Tag Archives: bipolar disorder

Personal: Relieved, Released, Rekindled

Over a year ago I let go of one of the most important things in my life, my best friend. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. I thought I could spare her the pain of having to deal with my pain, or carrying the burden of worrying about me, wishing she could fix my problems. I thought it would help my relationship by allowing me to spend less time yearning for the past where I lived close to her and we could go to one another whenever we wanted. I thought maybe removing the one person (outside of Joe and my parents) that I actually confided in, trusted, and truly connected with, would fix the trust issues in my relationship.
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Distance

Last year we packed up and moved away from our town, family, and friends. After some pretty harsh events with family and friends I needed to get away from everyone. I needed to go into recluse mode before any more hurt happened and broke me, again, forever. We needed some distance to stay away from the drama, find ourselves, and grow. We needed space to grow individually, grow our relationship, and grow our family. It’s been almost a year since we said goodbye to that little town in central Indiana and so much has happened in our absence.

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Eight things that help manage bipolar disorder

First off let me start by saying I obviously am not a licensed
psychologist of any kind. I saw a conversation on this photo
of Max Bemis and it made me want to share the top eight things that help me
manage my bipolar disorder.

I used to be completely out of control. In and out of the
hospital, on a bunch of different medications, self-medicating with drugs and
alcohol, and letting my life just swirl entirely out of control. I was screwing
my mind, not sleeping, giving into urges, and pushing myself toward psychosis
daily. I didn’t care if I lived or died, I just didn’t want to suffer any more.
I just wanted to forget about everything and let myself go. When I got pregnant
with my first child I realized I had to get myself under control. So I finally
started taking my mental health seriously. Here is a list of the top ten things
that helped me get my bipolar disorder under control and keep it that way.

1) Removing stressors – The biggest stressor for me (that is
within my control) is mess. I can’t stand clutter, I hate dirt, and I don’t
know how I lived so much of my life in untidy/unorganized/dirty places. I used
to get so overwhelmed by the amount of steps it would take to clean or
declutter that I just wouldn’t do it. Then the mess would stress me out and
every time I walked through my home I felt like pulling out my hair and ended
up sending my mood in a downward spiral. Once I had this revelation I buckled
down and spent a few months decluttering and working out a cleaning schedule
that would ensure mess stayed to an absolute minimum (until I hit the last
month of my pregnancy that is)! I would break each task into multiple smaller
steps, which brings me to number two…

2) Tracking
and making lists
 – By
making lists I am able to battle my apparently lapsing memory, my anxiety about
large tasks, and able to actually get things done. By tracking my habits,
symptoms, triggers, and moods I have been able to learn when and where I’m
headed in terms of my bipolar. Not only has it helped me learn how to better
manage my disorder, but it has helped me become more disciplined.

I used to keep a paper journal, electronic lists, and bits of
this information all over the place. As part of my getting organized focus last
year I started keeping all of my bipolar related stuff in a single book. I made
a binder for all other things I needed to track and lists, along with a daily
time-blocker and task list. This really helped me stay on top of things but I
ended up modifying my huge home/self/school/time management binder. I moved all
of the information to a single moleskine notebook, taped DIY dry-erase pages
into it, then realized that the unorganized layout was stressing me out. So I
searched YouTube for organization and scheduling ideas and found all of these
videos on ring-bound planners and knew it was perfect for what I needed.

3) Creative expression – My Filofax is one creative outlet, but
knitting was my savior. I’ve always loved crafting and creating. However, it
became something more when I got serious about my mental health. Knitting and
sewing became my two favorite pastimes. Keeping my hands busy and mind focused
on a task keeps my mind from thinking too much. The sense of accomplishment and
feeling of joy I get making something and giving it to someone really keeps me
in good spirits too. I used to feel like I was just wasting time when Joe and I
would sit down at the end of the day to watch Netflix together and wind down.
Now I knit almost every day. If I’m stressed or anxious I can just pick up my
needles and the action calms my body and mind down faster than any medication
ever did.

4) SLEEP and
other biological needs
 – I used to stay up
however late I wanted, smoke myself to cancer, do drugs, and consume virtually
no drink other than Mountain Dew and hot tea. I started making sure I got at
least eight hours of sleep, stopped smoking, stopped drinking as much soda,
started drinking at least six glasses of water a day, and began exercising five
days a week. I had been doing yoga for years and occasionally pilates. However,
I started adding some aerobics and cardio which really helped me. I began
looking at my body as a home rather than a garbage can. My goal was no longer
to have as much fun and disconnect as much as possible before I died, but to
tend and care for my body. The biggest thing for me was to stop putting artificial
drugs into my system, both pharmaceutical and recreational.

5) Weaning from medication –
I believe there is a time and place for medication, sometimes it IS needed for
a short period of time. However, I also believe that just dosing a person up
with tranquilizers in order to “help them” become okay for society is
not good. These powerful drugs that are given to people with mental illness
many times end up having a worse effect than the disorder. Their weight
changes, their self-image changes, and they end up being reliant on a
medication that they are building an immunity to meaning more, more, and more
will be administered until eventually they have to switch to something else.
For people with bipolar, the meds often make them gain weight. For people with
ADHD, it’s often the opposite. I personally think the focus should be on
learning to manage the illness, and medication should be a tool; not vice
versa.

6) Shoot for truth with myself and
others 
– I needed to face myself, be honest with myself, and shoot for
truth. I needed to be straight forward and honest with the people in my life. I
needed to stand up for myself and stop just accepting the way things were. I
needed to accept the fact that no relationship was going to turn out well for
me if I spent all of my heart and time focused on someone that was completely
out of my reach. By loving someone that would never love me back in the same
way I was destroying my romantic relationships. I had this idealistic idea of
who and what we were, was in denial about the true nature of things, and needed
to be truthful with myself about the whole situation. I needed to get my
runaway legs and straying eyes fixed on the person in front of me that I had
decided to spend the rest of my life with.

7) Becoming
a bit of a hermit
 – I
would stress out so much about other people, their problems, and their
addictions. I lived too close to much of my family and was always getting
dragged into their drama and beef with one another. I felt as though it was my
responsibility to mediate and fix things for the people I loved. Distancing
myself really helped with that. I also needed to cut ties with the people that
were unhealthy for me. Not that I felt like I was better than anyone, but some
friends were not good for what I was shooting for in life and needed to be let
go.

8) Facing my fears –
The song “Fear” by Blue October explains this 100%. All my life I had
been running from this pain in me, allowing it to hold me down, trying
everything I could to escape myself. I used to fall, now I get back up. I don’t
have to be afraid, fall apart, and let the damage consume me. I don’t have to
be afraid of getting better, or being happy, or letting go of the past. Really
the whole Sway album from Blue October sums up the whole last year of my life.
I just had to face my fears, stand back up, and start picking up the pieces of
me.

Updates

So I do not have any crafting updates as I have been super busy with life and school preparation. Minus the fact that my dad came across a TON of wool and pretty much doubled my yarn stash! School starts this coming Monday and I am very excited! To think I only have one semester after this and I will finally be finished blows my mind! Unfortunately I will not be able to just jump right in to my career once I graduate as I wanted to. It will take me another 6 months probably before I will have the time because come the beginning of the year (hopefully I last until February/March) we will have two new babies!

That’s right we are having twins! We will be moving in January and I may be so big by then I won’t have time to finish the nursery in time for their arrival. I want to give myself enough time to settle in to our new home and recuperate from birthing two new little joys before I start working. I have decided to make my last elective a database class instead of going the web development route. I will end up with two certifications on top of my degree this way and want to be as employable as possible. I don’t want firms to think my web dev skills are too out of date after so long and I know I won’t have time to stay on top of the latest tech tricks when I’m chasing a two year old around while tandem nursing twins.

Last but not least I was nominated and invited to join The National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Alpha Pi! I know being a community college this wouldn’t mean that much to someone going to a big college; but it means so much to me. The faculty nominates only a select few students based on their academic efforts and leadership potential. It really made me realize that I have come so far from when I was truant from school at 15. I crammed four+ years of school into a summer, busted my ass to learn all that I could and get my GED, started college at 17 and now I’m finally (due to a few year break and so much mind changing about a major) going to graduate; and someone else is finally recognizing my hard work. Looking back at my life and the current state of my siblings and cousins I see where I could be now and where I am. I’m so damn proud of myself!

I’m finally beginning to look to the future with relief knowing that even though most of my family is unsuccessful, constantly stressing about finances, regretting much of their lives, and struggling just to get by; I know that will not be me. I will be able to provide for my kids and leave them something when I pass away. I will be a good example for my children. Most importantly I will be a parent to my kids. I will supervise them. I will discipline them. I will not let them ever have a reason to feel like they are not worthy.

Through all of this personal development and soul searching I’ve been doing the past few years and action taking the past few months, I’ve really grown. I’ve been able to see my past, face my fears, take action, and speak out. I’ve been able to tell my feelings to people in ways I never thought possible. I used to keep my thoughts and feelings bottled up for fear of hurting others but I know that true love is unconditional. No matter how upset my words may make someone in the short term, in the long term my words help them see the truth. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind and to move on. I’m just so proud of myself for all of my improvement and so thankful to be blessed with two buns in the oven!

Leaving the Past Behind

We are expecting another beautiful child. Soon we hope to have our own house instead of an apartment. I’m no longer focusing on other people or living in the past. Over the last few months I have been doing some soul searching and letting go of many feelings that were holding me back; not just anger, resentment, and fear; but also love.

I was spending too much time focused on others instead of my family. Trying to make others better themselves. Spending so much energy stressing by taking others’ problems on as my own. I’ve since realized that I can’t do that and I can’t change people. I can’t take away their addictions, raise their kids for them, or take charge of their health. I also cannot feel bad because they continuously lie not only to me but to the rest of the world, and to themselves. It is their prerogative and all I can control is my responses to their stimuli. I’m not just talking about any one person either, but many.

I’m surrounding myself with people that are like what I want to be. Healthy influences, clean people, honest people, people I don’t mind my children being around. I just got sick of the lies, the drugs, and the bullshit. I got sick of the lack of honesty, the facades, and the false images.

I had all of these “friends” that I thought were so healthy but when I opened my eyes and allowed myself to stop being fooled I could see they were just painting this picture perfect self for others with a ton of lies. I’m leaving the past behind and focusing on our future. I want my children to be surrounded my positive honest people. While I cannot choose who their family is I can choose which of my friends to subject them to. Drug-free friends, honest friends, true friends. While this may leave me with only a very small handful of friends; it allows me to focus my love, energy, and effort more on my kids and building an honest career.

I have worked my ass off in college and am graduating in just a few months. I’ll have time to do some freelancing until the baby is big enough for day care then I can start working at a web development company. I won’t have to lie to sell myself because my hard work will be paying off with actual experience.

I’m not the same drugged up, self-medicating, very mentally unstable, irresponsible girl I was when I lived in Madison. I’m just a bipolar coding mom trying to better my life for my kids. So long old life, old acquaintances, and old self. I’ve learned so much from those experiences and those people. Special thanks to my therapist, my amazing boyfriend, and all those who burned me and opened my eyes.