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 🍽

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

An unfinished piece about change…

A change is gonna come

There is a vague dotted line connecting what was, what is, and what will be. This is a constant and inescapable truth. The line isn’t always straight. In fact, there are probably times when the dots are few and far between, and you can scarcely follow their path. Furthermore, the transitions between past, present, and future aren’t always balanced on either side of the decisions that lead from one to the other. It doesn’t happen seamlessly, yet the metamorphosis happens nonetheless. Change is gonna come because that’s what it does. Change is gonna come.

Sometimes change is exactly what we need; meeting new people, exploring new places, a different routine, a different set of opportunities, it is often the solution that we know exists and we know we can make possible. But the onward march of time and the changes that it brings don’t always come without fear and doubt. Stasis, more time than not, feels safer, and comfort or contentment or nostalgia pull us into its depths. It happens. And it is a trap.

Because what once was has already given way to what is. Progress has already been made. And we’re here having survived, still breathing, still going. We’ve climbed the mountains and looked back on mere hills. We’ve crossed oceans and remember only nonthreatening lakes. It’s easier when it’s said and done, of course, but once it’s done I’ll bet you anything we rarely ever regret it. So can’t we apply this logic to our futures? What exactly is preventing us from diving into the next unknown, throwing apprehension behind us and heading straight into possibilities?

I know. Accepting change is fucking hard. I also know it is our only option when it comes to life’s one given.

Morning Affirmations

The sky woke up with a dull, gray covering this morning. And although I usually prefer when dawn chases the night away, forcing it to retreat while purples become pinks become oranges, I’m trying to view this rainy, stormy day as a potential adventure. The heavens are open, life-giving water is pouring into the earth, and the sound of rolling thunder is somehow calming. I’m at my favorite coffee shop. The meditative, chattering background noise along with the raindrops pitter-pattering against the large window in front of me soothes my mind —which is fairly quiet this morning compared to a typical day in my life. I’m taking slow, full breaths, inhaling the deep aroma of freshly brewed coffee and positivity. Exhaling thoughts of today’s potential chaos. My insides are expanding to allow space for observation; today I will watch my emotions flow back and forth, melting into one another, as an impartial judge. I refuse to contract, to fold into myself. I refuse to decrease in size, to shrivel into fear, to let myself tighten when I needn’t let myself tighten. I am vast and all-encompassing. I greet this day with a curious disposition. And as I sit here in contemplative stillness as the world and I wake up, gaining conscious preparedness, following the tried-and-true routines that keep us safely secured amid the rush of life, I know I can retain the cozy comfort of this rainy, stormy morning.

Still some fight in me

My car has always been a sort of limbo;
I wait here, time passing.
I am not patient but still content
to stay here listening to classical music
(some of which I remember playing, years ago)
that reminds me I have a past
that was full of pain and torment but
also of
music and its reverberating explosions that send shockwaves of unimaginable hope through my being,
out my arteries, down through my fingertips,
and carried back to my heart with triumph.
I cannot always hang tight into that hope
(I don’t know anyone who has a right to blame me).
I cannot always see a way to weather the storms
(that come fast and hard, quicker than ever now, gaining intensity and ferocity)…but
I am intensity. I am ferocity.
I cannot always know this, see this, understand this, feel this.
But it doesn’t change that I am.
So I sit in limbo. Waiting, time passing…
Minutes march on,
thank some sort of god that they do,
and I’m surviving
(though not always actively).
How often have I sat here in the in-between?
Does it even matter?
Does anything?
I don’t have to know.
I’m wearing makeup and earrings
and a shirt that says “hello sunshine;”
I clearly have some sort of fight left in me.

A poem about my daily life that ends far too optimistically, but whatever…

She woke before seven, excitement abundant, still groggy but ready to thrive.
She sprang out of bed (or did something like that); it was morning and she was alive!

With a handful of pills and a few sips of water, she began with a plea to stay stable.
Then came washing and dressing, while counting each blessing…the gratitude made her feel able.

The birds started chirping, the world started waking, the sun started brightening the sky.
The quiet was punctured, (perhaps that was better), and then the thoughts started to fly…

With resolve she stayed focused on what she thought mattered: the good that this new day would bring.
Because in only one hour, or probably less, she had felt her moods climb, fall, and swing.

“Come ON,” she thought loudly above all the chaos, “you got this, just sit and calm down!”
But would sitting there help when annoyance was rising and rage on her face put a frown?

The always-there need to be NOT sitting still then took over. She got in her car.
She wanted to drive fast, away from confusion, away, anywhere, near or far.

She wound up (surprise!) at the cafe in town, as if the paths toward it were paved.
And soon coffee was brewing, her passion renewing. Just maybe the day could be saved.

For her mug full of love was symbolic of passion and all the excitement it brings.
With sugar and milk added for extra goodness, the winter outside became spring!

“Alright,” went her brain-talk, “you know now you’re able to change your emotional state.”
Deep inside, though, she knew her bipolar disorder would get her, would always checkmate.

What was she to do, this mess of a human, when life brings such her up, down, and up?
She takes all the meds and she thinks the right things, she forever fills her coffee cup.

Though the grand fluctuations are now less intense, though the coaster-ride invokes less fear,
The daily uncertainty, constant unsureness, make it hard to know ‘normal’ is near.

Yet for all she knows, ‘normal’ is just as dramatic, confusing, and full of such flux.
So honestly, why should she bother? She shouldn’t! She shouldn’t give so many fucks.

Now tomorrow is dawning, it’s come to forgive her, to show her a new chance to live.
And yes it will test her, and also will bless her, will prove to the girl it can give.

Because that is tomorrow and that is the next day, that’s life in a nutshell, you see.
The crazy’s expected, can even be fun, once you realize this you can be free.

“Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.”
— Mufasa, The Lion King

Somehow this reminds me of the fact that bravery is also internal and that emotional vulnerability is oftentimes synonymous with courage. I’m not sure why, but that’s the connection my brain made. What I mean is that we don’t always seek out trouble; in regards to the way I am understanding it, trouble usually comes to us. But facing it is still bravery. Furthermore, the physical aspect of bravery doesn’t need to come into play. In other words, strength and power aren’t just used in head-to-head combat. They don’t exist only to fight physical fights.

Sometimes strength is simply the capacity to withstand major pressure, or the ability to the face brute force of something negative and come out of it alive. But withstanding pressure isn’t always external and negative brute force comes in varying forms. Sometimes power is merely the act of supplying energy to move or influence something, or the speed behind what ultimately moves what’s in front of you. But the energy supplied doesn’t always come easy, or come at all for that matter. And speed certainly isn’t a necessary or qualifying factor. A powerful person can still struggle. A powerful person is sometimes exactly someone who struggles.

This way of thinking is perfectly applied to mental illness. Being open about the difficulties of a mind at war is, in my opinion, courageous. If only because it involves admitting the truth to yourself —which can be scary because once you admit the truth, you must face it. But having an openness around other people is courage multiplied tenfold. Being vulnerable around others opens the doors to a plethora of shitty possibilities: not being understood, being judged in general, being laughed at or brushed aside, being abandoned, being the subject of bullying. The list goes on and on. Luckily, it also brings with it the possibility of kind understanding and even respect and admiration. The thing is taking the risk when you aren’t fully certain which outcome you’ll experience.

You’re at the edge…do you climb back down, or jump?

I’ve often described my moods as “precarious.” I am forever teetering on the edge. I am always as the word is defined: likely to fall or collapse, not securely held in position, dangerous. One wrong thought, one random situational annoyance, one person who treats me unkindly…and I may very well be pushed off the ledge where I am forever perched.

The cliff on which I sit, then, can be thought of as a kind of precipice: a very steep rock face, especially a tall one. It is a hazardous circumstance. It is being close to potential disaster. And the precipice is where I spend most of my time.

A precipice isn’t inherently negative, I don’t think; being on the precipice of change is often a good place to be, but the word ‘change’ is the qualifier that matters here. It’s the key factor in displaying that the precipice isn’t necessarily always terrible.

I guess what I’m saying, or asking, or trying to figure out is: must a precipice be precarious? Say that three times fast. But really…

I read a poem recently, and it was titled “The Precipice.” It’s author describes her troubled state, detailing how rescue from it is unlikely. Her situation is overwhelming and frightening. But she then comes back with a counter-thought, explaining that she is “a girl with a street education in disaster management and talking [herself] off a ledge.” I’m not certain the author feels particularly confident, as she ends the poem with “something’s gotta give before I do,” but I interpret this work in my own way. I heard a message in these words, and it’s one that I find useful.

Constantly talking yourself down, using conscious energy in nearly every moment to manage the dangers of imminent disaster, is first and foremost a major accomplishment. I also believe it’s something that gets easier over time. Working on calming down or dealing with chaos, it must change your brain connections, right? Neuroplasticity is a thing. It’s like positive self-talk, it is powerful. It’s like working out a muscle, it gets stronger with repetitive use (although it’s probably important to keep in mind that rest is a necessary part of building muscle appropriately).

My next thought is somewhat pessimistic. In my life, with my bipolar disorder, I’ve learned that the longer you go while experiencing episodes, the more extreme they get. I’ve read about it. I’ve experienced it, witnessed it. It’s been proven to me. So, I’m left to wonder, will the logic I explained earlier even apply? Is it true that the higher you go the harder you fall?

The optimistic counter argument is an idea I’ve felt to be true since I hit rock bottom at age 17, when I very nearly gave up the fight against the eating disorder that had me in a choke-hold. I was rescued and subsequently worked hard to get better, and I succeeded, and I internalized the notion that we need to hit an ultimate low in order to trampoline back up. We need to fall, kinetic energy turning into potential energy, to be allowed to bounce back up.

Which perspective is better? The latter is obviously more helpful. But maybe the former can be useful still, so long as you use it as motivation. If I use the facts I learned about bipolar disorder’s progression, if I let it fuel my fire, maybe I’ll end the dramatic episodes, or at least improve them, and I won’t see myself descend further into it.

“Isn’t it inevitable?” I cried out for the billionth time that day, or maybe it was night, I wasn’t sure because the two were blending together, bleeding into one another in a mess of insomnia and pain and fits of tormented anguish that seemed to never end.

“It’s going to happen eventually.  I have no doubt that I’ll be driven to it, eventually,” I continued, talking to no one, or maybe someone was there rubbing my back as I sobbed, I wasn’t sure because the sobbing wouldn’t end, and it really didn’t matter whether or not someone was there.  It was hopeless regardless. So what did it matter?

Because the bullshit was never going to end, such is the nature of my lot in life, and with no foreseeable respite from the terrifying swings between poles, why should I even bother?

Christ knows I didn’t have the energy anymore.  I tried, for fuck’s sake I tried my goddamned hardest for longer than I thought possible, but where in hell was I supposed to be pulling energy from?  It’s a finite resource, energy, and with my irritable lack of patience, my volatile anger and violent, uncontrollable temper, I was burning through my stores of it rapidly.

“Be positive,” they’d all tell me until they were sore in the throat.  “Think happy thoughts,” they’d preach as if they’d just fucking miraculously absolved me of my life-long torture sentence.  Do you think I haven’t fucking attempted that? Do you think I have any sort of control over the thoughts, the feelings? That I can control the waves of anxiety that crash into me, the thunderous booms of depression that leave me shaken, the tornados of mania that hurl me into unfamiliar territory with little more than my own two exhausted feet to carry me wearily back to where it all started?  Do you seriously fucking think I haven’t tried what you are stupidly suggesting?  It is a passive process; this shit happens TO me, without regards to what I want or try or think or do.

Which brings me to right here, right now, contemplating the same question I asked myself that day and that I’ve asked myself all the days of all the episodes I’ve lived through…why should I even bother?  Why waste time and energy putting everything I’ve got into simply surviving when it’s all going to end in a blazing explosion of “I can’t do this anymore.” The self-destruct button is put there for a reason, isn’t it?  So why shouldn’t I press it right now?

Inevitable… I’m sitting here letting the word and its meaning marinate in my subconscious.  Inevitable…

***

Okay. I’m just coming out of an episode, out of that episode I just described.  I’m emerging into the light of day with more clarity than I’ve had in weeks. And as I step into the sunshine, I’m shaking off the gross sadness and frustrating irritability and the overwhelming, unbearable confusion.  I’m reminding myself of how strong I am, how fierce and fiery I am, to use words I am gravitating towards right now.

It would feel great (and it should feel great?) if I didn’t so much on my mind still.  The thoughts aren’t racing anymore and the ideas aren’t flying around into each other in my mind and things are slower, calmer, and safer.  But there’s still a great deal to rationally consider. First and foremost: how do I prevent all hell from breaking lose next time. Because let’s face it, there will most certainly be a next time and it will most certainly be difficult.  That isn’t negativity, that’s reality. A reality I have to fucking live with. So I’m attempting to make the best of it, alright?

I’m thinking about all of the preparations I have to make while I’m walking through the scattered memories of the last few weeks in shock.  I’m looking around at the destruction, the wreckage left as a vivid reminder of a violent hurricane. My messy apartment, with clothes everywhere and dished piled high in the sink.  The texts I sent that weren’t indicative of who I really am and that were most definitely annoying and obnoxious. It goes on and on. And I’m sitting here in the middle of all of it.

I always say to the people close to me that after the storm recedes, I always have to clean up the mess I made while I was insane.  I have to pick up the pieces and fix everything I broke while I was incapacitated.  The normal response to that is that I haven’t broken anything, or at least that is isn’t as bad as I think it is.  Hearing that is nice, and it’s good to be reminded that I am loved and supported regardless of the messes I make. But like, dammit, why do I have to clean up the mess my bipolar disorder made?

It’s easy to be bitter about the situation and all it entails.  Trust me, I am bitter about it. And I had my fair share of pity parties (and I’ve certainly fucking earned the right to pity myself, thank you very much).

This fucking sucks and it’s fucking hard.  And aside from the nearly 6 million other people in this country with bipolar, no one fucking understands it.  My friends and family see it, and they sympathize, and they eagerly and earnestly offer their love and support (for which I am forever grateful).  But they don’t actually get it.  I mean, of course I’m GLAD that they don’t get it; if everyone understood this torture, everyone would feel how I can feel, and that sucks because I can feel prettyyyy shitty.  But like, yeah, my mental illness pretty much consumes my life. I think about it constantly. So yeah, I post about it constantly and talk about it constantly, and just…ugh. Am I making sense?

It’s just that another downswing is inevitable.  It is certain to happen. I’ve been through the cycle too many times to think anything otherwise.  It is unavoidable. The patterns prove to me that it is.

I’m coming out of an episode, but I’m not fully and completely out of the woods.  I am shoving the bad thoughts away, beating them down with a stick (again: I tried so goddamn hard to do that while I was in the throes of depression, but I needed to do it every five seconds, no exaggeration, and energy needs to come from somewhereee, ya know?).  I am strong, I am fierce and fiery, I can do this.

I’m staying positive, but the inevitability of another episode isn’t really a negative thought.  In fact, I think it’s probably better that I’m thinking about it now, straight out of the gates of crazy, from the moment I set foot on the shores of sanity…because I think it gives me the perfect edge, the edge that’ll help me prepare for next time as efficiently as possible.

I’m gonna spend all day making an emergency plan.  I’ll think about how to go about dealing with this bullshit next time.  I’ll figure out how to send out the SOS signals, how to ask for help and how to help myself.  Et cetera, et cetera…

Anyways, I’ll leave off by saying that even if the mania-depression chaos is sure to come, the days after it are sure to come too.  The brighter, shinier days. The days that, juxtaposed next to the bad ones, make me appreciate how good it is possible to feel in this life.

The first tattoo I ever got was the quote “It Takes Rain To Make A Rainbow,” and the permanent positivity inked onto my ribcage is so very special to me.  Because it’s really fuckin’ true. We kind of need the bad to appreciate the good. Well, need might be a strong word, because like, I’m pretty sure I’d still appreciate the good days even if I wasn’t fucking out of my goddamn mind for half of the days.  But since I AM out of my mind half the time, I might as well just go along with it. I have no choice. Gotta keep chugging along. Keep surviving.

So, here’s to that… *raises glass*