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.”

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.

We don’t have curtains on our windows, which is probably dumb for a few reasons, but the upside is that I get to wake up in harmony with the entire stretch of world that exists on the other side of the glass. Sometimes that means there’s a gradual lightening of everything outside that is echoed on my face when I’m starting to open my eyes and sometimes that means night’s darkness simply fades into a dull gray. Sometimes it means waking up to a burgeoning sunrise that paints the sky in broad red and orange strokes. It all depends on the day.

I’ve come to think of the morning sky as a screen on which the quality of my day ahead is projected.  In layman’s terms, the weather has a pretty big effect on the already-tenuous grip I have on my moods. And this isn’t coming from a place of superstition. Weather patterns actually impact mood. The sun can pull people away from the abyss of depression, rain can send gloom through even the happiest of people, and humidity makes people edgy and irritable. It makes sense. Not to mention seasonal affect disorder, whose sufferers’ moods cycle with seasonal changes (and oh hey, as a resident bipolar, I’ve obviously noted that my episodes align with such patterns).

So when the morning sky is a vast expanse of bright blue, chances are I’ll be starting out well-rested, rejuvenated, ready for the day’s adventures to begin. When the early morning is masked with cloudy skies, I’ll likely be starting with a vague ennui that might develop into nagging anxiety if not taken care of. When red and orange clouds linger with the climbing sun, it’s usually wise for me to heed the phrase that sailors have passed down over time and “take warning,” since chaos is surely brewing. Picturesque dawn means the sun is shining from below as inclement weather approaches from the west, scattering light through the present water vapor. And as beautiful as it might be, the calming hues of purple and blue are still chased away as if frightened by the impending storm.

In reality, no known atmospheric condition has power in itself to transcend symbolism and legitimately affect the circumstances of my day. My reaction to certain circumstances is certainly influenced by them; sunshine might make me more inclined to brush aside annoyances, clouds might make that harder to do, and a storm might bring forth my desire to hide away.

But it’s necessary to remember, even if only in the back of my mind, that I have the power to control how my days go. Regardless of the weather, and mood disorder aside, I have more power than I think.

My life is strongly and intensely magnetic

I am a magnet.  Of two specific poles: the highs and lows, the ups and downs.   Both are in disagreement. It is one or the other, but the one and the other are related, connected.  They oppose each other. But since magnets produce fields as well as respond to them, so do my highs and lows and ups and my downs feed into one another.  My anxious, agitated dysphoric hypomanias exit my north pole and enter the low, low depressions of my south like magnetic lines of force. Repel. Attract.  Push. Pull. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I am moved and shoved through means of these unseen forces that control my every move. It’s possible for magnets to lose power (raise their temperature or shock them), but their magnetic state returns in the end.  I can raise myself high by doing what I should, but the fluxes still return. I can be shocked into stability, like after a particularly deranging episode ends, but it doesn’t last forever. It is an unceasing dance caused by the spin and momentum of electrons, by life’s disorganization and the speed at which it all flies by.  It is bipolar disorder. It is unrelenting.

My life is strongly and intensely magnetic.

And it seems as though my magnetization repels good and attracts bad.

Yet with all that, it’s possible to put the exhaustively persistent magnetic forces to good use.  Daily life is the way it is largely because of them. Everything from headphones and refrigerators to computers and medical equipment functions properly due to magnets.  Their forces may have been mysterious to us at one time, but we understand them now, and we make them work for us.

I spent far too many years being confused by the seemingly capricious ups and downs of my bipolar life.  It wasn’t until later, much later, that I made sense of what was previously confusing and chaotic. Previously mysterious.  I’ve come to understand that there are warning signs to signal what might be coming, and guidelines to follow to prevent the very same “what” that might come.  It doesn’t always make sense; this analogy isn’t perfect. Still, I understand what I can understand, which I can extrapolate a bit to reach the ways I can make my opposite poles work for me.

First, I’ll need to revisit the somewhat beneficial aspects of bipolar disorder.  I worked hard to weed through the detrimental aspects to find the beneficial ones, and I’m proud to say I found quite a few.  So I’m excited to be citing them here: creativity, empathy, compassion, the ability to feel wholly and completely, fierce resilience, and the strong friendships I’ve built because of these traits.

So how can I  put the forces of my bipolar disorder to good use?  I mean, my daily life is the way it is largely because of the disorder.  This might seem like a fairly negative thing, particularly when I look back to how my wild reactivity, tendency toward overexcitement, drastic changes in energy, and sudden mood changes have caused, for lack of a better phrase, utter chaos.  But are those things wholly and completely negative? My reactivity, my ultra-hyper response to stimuli, brings with it a certain quick emotional reflex that can help me discern my true emotions. My excitable nature gives me a passionate determination that helps at work and in my personal life.  Having too much energy and then not enough, flying high and then plunging low makes me appreciate what I have at the moment, and such a perspective is immeasurably useful in life. Yeah, I know. A bit of a stretch. But my point is that technology progressed when we utilized magnetic power, so can I grow as a person by putting my inherent traits to good use.  It requires thinking outside the box, that’s for damn sure, but fuck, we’ve gotta find the silver lining.  

The next step, I believe, is learning how to pull apart the two when they’re all mixed up together, tangled in a messy cluster of wires going every which way.  It’s a matter of figuring it out as I go along, I guess. But there’s an answer out there, a solution to the struggles bipolar comes with. It’s science. It’s life.

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.

The Cutting Thing

February 2008:

I was home alone, able to relax and not worry about judgmental comments about my eating habits for a few days. It was going to be a welcomed respite.
But when the deadlines drew nearer and the clock hands spun too quickly around their center, the all-too-familiar panic began to rise like floodwaters. I wouldn’t finish on time. I couldn’t. The dam broke. But I had no choice, I had to get everything done. I had to. How do people deal with this? I wondered exasperatedly. How can ANYONE deal with all this?
I had to do something.
I had this exacto knife that I used for cutting pictures for my scrapbooks. And I saw it, gleaming there, reflecting the afternoon sunlight as if heaven itself cast the beam onto it. There was no other answer, no other conceivable escape or release from the painful, clutching anxiety, so I grabbed it hastily. I walked into the bathroom. Uncovered the knife. And sliced through the skin on my left forearm. Five times I pressed down the blade and dragged it across my wrist. I took the rubbing alcohol from the cabinet. Poured it over my bloodied arm. Wiped myself clean. And walked out of the bathroom.
Aside from my heart palpitating rapidly, I didn’t feel anything abnormal. Cutting myself did not feel wrong. It didn’t register that anyone would have a different opinion about it.
In fact, I could think clearly again (for a short while).
Days later I was sitting in my ninth period English class. We were in the library and I was trying, really trying, to work on the assignment. But I had a day’s worth of terrible feelings behind me. I couldn’t get anything done. All I had thought about for over a week was tearing open my wounds, and my mind was completely fixated on the idea. Dragged blade, ripped flesh, bloodied arm. I was consumed with it. I wanted to. I had to. I had to go home and cut. I had to run that ever-saving blade over the scabs, repeatedly, over and over and over, tracing the bloodlines until I felt my mercy. I had to let out the anger, the pain, the frustration, the tears I could no longer bear to shed…let it all out in the form of crimson liquid. I had to ruin my fucking innocence so I could take a goddamn breath without wanting to explode.
I was angry. I was a total wreck. So I went home, locked myself in my bathroom, and carved meaning permanently into my skin.
I was pathetic and I knew it. After all, I was the girl who went to the bathroom during passing to just CRY. The girl who stared at the mirror, looking at her sunken, vacant expression, tears streaming down her face. The freak who looked down as she walked, too afraid and anxious and scared to keep her chin up.  Pathetic anorexic, pathetic cutter, pathetic.
Fast-forward to this morning in therapy when my therapist noticed the somewhat-recent, angry red line on my left forearm next to my newest tattoo.  “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise” next to a basically-new scar.  Yup.  Doesn’t make much sense, as she pointed out to me.
It’s still sort of the same, the cutting thing.  I still do it when I’m overwhelmed and need it all to stop.  I still go about it matter-of-factly and nonchalantly, and it still doesn’t register as abnormal.  It still stops the mental chaos, if only briefly.
But it’s different now, too.  Thoughts of harming myself don’t run through my head in obsessive circles (at least not usually).  I don’t really do it because I’m angry.  And I certainly don’t think of myself as pathetic because of the whole thing.
Not to mention, I’m a friggin’ adult.  Who the hell’s gonna stop me?  I mean, maybe I’m still doing it purely because I can, but seriously, what can anyone say or do about it now?  Judge me?  Ooh, I’m so scared.  Other people’s opinions about it don’t really matter to me.
But then again, as my therapist pointed to my arm when she noticed my mark/line/cut, I instinctively hugged it to my side.  I’ve been trying to work on identifying my feelings using exact words as opposed to writing essays that describe them in fluffy, extravagant ways.  So I guess I’m identifying how I felt as “embarrassed,” right?  I was embarrassed.  My ears got hot and I assume I turned red and my eyes jumped to the floor, away from her eyes full of kindness that were looking at what I’d done.
Professionals really aren’t supposed to bring attention to cutters’ cuts.  They’d talked about that in a class she took a while back.  I guess any sort of notice of self-harm somehow reinforces the behavior.  But she put it into perspective, saying how I have a booboo and she wants to make sure I’m okay.
Which I am.  I don’t think it’s about that anymore.  There used to be pain behind each self-inflicted wound.  Weeks, months, years worth of tormented thoughts warped into bodily discomfort that threatened to detonate at any moment –that was the impetus behind the whole thing.  And I couldn’t make sense of that emotional pain, I didn’t GET it.  But actual pain?  Pain that I could see for myself?  I liked the idea of that.  Proof of my unending sadness, the physical manifestation of how I felt inside…it was just better.  But it’s different now.
Right?  Like, jeez, what IS it about now?  I’m tempted to say habit.  I do it just to fuckin’ do it.  It’s also partially because it feels good in a way I can’t put my finger on.  I know it “feels” better on my left arm, and it’s not just because I’m right-handed.  It just feels good.  There’s also a part of me that’s like, “oh hey it’s cool that I can still tolerate the experience of carving of my own flesh.”  That maaaaay be linked to how with the anorexia stuff, I couldn’t just “go back to that” even if I wanted to.  But the cutting thing?  I can still do that, dammit.  And that kiiiind of makes me special?  In a fucked up, terrible, ridiculous way?
I sat there not looking at my handiwork, but my therapist, sitting next to me, took my arm in her hand and flipped it over and looked down.  I twisted my arm in her hand and she twisted it back.  I looked down eventually.  And the random thing, the weird part, the shameful truth?  I actually liked looking.  At my type-written tattoo over faded, white-lined scars.  And at the recent ones peppered around the poignant and significant words.
It’s somehow poetic, the contrasting positivity of the quote with the obviously negative connotation that accompanies self-inflicted wounds.  Is that what this shit is about?  Being poetic?  Nah.  No way.  I hate when people romanticize mental illness.  It ain’t a pretty thing, and making it into some disordered version of art is just plain wrong.
Alright alright, real talk: the cuts/scars/marks/lines mean something to me.  They’re memories, not particularly good ones but still important to remember ones.  I don’t want them all to fade.  I’m scared for them all to fade.
There’s a lot to unpack in that last statement.  Like, am I worried I’m gonna lose a part of who I am if I get over this thing just like I got over the eating thing?  Oh GOD, do I think of myself only in regards to my mental illnesses???  And if that’s the case, is the cutting thing related to my being so wildly bipolar still?  Wait wait, I’ve been mostly stable for like three months.  Am I doing this shit because I need SOME sort of crazy going on?  Fuck.
Honestly, I cut myself like three weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep.  I was thinking too much and I wanted my brain to shut the fuck up and I cut myself and it did and I went to sleep.
I dunno.  I’m tired now, from thinking about it all, but I think I made some progress with this whole thing.

Rational & Reassuring Thoughts, I Guess?

Guilt is a useless emotion. It has no purpose. Grow from experiences, learn from mistakes, but chances are guilt is not needed in the majority of situations. It just isn’t.

Worry is what’s on the other end of the spectrum. It has nothing to do with what’s actually happening right now in reality. Worrying only makes you suffer twice. So fucking don’t. Distract yourself, bat the worry away with whatever blunt object you can get your hands on, and just don’t.

The stuff you’re stressing about now won’t matter in a year, or even a month, and probably not even in a week. Everything is pointless and nothing matters, and there’s actually some sort of twisted beauty in that fact, in that deeply philosophical concept, because perspective, apparently, is key.

Your mental health is more important. It matters more. No excuses needed, no explanations required, you just do what’s best for you and your brain.

Different people have different capabilities, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Your struggles are your struggles, and they’re valid.

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