Quarantine Update: day 56

It’s another morning of another day, the start of another week where we’re gonna be doing a whole lot of the same thing (that thing being nothing). It’s actually kinda funny, the fact that we’re living in a weird “Groundhog’s Day” situation, and I definitely typed that with light humor as I try to see the bright side of things: I’m not dealing with the savage customers at work, I’m lucky to not be absolutely panicking about money, I’m at home with all my stuff and with technology that I swore I’d never again take for granted after not having it in the psych hospital. But the monotony breeds lots of stress, on top of the stressful uncertainty that everyone everywhere is feeling. Quarantine has taught me that doing nothing is tricky (which I already knew, but this confirmed that it’s not just me who finds it difficult; it’s actually a trigger for most people). More recently it’s taught me that I need to adjust how I approach this whole thing.

I’ll start where I am now. I’ve been so…unmotivated. I won’t say lazy, because that word doesn’t fit and because it doesn’t give me credit for the effort I’m putting into being my best self. It’s just that I haven’t gotten much done, though it’s not for lack of trying. This stay-at-home thing is a fight for me because I can’t stay focused. I’ll explain the whole story with my ADHD and stuff later, but suffice it to say that it’s causing me grief. I have all the time in the world to write and work on my fun personal projects, and I can’t fucking concentrate. It’s ironic in the most infuriating way.

Anyway. What have I been doing? Well, I’m glad you asked. I looked back through my journals to get an accurate answer: I’ve been trying to stick to a structured routine. That’s something most bipolar people should do all the time regardless of pandemic or not, but it’s obviously more important during one, and it honestly just makes me happy to check things off a preset list because it gives me the surge of dopamine accomplishing something gives me. And it’s like, legitimately healthy. Like, I try to complete all my habits and track them along with my moods and other info. It makes me proud of myself. I have of course been writing (and exploring new opportunities with that). I’ve been video calling my friends and family (I am endlessly thankful that we have the ability to do that). I try to go for walks. I journal and scroll social media and read articles and play gaming apps. I watch YouTube and I must have binge-watched Family Guy fully like twice already (it’s one of those shows I can enjoy without having to actually focus on it).

I guess that seems like enough shit to do, but it barely fills one day, and it isn’t fulfilling, especially because it’s the same daily. It’s not like these days are much different than a normal day off from work that I would have had during the previous version of my normal. But it’s not broken up by anything. It feels less meaningful (which sucks because I have so much more time to work on what I actually DO find meaningful).

If I had to summarize the last month? Boring. I also think the word “mundane” fits, and actually I think that works with what I’m trying to do here because it reminds me of poetry by Tyler Knott Gregson where he talks about the “miracle in the mundane.” Seeing how the normal, seemingly trivial parts of life can be beautiful.  It’s a lot like how finding joy in the little things makes us feel better about life.

So, what can I do this coming month to make it better than the previous weeks? Uhhhh, oh man, let’s see.

Try to change up my routine. Mix up the order. Add new things. Take some things out. Get creative with it. Maybe I’ll start by binging a show that isn’t Family Guy haha. Maybe try to make something totally random into a daily habit. I can’t think of anything right now but I promise I will. Oh, here’s a sort of related but random idea: make my coffee differently every time I make it for five days (and I drink at least two cups a day, so that means finding a bunch of different recipes or tweaks). Okay, this paragraph is actually getting me really excited. I’m gonna make an actual plan and set goals and shit for this. New week, new goals. Renewed motivation (because I’ve been reading stuff about how motivation isn’t a permanent thing and needssss to be renewed a lot, which is just how it is and that’s fine). Yeah okay I’ll update again at some point, but I’m hoping the next few weeks are more…I guess I’ll use the word exciting because that’s what I want it to be and I wanna attract that shit. Boom.

quarantine-update

Find a safe space

You’re having a panic attack, struggling to see straight, calm your racing thoughts, slow your pounding heart, and breathe. You tell yourself you’re okay. You aren’t in actual, physical danger. But something triggered your alarm system, which sent a message to your amygdala, which made all this shit happen in your body in order to keep you safe. Too bad the danger lives more internally than externally. Still, your fight-or-flight instinct has taken over (even though you can’t run from or fight the source of your crippling anxiety), and adrenaline is surging through you, all because we inherited such a response from our ancestors thousands of years ago and our brain systems just haven’t caught the fuck up. So what do you DO?

You can try to force yourself into breathing normally. Inhale slowly, hold it, exhale slowly, hold it. Repeat. Repeat. Or you can try to “ground” yourself, to reconnect with the fact that you’re exactly where you are, here and now, to live in this present moment instead of the impending future. You can try (almost desperately) to distract yourself. Solving math problems is great for that. So are word puzzles. Your brain can’t focus on figuring things out and panicking at the same time. The same is true of experiencing a rapid and drastic change in temperature. Take an icy cold shower if you can. Your brain will stop processing the paralyzing fear you’re experiencing (or so I’m told). The scent of lavender is supposed to be calming, but personally, I open a familiar perfume bottle and breathe in the comfort it carries for me. I always use that perfume before I do happy, relaxing things. So I’ve (almost) effectively trained my brain to associate it with happiness and relaxation.

But something that’s been particularly interesting to me lately is visualization. A kind of intense mental imagery. A purposeful relocation to a safe place.

I have a pretty active imagination. Maybe that’s the writer in me, but I have a particular proclivity for getting myself lost in whatever place I’m thinking of. Like, I force myself there. I picture everything vividly, paying careful attention to detail. I mentally feel the sensations that accompany that place. I let myself experience the feelings that would go along with being there.

Sometimes it’s a made-up place in a random, made-up scenario. Sometimes it’s an actual place in a scenario I wish would happen there. There are the typical escapes. The beach, with sun shining, the waves crashing, the smell of sunblock wafting through the air. And the perhaps less typical cozy cafe, with a good cup of coffee and a book I’m completely absorbed in. A lot of times it’s a memory that, a moment in my past that I’d love to go back to. (Again, that might be the writer in me; I love the quote “we write to taste life twice,” and I think reliving memories is another way to do that)

I haven’t had a full-on, gasping, clutching, gut-wrenching panic attack in about a month. And after being prescribed an as-needed benzodiazepine about two months ago, I definitely feel more in control of those situations. Knowing I have a pill in my bag that can alleviate those sickening physical symptoms is often enough to reduce the unrelenting (and usually unnecessary) fear. And if that isn’t enough, I put the pill in my mouth and swallow.

But I’m still an anxious person. That probably won’t ever change. So I’m trying to get this visualization thing set in my mind so I can get a better handle on my general, day-to-day anxiety. I’m trying to set up predetermined safe places that I can teleport to at a moment’s notice. So here’s my attempt at collecting them and getting them ready for use:

Disney World. The Happiest Place on Earth. In any park, with any loved one, either in memory or projection. Perhaps it’s the Magic Kingdom on Main Street USA in the early morning with my parents and sister. There’s time-appropriate music playing from seemingly nowhere, and we’ve just turned the corner to see Cinderella Castle standing majestically in the distance, and I feel like I’m Home, like nothing else matters because this moment is perfect. The love I feel around me is palpable. The excitement is tangible. All is well.

Driving down Ocean Parkway, looping from one Long Island beach to another, singing loudly to a crazy array of music with the man who’d soon become my boyfriend. It’s late at night and we’ve been driving for hours, alternating between deep conversations and enjoying the fact that our tastes in music are so similar. I’m calm and happy and fulfilled.

The bookstore. Summer 2010, the summer I really came into my own. My best friend just walked in the door and we greet each other by immediately launching into talking about exciting plans and things to try and what’s been going on since we’ve seen each other a day ago. We get matching cups of coffee and sit by the window and we bounce ideas off each other while simultaneously bouncing off the walls. When we’ve exhausted that, we wander the bookstore, admiring the books we hope to buy, feeling the peace that comes with being surrounded by such an awesome amount of written knowledge. Things are good.

Christmas morning. My parent’s living room. The day that we’ve been anticipating for an entire season. Surrounded by my family and presents, the Yule Log on the TV, love and laughter and magic filling the entire room. It feels right.

I’m at a concert venue about to see my favorite band play. My friends and I are standing by the mosh pit, being bumped by someone dancing in circles every now and then, and we’re all screaming the lyrics to the songs we know by heart. The music fills my entire soul and leaves me feeling energetic in the best way. They start playing my favorite song. Then the singer cuts out and he points the mic into the crowd so that the crowd can take over the song. We’re all different but also so similar, most of us with tattoos and dyed hair and checkered vans and band t-shirts and the like. I feel connected and important.

It’s Monday morning and I just sat down in my therapist’s office, on the floor by the window, where we can watch the clouds go by and the wind blow through the trees and the cars driving by. But we’re talking about important things and processing the chaos that is my life, and occasionally veering off topic to easier things, and oftentimes looking at funny memes. I’m wiggly and all over the place, but there’s safety and comfort sitting across from me so it’s okay.

I’m in our room, sitting there on the bed under my weighted blanket, laptop propped up on a pillow, and I’m scrolling tumblr. He’s sitting next to me, and every 10 seconds we stop to show each other something stupid we stumbled across online. We’ve been sitting there for like an hour in relative silence, but it’s the epitome of what love looks like. I don’t have to worry about anything because he’s there and he understands and he loves me.

My favorite places, my favorite moments. There are more, of course. And I’m sure throughout my life I’ll continue finding ones to add to the list. But for now, I’m gonna try to remember that I have these to escape to whenever the need arises.

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 🍽

How can I know what “normal” is if I’ve never experienced it?

“I don’t even know what a normal life would look like,” I sighed, disheartened at the fact that my lack of normal was largely due to my apparent need for drama.

I’m bipolar. For close to twelve years, I cycled between deep depressions and wildly irritable, energetic, too-much-in-too-small-a-space hypomanias. It happened every three months like clockwork. And before that, I’d spent the better portion of my teenage years slipping ever downward into an eating disordered abyss.

So it really isn’t my fault that I can’t imagine “normal.” I haven’t had a long enough period of stability to even think about it.

Until now.  I’m rounding the bend on half of a year.  A whole six months without totally losing my shit, without my sanity being painfully ripped from my mind and tossed aside like garbage. I haven’t had to pick up the shattered pieces of my mindset and use energy pulled out of nowhere to put them all together again. I haven’t had to do any of that. In six months.

I have the time to figure it out now, this “normal” thing, and I think I’m going to try. I felt stupid about it at first, thinking it was dumb to be confused about something so obvious, but apparently, it’s a good question. And even if it isn’t, my standards are different than other people’s. I have a different set of circumstances. And I respect myself enough to cut myself some slack.

Right. Onto defining normal.

I think what it really comes down to is “who am I when I’m not struggling” and “how is my life when I’m not struggling.”  Who am I when I’m not in a mood episode, when I’m not fighting with myself over my weight, when I’m relatively stable, when I’m not actively in a crisis.

Part of me has been afraid to ask such a question because I’m afraid of the answer. What if I’m no one without my diagnoses? What if my life is pointless without my struggles?

There’s no doubt that lots of ME is inextricably linked to my bipolar disorder (or my ADHD, my anxiety, and I guess even my eating disorder). Things that make up my personality are also markers for my mental health issues. Particularly my intensity and my reactivity. While they’re both telltale signs of being a raging bipolar, they’re also two of my favorite qualities.  The same can go for my passion, my one-track-mind, my motivation to create. I see the world differently because mental illness requires it, and I’m driven beyond belief to fervently capture that difference in an imaginative and exciting way, and not stop until I’m finished. I’m so often wildly energetic, unable to sit still or stay in one place. My ADHD is probably to thank, but isn’t that also just part of who I am?

I think for “normal” to happen, I’d need to set aside the drama that accompanies mental illness. After all, I have been known to sabotage my sanity when things are going too smoothly. I don’t blame myself –I blame my brain for having fucked with me for so long that I’m scared of the quiet hidden in the moments of calm. But normal requires slowing down. It requires letting go of the need to be busy every waking moment of the day to keep from becoming too reflective. It’s not like I’m in a period where I’m constantly working. But I still create lists of things to complete each day with way more tasks than need to be done. I will myself to concentrate on something, anything, because I worry where one stray thought might lead me. If I wanna move forward, I can’t be afraid to be alone with my thoughts.

To keep things short, normal probably means less negativity and less anxiety about my future. Not living in constant fear of another mood episode while still being realistic about the possibility and trying to prevent one. Doing the right things for myself while not focusing solely on symptom relief.

No obsessive thoughts, less stress. Calm, content happiness. Excitement (in a comfortable, contained way).

Knowledge. Self-awareness. Knowing my purpose, my reason, my why, my truth. Working to be the best version of me. Thinking about the big picture. Being more productive in a variety of ways. Accomplishing what I set my mind to. Actually looking forward to the future. Enjoying each moment as it comes. Being sure of who I am and how I want to be. Being sure of my values.

Being the ME I want to be: bright, bubbly, outgoing, energetic, friendly, kind, optimistic, loving, hard-working, full of life, a social butterfly, accountable, trustworthy, helpful, inspiring. With that, being seen as I want to be seen. I want to be known for those good qualities I value (while also not letting it bother me when every single person doesn’t get to know me; not everyone will know me personally, not everyone will know my story, and that’s okay because not everyone has to). I also want to be seen and understood as the whole, multifaceted, and at times contradictory person that I am. Because I accept that I am and always will be more reactive, more intense, and yes, more dramatic. I want to see and understand myself as the whole, multifaceted, contradictory way that I just am.

I think listing shit like that will help me to envision normal because it shows what I think I’d be like and what my life would be like if I continue in this period of relative peace.

Like…I was recently inspired to picture the kind of future I want to have. What will I be like? What will my circumstances be? When I really stop and think about things like that, I do picture myself happy and successful and fulfilled and proud of my accomplishments (deep down I know I’m smart and capable, so I can manage that!). I picture myself doing okay with the resources I have. I picture myself surrounded by the same love I’m lucky to have now, as well as new love. Basically, I picture a normal life. And I think all of what I described above relates to that.

So I guess I already have an idea of what normal is, and I guess it’s time to just…manifest that shit.

Waking up like “how long will it take for the weight of the day ahead to smash me into a bad mood,” and spending time to counteract life’s crap

woke up feeling shitty and anxious and mopey

spent lots of time wondering why i felt that way and thinking about confusing shit about how i have to constantly readjust my moods and how i’m literally just unsure of how to do that at this point

taking my adhd meds helped because now i can at least focus on something distracting or productive

ingesting hella caffeine is making me feel better too

and my favorite band (reel big fish) playing in the background is working to make me not feel shitty

anyway

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and now for a vaguely poetic brain dump

 

Wake up.

It’s comfortable at first, and then the world hits you.

Mind too big in a world too small.

Or perhaps the opposite.

Because there are too many thoughts,

Too much noise at too high a volume,

But there’s too much room for it all to fly free in total chaos

Which means you have to focus,

Use specific, deliberate effort to adjust and readjust.

It requires all of you,

The effort,

The fight, from within and without, against unseen demons.

And as you look around at the confusion

That has nearly turned your mind,

Too big and too small,

Into ruins.

Get it out.

It’s urgent to do so.

Spill it, pour it, put it elsewhere,

Into the ether

Or onto a page that may or may not be read

Or even remembered.

An hour into consciousness and you’re tired and unsure.

Anxious? Depressed? Empty?

(You are continually putting words to the intangible,

But somehow can’t when it comes to emotions, those mercurial things).

Take your meds. Drink some water. Eat something.

What are you even doing,

Sitting there comatose when you have shit to do?

Inhale. Exhale.

How can you hold it together today?

What’s the plan (you’ll be lost without one)?

Put on some music,

Your favorite band,

Turn it up.

The forceful pressure recedes, permitting some sort of flow,

Some influx of something that resembles calm,

Some release.

Your mind shrinks,

Or perhaps grows,

But you’re not analyzing it so you feel better.

Your free-flying thoughts organize into

What is more reminiscent of graduation caps mid-air,

Thrown up in celebration of achievement.

Still messy.

It’ll take time to find your cap, the one you were looking for.

That doesn’t necessarily matter;

The photographer snapped a picture and the frozen moment makes you happy.

Organized.

So maybe, you think, there’s something to strive for

In the potential to turn a day around

(or a month, a year, a life).

Potential for new thoughts,

For finding happiness as opposed to forcing something vaguely similar to it,

For not letting sadness with when all else fails

Because you’re coming at life with full force.

Although survival mode played its role,

It’s in the past for now.

So tomorrow if you have to drag yourself out of bed

As you doubt your ability to get through the day,

Don’t wallow in confusion.

Let it out, find the words, 

Take your meds, drink some water, eat something.

Breathe. Music.

Let your mind shift, take shape, rearrange and reorganize.

Give it time, don’t dwell, stay calm, and fight hard.

After all,

Haven’t you proven your strength to yourself yet?

Morning Routines: why I (try to) stick to mine and how (I think) it helps with the bipolar thing

I’ve been watching YouTube videos a lot lately.  A habit that started out by me using it as background noise (I’d literally search “Disney World area loop music” and just listen to it while working and pretend I’m at the parks, ahhhh).  And then I discovered guided meditations and positive affirmations and all that. The ASMR videos are cool too. But like, YouTubers are a thing now. A huge thing, actually. I’m pretty sure it’s mostly a thing for the youngsters of today’s world, so I feel kinda silly getting sucked into that world at 28 (even though someone literally told me that another group of people she knows asked “why isn’t she in school” and “does she drive herself here” –AKA, they thought I was 18 years old at most, lmao). Buuuuut there are so many interesting videos to watch.  I generally stay in the self-improvement category. And yeah, it’s all these like, put-together looking girls in these minimalistic apartments, and not gonna lie it kinds makes me feel like I’m a shitty adult haha. But the videos fascinate me.

Now, to my actual point: there’s a lot of emphasis on morning routines in that genre of video.  A topic I’ve always found interesting, by the way. I remember having this little notebook in fifth or sixth grade (it had black pages so I wrote on it with a purple glitter gel pen…remember those?) and every night I’d write down what I had to or wanted to do the next morning.  As if a ten-year-old had so much to fucking remember. Also, it’s an interesting memory because I’m pretty sure it’s indicative of the slew of mental illnesses I’d later develop haha. Anyway, I continued to do the routine thing through high school. In my anorexic high school days I had a fairly rigid morning routine (the whole day was routine, actually, scheduled pretty much minute to minute…like I said, hello mental illness!).

I’m rambling. Surprise.  Moving on, though…

Nowadays I try and stick to a specific set of steps after waking up.  Because it’s apparently good for us bipolars, with our disrupted cycles, sleep patterns, body clocks, and circadian rhythms, to keep external things in check.  Makes sense. Keeping everything as routine and structured as possible minimizes external chaos (we have enough internal chaos). Minimizes anxiety. In other words, since we need all the help we can get, might as well help ourselves that way.

Routines are also helpful in that they make us more efficient, saves time (which is such a valuable commodity), allows us to build better habits, and gives us more mental space by reducing how many decisions we have to make (I can’t be the only bipolar person who fuckin’ sucks at making decisions).  Damn, that sentence was so research-papery. Whatever.

Okay, before I continueeee, allow me to reveal to all three of you who might be reading this what my mornings actually look like:

I wake up around 6 or 7.  Like, every day. I just spring awake at that time usually, and even if I have to kinda urge myself out from under the covers, I like getting up early.  So I make myself. Mornings are full of promise and possibility and coffee.  Gotta savor the good shit, amiright?

Then I hafta immediately take my meds, otherwise GUESS WHAT, I ain’t gonna.  Swallow three pills. Boom. Finish the glass of water. Take some more supplements (calcium, fish oil, magnesium, passionflower extract which btw is amazing for anxiety reduction, etc).  And right after all that, I record my sleep, meds and supplements, and moods in some of my many mood-tracking apps (mainly Daylio and eMoods, both of which I suggest you download).

Moving into the bathroom.  Wash my face. Brush my teeth and listerine the shit outta my mouth to remove that chalky disgusting med taste away.  Do my hair. Bedroom. Get dressed in the outfit I laid out last night because I’m anal about that. Put on makeup and earrings if I feel so inclined.

I might stretch or something.  Ya know. Limber up. Try to get all nice and bendy.  And because I’m having a “fun little throwback to the eating disorder of my youth,” I’ve been doing crunches and pushups, because doesn’t that sound fun.

Oh, and I try to take conscious breaths before I throw myself into the land of social media and journaling and all that nonsense.  Inhale and exhale. I struggle with that, dunno if any of you do too?).

Anddddd who could forget coffee.  Gotta get that coffee. And enjoy every damn sip.  I’d love to tell you I do the whole mindful drinking thing, but eh, I can only do so much good for myself hahaha.

Okay, right.  That’s what I do in the morning, and I actually do think it sets me up for success.  All the hip YouTubers say what you do in the morning matters (there are literally tons of videos about it, go find some fun ones if you want).

I dunno why I felt the need to share this information with all of you readers (all three of you…I am not a very popular blog, I should proooobably work on growing this thing if I wanan be the writer I was born to be, huh?), but I had fun writing it, so.  Yeah. Morning routines 🙂

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.

Happy things 💙

Random acts of kindness 💕

Cloud watching ☁️

Giving something my all💯

Stories about princesses 🏰👑

Selfies when I’m feeling myself 🤳🏻

Coffee ☕️

Meeting up with friends 👭

Getting stronger 🏋🏼‍♀️ (physically or emotionally)❗️

Proving my resilience ⬇️🆙

Beer with friends after a long week 🗓🍻

Going on a trip ✈️

Pretty bows 🎀 (and other accessories) 💍

Smiling 😃

Roller coaster parks 🎢

Fruit salad 🍒🥝🍍🍎🍉🍇🍐🍌

Leaving love notes (or any notes!) 💌

Getting 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 🍯

Tropical vacations 🏝

The sun, rising every day 🌅

A fresh notebook waiting to be filled 📓

Cute puppies 🐶

Your 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 🌙💫

Getting into bed after a long day 💤😴

City skylines 🌇 🌃

Office supplies 📎✏️ 📋

Magic✨/ unicorns 🦄 / etc 🌟

Being alive!! 🌎

Hot chocolate 🍫 on a cold winter day ❄️

Deep conversations 🗣 with close friends 👥

My perfect nephew 👶🏼

Learning something new about science 🧬

Frantically writing ✍🏻 getting ideas 💡 on paper

Connecting w people I love on social media 💻📱

Self-care 🕯 🧼🛁🧖🏻‍♀️

Really appreciating stars 🌟 in the night sky 🌌

Getting into a video game 🎮 (or watching one)

Fall 🍁🍂🌾🌼 bonfires 🔥

Achieving something to be proud of 🎓

A big paycheck 💵

Late night car rides🚙 with Andrew🥰 singing🎶

The anticipation the night before Disney 🔜

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 worlds differences 🗺

Becoming the best version of me 🏆

Learning 👩🏻‍🎓

Books 📖 & how many of them exist📚

Making wishes 🧞‍♀️🧞‍♂️✨

Things that comfort me 🧸 🐘 (my stuff animal!)

Singing in the rain ☔️

Checking something off my to do list ☑️

Ice cream (size congruent with my mood) 🍦

Parties 🥳

Quiet mornings 🔇

Crocheting someone a hat 🧶

Ska shows 🏁

Facing fears 🕸

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.