even within OURSELVES and TO ourselves that mental illness is WHAT we are. That we are helpless. That we cannot change or improve without meds. That any sort of variation means we better get some new meds, pronto, and that will help our situation.

Now, I think at times, medication plays a role but that often, when we learn to be aware of ourselves, our moods, our surroundings and WHAT is causing these feelings we can address them in a more pro-active way. Many people in the mental health system (including myself) did everything “right”. We went to counseling, we took the meds, we followed the regime for YEARS. But that is only addressing one small piece of the puzzle. We are multi-faceted individuals and must deal with our lives in a holistic manner, instead of focusing everything on ONE THING – our illness. That doesn’t help us, but instead keeps us trapped in a cycle we can never get out of. I often wondered WHY I wasn’t getting better despite doing all the “right” things (and believe me, I have heard the same thing from others about a million times! People want to know WHY these meds aren’t fixing their depression or their mood swings, WHY they aren’t getting better. Ultimately it can lead to a worse feeling of depression, because on top of the initial depression, there is depression for having “failed” to get better.)

I am now almost a year off meds and am so much more aware of myself than I was at the beginning of my mental health journey almost 5 years ago, and I am so thankful for that. Like I said, I could identify my feelings but not WHY I felt that way. I now understand: all the variation of mood, how various social cues trigger my moods or affect them (positive or negative), how the behaviors I engage in affect me, how all of this affects others. It’s not something that occurs overnight but is a learning process that occurs over time and with observation. Does that mean I’m now “fixed”? No. But it puts me ahead of the game because I can anticipate things before they happen. I can be prepared. I minimize the chances of being caught off guard. When bad things do happen, I can learn from them and try to adjust things/situations in the future. I know my weaknesses and limitations and try to take those into account when making plans or scheduling particular outings or things of that nature. For example, I now know that working hard on something can trigger elevated mood or “mania” for me. So, I don’t avoid working hard, but if I notice signs, I can either enjoy the ride or if it becomes extreme, back off and try to do calming activities to mediate the excitation happening in my brain. If I start feeling depressed and notice I’m ruminating on negative thoughts, I can purposely cut off the train of thought and engage in something more uplifting – some happy music, or watching a funny video, or talking to a close friend. If I weren’t aware of the effects of my environment on me, I couldn’t do any of these things! Awareness is SO important. I think it is THE most important thing in dealing with mental illness, period.

So my advice to anyone new to the mental health system or newly diagnosed is this – FIRST, take stock of your own life. No one knows you like YOU. You are the best advocate for yourself. We may like the idea of a fairy godmother or white knight swooping in and fixing us or fixing our lives but that isn’t reality. We must be our own advocates in life. Understanding yourself better can help you understand your moods and ways of coping or self-medicating (drugs/alcohol/self-injury/bingeing/social withdrawal, etc.) that are unique to you. You can in turn begin to address these things. SECOND – Don’t believe the hype. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar (or even if you just think you may have it) not everything about you is “because you have bipolar”! Bipolar in itself doesn’t make a person inherently – quiet, loud, obnoxious, generous, loving, selfish or any other thing. We all have to accept that we have our own traits regardless of bipolar. Don’t fall into the trap of believing “I’m a thrill seeker…it’s because I have bipolar!” or “I don’t like people. It’s because I have bipolar.” Not only is that boxing yourself in, but some of it isn’t even true (bipolar is simply a tendency for extreme mood experiences and shifts.) While you may be able to say you’re a thrill seeker while in an elevated mood state, if you’re like that all the time, it’s just your personality. (I’m going to go ahead and say that most people realize a lot of their own personality traits, good or bad. We don’t all admit them openly to others though!) Lumping all these things under the heading of “bipolar” may make you feel better for a while and you may feel validated that it’s not all in your head, (I know I did) but eventually it will consume you. Bipolar will become the only thing you see about yourself and in a weird way, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You believe you’re nuts and so you act nuts, so people treat you nuts and so you believe you’re nuts…It will make you feel worse and not better. And that isn’t what any of us want, bipolar or not.

LASTLY, Many times, bipolar or not, addressing the true issues in life can bring more happiness than simply relying on a pill. There is no miracle pill to cure bipolar or depression. But healing starts with AWARENESS. A person can never change something they are unaware of. If you walked around with spinach in your teeth all day and never looked in a mirror, would you think to floss your teeth right away? Probably not. You wouldn’t even be aware of it. But if you thought to yourself while you were eating your salad that you better head to the bathroom after you eat and make sure your pearly whites were white instead of green, you’d head off any unforeseen embarrassment. Point is, be aware. Aware of YOURSELF, aware of what is AROUND you. Notice how things affect you, what your particular “weaknesses” are, what triggers your moods (both down and up). Is it having too much to do in a short time? Is it dealing with money troubles? Relationship troubles? Is it being involved in a cool class? Experiencing something new? Really take a step back and assess your own life. You can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. Only by truly looking at yourself as a whole can you begin to understand how to take steps that will bring the improvements you seek.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Come Inside


Discover me
Come into me, all the way
Crawl deep down
Past the shiny windows, past the dank, musty basement
Past the warped foundation
To the place where no light penetrates

There is tension all around you
In a sightless night
Never really knowing what you may find

But you aren’t afraid to go there
You welcome it
Groping your way down, twisting in and tunneling around
Hands discerning rough edged scars
Every crack and crevice that can never be illuminated by the light of day

You accept that what is here is immutable
You touch and feel and taste and devour every piece of me
And that’s what makes you different
That’s what sets you apart from the masses and hordes that
Hover nearby or pass without incident
Never daring to step foot inside

You’re fearless
The only one who can withstand my intensity
The only one who can handle it without collapsing
The only one who truly wants it
And that is why
I keep searching for you


1/13/15

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Demise of a Family



I’m feeling pretty low, so I’m going to write this. Maybe just as a vent but there really is so much to say, and so much encompassed here.

The crumbling of my marriage has made me think a lot this past year, especially in the last few months after separating for a second time. I know, and have for many years, that the relationship is no good and that it must be severed. But deep down, there is some part of me that still longs for that “perfect family”. The one I envisioned before I had kids. The one that has passed and that will now never be. Part of me doesn’t want to let go of that dream. But I have no choice, and I have to.

I wanted a loving husband, a supportive partner. Someone to share life’s ups and downs, the joy and sorrow and everything in between. Someone to grow closer to as the years went by, not further apart. Sadly, I didn’t get that, and I really in ways can’t blame anyone but myself for making bad choices and continuing on down a path I knew wasn’t right early on. But such is life, hindsight is 20/20 and a whole slew of things seem to come together to make the perfect storm at the time that becomes nearly impossible to escape from. The never ending cycle of people, of relationships.

When our kids came, I had a whole new dream…the dream of being the PTA mom, the mom that is involved in everything her kids do, who is patient, who is their biggest cheerleader and always encouraging them to be the best they can in life. Unfortunately, because of my own issues, I was at a disadvantage when it came to parenting, and I never really realized that. I found it to be hard, harder than most and often wondered why it was so hard and not as enjoyable as I had envisioned. Granted, a lot of things contributed to all that – relationship troubles, being alone, family troubles, mental health issues, kids health problems, moving, work and school issues…in short, the stresses of life hit me hard.

For a long time I managed to hold it together. I struggled with my moods, with depression and suicidal feelings terribly. I tried to continue to put on the brave face, to be the “good wife” and the “good mom” and show no chinks in the armor. But it was really hard to do, and eventually I did break.

After having my son, my stresses in life have only magnified. I love my kids tremendously. In fact they are the most meaningful thing to me. But I worry sometimes that I am a bad example for them. I worry that they see me “too sad” or “too angry” or even “too happy”. I try to exemplify all the traits I wanted to as a mom but each day is a struggle when you do it alone and are trying to maintain your own sanity, and take care of the needs of everyone else on top of it. For years, I have been both mother and father, nurturer and disciplinarian. I have to fill every role, and it’s not a natural place to be – to have to be everything to everyone.

Over the past two years the burnout of the stresses of life have slowly crept up on me to the point where I sometimes have so little energy I can barely get up off the couch. I wouldn’t even describe it as depression. More like – apathy, or even ambivalence. A complete drainage of the mental and physical energy that I need just to get through the days. This is life, and this is the way it is. Some things I can work on, some things I can change. But some I can’t. It isn’t going to get easier until my kids are grown, and I know that realistically. My family will never be “normal” and the broken things between their dad and I will never be mended. What’s done is done. And I accept that, but it doesn’t make me happy. Like I said, a part of me still longs for that ideal nuclear family – mom, dad, kids. The happy picture perfect scene out of a magazine.

I wish that life was not so hard and I wish there was more happiness, more lights to cling onto in the dark pit. I take them where I can find them, wherever that may be. And I keep getting up each day and carrying on, because that’s the best I can do. It’s all I can do.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

15 Weird things about my brain

So I found this list I made a long time ago and had forgotten I made! It is so true though so I figured I'd go ahead and post it, just for kicks. "Weird things about my brain!"


1)     I think in pictures.

2)     I always multi-task.

3)     My mind is never “at rest”

4)     I get bored easily and must always be doing something. No one would ever use the word lazy to describe me.

5)     Once I have mastered something or learned a great deal about it, I lose interest in it.

6)     I can usually see all sides of a point.

7)     I am neither a “big picture” person nor a “detail oriented” person. I am both. Strangely, I am equally as good at macro and micro. I can think up original ideas, formulate plans, put all the little pieces in place and carry it out from start to finish by myself.

8)       I tend to be a perfectionist. Going along with this, I tend to be control freaky. If something is not up to my standards, I would rather it not be done at all. Most of the time, I do it all myself and am proud that I did. It’s hard to delegate because I often find (this sounds incredibly conceited, so I apologize) that it isn’t done well enough if I let someone else take it over. I do believe the saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I wind up with 100x as much work. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

9)     I think in long one person monologues a lot. That is probably why I am good at writing. I just write the very-long-never-ending-sentence-that-is-constantly-harrassing-me-at-all-times-in-my-head on paper. Then it’s out. Then I can move on (sometimes).

10)  I’m both emotional, yet logical. I’ve been told that I’m good at “arguing emotion using logic”. A little bit of a paradox to many, but hey! Most things about me are!

11)  I can actually feel processes in my brain sometimes. I’m assuming it is the electrical activity that is generated that causes this. I have yet to know of one single other person who has described this, so I feel like a bit of a weirdo there. Often when I consume large amounts of information (TOO much), I will go to sleep and as I am falling asleep, I can actually feel bits of information going to the places they need to, like a magnet is drawing them there. If I go to sleep addled, I wind up waking up and the first thing I think upon sitting up out of bed is AHA! And all the information is in its place and makes sense immediately upon my waking. It’s like I took in the info, went to sleep, and while I was sleeping, my brain was organizing. Odd.

12)  I am a huge organizer. I love organizing, and re-organzing.

13)  I make lists for everything, both mental lists and those I write down and cross off. I always have a mental tally of what is going on. Sometimes it is so much that it actually becomes counterintuitive, and I become forgetful!

14)  I have a terrible memory. I cannot remember names well at all.

15)  I am attracted to people much more based on their intelligence than looks or status or anything like that. If I see someone as having a great skill or being very adept at something or having much more knowledge than the average person, I find myself incredibly drawn to that person and excited by them. It’s like a “brain orgasm”!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Filth


You and I
We play this little game
Back and forth
Good vs. bad
Pendulum swinging
Strung out
Seeking it out
The dirt and filth
Pushing it back, moving away and then crawling down close
Snorting it up
Tongues wagging
Salivating for just a taste
Total ecstasy so close but so far
So wrong, that it only makes the yearning more
You can lie to yourself
But you can’t lie to me
I see you, and all the nasty parts
A thin line between love and hate
Desire and disgust
Battling the beast inside
Sliding down a slippery slope
And maybe I’m no better than you
To crave all the things I despise

12/20/2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Feast


Why
Why
Why
The question is ceaseless and unanswered
We do what we do to ourselves
And we have no one else to blame
Choices we make haunting us
Plaguing us like nightmares
And we know how bad the things we do really are
But it doesn’t stop us in the end
Our selfish nature always prevails
Look out for number 1
Everyone and everything else taking the back seat
While we’re up on a pedestal
Looking down upon the world
Ours for the taking
Reviling the others while we do what they do
Consumed with greed, dizzy with lust
Gorging on the tasty morsels we see, all within our grasp
Siphoning up what someone else has, slaking thirst with what doesn’t belong to us
Faces smeared, little piggies
Swallowing it down
Enjoying ourselves as we digest it all
And no one matters
Obliterated in the acid bath of our guts
Leaving us hungry for more


12/20/2014

Slaughter

Decisions we make
Leading us down the path to a place of no return
And once the seal is broken
Cherry popped
There is no turning back
And the urging only becomes intensified
Magnetic forces attracting, then turned to the flip side, repelling
A force of will between body and mind
At times, strong enough to resist the temptation
But mostly, marred by weakness and frailty
Pathetic creatures
Slovenly, gluttonous
Wallowing in the filth like hogs awaiting the slaughter

12/20/2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Relationship Dynamics - The Good & The Bad



Here is the latest topic that I’ve been pondering. Relationship dynamics. I’m talking more about the dynamics between two people rather than in a group of people here.

When I was younger, I used to believe that we just are who we are. No matter what friends we have, or who we date, we’re always the same person…we’re always “us”. But in reality, that’s not necessarily true. The relationship dynamics are so different from person to person that you interact with, because it depends not just on you, but on them. Have you ever had a friend who was really quiet, so you started to naturally take on a more outgoing type role? Or how about the opposite…having a friend who talks so much you naturally just become quieter to “make space” for that person? It happens all the time. We make accomodations for the people in our lives. So even if we’re still “us”, there can be a lot of versions of who we are, depending on the person we are around.

I think the real key to successful relationships is finding someone who is really compatible with us. They allow us to be the best person we can be. We don't have to worry about being too quiet, too loud, too moody, too excitable, too boring, or whatever. 

Take for example my first serious boyfriend. He and I just meshed. We never fought, we always got along and personality wise, we were very much alike. He never pressured me to be anything different than what I was and I never pressured him to be different than how he was. It alleviated a lot of tension and a lot of potential issues. I was young and took it for granted, thinking I'd be that way in all relationships, that I would always be free to be me, and that it would be simple and easy.

 A later relationship I had was the total opposite. He was kind of overbearing, and had very clear ideas about “what a man does” and “what a woman does”. Even though I’m not generally a passive person in relationships, I began to take on that role because of him. And I really didn’t like it. I wasn’t happy being “the little woman”. But after awhile I stopped rocking the boat because I didn't want to cause tension, which just left me unhappy. He and I did not mesh on a lot of things and it caused a lot of conflict. It was a huge relief when that relationship ended and I didn’t have to take on a role/roles that I didn’t want or "tone down" parts of myself to suit someone else. Yes, Underneath, I was the same person, but because of outside factors coming from the him, it affected me quite a bit, and my behavior and reaction to things changed into a person I didn't really recognize.

My current relationship has been very toxic for a very long time. He and I are not very compatible people, and most of the time it has been like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It doesn’t fit and trying to make it fit is a big pain. There is constant fighting, arguing and just negativity. Rather than bringing out the best in each other, we bring out the worst in each other. For awhile, I started to think that was just who I was…a negative, angry and depressed person. But when I started getting away from him more, I noticed I wasn’t that way! I was happier, more positive and just, in general, a better person. The dynamics between us caused this perfect storm of crap that became inescapable. Which I why I realized I had to get out.

Now, I’m aware of all of these things. I realize that we are who we are, but that can change somewhat depending on the particular dynamics with any other individual. The best relationships help you thrive and be the best version of you. The worst relationships make all your negative traits come out and can leave you feeling lost and unrecognizable to yourself. It makes me think about people quite a bit, and why we end up with who we do, and what we get out of these relationships. Thankfully, I've learned a lot from all the relationships/friendships I've had in life and that has me better prepared to not settle for bad dynamics with someone and to keep looking for something that brings out the best.

Going forward in life, I’m interested in finding people (friends, lovers, or otherwise) that have that positive dynamic with me. People that I don’t have to “dial myself down” for or otherwise change. People often make the comment after relationships fail that, “There are plenty of fish in the sea!” And while that may be true that there are millions of people on this earth and a plethora of potential meetings/friendships/relationships you could have, it doesn’t mean that everyone you meet you will want to be around! Worse yet, no one should force themselves to be around someone they have a bad dynamic with, although sadly it happens a lot. Low self-esteem, loneliness, dysfuctional coping mechanisms and a whole host of other things contribute to us staying in relationships/friendships with bad dynamics. At this point in my life, I realized that I would rather be alone than deal with any of that garbage. Maybe I will find great new people that I'm just DYING to be around, and maybe I'll just find shallow surface friendships/relationships. But I know better than to settle for less than I want anymore.