This is a piece I wrote in January of 2015 on my Divorce Blog. It decided to speak to me today. How many of you try and keep the peace worried about disrupting everyone else's world? Especially when you know you already overburden your family with your illness. Guilt and fear are a mean mistress.
Sunday evening I got a group email from Danielle LaPorte titled Swallowing your words, paying rent in hell, and maintaining appearances. Why we make (unhealthy) compromises.
"We compromise -- we swallow our words, keep paying rent in hell, and maintaining appearances, because we're afraid that we won't get what we really want if we... really tell the fucking truth, choose joy over pain, and show up as ourselves. But if we don't really tell the fucking truth, choose joy over pain, and show up as ourselves... we'll never get what we really want."
Her words have been swirling around in my mind sweeping over my thoughts & memories.
I am a swallower.
I swallow down my truth.
I swallow down my words.
I swallow down my emotions: anger, cutting words, disappointment, rage, fear, and sadness.
I also swallow down my decisions. I do not like finding the courage to speak my truth or my decision and being faced with defending & explaining them.
I have not yet become comfortable just stating, "My gut tells me this is the best decision for me."
My experience has been that if I can't properly defend my choice or if my argument is not based mostly in facts then I am invalid, that I am wrong. I did not grow up in a home being told that decisions should be made based on your gut feelings and that you can trust them. I was not told it is okay to make mistakes, that they are part of the learning process. I did not learn that facts are what you use to justify your choices to other so they will agree with you and leave you alone to live your life.
I did not grow up in a home where things made sense. I grew up in an home of alcoholics where it was best to not rock the boat, where mistakes were huge problems, where logic was slurred and irrational and where excuses were made for every one and every thing.
Learning that I am a swallower late in life has made my body very sick. Swallowing down has taken a huge toll on my body physically.
I am an enabler & co-dependent, aka a fixer. Give me a mess and watch me take action. Give me someone else's emotions to tip toe around, while ignoring my own and I sigh a huge relief because I know this game and have played it hundreds of times. Shuffle shit up, Tetris shit into the closet and close the door (and pray no one opens it), if I move fast enough and keep all of the plates spinning, then my life seems normal. From a distance, with your head cocked slightly to the left, with the sun in your eyes, it appears that my life is freakin fab-u-lous and parts are.
That is the kicker, some parts always are fabulous.
I am beginning to see that when I feel the need to weigh the good against the bad, I need to set the scale down and walk away. Nothing I want in my life should require me to make a list of whether or not the good out weighs the bad. Finding myself sitting there with list in hand needs to be a huge sign that my life is completely out of whack and that I have made several, bad compromises and swallowed too much down.
What do I fear will be the outcome if I said and did what I need to do? I am afraid I will upset the world, that I will send those I love into a downward spiral from which they will never recover. I am afraid that I will have to explain myself. I am worried that without my assistance, the people I love's worlds will crash and burn. I am afraid I will be blamed. I am afraid I will be deemed unworthy & unlovable. I am afraid that I will be judged selfish & ungrateful. I am afraid that I will find out that I am nothing special. I am afraid that if I only focus on me, then I will have no one to blame when I fail.
I am afraid I will fail and everyone will tell me I should have just "made do".
The problem right now is that things have been churning and burning for long enough that I can feel the bubbling up that means an eruption is near. I wish that I could push it all back down and take the time to deal with one swallowed issue at a time, but that is not how the science of this works.
So, some shit is about to explode up & out of me and it is never pretty like volcano erupting on Discovery Channel, unfortunately, it is much more like projectile vomiting from a horror movie.
The only cure for swallowing is speaking my truth and while I am taking small unsteady steps that direction, I have decades of unconscious habitual swallowing to rehab. Each morning I wake up with the clear thought in my head that today I will speak my truth, all day, not just when it is easy. Some days I speak my truth all day and it feels really good. Some days I swallow so much you can hear my guts rumbling from two rooms away, but each day I wake up remembering that it is a new day. Each day I start again.
All I know to do is to keep showing up.
I know that the only cure for the vomiting is to say what I need to, without fear.
It is my truth and if I want other's to love and accept me, then I have to love and accept me too!
For more of Danielle's insight & inspiration, head over to her web site http://www.daniellelaporte.com/
On Thursday nights I take my son to practice. It is too far away for me to travel back home after dropping him off. There is also the added stress of some weeks they need to be taken to another location to run track. So I sit. Now that it is finally getting to 90 degrees in Colorado Springs, I was baking in the car. I have leather seats which just make it worse. I was sweaty from head to toe. I felt so gross and nasty. Three hours of marinating in my own sweat just put me in a foul mood.
I was pleased to be greeted by a happy, chatty child at the end of the practice.
It's the little things, right?
Good article for adding Probiotics to your med regimen. Click here to read.
I fill my prescriptions at my local Walmart. I signed up for their text notifications. Every month it shoots me a text to order my meds. All I have to do is type "ALL". Then two days later I begin receiving text telling me I can come in and pick them up. I ignore the first 5 days worth of text as I normally have a little bit left. When I got today's text I noticed it showed a low, low dollar amount, which let me know that I would not be picking up all of my meds. Damn, damn, damn. One of the meds I take feels like the most important as it helps me sleep. I cannot go without this med. I drive down there and fortunately the two prescriptions they have for me are my lamotrigine and my quetiapine for sleep!!!
I was informed that for the other two, the would fax my doctor to get a new prescription three times before they called her. I strongly feel for a group of ill people who tend to fight taking our damn meds, that the pharmacy should note what meds we are taking and take preemptive steps to help us not screw up our med schedule.
I know I am dreaming, but now I have to call my doctor and admit I haven't been paying attention to the front of the bottles that state how many refills I have left. I also know that when my prescriptions run out, that I probably have an appointment scheduled and I seem to have forgotten, again, to write down when we agreed to see each other next. I need to ask her to write it down for me and sticky note it to my forehead.
I just took a break for typing and went to go search all of the pockets in my purse and found her business card and on the back is my appointment, July 9 at 2 pm! Yay for me, I am not a 6 time loser in forgetting my appointment!!!!
So, now all I have to do is call her to let her know that Walmart will be faxing her to get my abilify and lithium prescription so we can keep me on rails of sanity and off the crazy train.
Now that I am thinking of my appointment, I believe we agreed to make this the expensive appointment and have it be a therapy appointment and not my regular med check. I will tell you that I do not like therapy. All I do is sit there and cry and have snot bubbles explode out of my nose. She sounded like if I didn't do therapy that she would drop me. I haven't found cheap therapy yet. Honestly, I haven't been looking. I like writing compared to typing. When I cry while writing, it feels right and cathartic because no one is watching me. I really hate being looked at. I had thought I would do the online therapy, but they still want to look at you.
Anyhow, that is my sob story for today. I promise I am really not sobbing today, just irritated that I have to go back to Walmart to get my other pills later this week.
People, remember 4th of July is next week and that many pharmacies will be closed. Don't be like Mental Melissa and wait until July 3rd to fill those prescriptions! Sticky note to the forehead!!!
"Love how the light hits your life." Danielle LaPorte
For those of us who barely made it through the Winter, we did it, we made it to Summer Solstice! It is Saturday and I got up and out for a two mile walk. I keep forgetting to take my cash as I pass a farmers market on Saturday walks. It doesn't matter that I am walking to keep my energy high and to lose some of this weight, I would bee line straight for the fresh bread stand.
In Colorado, we still have not made it to summer. It is cold and overcast and dreary. When we get an hour of sunshine, I dart out to sit in a chair to try to soak some of that goodness into my soul.
We had a couple of hours of sun light the other day and I sat watching the sun bounce off the crystals I have in the window ledges. Citrine, Amethyst, Rose Quartz and Quartz Crystal are lined up with other rocks I collect on walks and hikes.
All of the things that I could not drag myself out of bed to do this winter will suddenly seem possible and easy. Even something as simple as shaving my legs. I want to wear shorts because it will get hot and I will shave my legs every couple of days. During the winter I may have shaved once a month. I truly could have cut my leg hair and donated it to a charity. I just couldn't manage it.
I understand that summer can bring on mania for some of us, and I certainly don't want that, but I would like to spend a couple of months in that place that is neither up nor down, but just slightly higher than baseline. I want to enjoy some energy and desire.
As the sun finds it's way to Colorado, I will start to notice how much better my mood gets. I will have more energy. I will want to sit outside on my porch and watch my neighbors evening walks. I will sit in the backyard and soak up sun, even though I will never tan. I will however cherish every moment of warmth on my skin.
So feeling this quote today. "Even when I'ms in a really great steady and stable place...I'm clinically bipolar, so that always exist - a darkness always exist." Mary Lambert
I am okay. I feel okay. I got out of bed. I got showered. I ate breakfast. I have been productive at work this morning. Yet I feel it. The anxiety feels like a warning that my "normal" will be short lived. I don't know if the whirling or the bleak will come knocking. When I am normalish my anxiety tends to take the reigns and work me up with overwhelm and doom and gloom.
Here I am sitting here being all normal and yet I know it will be short lived. I don't know how to describe what I am feeling, but I can feel something. These feelings come and go, come and go.
While I can pass for normal today, I wonder if anyone around me can feel it? I am med compliant willingly because I know this provides me the greatest chance of staying stable, and my family and myself deserve stable Melissa.
Of the two, I really don't think I can handle another depression right now. It is too soon. I just came out of six months of hell. I don't want to stink and lay in bed.
Maybe I have forgotten what normal feels like and this really is it.
I wish there were tale tell signs like excessive drooling for depression and frothing at the mouth for mania. It would be so much easier.
I will give this a week or so to see how this plays out and then work my program. Step one tell my boyfriend I am off my rocker again. Step two call my psych nurse for a med check and reality check. I don't want to call too early as I hate the process and feelings of changing or adjusting meds. It is horrible.
Every day I wake up with bipolar. Every day I monitor my body and my mind. I am always looking for this disease to rear it's ugly head.
This song is on my playlist and was my jam for my walk today! Just wanted to share a bit of my happy!
NEW Podcast: I just finished a new short podcast on how I am feeling, while walking outside.
This podcast is only me rambling, not subject specific. I finished my walk listening to a music playlist I created on Spotify! I love creating playlist for walking, dancing, being mellow and just country. My playlist mimic my ups and downs.
By the end of my walk I had 12 squirrels dart into and around my feet. It kept freaking me out as I was lost in my music and yes mom, I only keep one ear bud in so I can hear whats going on around me. :)
You can listen to my podcast on Spotify or Itunes under Mental Melissa! I have over 30 podcast to keep you entertained.
I can feel it rising in my chest and flushing my face. I have been asked to do something last minute and it interrupts my well planned out day. Granted I don't have a damn thing planned today, but I didn't have all of this new stuff in my plan.
My daughter's boyfriend is having his birthday celebration with his mom today. It seems he either just remembered or just found out last night. He is still asleep and my daughter and I try to figure out when I can drop her off up in the mountains for him to pick her up. Of fucking course no one know when this ends. More rage flares up in me because who doesn't know when something it supposed to end. Now I have to battle with my daughter to pick a fucking time when she will be home since this party will never end.
My day was going to be easy, no stress. Now I am worked up to DEFCON 2 about to explode.
To make matters worse, instead of having to drop my son off to do PT with his Marine Squad at the normal time of 12 pm. Today it is at 2 pm, which is the time I need to have my daughter 30 miles away. I am making myself sick trying to figure out to to get both kids where they want and need to be on time. My kids don't understand why I am being so short with them and getting so worked up.
They both know I have bipolar, but they really don't understand all of the areas of my life it affects. They don't understand the rigidity and stability it takes to keep me balanced.
I ask my son if I can take him early, as he gets anxious if it looks like we are going to be late to anything. He likes to give me shit because normally we are very early to everything. I can't help it. I like to plan for the unknown and get places with built in fudge factor. Anyhow, he said yes to leaving early. I am hoping the stars will align and my timing plan will work out for both kids.
Where does this leave me? I am trying to calm my anger down, reminding myself that my kids haven't done anything wrong. They simply asked to have their afternoon plans approved. I know they are not trying to anger me. I don't think they understand that both of them need to be somewhere at the exact same time. I don't think they really care about the other person's needs.
I am trying to calm down my anxiety. It won't disappear until I have accomplished the plan and they are both on time to where they want to be. Even then, the tightness in my chest won't relax for several hours after I am back home waiting to go pick my son after his work out. My daughter will get a ride back down at the end of the party, we are still discussing the time to be home.
UPDATE: She did not make it home at the agreed upon time. She texted 20 minutes from the time and asked for more time. I had already taken my pills so I could not order her home or threaten to come get her. I am trying to keep my calm this morning and failing waiting to talk to her. I could yank her out of bed, and I want to, but I know that I will explode and that is not the mom I want to be.
Parenting on meds, with mental illness is ugly and not for the faint of heart or the big ego.
Breathe in, breathe out, hyperventilate and try again.
Parenting is really, unbelievably hard.
Parenting with mental illness makes it so much harder to be a good parent. I am grateful my illness has not been hospital worthy so far. I am grateful that my meds for the most part, for now keep my illness at bay.
Trying to process mental illness feels very selfish when you are a parent. Having any illness as a parent makes you feel like a failure to taking time away from your family to work on making yourself better.
Do your children know you have mental illness? How much have you told them?
My children know I have bipolar, but I don't think either of them really understand what it means and how it applies to them and they are both in their late teens. They are wrapped up in discovering themselves and "they are nothing like me!"
I don't want to mention that they could inherit this from me. I will just let that be for now. It isn't a given and odds are they could go throughout life never having an episode. I am sure they will have questions for me later down the road as they try to understand the nuances of their childhood.
I have friends who don't understand my need to write all of my thoughts. Writing helps me process my thoughts and feelings. It helps me empty those thoughts and feelings out of me so I don't have to think about them all night. Nothing I write is profound or truly original, but it is my story. Things have happened to me and this is my way of documenting them. Some day way down the road, I want to be able to help my great, great grandchildren to make sense of this if they are diagnose with this disease. Maybe it will help them to see that I am okay, and they will be okay as well.
I post my thoughts publicly for the same reason. Again, nothing I write is earth shattering news, however I hope it puts a real person's experience to this illness. I hope that my silliness makes one person with bipolar feel less alone.
If not, this is purely my amusement and my sanity.
Happy Father's Day to all of the Mental Dad's and Caregiver Dad's out there. I hope you all are surrounded by your families and the day is filled with laughs and love.
That is not the way it is for many of us. Some of our families are so toxic that is has become best for us to not attend family functions. Some of our dad's have passed away.
My dad passed away a couple of years ago. I miss him terribly. For the first time in years, I dreamed about him. It wasn't a dream full of message and spiritual vision, it was a dream of him comforting me, in the dream. He kept checking in to make sure I was comfortable, where I was sitting and where I was laying down relaxing in a living room that was neither his, nor mine. I was talking to a former coworker and telling them to stay with the company or they would regret it. My dad kept checking in with me. It was sad that I was telling this guy to stay when I couldn't tell myself that a year ago. But I was aware of my dad checking my comfort in the dream. I thought it was very sweet.
Weird ass dream, but I am grateful for it this Father's Day!
I received an email that my local grocery store was having a hiring fair yesterday. I had applied online, but as we all know if you aren't standing in front of them, you are just a name and number. So I gussied myself up and walked in. I was so nervous it was physical shaking and I couldn't relax my shoulders. He interviewed us standing in line. OMG it was nerve racking.
He had several Customer Clerk positions available, aka grocery baggers and buggie corralers. I said sure and he said he would call me at the end of the fair to come back up to complete the paperwork. Sure enough I got the job. This was the moment the panic began. What the fuck have I done? Like I need anymore stress and anxiety in my life. What had I done.
I was trying to let go and let God. Breathing in, breathing out. I don't know when I start, but it is after a background check. Then the training begins and then I will be on the floor.
It is a blessing, I know this. 20 hours in the evening and weekend. I haven't stayed up until 9 pm in years. Not sure how I am going to manage this. The grocery store is very close to home so I cannot complain about that. It is all perfect.
The problem is, I am not perfect. I am a big mess of nerves and fears. Why am I so afraid to go bag groceries for a couple of hours, a couple nights a week. The mental game is the part of anxiety that is the worst. I probably have a week or more before anything starts and that is a long time to be lost in my head.
However, I can say, I got the job!
I saw this on Facebook and had to share it. After the long dreary day I am having, this made me laugh and smile happy to know that I have been sexually redeemed!
I have been having some real moments of jealousy of those who have come before me to share their stories. Lately I have been filled with doubt that I have anything new to offer. I am nervous to interview because my resume reads like a travel journal. She went here. Then she went there. Now she is trying to go somewhere new. I have a lot of negative self talk happening in my head. Today I feel defeated and limited in what I have to offer. I know it will pass, but today feels heavy.
Do you feel this?
I sure as hell do. Is this why we can't sleep with out some sort of pill?
Have you ever known peace that would allow you to sleep at night and stay asleep? I can't remember a time I haven't struggled with sleep. As far back as middle school I remember tossing and turning for far too long each night. I started self medicating with drugs and alcohol around 12 years old. That is how I found sleep through most of my teens and twenties. By my thirties, I was being prescribed Ambien to sleep. I long for peace that would allow my soul to rest. What would it feel like to lay down in bed and fall asleep naturally instead of the medicated wave that smashes against my skull knocking me under.
"Someone said " A lot of people struggle with sleep because sleep requires peace."
I feel this down to my toes. I want peace but I don't think those of us with bipolar ever really get peace. We get meds. Sleep requires meds, even when I am level, sleep requires meds. Does that mean I am severely screwed up? Probably, but I would like peace. I think on it often and cling to The Serenity Prayer as my only road map to being at peace and being present. Some days I am able to accept the things I cannot change and some days I get really hung up trying to change others and trying to change the outcome of things outside of my power.
I am going to let my mind continue to simmer on this idea of being at peace and how that relates to those of us with mental illness.
I hope you find peace tonight!
These signs I am looking at to tell me what to do, are leading me to start a new chapter of my life.
A new chapter is what I want. A new chapter is what I need. The chapter I have been on for so long is the "poor me" chapter. I am ready to close that door and walk into the "great job Melissa" chapter.
I am ready to find out how all of the experiences I have been through the past few years will aide me in living my best life.
I could see several short fun adventure chapters before settling into the next long chapter of stability and happiness!
Each sign or message I get is telling me something good is finding its way to me and I need to keep taking my baby steps and keep my eyes open.
You can listen to this podcast on Itunes or Spotify or on anchor: https://anchor.fm/mentalmelissa/episodes/Mental-Illness-and-Aging-e164mg
The previous blog post has the links to some of the articles I reference in the podcast. I won't lie, this freaks me out. Knowing that because I have bipolar that I will die earlier than someone who doesn't have bipolar really makes me sad. It is hard enough to navigate this life every damn day with so many set backs with this illness but to learn that it will cheat me out of years of life breaks my heart.
Links to articles about late onset bipoal and aging with bipolar:
Can you see the repetition in options and opportunities that walk into your life? I sure can. Things are going smooth and pretty damn well and then boom, I pounce through my stable life like Godzilla. I burn down everything as I walk away. It is not pretty, but it is one part of my story I keep repeating.
I can see the repetition in my life. I have not been able to figure out how to make the changes needed to break the cycle. This applies to friends, bosses, significant others and with my parents.
This lesson of learning is one I am tired of receiving lessons on. I am ready to break this cycle, but it is happening one part of my life at a time. I can see if with my children who are pushing me so hard. More importantly I have learned to pick my battles. To weigh if what I will say will make a difference or even be understood. I am letting them be an adult and that is hard to do for me. I want to guide and lead my children to the safest possible place. They seem to want to choose the most difficult path with little reward, or short term reward. I am working on not taking what they say or does personally. They are their choices and they will provide their own consequences. I find myself ready to open my mouth and then having to shut it and relax my face. A small step forward for me. From time to time I mess up and voice my concern and am treated to a swift lesson of my children telling me how stupid I am to worry. They have it all under control.
The serenity prayer is said in my head when things get heated.
New Podcast: on the negative thoughts that are always in your head yapping at you!!! Let me know about yours after listening to mine! You can hear this podcast on Itunes or Spotify, just search Mental Melissa. Or you can follow the link below to listen to it.
Podcast Link: https://anchor.fm/mentalmelissa/episodes/Bipolar-and-negative-thoughts-e2nct4
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