Happy things to appreciate 💙 (updates!)

Random acts of kindness 💕

Cloud watching ☁️

Giving something my all💯

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

Family!! 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧

Fairytales about princesses and castles 🏰👑

Classic Disney movies °O° 📼

Waking up without an alarm ⏰ 🌅

Selfies when I’m really feeling myself 🤳🏻

Coffee ☕️ enjoying that first cup in the morning 🙂

Meeting up with friends 👭

Getting stronger 🏋🏼‍♀️ (physically or mentallyyy)❗️

Proving my resilience ⬇️🆙

Beer with friends after a long week 🗓🍻

Going on a trip ✈️

Pretty bows 🎀 (and other accessories) 💍

Smiling for no particular reason 😃

Roller coasters!🎢 the anticipation at the top!

Fruit salad 🍒🥝🍍🍎🍉🍇🍐🍌

When it all comes together like a puzzle 🧩

Old school video games 🎮

Leaving love notes (or any notes!) 💌

Gettingggg love notes (or any notes!) 📬

Good news in the paper 📰

Enjoying nature 🏔🏕

Karaoke 🎤

Flowers on a spring day 🌷🌻🌺🌿🌸

Cookies and milk 🍪🥛

The smell of rain/ thunderstorms ⛈⚡️

Balloons 🎈

Tea 🍵 with honey 🍯

Binge watching a good show on Netflix/Hulu 🖥

Tropical vacations 🏝

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

The sun, rising every day 🌅

A fresh notebook waiting to be filled 📓

Cute puppies 🐶

Cute cats 🐱

My favorite music 🎼 🎶🎵

A stack of books waiting to be read 📚

Seeing a rainbow 🌈

Photography that captures feelings 📸

Improving myself 📈

The sun coming out 🌥⛅️🌤☀️

Fireworks 🎆🎇

Cosmic phenomena 🌙💫 -notice the miracles

Getting a good night’s sleep 💤😴

City skylines 🌇 🌃

Office supplies 📎✏️ 📋

Magic✨/ unicorns 🦄 / etc 🌟

Being alive!! 🌎 appreciate that 👈🏻

Shooting for the moon 🚀 🌕

Hot chocolate 🍫 on a cold winter day ❄️

Making someone happy 😃

Deep conversations 🗣 with close friends 👥

My perfect nephew 👶🏼

Learning something new about science 🧬

Comfy pajamas ✔️

Jeans that fit just right 👖

Frantically writing ✍🏻 getting ideas💡 on paper

Pride 🏳️‍🌈 for whatever I am

Connecting w people I love on social media 💻📱

Self-care 🕯 🧼🛁🧖🏻‍♀️

Really appreciating stars 🌟 in the night sky 🌌

Good fortune 🔮

Getting into a video game 🎮 (or watching one)

Shopping sprees! 🛍

Fall 🍁🍂🌾🌼 bonfires 🔥

Achieving something to be proud of 🎓

A big paycheck 💵

Late night car rides🚙 with Andrew🥰 singing🎶

Funny memes 😂

The incredibleee excitement the night before a Disney trip 🔜

Waking up on Christmas morning 🎄🎁

Feeling lucky 🍀

Winning something 🎰

Classical music that brings back memories 🎻

When things fit together perfectly 🔐

Making art 👩🏻‍🎨🖍🖌🖊

Appreciating all the world’s differences 🗺

Becoming the best version of me 🏆

Learning 👩🏻‍🎓

Books 📖 & how so many of them exist📚

Making wishes 🧞‍♀️🧞‍♂️✨

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

My favorite perfume 🥰

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

Singing in the rain ☔️

Checking something off my to do list ☑️

Tattoos 🌀

Ice cream (size congruent with my mood) 🍦

Parties 🥳

Quiet mornings 🔇

Crocheting someone a hat 🧶

Ska shows 🏁

Facing fears 🕸

My infinite internal power ♾ 💥

The journey 🛤

Climbing into bed feeling accomplished after a long day 🛏

A new haircut (or color!) 🆕👱🏻‍♀️💙

Reliving memories 💭 / looking through keepsakes 🎟🎫

Being the perfect amount of energetic🔋

Finding light in the darkness 🔦

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

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

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

Late night adventures 🌙

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

It was dark.

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

Insomnia ravaged her. Again.

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

Why bother?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fucking positivity.

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

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

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

*

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

I can’t figure out my emotions/ moods/ anything involving self-awareness…or can I? No really, someone tell me which.

I discovered the word “alexithymia” like, ten years ago with my friend Meg at the Barnes and Noble between our houses.

For the longest time, she was the only person I knew in the real world (not from treatment) who struggled with mental illness like I did.  We connected immediately, skipping most of the normal pleasantries required of new friendships and got right into the deeper, and usually darker, stuff.  We talked for hours about the ins and outs of anorexia and bulimia, the nitty-gritty of what went on in our eating disordered lives. We talked about how, as a result of crashing into the brick wall of mental illnesses so intensely we were completely flattened by it, we nearly had our lives stolen from us.  We talked about what we survived. What we were still surviving.

Anyway, I digress.  In the middle of what was a time of great self-discovery, exploration, and reflection, we came across the word “alexithymia.”  I don’t know what we were looking up to stumble upon it, or what we were even talking about specifically. But we were sitting in the bookstore (our favorite meeting spot and general happy place) when we tried the word out in our mouths and tested the meaning in our minds, and we had to stop and think about it.

It’s apparently the inability to identify and articulate your emotions to other people.  It’s like an actual thing, and neither of us actually have it, but after getting together nearly every day for an entire summer discuss our struggles as philosophically and knowledgeably as teenagers could, I guess we’d somehow been halted.

Again, we shouldn’t really be described as really having it, but I’m trying to make a point and citing this memory is the best entrance into it I could come up with.  So yeah, let’s get to my point.

Meg and I both felt suuuuuper self-aware.  We figured out why we did what we did and had lengthy conversations dissecting our actions.  We were honest with ourselves and each other. The typically elusive reasons for engaging in eating disordered behaviors suddenly seemed so obvious to us.  Looking back, we were a little conceited in our thinking that if a person had no insight into what they were doing, they’d better get their shit together and quick.  Like, calm down young Laura and Meg.

That still isn’t my point.  But this next sentence is, I promise you.

Even though we “had awareness of our character, feelings, motives, and desires,” we were also still fucking clueless.  I guess it’s one of those things where there’s always more to learn?

I don’t know, but the reason I’m thinking about that one random situation so intensely right now is that I’ve been sucking at talking about my actual feelings lately.  I’ve always felt like I was so great at getting myself.  But do I actually get myself?

Spoiler: I don’t.

I dunnooooo, maybe I used to be good at it but stopped being good at it for some reason.  If I was self-aware I’d probably know the reason. But I’m not. I don’t think? Fuck, this is confusing.

(Sidenote, I legit just googles “self-awareness test” and tried to complete it and it only proved to me that I have some emotional and mental sorting out to do)

I was diagnosed bipolar around the time Meg and I spent that summer in that bookstore.  And ten years later, I’m literally sitting right here in that same store typing a long-winded analysis of what I thought I was so good at when I was 18.

The problem I’m facing right now is that I’ve been all over the place with my moods for so damn long and I think I’m just sick of trying to figure them out.  It requires a lot of effort. I mean, I know when I’m crippled with depression. And I know when I’m irritable and agitated and violent, when I’m in a Hulk-like bipolar rage.  I know when I’m flying high, riding on the adrenaline from too much energy in too small a space. I have apps on my phone that track the mood fluctuations, my symptoms, when I take my meds, and the like.  I journal pretty obsessively. I do it all and I thought it was enough.

Maybe I’m confused about what I’m confused about.  ‘Cause my therapist always asks for me to describe how I feel and I can’t do it.  And I just had a psychiatrist appointment where I babbled for 20 minutes without saying anything productive or useful.  Can I just not describe this shit under the pressure of someone watching me? I’m tryinggggg. A while back I made a list of emotion words for me to use when I need to come up with a word for what I’m feeling.  I haven’t really referenced the list. But still. I have a scale I made up, a 0-10 rating scale that I use to conceptualize how I’m feeling. The problem with that is that my moods change over the course of the day.  Oh, and a while ago I realized that what I feel as mood fluctuations might really be my anxiety going up and down. And all of that could be situational. And maybe it’s just a normal thing that normal people feel on a normal bunch of days.  Not everyone is happy all the time. Ahhhhhh. And maybe what I’m feeling now is just NOT MANIC and NOT DEPRESSED and I’m not fuckin’ used to it.

I was so fricken excited about June and July.  I kept telling everyone how great it was to have nearly two months of stability.  It wasn’t too great. Meaning it wasn’t painfully great, precariously great. It was just stable.

Or was I actually manic?  Because there’s a marked difference between what I feel now and what I was feeling then.

It’s a constant struggle to determine what the truth of the situation is.  I wrote in a poem the other day that I can’t tell the difference between what’s reality and what’s “overdramatic, over-imagined hyperbole.”  Good line, if I do say so myself. But seriously.

I have nothing to measure my life against.  I’ve only ever existed the way I exist. I have nothing to compare it to as a test.  I have no control group in this scientific experiment. All I have is my bewildering take on things.

Alright, this is one of those posts that don’t necessarily help me solve the problem.  It’s probably a start, though. To be thinking in this way and at least trying.  I’m gonna keep journaling, keep doing what I tried to do here.  And I’m gonna make those journal entries more than what they normally are (to-do lists and random shit I did that day).  Gotta get back to that self-aware life.

Wish me luck.

Bipolar and the senses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visiting Insanity

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

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

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

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

Anyway, here we go:

Visiting Insanity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manic

“Do you remember

When you were young

And you wanted to

Set the world on fire”

These lyrics hit me square in the stomach whenever my music shuffles to this song.  I remember so vividly listening to these words on last year’s hot summer days, filled to the brim with hot-blooded passion.  I was nothing if not wildly manic –and not the irritated, agitated, anxious, dysphoric kind that usually rips into me. It was transcendent happiness sending shockwaves of light, blindingly radiant, throughout my emotional core.  Which is why I didn’t simply listen to the music; I experienced it. Particularly distinct are my memories of listening to it one sunshiney August morning in my parents’ pool, as I alternated between sipping my coffee and swimming laps like I was training for the motherfucking Olympics.  “Teenage Anarchist” was roaring through my speaker at full volume, the perfect soundtrack to the perfect start to the perfect day after a perfect succession of days and nights and days and nights and…it blended together, obscuring any realistic interpretation of the previous seven weeks.  Perhaps the tangled mess of sleepless nights and unheard of caffeine intake fueled the fire, but then again, what wasn’t stoking the flames.  What wasn’t egging them on to rise higher, burn hotter.  To spread. The music was an energy that buzzed throughout each of my senses -I heard the interlaced harmonies, saw the notes pass over my vision, even tasted the electric shock of the guitarist striking each chord- finally resting in my sense of feeling.  It was euphoric. It was priceless. It was rampant energy, but this time with someplace to go. It shot out of my body like radiation emanating from the sun. The world was overflowing with a crazy joy, and I consumed it all greedily. I was at the top of the world, not knowing I was dangerously close to its edge.  And I continued to listen to that song, the song that existed for me, my song. The song that played on repeat, that stayed with me underneath my conscious awareness for two months. Two long fucking months.

…until it dissipated into frazzled distress like balloon that ascended too high into the atmosphere, reaching a deranging altitude, until it maxed out, popped, exploded.  Then the remnants of its container plummeted down to earth, somehow crashing into it with the force of the meteor that caused the goddamn ice age.

Mindfulness Practices and Self-care Routines (aka: how I’m learning to chill the fuck out)

 

I’m not usually too keen on buzzwords.  Probably because I’ve never been one to go along with the mainstream’s idea of what the cool thing to do is.  And I certainly believe that “mindfulness” is a buzzword, along with the now-cliche term “self-care.” These are popular partially because society says they should be: they’re a trendy thing to be into, a fashionable thing to discuss.  It’s fun for people to spout on about how “zen” and “present” they are. And there are ways to be mindful and practice self-care that are more trendy and more fashionable than others (I’m picturing instagrammable stuff like meditation altars and bath bomb aesthetics and facemasks and candles etc etc etc).  But, I that I think mindfulness and self-care actually important. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t necessarily think it’s great to follow the masses, but that this time, the masses have it right. Being in tune with your mind and putting yourself and your needs first sometimes? Never a bad thing.

Maybe it’s the mental illness that impacts basically every aspect of my life, but I’m really into psychology and the brain/the mind and biochemistry (actually I was into it all long before my foray into mental illness…I do recall drawing blobs on papers to randomly ask people what they looked like in my own makeshift Rorschach test as a child).  And my point in saying that is to explain how you can’t research this stuff without stumbling into the realm of mindfulness and self-care. You can’t follow psych accounts or inspirational quote accounts on IG without coming across information about them. No matter what you’re into, actually, I’m certain you’ve already heard about them. So yeah. Growth in this trend.  I think by now you catch my drift (I definitely didn’t need to beat it to death, but alas I have).

I’ve been in therapy for like, nine months now, and a huge portion of what I’ve learned so far is in regards to mindfulness.  I’ve literally gotta slow down, name my emotions, and feel them without letting them control me. On a related note, apparently I have a tendency to use adjectives and be very descriptive in terms of emotions, and apparently doing the alternative to that is something I should try to implement.

A great deal of being mindful has to do with anxiety relief.  For me, at least. Like remembering that I can think myself out of a panicked frenzy instead of running head-first into one.  Or actually using one of my many anxiety-reducing apps downloaded to my phone. Or even just being honest about why I’m anxious and putting words to it so I can really internalize the fact that I have power over it, I’m in control of my thoughts and attitudes and therefore my emotions.

Meditation is genuinely hella useful.  It helps people navigate through the stressful periods of their lives and manage things that are in-the-moment anxiety-producing.  As in, being in the present moment and consciously breathing can interrupt the fight-or-flight response (“shut the fuck up, amygdala!”), not to mention steady a person’s racing heart.  Meditating frequently, practicing it as a skill, can help this happen naturally. Mindfulness can improve focus by helping to quiet external bullshit and extraneous thoughts, allowing a person to be centered on one specific thing at a time and to enjoy their lives right here and now no matter what.  It therefore follows to say that it combats the rumination of negative thoughts that plague so many people with and without mental health issues.

I’m a testament to this.  It’s been brought to my attention (quite a few times) that when I get worked up about something or when I allow my racing thoughts to take over while I desperately try to get every last word out of my mouth before they evaporate into thin air and leave me to distractedly try to remember them…I forget to breathe.  I just don’t inhale and exhale like humans are supposed to. It’s obviously rather problematic. But I’ve been working on it for a few months now. Maybe three? When I’m at work and my anxiety and heart rate are rising because I’m feeling feelings too intensely while attempting to do my damn job, I consciously tell myself to breathe, in and out.  When I’m driving and getting irritable because some moron in front of me is going too goddamn fucking slow for literally no reason, I steady my breathing and focus on the intake and release of air from my lungs. Even when I’m sitting here writing, just doing my own thing, and it occurs to me that I should bring my attention to my breath, I do so. And the resulting changes have been small but still noticeable: my heart rate is overall more controlled, I’m able to keep it together at annoyances or stressors at least slightly better, and I feel proud of myself for attempting to do my very best for myself.

As for self-care, I’ve tried the bubble bath with candles, facemask, lavender-infused type.  And my own personal spa days are definitely enjoyable and rejuvenating. But I’ve come to understand that taking care of my mind and body involves more than just those types of activities.  Sometimes it involves sitting down and writing, sometimes it involves stretching or moving my body. I guess it’s doing whatever fills my cup and reenergizes me so I can keep trying to live my best life.

I want to continue learning and practicing and improving.  I plan on doing so by continuing to read up on it all, analyzing and absorbing the information to the best of my ability, and actually putting what I learn into practice and incorporating it into my daily life.  I want to start setting a timer and just sitting with my thoughts. Maybe like, five minutes in the morning and ten at night. I also have a fuckton of guided meditations, so I need to start utilizing them. Oh, and walking meditations.  So I can get my energy out and enjoy some physical activity while simultaneously centering myself and attracting good thoughts.

I have a solid plan.  I’m excited to get on with it, and to see where it takes me.

An unfinished piece about change…

A change is gonna come

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

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

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

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

Morning Affirmations

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