quote collecting + reflecting

i went through the drivethrough at starbucks this morning and got something more expensive than i thought. and it turned out the person in front of me paid for my order. the person behind me got something cheap, so i paid for the person behind them as well, to make it even. it was an oddly weird situation, but i guess it’s a good thing. paying it forward, ya know.

also, i’ve been making collages on canva, taking pics from pinterest and grouping them together in ways i think are pretty. i try to make them *aesthetic* if you wanna call it that haha. and then i upload them to notion, where i’ve been journaling.

i words and quotes and writing them down and having them there and keeping them safe. i think the bio of my instagram includes a self-descriptor of “quote-collector.” what a title, i know. lol but i think where i’m going with this is i’m gonna write down some wordssss i’ve collected recently:

  • every color is influenced by the colors around him; in paintings + in the real world
  • be the reason someone feels welcome, seen, and loved
  • we are all literally made of stars✧✧
  • make your heart the most beautiful thing about you –but remember it’s okay to set boundaries
  • there’s nothing more powerful than proving to yourself just how strong you are
  • how fucking cool is it that everyone is just…who they are. unique + proud of ourselves, it’s wonderful
  • everything is more beautiful because nothing is permanent
  • words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality (edgar allan poe)

and now, unrelated, some reflections:

  • boredom is a killer. that’s nothing new, of course, but i have to get more creative to combat it, and i have to have more oomph when it comes to just startinggg.
  • candles make me happy. it’s the little things.
  • my brain was weirldy quiet today, and it’s almost distracting, but i guess it’s not a bad thing to have some peaceful moments of just…stillness

Emotional Alchemy…?

Today wasn’t a bad day. It just wasn’t good. I barely slept last night and I was anxious and there was nothing to do. The elements of a good day just weren’t there.

As I sat at my kitchen table at 4:45 this morning (after I gave up trying to sleep and went ahead and made myself a cup of coffee), I was still pretty excited about the coming hours. I like mornings. They’re full of hope and promise and excitement, like, inherently. Plus, I knew it was going to snow. AKA the perfect excuse to cozy up with a mug of hot cocoa and a fun YA novel and a fuzzy blanket.

By 7:00, I was struggling to hold onto that “inherent morning hope” because it felt like I’d been up forever and I was fucking bored and annoyed and distracted/unfocused and my body hurt (whyyyy, rheumatoid arthritissss!).

I wound up napping at 10:30 or so (which didn’t fix everything but certainly helped), but at some point before that, my wandering mind landed on this idea of emotional alchemy. It’s not an actual thing that I know of. It is, however, an analogy that weirdly motivated me today.

From what I understand, alchemy is a thing that was a sort of precursor to chemistry, concerned with “transformation of matter.” Alchemists wanted to turn regular metals into gold.

I also understand it as a way make something new and better from whatever shit you actually have. I mean…right? That’s an accurate understanding?

And we’re clear on the analogy I’m trying to make? I’m trying to compare alchemy with utilizing the garbage parts of the day ahead to conjure a good mood even when there’s nothing particularly good happening. I want to create something better out of something blah.

Anyway, my mind continued to wander, asking itself a few questions to hammer out these details:

What are the components of a good mood (and by that I mean happiness)? Off the top of my head? Something to do, a sense of purpose, a way to spend time that you can enjoy. An environment you can be comfortable in (I prefer calm and not stressful, but some people enjoy busy and chaotic bc it keep them entertained). Feeling good physically. There are more, but you get the drift.

All of this is just as legit as the actual alchemy, and it doesn’t even fully make sense to me, but I think in comparisons. That’s how I process information, most times.

And I told myself I’d try to put words to a page to process this idea haha so here we are, I guess 🙂

Today I’m grateful for…

✓ shade from trees that’s tinted orange and gold because autumn has turned the leaves burnt red and yellow, air that’s so crisp it gives you the feeling of biting into a juicy apple, boots and scarves and leather jacket outfits, old cartoons that still make me laugh, an organized bookshelf, beanie hats, that squeaky sound it makes when you wipe down a mirror (and the feeling of looking into a pristinely clean reflection), fuzzy blankets, things that make you feel like you’re flying (like swimming or roller skating or even running so fast it feels like your feet aren’t even attached to you anymore), running the water really cold after a steaming hot shower, getting out and then dousing yourself in lotion or oil and slipping into pajamas feeling clean as fuck, my nephew’s little giggle, and classic video games

again

I am completely exhausted. Insomnia has finally given way to excessive sleeping, or maybe it’s just because I’ve been taking multiple doses of multiple sleep aids every night, starting at five, just to become unconscious. I don’t want to have to think. Although I say that as if thinking is an active process at this point. It’s something that just happens. I’m dragged into it. The thoughts come in, rising like floodwaters, forcing me wherever they want me to go. My moods move in a similar, violent fashion, dragging me with them in a deranging pattern that seems never to end. I’m scared, as dramatic as it may seem to say. There’s no other way to describe it. Nothing else seems to capture what this feels like, although everyone I come across who sees my dead expression and my body twisted with anxiety seems to “understand.” Because, apparently, they’ve felt the same way at one point or another. I need that to not be true. Because if “everyone” feels this intensely terrible, then what in the fuck is wrong with me? Have they really experienced the painful ripping of their sanity from their brain? Repeatedly? Have they suffered the debilitating fear waiting for it to happen again? Have they been pulverized by the gravity of the rage within them, caused and quelled by absolutely nothing? Have they collapsed into bed, exhausted from staring blankly into space trying to summon the will to move. Have they laid there in agony that stems from nowhere, that goes on without a beginning or an end, an explanation or a solution? Cried empty tears for hours? Heaved heavy sobs until the accompanying headache stops them in their tracks? Yes, sadness happens to all of us. And yes, even depression can be felt by those still lucky enough to not have bipolar disorder. But do not. do NOT tell me you understand. Don’t insult me like that. Don’t compare your commonplace emotions to the colliding hurricanes of unwarranted pain I am tortured into feeling. Your sadness was caused by something, and I don’t deny how much that sucks. But my suffering comes without reason. There is nothing to blame it on, and nothing to repair to try to end it. It is meaningless, but its omnipresence demands it be given a meaning. Confusion rips into every aspect of who I am. My concentration is turned to smoke and dissipates like it never existed. I am sick with it. My appetite is stolen and morphed into disgust. Mr. Hyde to its Dr. Jekyll, they are one and the same, and maybe one is an excuse for the other as goes the moral of the story, but how can I be blamed for the defect thrust into me, for the malfunction that invaded my body and soul like a virus and continues to violate my every moment. Survival is all I can hope for. Day to day, minute to minute. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. It is heavy, the air like lead, but there is no cure. There is nothing left to do. Deal with it. Barely get by, but get by. It requires constant distraction. Frantic, panicked distraction. One wrong thought and I’m paralyzed. One spare moment and I’m incapacitated, another day wasted in the darkness of my mind in the darkness of my bedroom in the darkness of life itself. It wouldn’t be so extreme if it didn’t bring powerful uncertainty and unintelligible, mangled discomfort. All-consuming distress. My deadened eyes announce the signs of visible resignation. The dark bags have never left, and I don’t need a mirror to know they’re getting more pronounced. I scream into my pillow, not actually hearing the blood-curdling slice through the silence. It’s a faraway sound. It might be coming from something outside of myself, but what does it matter if I don’t have a concept of who in the fuck I even am? Spiral again. Spiral further into it. Rather than reaching for relief, clinging to whatever remnants of happiness I can find in my memories, I give up. Relief would only be fleeting. Why bother? Maybe giving myself up for consumption will get this whole ordeal over with sooner. But for now, existing is difficult. Building myself up over and over again is futile, but I have to keep doing it if I want to drag myself from under my covers to the bathroom at least twice a day. My brain is mush, but it’s still firing neurons or something, I’m still alive or something, so I’m left with gray matter leaking down into the rest of me. It’s sticky, and a sickening sight. And it lacks the neurotransmitters that might be some sort of help in this fucked up situation, lucky me. I am left with a mind disconnected, sensations out of my control, moods trying to escape the bounds of their intangible nature, and a stomach ache. Congratulations to me, I’m having en episode.

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.

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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.

Medication-related weight gain (or putting on pounds in an unrelated whatever)

I’m tremendously uncomfortable in my body. I feel it underneath my consciousness at all times, physically and emotionally. It sucks. But I’ve been in this disconcerting situation before, and even though it’s laced with inward-pointing disgust, even though it makes my skin crawl, I know what to do (in theory at least). I’m taking discomfort by the throat and smashing it into a brick wall like a criminal in a mugging until I’m able to bend it to my will, fit it into a box labeled “this shit doesn’t matter” because I’ve crushed it’s bones and taken them for myself. Fuck being uncomfortable. Fuck letting it ruin what should be a fun and exciting day. Fuck that.