medicated, still bipolar, what now

I’m having a hard time focusing. I’m anxious and stressed out over it. Feeling yucky. Off. Like somethings wrong but I can’t figure out what. The result is irritability and frustration. It’s overall just a dull version of what I’ve been feeling for the better half of my life (bipolar depression).

But I have to remember that for the better half of my life, I’ve suffered from bipolar symptoms/depression. That explains what this bullshit is. It’s just way less intense because I take 193741 pills every morning and night.

I can either see that as an unfortunate reality, that nothing can ever fully cure this bullshit. Or I can see it as an improvement, an important step forward, a bridge to being able to do better things.

I know I’d benefit from proper adhd treatment. But my heart definitely leapt when I had that a-ha moment of “thhaaat’s what’s going on here.” It feels better when things make sense, at least.

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise ✨

6:23

Waiting for the sun to rise, I have been for three hours already

Wearing leggings and an oversized sweatshirt, my grandma’s old brown leather jacket, boots of the same color, my other grandma’s locket

(it matters because I’m comfortable and cozy, feeling cute and calm, and because I’m patiently awaiting the morning’s official invitation to join it outside)

Come on light, come on optimistic, hopeful light

Spill over into the blue that’s gradually fading into purple, contrast the darkness with your red, oranges, golds, and yellows

My hair is pulled into a bun so it’ll be curly tomorrow, still wet (which isn’t ideal in the 45° weather, but lo and behold, colder weather will be here soon and there’s nothing I can do but get used to it)

Sitting at the kitchen table, door already open so I can grab my coffee, already poured, and my book, Halloween-themed and exciting, and go sit on the steps to revel in the morning silence

The birds are already chirping, though they’ve got a way to do so that doesn’t interrupt the stillness, and they’re making my front porch sound both musical and…what’s the word for “more nature-y than it actually is”

6:42

I think it’s time, so I step outside into the chill and as it reaches my core, I don’t shy away from it but inhale deeply and hold for a bit

*

Another day’s begun, although it feels weird to say that after the night awake just warped time around itself

Even during my darkest moments, I usually woke up with some level of optimism; certainly not a stellar amount all the time, but I remember talking about it in therapy and my therapist told me that my prognosis is better because of it

Now, it might have taken life merely a minute to knock the optimism right out of me, but even I can’t deny it was there, if ever briefly

*

I’m irritable again, and I definitely know what usually follows such fervent desire to rip my face off, but (as I shouted at the skies countless times for countless years), all I needed was a god damn break…and I got one, and I’m thankful, and I’m not taking it for granted, and I’m handling my issues

6:55

It’s cold, I’m probably going to go back inside, but I like starting my mornings out here, and I’m glad that I did today

So I’m taking a class on peer support and how to be an advocate for those who need it

It’s phenomenally interesting. There’s so much to learn about and read about and explore and discuss and ponder deeply. There’s also so much room for personal growth to happen throughout the training process.

I was reading about the history of psychiatry and mental health systems and to cut out a lot of wordiness, I found this one particular part that I can’t stop thinking about.

Back in the 1800s, in this one asylum in New York, a publication came about that turned out t be pretty revolutionary in that it was written and published by people who were patients there. It gave at least a little insight into life there, although it was definitely a little too cheerful and optimistic, since it was written by people who wanted to keep writing and not have that privilege taken away by the doctors and such there. If they wrote too…colorfully…and made the asylum look bad, they might have ad to do some other form of occupational therapy.

Anyway, I was reading about that and I came across a line that talked about a fear that was had in regards to the patients’ minds:

“The danger is that the imagination will lead astray into the mazes of insanity.”

It took me a minute to process that and incorporate it into what I already believe in my heart and head. Like, I’ve thought quite a bit about the subject of insanity (having had more than my fair share of bouts of it haha), and I mean, I guess I’d never thought of imagination having anything to do with it, but then why did this quote jump the fuck out at me?

I think it could have just been the writer in me. This line did come shortly after a paragraph where it talked about how they’d often prompt the patients with topics to write about, just to get them distracted and focused. And they mentioned acrostic poems (god, does anyone else remember those from like, elementary school?).

I’m gonna do my “this is my blog and I reserve the right to jump around and not make sense” thing. And just dump my acrostic down here. Because I was just super inspired, ya know?

Safe from an inner world of spiraling chaos

An expansive stillness that allows movement

Nearing the edges of confusion calmly

Integrating the good with lessons learned from the bad

Trusting the ongoing journey and exciting process

Yesterday mattered but so does tomorrow

Yeah, one of those poem things where it says something going down but it’s a poetic sorta thing going across. I think this might be one of those things I revisit every now and again. My definition of “sanity” might change over time. It might be nice to reflect on that every now and then.

We were talking in class about how the definition of recovery is super personal and individual and unique. Same idea. Kinda cool.

I’m excited to see where this class takes me. I’m super pumped to go do all the readings and learn as much as I can, and to continue learning (ain’t that what it’s all about?) for a super long time.

Now, to get to all that reading (while l’m still motivated and awake)

Words of the Year, 5 months later

I think it was like a few years ago, in early January, I heard about people picking a “word of the year” instead of making New Year resolutions. And this year a blog post by blessingmanifesting reminded me of it. She said to choose a word that embodies how you want to be and think and feel and do, “something you can apply in little ways throughout your life instead of a concrete goal that involves either failure or success.” I chose three words this January, and as I was just looking through my current journal, I found myself thinking about them again. The first word I wrote down was “continue,” because shit was hard a few months ago and I wanted to keep going, keep moving forward, and not let anything stop me in doing that. Which is why word numero two was “unstoppable.” Can’t let things get in my way. My third was “unbothered,” and by that I meant I didn’t wanna let was customers upset me, not let the insignificant action of others influence my mood. And that’s the one that really got me connecting the words I wrote down five months ago to this present moment. I’m not at that shitty job, so letting morons bother me is n out an issue, but I’m not really letting any random nonsense bother me. Like minor mood fluctuations that would have sent me spiraling (for obvious reasons, after having uncontrolled bipolar for yearsss). Alsooo, I sure as fuck continued in spite of difficulties. So check those boxes too. I haven’t written in my physical journal too often lately (I switch between digital journaling and physical journaling, best of both worlds alwayssss) but I’m glad I found these three little words and the pretty butterfly I glued next to it (I’m gonna stop writing before I go offfff about how symbolic a butterfly is in relation to continuing…it is right? or is it just me who feels that way lol)

I’m finding plans/routines really helpful during this (I’m sure I’ve said that before)

1:45pm || It’s been a good day, I guess. I woke up early like normal, did my whole morning routine and made coffee and started my day. I’ve been utilizing technology as best as I can during this craziness. I mean, being isolated is certainly not my favorite thing, but keeping myself accountable is helpful. I use that Flora app for when I write, I meditate with the Calm app for a little while every day. I always use Daylio and eMoods to track my bipolar-type stuff, but I’ve been trying to use emotion words to describe my moods too (there’s a list in the Notes app on my phone). I downloaded Longwalks as a journal, which is fun, and this morning I downloaded one called Halohah (does anyone use either of those?). I went for a walk. I’m gonna go for another one soon because I wanna get a cup of coffee at like 711 or something, I’m just craving that type of coffee, it happens sometimes. I video called with my sister and the baby. Then with my mom. It’s nice to be able to see them even over long distances! I wrote the first page of an article due soon, and it made me happy and feel productive. I had both breakfast and lunch one right after the other lol, but I’m not freaking out about my weight or eating habits in general because fuck the fucking disordered thoughts telling me to care. I’m better than that. Not saying it’s bad to struggle with an ED, but I’ve been back and forth and back again, and I know which direction I have to choose. I am, however, going to do a YouTube workout, just because that actually improves my mood. Being at least a tiny bit active also helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Once I’m done writing my article I’m gonna read for a while, because I have sooooo much I wanna read: my BP magazine and Mindful magazine (both of which I subscribe to and have apps on my phone/iPad for), Celebrations magazine (the Disney one!), the Disney Food Blog Guide pdf my sister just bought for me, a few articles on research digest, and I wanna finally finish some of the books I started a while ago. I’m obviously not gonna finish all that reading in one day, but I have the time to read so I might as well use it (while simultaneously not pressuring myself to get too much done, because I feel like putting pressure on ourselves during this whole thing is counterproductive). And then I’m gonna journal and write for myself.

So I found this thing I wrote about eating disorders back in March 2015 at 3am, and it’s applicable now, and I’m sharing it here because I’m proud of my little 23-year-old self :)

Alright, you have an eating disorder? You’re in recovery? Well, listen up, you beautiful fuckers.

Here’s some shit I’ve learned:

– I’m a beautiful fucking flower, a unique and wonderful snowflake, and my presence is a gift to the freakin’ world. And guess what? You are fucking flowers and snowflakes and crap too. Got it?? Literally think about it. How awesome are you? If you’re seriously thinking that you are not in the category of beautiful humanflower that I just described, I urge you (in a kind and delicate way) to stop the pity party. Where has the self-deprecation gotten you? I get it, truly I do. You don’t feel good enough and you don’t feel whole enough and you’re guilty and sad and you don’t have the energy to be positive. I KNOW. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t a fricken flower/snowflake/BALL OF AMAZINGNESS.

– Be real with the people who love you and want to help you. Don’t hide the behaviors and bullshit. That’s a huge thing, or at least it was for me. To let someone into my “secret anorexic-Laura brainwave space” was the most difficult thing, I think. To have my eating disorder not be “MINE” anymore was devastating. But believe me, it opened up a whole new world of options and help and stuff. It may seem odd to do. And I think one of those reasons is because it’ll seem like you’re seeking attention or being annoying about it. But just be mature about how you go about it (which will take time to figure out, btw). Also. If you WANT attention, ask for it. Honestly and openly. There is literally nothing wrong with needing some love and attention or like a hug or something.

– I am always going to “be in recovery.” I will always have had an eating disorder…so I will always be in recovery. But do you amazing fuck-fishes see how I worded that? “Will always HAVE HAD an eating disorder.” Chose those words specifically, because they show that my eating shit will always be a part (PART! Not all!!!) of me, because it’s shaped who I am as a person (nd I think that’s important because I’ve been scared to death of losing that part of me, which is silly because I am who I am because of my struggle). And those words? Past tense, you lovely loverbuggers. I’m not afraid to phrase it that way now.

– I don’t need my disorder. I don’t need it to cope with the bullshit that will inevitably pop up in my life. I don’t NEED it to “control” anything, and I sure as fuck don’t need it to determine my weight or how my body “should” be. First of all, life bullshit gets easier the longer we live. And even if it doesn’t always all get easier, I’ve learned that there are different ways to cope. Yeah, there are actually such thing as “coping skills” and tools. SECONDLY, your disorder ain’t helping you control shit. It’s controlling you, and if you know anything about yourself in relation to your eating disorder (aka: if you are introspective and wise enough to figure out that it really IS NOT about the food), you know that you’re doing this to yourself because things are crazy AROUND you or possibly WITHIN YOUR HEAD. I’ve learned that I can’t control what happens in the world around me and I can’t even always control the crap happening in my head. That sucks. Period. BUT…the good news is I (we!) can control the way we react to all that. And thattttt is actual control, my fine friends.

– I don’t NEED my eating disorder to be part of my identity. I want it to be a part of my STORY. But my story is more than just my struggle with anorexia. Granted, it’s a hugely interesting story. The phrasing “hugely interesting” may piss some people off because it overlooks the complete and utter misery we with eating disorders go through. And I don’t mean to glamorize it or make it seem like anorexia was a blasty blast. It sucked. It was cold and painful, and the gnawing ache of hunger is something I’ll never wish on my worst enemy. BUT WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY IS: I did have anorexia. I did go through some shitty shit. And I want to respect that that happened. I want to acknowledge my struggle and appreciate what it’s given me (perspective…strength, bc what doesn’t kill us does indeed make us stronger…the knowledge that I’m resilient and capable…etc) and I want to set that aside. Section it off. And have it in my memories. So I can think about the perspective it’s given me and the strength that I gained from overcoming it…etc. And realize that I am not a girl with anorexia, nor do I need to be in order to have had those memories and experiences and stuff.

– It. Gets. Easier. If you let it, I swear to you it gets easier. I think the CRUX is that you neeeeeed to LET it. Don’t fight it when you stop remembering what it was like to be x weight and x size with x disordered thoughts. Fuck that shit. Don’t fight it when you don’t think twice about eating your favorite food. Don’t sweat it when you’re a little different-looking than you used to be, but you know you’re DAMN HOT.. Don’t sweat it just because you’re not the same number. (Must I say that “you’re more than just a number…because, and I’ve been in this recovery thing for like seven years so excuse me if you’re not at this point yet, it’s a little overdone).

– After it gets easier, it’ll get hard again. This lady who ran the program I was lucky enough to be in when I was 16 years old and about to drop dead, she would always wag her finger back and forth and say “the disease goes like this.” And as terrible as she was (for not treating us like humans and instead treating us like attention-seeking low lives), she was correct. It’s a roller coaster. But I swear it’s worth the ride.

– If you’re just beginning your journey of NOT HAVING AN ED ANYMORE, then first of all congrats. I’m proud of you, I love you, I’m here for you. Please stick with this. *Insert emotional and heartfelt rant here.* A word of advice is that you’re going to take time to mature and like, get a handle on this recovery thing. Please be responsible. Maybe that’s not the right word. But I was just going through the ED recovery tags and I see that many people who were in the position I was in seven years ago just don’t realize what I realize now. Which is totally and a billion percent fine because it’s a JOURNEY as I said. An experience. And this one will be beautiful.

There’s more stuff I can say but I fear I’m sounding quite obnoxious at this point. I’ve just been thinking about how incredibly FRUSTRATING AND TERRIBLE eating disorders are. I see people struggle and it kills me. I see beautiful amazing talented wonderful people be blind-sighted and bogged down by the baggage that accompanies eating disorders. It’s not fair. I hate it. But it’s obviously time for me to go to bed because I’m rambling.

April 15th and its significance in my recovery

img_6159After being in the hospital in February, I’ve realized how weird it is that I remember this specific date and what happened on it 12 years ago. There’s no doubt that experience this February was tremendous; I finally got on a med combo that WORKS to control the raging mood disorder that tornadoed through my twenties and destroyed any semblance of my sanity, I finally got to know the meaning of the word “stability” which has alluded me for literally half of my existence, I finally got to look back at the bipolar stuff from the other side of it. It’s huge. But I don’t think I’ll remember the exact date I was admitted or many of the details, unlike 12 years ago. There’s something about April 15, 2008, and the journey that began on that day, that’s still, all these years later, very special (or maybe I’m just weird?). I guess because it was the first time I realized there was a way to exist that didn’t involve being grossly depressed and starving myself into oblivion. Don’t get me wrong, those months were a fuckin’ shitshow. But they were also fun (thanks to any fellow LIJ-ers that are reading this), and I survived, obviously, and I’ve been telling the story of how for over a decade now. A quick recap, for the purpose of this post: didn’t eat, too stressed with school which was ironic because I used my grades as a distraction (albeit an unhealthy one), almost went too far, went for a doctors appt at some random place and then didn’t leave for quiiiiite a freakin‘ while, realized there were other people who did what I did (and that those people were wonderful human beings), learned the vocabulary to describe my emotions and behaviors, used all that as a weapon against motherfucking anorexia, leaned on the countless loved ones around me, etc etc etc. I’m pretty lucky that I didn’t fall back into that bullshit again. At least not til October. Lol did you read my last lengthy, emotional post about that? I think it was for NEDA week, and I was, uh, in the deepest depths of a bipolar depression, but my repeated mood episodes had also somehow been creating a whirlpool. I’d started spinning a while ago, but long story short, when I was finally sucked into the middle of it, the familiarity of my eating disorder was waiting for me. Just lovely. It was extra terrible because I had sworn for years that “I couldn’t do that again even if I tried!” and was proven wrong. And I couldn’t even enjoy the sick satisfaction that comes with losing weight because I’m 28 and know better, for fuck’s sake. This has a happy ending though. It has one of those shiny bows I like to wrap my writing up with. I ate like a normal human being today, and I ate like a normal human being yesterday, and it’s a work in progress but I feel…normal. Prior to March, I don’t recall ever feeling NORMAL. And that’s such a cause for celebration, so why mess it up by being all anorexic? One more thing. I’ve had to figure out what “normal” means over and over again in my life. When I left the hospital when I was 16 I had to do it. I left the hospital this February and I’m again trying to do it. It’s further complicated by this worldwide pandemic, and while I don’t have the brainpower to dissect that whole thing, I’ll just say we’re all in a situation where we have to fight how uncertainty makes us feel. We all have to fight boredom (which is a huge trigger for me). So I’m gonna tie this whole post together with a piece of general advice, based on what I’ve learned, so I don’t sound like a whiny bitch haha. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’ve written a few things about it in the month or so I’ve been home from the loony bin, and I think I’ve finally got it summarized in a way that’ll be useful. Yeah, the unknown is scary. No, we can’t avoid it. But we can create what we can’t find. I’m actually gonna leave off that that, kind of ambiguously stating what I figured out, but if you’ve made it this far in my ramble, you know me well enough to kind of get what I mean. 

spending my rainy morning staying calm and editing what I’d call “artsy” pics with positive phrases and whatnot

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So yeah. Some positivity for a rainy morning. I’m feeling a little better but still “off,” but maybe that’s just how people feel (no, it definitely isn’t, but maybe this is just how I feel haha…ugh). Either way. While I’m able to, I’m trying to do good things for myself. I’m sitting up straight because apparently posture has an impact on mood. I mean, makes sense. I’m breathing, which is an obvious statement, but every time I think about something annoying (I’ve always said I have to be super careful because even just one rogue/wrong thought can send me spiraling) I just breathe slowly. I’m really trying. I’m thinking happy thoughts, looking at happy pictures, and either allowing myself to smile or forcing myself to. I have a plan for the rest of my morning, a positive attitude about surviving work, and a plan for my evening. I got this, right?

I wrote a list a while back about “how to know it’s coming on again” and hoooo boy does it feel accurate…but maybe I’ll think about the opposite now?

To review:

How to know it’s coming on again:

  • 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

There’s so much more to that, I can add countless more things to that list. But in the spirit of being positive (because I somehow don’t have the weight of existence crushing the life out of me at this moment), here’s a list of how to know you’re coming out of it:

  • I contemplate what outfit to wear, don’t get violently angry while trying to find one I like, it sort of matches, and then I even think about putting makeup on (too much effort still? that’s okay)
  • My therapist gets me to crack a smile
  • Breathing becomes easier, and it’s so hard to explain the sensation but the air doesn’t feel like lead as much anymore
  • I can hold a conversation with my boyfriend, with my mom, my sister, my friends, the people I’ve been ignoring for weeks
  • I take a shower and go through the trouble of shaving my legs and using coconut oil on my skin because #selfcare
  • I think to turn on happy/pump-up music in the morning and it actually has the vague effect of making me happy or pumped
  • My thoughts get clearer
  • I don’t use sleep as an escape from the bleak reality of consciousness
  • Hello motivation, how I have missed you

I dunno. I’m obviously scared to say this episode is dissipating. I don’t want to jinx it. Again. Every time I think it’s getting better I get beaten down again. The higher you go, the harder you fall. That type thing. Of course, there’s the positive outlook on that. That being the harder you fall, the higher you bounce. I dunnooooo.

I’m trying. I HAVE been trying, but like, I’m STILL trying. What else can I do?

Anyway, here’s hoping the sun’s gonna come out soon (the literal sun, because it’s been rainy and gross all week which obviously doesn’t help my moods, and the metaphorical one).

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

It’s a bit early, bc the actual week is at the end of the month. Maybe I’ll have something to say that’s completely different than this rant by that time. But for now, while I feeling like typing this mess, here we go…For the last few years (twelve, I guess? seriously?), eating disorders awareness week has been a time for me to think about a part of my life marked by, well, an eating disorder. I think about the suffering. The physical pain of my stomach eating itself as I passed well beyond the point of hunger. The emotional pain from pressuring myself to do better at starving, do better academically, both of which I thought would lighten the inexplicable weight crushing me entirely. I think about the internal conflict, a level of which I cannot even begin to describe. All of me at war with myself, constantly questioning every thought but powerless to find an answer or come to a compromise. The resulting guilt, self-hate. But this year it’s kind of different. I haven’t just started to think about this again now; I’ve been thinking about it since mid-October. Thinking about it hard. If you’ve just read between the lines, you realize I’m saying that I’ve been having issues. Again. Twelve years later. As a fucking adult. Like, this shit is a problemmm. I spent years with the attitude “I couldn’t get to that level of disordered again if I tried.” Well guess what, idiot, apparently you can. Do you hear the shame laced through these words? Because I’m over here thinking how much it sucks that I can’t write some attempt at an inspirational “recovery is awesome” post. I’m thinking how much it sucks that I can’t take twelve years worth of insight and fucking use it. But I’m not here to bitch and moan or have a pity party (I’ve done that enough and had plenty of those). I’m here to do what I fucking DO, and figure out a way to wrap this bullshit up in a nice bow. Make sense of the chaos. Find meaning in the anguish. Sweep up the shards of broken mirror, dump them in the pile of shards from twelve years ago, and find another goddamn mirror. Because that’s what I fucking do. No matter how many times I have my sanity ripped violently out of my skull (and my bipolar disorder ensures that that happens quite a lot, like in this current moment, actually, as I summon the immeasurable amount energy it requires to put words onto a page right now), I stand back up, drag my battered self over to my laptop, and create some semblance of purpose out of the darkness. I really don’t have a great conclusion to this rambling mess of words. I wish I did. But my point here, I guess, is that anorexia doesn’t have to be the conclusion, for anyone. I’m obviously going to find a better one, and anyone else who’s struggling is welcome to join me. And for those of you that don’t struggle with this fucking nonsense, remember to be kind to the ones that do. This isn’t a choice, it isn’t a diet, blah blah blah with the platitudes every eating disordered person says constantly when attempting to explain to the people judging them or whatever. And one final thing, for the endless support from the amazing people I have in my life, thank you. Like. So much. I remember every single one of you who saved me back in the day, and I’m so fucking lucky to have you all doing the same again now. So yeah. Eating disorders awareness week.