Happy things to appreciate 💙 (updates!)

Random acts of kindness 💕

Cloud watching ☁️

Giving something my all💯

The tippytap of my dog’s paws as he comes to me when I call him 🐾❣️

Family!! 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧

Fairytales about princesses and castles 🏰👑

Classic Disney movies °O° 📼

Waking up without an alarm ⏰ 🌅

Selfies when I’m really feeling myself 🤳🏻

Coffee ☕️ enjoying that first cup in the morning 🙂

Meeting up with friends 👭

Getting stronger 🏋🏼‍♀️ (physically or mentallyyy)❗️

Proving my resilience ⬇️🆙

Beer with friends after a long week 🗓🍻

Going on a trip ✈️

Pretty bows 🎀 (and other accessories) 💍

Smiling for no particular reason 😃

Roller coasters!🎢 the anticipation at the top!

Fruit salad 🍒🥝🍍🍎🍉🍇🍐🍌

When it all comes together like a puzzle 🧩

Old school video games 🎮

Leaving love notes (or any notes!) 💌

Gettingggg love notes (or any notes!) 📬

Good news in the paper 📰

Enjoying nature 🏔🏕

Karaoke 🎤

Flowers on a spring day 🌷🌻🌺🌿🌸

Cookies and milk 🍪🥛

The smell of rain/ thunderstorms ⛈⚡️

Balloons 🎈

Tea 🍵 with honey 🍯

Binge watching a good show on Netflix/Hulu 🖥

Tropical vacations 🏝

The smell of mom baking apple pie on a fall morning 🍎 🥧

The sun, rising every day 🌅

A fresh notebook waiting to be filled 📓

Cute puppies 🐶

Cute cats 🐱

My favorite music 🎼 🎶🎵

A stack of books waiting to be read 📚

Seeing a rainbow 🌈

Photography that captures feelings 📸

Improving myself 📈

The sun coming out 🌥⛅️🌤☀️

Fireworks 🎆🎇

Cosmic phenomena 🌙💫 -notice the miracles

Getting a good night’s sleep 💤😴

City skylines 🌇 🌃

Office supplies 📎✏️ 📋

Magic✨/ unicorns 🦄 / etc 🌟

Being alive!! 🌎 appreciate that 👈🏻

Shooting for the moon 🚀 🌕

Hot chocolate 🍫 on a cold winter day ❄️

Making someone happy 😃

Deep conversations 🗣 with close friends 👥

My perfect nephew 👶🏼

Learning something new about science 🧬

Comfy pajamas ✔️

Jeans that fit just right 👖

Frantically writing ✍🏻 getting ideas💡 on paper

Pride 🏳️‍🌈 for whatever I am

Connecting w people I love on social media 💻📱

Self-care 🕯 🧼🛁🧖🏻‍♀️

Really appreciating stars 🌟 in the night sky 🌌

Good fortune 🔮

Getting into a video game 🎮 (or watching one)

Shopping sprees! 🛍

Fall 🍁🍂🌾🌼 bonfires 🔥

Achieving something to be proud of 🎓

A big paycheck 💵

Late night car rides🚙 with Andrew🥰 singing🎶

Funny memes 😂

The incredibleee excitement the night before a Disney trip 🔜

Waking up on Christmas morning 🎄🎁

Feeling lucky 🍀

Winning something 🎰

Classical music that brings back memories 🎻

When things fit together perfectly 🔐

Making art 👩🏻‍🎨🖍🖌🖊

Appreciating all the world’s differences 🗺

Becoming the best version of me 🏆

Learning 👩🏻‍🎓

Books 📖 & how so many of them exist📚

Making wishes 🧞‍♀️🧞‍♂️✨

Things that comfort me 🧸 🐘 (my stuffed elly!)

My favorite perfume 🥰

The first snow ⛄️ of the season 🗓 [peaceful!]

Singing in the rain ☔️

Checking something off my to do list ☑️

Tattoos 🌀

Ice cream (size congruent with my mood) 🍦

Parties 🥳

Quiet mornings 🔇

Crocheting someone a hat 🧶

Ska shows 🏁

Facing fears 🕸

My infinite internal power ♾ 💥

The journey 🛤

Climbing into bed feeling accomplished after a long day 🛏

A new haircut (or color!) 🆕👱🏻‍♀️💙

Reliving memories 💭 / looking through keepsakes 🎟🎫

Being the perfect amount of energetic🔋

Finding light in the darkness 🔦

When good things fall apart but better things fall together 💔➡️❤️

Counting down on New Year’s Eve just like the entire rest of the world 🎆🎇

Making someone proud (even if it’s myself)☺️

Late night adventures 🌙

The fact that I kicked the fucking shit out of anorexia once and I can fucking do it again 🍽

It was dark.

The only light in the room was coming off the clock on the nightstand, which indicated that it was 4:02am by way of a dull blue glow. It was too fucking early. And too fucking dark. And cold. Fuck the cold.

Insomnia ravaged her. Again.

The grunting snores of her boyfriend, fast asleep next to her, sent her temper spiraling but she was comatose despite the succession of jittery shockwaves pulsing through her body. She didn’t get up. She didn’t move. No matter how hard she willed herself to, she didn’t so much as roll over.

Why bother?

She didn’t want to wait til dawn to break. She wanted it to come now. She needed it and needed it now, in this moment, because waiting is the worst and she didn’t have the patience for it. This sucked.

It was her fault, she hated to admit. She’d drugged herself to sleep (thank you sleeping pill, melatonin, and cbd oil) at 6:27 because she couldn’t stand the thought of being awake for a moment longer, staring blankly at the wall. No, her brain was too loud but it wouldn’t allow her to move and her stomach growled angrily but it couldn’t bear the heaviness of food and there were texts to answer but no words were available to her. No, fuck that. Time to fucking sleep.

At two in the morning she’d opened her eyes but forced them shut again. Forced her brain into a quasi sleep mode by having made up conversations in her head, half concentrating on them until she couldn’t any more and the fake attempt at batting away the longing for a friendly voice, a friendly presence, faded into unfulfilling sleep.

Two hour of tossing and turning and it brought her to her present wide-awake state. Fuck.

Get up and do something, she berated herself. Get to your headphones, blast some metal, or open your laptop, do some writing.

No amount of internal urging seemed to be enough to summon the motivation to move.

She was just about to attempt to get another round of restless sleep in, but the thought of doing so was more exhausting than actually doing it. So she finally got up. Cold enveloped her.

She paced. She paused. She stood motionless like a confused zombie trying to get her thoughts together but it was a messy, tangled web up in her mind. Wires were twisted. None of them were plugged into the right connections.

Gravity amazingly pulled her to her desk, where her headphones thankfully sat on a pile of books, which thankfully was next to her laptop. A sweatshirt was thrown over the back of her chair, and she used what little energy she had to pull it over herself. It was a miracle that the setting was now one that allowed for a meager amount of productivity to take place.

A miracle. That’s what’s worth calling a miracle? How stupid. How pathetically stupid. But whatever.

Headphones on. Music loud. Laptop open. Document pulled up. Aaaaand, go!

“Going” took another few minutes of zoned-out staring, but somehow her fingers were brought to the keyboard and somehow they started moving and somehow the movements formed words that appeared on the too-bright screen in front of her.

Why is this happening again? Why did I let this happen again? Why did I make this happen again and why am I continuing to push myself father into it. Again. I’m guilty as charged. I hate myself.

It went on like that for a while. Her words chased themselves in circles. Negativity. Self-hate. Anger. It went on until she began to write fervently and passionately and quickly, so quickly, her fingers barely keeping up with the pace at which her brain threw thoughts into formation.

She shrugged her sweatshirt off. Rolled up her sleeves. Was it getting hotter, or was she becoming overheated like a computer that’s been on for too long? Did it even matter?

Her eyes flicked away from the computer for a fraction of a second.

Bad move. Losing the flow was always a bad move. She lost the momentum and let her thoughts wander and…fuck, no. Why did she let her thoughts wander?

But the tattoo on her left forearm shouted loudly from its type-written font: Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise!

Fucking positivity.

Yet there was a pale light in the distance now. It fell through the window as if by accident but it stayed like it was comfortable in the bedroom. Morning had come. She shut her laptop.

She collapsed back into bed, weary from the exertion of being awake and alive.

But at least she got an hour and a half of sleep.

*

“If you have the courage to make it through a lonely night with nothing but your self destructive thoughts to keep you company, darling, you have the courage to make it through anything.”

I spoke too soon with this one, buuuutttt, I guess when my brain calms down after this round, the sentiment of this essay will be true again

They say “making a mountain out of a molehill” is expanding what is, in reality, a tiny insignificant issue into something monumental and dramatic.  An overreaction. An over-exaggeration. A histrionic response to something that doesn’t warrant such theatrical feedback.

I’m known for this.

A spilled cup of coffee is The End Of The World.  Spill a cup of coffee and the ground cracks in a violent zigzag that spits forth red-hot molten earth.  Spill a single drop and the skies open up, a foreboding, gaping hole revealing heaven itself, and the only result is torrents of rain that send floodwaters rising too high to fathom.  Spill, and the apocalypse is surely coming.

It works in reverse, too.  When I wake up and the sun is shining it means Life Is Amazing (so long as every other star has aligned itself with the sun so as to create such a perfect condition of Amazingness).  When I have a fun night out with my friends it means, for some reason, that I Am Invincible and if I wanted to go for a run I could make it across the country without needing to stop (particularly if this happens several nights in a row, but providing that nothing happens during the days between the nights that could fuck it all up).  When I’m driving and a song shuffles on that accurately fits my mood it is a Sign From The Universe that everything is perfect and nothing can go wrong and incredible things are going to happen and and and and (just as long none of my thoughts go rogue, because just one gone wrong could sabotage the whole thing).

And I guess there are more than a few people who fit into the category of blowing things out of proportion.  But of those people, even fewer experience it in the same ways I have.

We’re called bipolar.  And we come in different degrees of crazy, to phrase it in a probably-offensive way but one that speaks to how I personally feel about it.  But what I mean is we have differences in the nuances of our illnesses. We’re all different. Our symptoms manifest in different ways, and we experience different degrees of those oh-so-stigmatized monsters called Depression and Mania.  Some travel up and down faster than a slingshot roller coaster, ascending to deranging heights only to be dragged back down to earth accelerating faster than the 9.8 meters per second squared allowed by the laws of gravitation. Some fluctuate slowly, the wavelength between highs and lows longer, like a photon of angry red light as opposed to calm, collected blue.  

I would love to analogize by using the snowflake comparison, but I think that one should permanently retire; people are all unique in and of themselves, and unnecessarily comparing our species to a form of precipitation just, for some reason, fucking pisses me off me.  Like, WHY? That now-hackneyed characterization of human beings doesn’t make sense to me because the fact that everyone on this planet is totally individual should be as clear as day.  But people are dumb so it isn’t.

Oh but look, I’m being melodramatic again.  Unintentionally proving my point. What was my point again?

Right, I’m so used to “making mountains out of molehills.”  It’s second nature. Or perhaps a more appropriate description is that I go to step over a molehill and suddenly I’m looking up at a mountain, its dizzying height sending me into a panic because dammit wasn’t this thing so much smaller a literal second ago?!

Cue a little something I like to call “a proper dose of a medication that actually helps.”  And suddenly the idiom is reversed. The mountains I am so accustomed to, the ones I’ve had no choice but to expect after years and years of begrudgingly climbing them, they’re becoming smaller.  And I’m beating the phrase to death, but I’ll use it one more time in this reversal: the mountains are becoming molehills.

Yeah, so the obstacles are still there.  There are still days when coffee spillage is upsetting, even overly so, and on those days I might crawl under my covers and hide for a while.  But the earth doesn’t split open at its seams and I don’t fear for the end of existence as I know it. And there are definitely good days. Ones where I wake up feeling hopeful, go about my morning routine with a smile, hit every green light on my way to work, and actually getting to work doesn’t ruin that specific brand of inner peace that the day has brought me (or perhaps that I have brought myself).  On those days I still know that I’m in control. Under the layers of my consciousness, in the far reaches of my mind, no panic bubbles to the surface. Nothing hisses at me from the corner “this is too good to be true,” and I don’t respond with “oh shit you’re right.”

It’s weird, actually.  I’m still partially anticipating the worst.  But I’m not consumed with worry. That’s the weird part.  I’m not living in fear as a result of every hill I hike through.  I mean, that’s a good thing. I know that’s a good thing. So why am I somehow scared of it?

It’s change, I assume.  Or maybe it’s having to learn how to live life without making those molehills mountains.  The two are probably related.

Well, either way, I’ve gotta get used to it.  Gotta focus on scaling the other problems I have (I’m sure I can find enough of them to occupy myself).  And whether they reach the clouds or simply rise above ground-level in a mound, I’ll survive –and live to tell the tale dramatically.

Coping Kit

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October 2018 vs October 2019

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So I’m feeling extra sentimental today because it’s been exactly a year since big changes actually started to happen. And I’m taking the time to look back on all I’ve done and all that’s happened. Especially because I don’t think I’ve given myself enough credit for everything.

(Also, I wore the same outfit so as to be poetic haha)

So this time last year was fairly terrible. My mental health was going downhill, and it fucking sucked bc I have virtually no professional help or appropriate meds. My mood was generally really low, I think I was rapid cycling or in a mixed state, and it all plummeted mid-September. I was irritable and anxious and angry and upset. I was distracted, not myself. Crying a lot.

The day I took the picture on the left, I was trying to get myself back on track. I made every effort to have a good morning. Lit a candle, put on some cute music and an outfit I felt good in. But then the sinking feeling of “something is very very wrong” smacked me in the stomach and chest and head. Long story short, I wound up going to the emergency room because I couldn’t stop crying and I felt like certain death was inexplicably coming for me.

It wasn’t phenomenally helpful in all honesty. But the social worker there made me an appointment with a service that would apparently help me. And I saw them about a week or two later and they gave me the name of a therapist around where I live.

The next two months weren’t great, to be honest. I was still severely depressed. Barely eating. Staying in bed crying after having collapsed there every evening around 5 or 6.

But then I called the number the service gave me. And made an appointment with a therapist who seemed super nice and friendly.

And that was the was better than anything I could’ve imagine. My therapist is amazinggggg I literally love her. She helps me figure things out and come to healthy conclusions and reminds me of things that will help me and it makes me try to use the coping skills and tools she helps me learn about. It’s therapy, and if you’ve been in therapy you know what I’m talking about. I could go on forever about it but there are more good things:

My therapist helped me get a psychiatrist who actually tried to help me. That was a shocking but welcomed change. She was confident that we could control my dramatic mood episodes. She put me on better meds, which was a process, and I still had two more major episodes and another pretty bad but not as intense one. And there were some crazy manic irritability and too-much-energy packed into too small a space intensity.

Buuuuuut I’ve been good since mid-July. And that’s TREMENDOUS for me. I’ve been somewhat worried about another one coming to cripple me. But I’ve learned sooooo much. I finally started to do the whole psychoeducation thing, really dove into learning about bipolar and meds and all things related to the disorder. It’s been life-changing.

I’m still at the same bullshit retail job. And it still kills me. But I’m also freelance writing, actually getting into working with my most wonderful passion.

I’m proud of myself. I’m thankful. I’m happy, even when I’m stressed or worked up. I still have to use energy to regulation myself and that’s still exhausting. But it’s nothing I can’t handle. I’ve proven to myself that I’m resilient as FUCK.

So yeah. I took the picture on the right this morning to remind myself of this year and all that’s happened. And to motivate myself to continue down this path of growth and progress.

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Fighter

You are a fighter

which is another word for

magically resilient…

openly battling an enemy,

heart like a fist punching the wind out of opposition

however much of it there is.

A fighter,

you are a threat to life’s struggles, however strong they may be

(or seem to be).

A force to be reckoned with

because goddammit giving up isn’t an option.

Collector of emotions extreme,

sometimes (all times) aggressively powerful…

You are a fighter at all times, in all places

partially because you have to be

but mostly

because you simply are as you are

*keep fighting

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Bipolar and the senses

So last year, or maybe it was two years ago, I was sitting cross-legged on my bed, laptop propped up against a pillow, listening to Duel of the Fates from the Star Wars prequels on repeat. I remember it rather vividly. I’d had a huge mental breakdown the night before, where my then best friend and soon-to-be-boyfriend drove me until one in the morning as we listened to music and I alternated between crying and singing along to the loud punk rock hitting me in waves out of the speakers. I was home from work, having called out by leaving a frantic voicemail detailing how I was insane and the thought of coming in to work made me want to die. So appropriate, I know. But there I was, sitting there trying to hold on to some semblance of calm, the vague, fleeting feeling that came and went throughout that entire day. I hadn’t eaten. I’d barely had any water. I was just existing, trying to write just to be doing something, thinking about something. Not one of my better moments.

And here I am now. That same Star Wars song on repeat. And it’s weird because I can taste the insanity of my past. I taste the feeling of hunger, acerbic in my mouth, just like I tasted two years ago. I can feel my insides grabbing for what little bit of calm it can grab. The memory of the thoughts I thought are echoing through my head, bouncing off the walls of my mind like that someone slammed a super ball as hard as they could in a gymnasium, the ball going going going with seemingly endless momentum. Or maybe it’s more like a balloon flying every which way after someone untied it and let it loose. The point is that I’m there again. I’m sitting on my bed, legs crossed, laptop in front of me, fingers flying frantically over my keyboard just because. I’m there again. Because of this song I’ve got on repeat.

It’s weird how that happens. The taste of my gummy melatonin does the same thing. That strawberry-esque flavor melting in my mouth, even now, transports me back to the nights I was plagued with what I’ll call violent, agitated insomnia.

On the flip side, I have this one roll-on perfume that calms me down. I always put it on before therapy and now when I roll it on before work, I smell the panic going the fuck away and my chest easing up. I feel full, deep breaths steadying my heart rate as I take actual air into my lungs (as much as I’m able to, at least).

I have an elephant stuffed animal that I hug close to me when I sleep at night. And I have a mini keychain with the same elephant on it. And I make a point to take out that little keychain and rub the elephant’s ears when I start to lose my cool, when I feel the anxiety bubbling up from my stomach all the way up my esophagus and ultimately reaching my head, dizziness ensuing.

And lastly, I’m comforted in the best way possible when someone I love wraps me in a protective hug, sending love vibrations into my being with the pressure they put on me, squeezing my broken pieces together with a strength that can only come from true care and concern.

It’s amazing how this shit works. What our sense can do for us.

How to know it’s coming on again (short version)

  • No matter what song I put on, it doesn’t feel right
  • No matter where I go, it doesn’t feel homey or safe or okay
  • So much dread
  • The fact that I have to get through a whole day (and subsequently a whole night) feels like I have to scale a mountain
  • “Life hurts”
  • I’m overwhelmed by everything
  • I’m having trouble doing small, menial tasks
  • I want to drive really fast so the anxiety can’t catch up to me
  • I can’t decide what mood I’m in or how I feel, I just know I don’t feel right
  • Oh dear GOD the irritability

Visiting Insanity

Lately, my brain and my meds have been in the middle of an intense tug-of-war game.  They’re battling it out to see if I’m gonna inch closer to crazy and then fall off the edge, or continue for a few more months on stable, solid ground.

So I whipped out some old writing (I was actually just organizing my google docs and came across some stuff).

This is something I wrote back in early January when I was feeling good (after a long three-month depression).  I was still seeing my old psychiatrist, but I felt like some good things were gonna happen, I felt like my future held positive things.

It kind of talks about how I was panicking because I wasn’t sure who/what I would be without periodically losing my mind. (I wasn’t aware that I’d lose it three more times over the course of like 5 months, but ahhh to be naive)…

Anyway, here we go:

Visiting Insanity

I’m sitting on the couch in our living room, listening to a murder podcast with Andrew.  I have a beer on the coffee table, and I’ve been sipping it casually even though I suck at drinking alcohol.  I really like the idea of it, and I like being drunk, but it’s just that the actual ingesting of the alcohol is somewhat tiring.  That aside, I’m having a pretty good evening. Work was decent today, Andrew and I went food shopping and ate afterward, and now I’m feeling quite relaxed as my fingers start flying over my keyboard to create this document.

I thought about what I wanted to write about before I began typing.  I thought about it for a while, actually, and I couldn’t figure out where to start or what to say.  I’ve been rereading so much of my old stuff lately, and I love it all, for so many reasons, but I don’t want to sit here and write something that’s already been written.  Especially if it’s been written by ME already.

But like, shit, I’m so proud of myself for the intangible things I’ve made real with via words I put onto a page.  Not to beep my own horn (fucking beep beep), but I can bring a reader into a downswing with me and send them spiraling so chaotically into nihility that they almost actually understand what it’s like to have this disorder.  Reading through my work makes what I’ve gone through seem like nonfiction…because for a while there, in the midst of the tumultuous ebbs and flows, it felt like mere psychosomatic nonsense as opposed to true experience. After all, how could something that fucking CRAZY have been real?  I had to have imagined it. Rereading my shit makes the continual ups and downs, which I have for a fact lived through, seem significant. It makes the extreme fluctuations seem purposeful and important. When I revisit my words describing the horrors of bipolar disorder in my years passed, I remember who I am –not because I am the personification of the word Mercurial, but because I am a survivor.  I love remembering what I’ve survived (and will survive again).

It’s just that right now, I’m on the precipice of…something.  It’s an exciting edge I’m looking at, but there is no element of fear looking forward at it.  I’m happy to be on it, this turning point. And although I can’t be certain, I think I’m staring NORMAL in the face (as if the conventional meaning of such a word exists).

After ten years of being on the same medication, one that at its best only tamed my persistent mood episodes mildly, I have finally switched to a different one.  Due to a mixture of dumb luck and another overwhelming depression motivating me to somehow acquire a change, I managed to acquire that change. I even took the self-help a step further and got into therapy again.

Three-ish months later, and I feel like the “something” that I’m staring at has been a long time coming.  No, I wasn’t supposed to be so wildly up and so sickeningly down, so often, for so long, while having been on a mood stabilizer.  No, I don’t have to live that way anymore, and no, it doesn’t have to be how it’s always been: I can manage this. I can cope with these chemicals in my brain that has morphed into a monster (the definition of “cope” being “to deal effectively with something difficult,” by the way).  I can function better. It doesn’t have to take so much energy to control something as simple (or complex) as my mood. I can do this.

The writer in me is worried.  What will I write about if I don’t have insanity fueling my words?  Will I be boring without the cyclic breaks from reality? Can I even write well when the subject isn’t something as important as my delicate mental health?  I mean, skill is skill, but having no power behind it scares me.

You have to admit, it is worrisome.  Or at least, it WOULD be worrisome, until this essay-thing started pouring out of me.  Writing begets writing. Does that make sense? Am I using that word correctly? What I mean is that the problem that had to do with writing was solved by writing.  I’m writing about writing. It’s a very “meta” thing, now that I’m thinking about it.

But the main point is that being more stable is not going to negatively impact my writing.  Maybe it’ll even have the opposite effect. I’ll be able to concentrate on words ALL the time, as opposed to only when I’ve emotionally evened out (the task of writing, though as necessary to me as breathing, is insurmountably difficult when I’m not evened out).  And who says I won’t still be writing about my mental health? I write about the anorexia that nearly killed me, and I write about it expertly I think, and that isn’t my main enemy anymore. Why shouldn’t the same logic extend to the bipolar disorder? Furthermore, even if I’m writing a story about a completely random topic, who says I won’t inject mental health into the story’s meaning?

WHO I AM is more than BIPOLAR, but my mood disorder is a tremendous part of what has made me who I am.  So I am certain that it will permeate all corners of my writing just like it reaches all corners of who I am.  As it should. As I like it. I like who I am and I like that I’m a survivor and I like that the two are mixed evenly together to make a homogenous writer who is proud of herself.

There are so many things I can write about outside the realm of mental health.  I’m so excited to delve into them all. I can’t wait to practice writing in all its glorious forms, gaining as many skills as I can and learning as much as possible.  I will write about everything as eloquently as I can; such is why I write, after all.

A part of me is sad because as I leave the shores of practically-untreated bipolar disorder behind, I might miss being the frantically up-and-down Laura that I’ve always been.  But I am reminding myself that it is a part of me I’m not giving up so much as growing from.

And besides.  Whenever I miss my insanity, I can always visit it with words.