For the first time in as long as I can remember I spent the 4th of July sober. Last year I was relatively sober, but this is the first time I did not have a single drop of alcohol. Oddly enough it didn’t feel as though anything was missing. I didn’t even think about drinking the entire day. For me this is new because I have struggled lately when we go out with friends. It’s not that they pressure me, it’s more of I CRAVE the alcohol or the experience of drinking. So for me to go through a major holiday without even noticing something was “missing” is a big thing.
This is interesting for me to reflect on because I’ve insisted for months that I don’t have a drinking problem. Then sometimes I will say “well maybe I could drink less.” I’m still at whatever stage it is in recovery where I waffle on my drinking. I’ve gone 4 months now without any major slip ups. Yes, I have had a beer with friends but I haven’t gone over the deep end where I black out or where I wake up the next morning feel like shit. A 4 month streak isn’t bad at all IMO.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve been active. I keep saying I’ll be back to writing and then something happens that drives me from it. I got into a good groove a few months back, but that’s because I had nothing to do after I came home from the psych hospital. Oh, you didn’t know? Yeah, back in November I was in the hospital for 3 days. It was very surreal the entire time and I kept waiting for them to tell me I wasn’t going home yet. Thankfully I was able to keep in touch with my boyfriend and my dad who are my biggest supports right now. On top of learning to live with this illness, I am also battling my drinking. I never saw it as a problem, but it has played a large role in a lot of the choices I’ve made that were not in my best interest. And I drink in unhealthy quantity.
Oh yeah, and they diagnosed me with PTSD. Again, very surreal. I cry sometimes when I think about this because it makes me feel different. Like I can now NAME some of my quirks because they are related to the PTSD, but it makes me feel like something is changed now. This is something my boyfriend and I are both having to learn how to deal with because I have to determine if something is related to it or something else. I’m stubborn so I try to pretend I don’t have PTSD. I just don’t want to seem like I’m being overdramatic about stuff. I hate the way I feel some days because I have to take so many medications now and don’t feel normal. I know they are there for a purpose and they really do help, I just wish sometimes I didn’t have to deal with this inner demons.
So that’s what has been going on in my life the last few months. How have you been?
Saturday was 1 year since I made the choice to walk away from a toxic relationship that had been my life for nearly the past 10 years. The whole day, I was reflective on this. Just as I am still reflective 2 days later.
I am reflective because a lot has happened in this last year. I have started learning about who I truly am as a person…I am seeing myself as a separate being from another individual. I am learning what I like and what I dislike. I am learning to find my voice and how to use it. I am finally, after 20 years of not being so, becoming comfortable in my own skin. I don’t overly judge myself in every morning and call myself nasty names. I don’t always feel fat and disgusting (unless I’ve eaten horrible all day and my body is yelling at me). I don’t feel stupid for not knowing everything. I don’t always question my ability to love someone or have someone love me.
I DO, however, catch myself jumping when someone raises their voice in my direction. Feeling horribly anxious when I have to say something that previously would have gotten me scolded (such as, I slid off the road back in the winter during a particularly nasty snow/ice storm), or when I have to share with someone that I’m feeling sick and need to rest for a couple of hours. I still occasionally feel like a burden when I have to make a conscientious decision about if I can go to a store or somewhere in public and manage any random anxiety attacks that come on. I catch myself feeling on edge when someone in my life has had a bad day.
I’m healing and there are times when my internal wounds come open. But I don’t feel as broken anymore. I have someone in my life, and several amazing friends, who helps with picking up the pieces and putting me back together. He doesn’t belittle me or make me feel shame or crazy when I’m manic. He doesn’t show or voice any frustration when I “can’t be normal.” Instead, he looks at me with his big beautiful blue eyes and asks, “What can I do to help you?” And every time, I want to cry because most of the damn time, I don’t know what I need. He sees something in my face when I am trying to process what I’m thinking or trying to put into words what I want to say but am afraid of how it will come across.
I don’t know how my future is going to turn out, physically or mentally. I frequently worry about if I will one day mentally leave and not be able to come back. But I know until then, I have someone by my side to hold my hand and me through whatever comes.
Some of the shit I’ve been dealing with lately has resulted in me feeling some guilt and a lot of anxiety. Guilt about recent actions I have taken, and anxiety about what may still come as a result. I now that the actions I took were for MY well-being and MY safety, but it is still hard to sometimes feel as though I am being judged negatively and thought of as a bad person. Especially when it is by people I thought were my friends.
The truth is, I’ve always tried to be a people pleaser and recently I realized that this wasn’t a way of life that was good for me. It was hard on my mental health, especially when having bipolar would be thrown in my face. It made my self-esteem suffer because I was constantly trying to be better, trying to make someone else happy, trying to hide when I was suffering because I felt alone in trying to handle my thoughts.
I’ve made the choices I did for me. I know it may sound selfish, especially when it did cause pain for someone else, but at the end of the day that person has been trying to use their pain as a way to continue causing me pain. It is fair to conclude that all of this has played a large role in my recent decline in mental stability as when I am stressed or going through life changes my moods go haywire. But I am not going to blame someone else for actions I took in order to heal and make sure I am in a place where I can be with someone who sees beyond my bipolar and doesn’t use it as a weapon when they are upset with me.
I made the decision this week to restart my medications. This is a decision that makes me feel as though I have failed in my quest to not rely on medications to maintain stability. There are many contributing factors that have led me to feeling an increase in depression, which makes my ability to function day to day next to impossible. I have had so many days recently where I wanted to just hide in bed and cry. But on the flip side of that, I have also had many days where I was running on very little sleep but taking on the world and fighting to manage my irritation and racing thoughts.
I noticed my drinking started to increase, and it was hard to tell if it was a way to keep the depressive thoughts, self-loathing, and guilt hidden or if it was my old friend Mania coming out to play. What made me realize that I needed to really work to manage my drinking was the night I was at the bar until close, couldn’t get myself home, and when I woke up a few hours later (in my own bed as someone I knew from the bar drove me), I was hit with feelings of guilt and hatred at myself for letting me lose control. I was thankful that no other poor decisions were made, but it was still a wake up call.
I believe this is what they call “rapid cycling” and I haven’t had to deal with it since high school. I don’t remember parts of high school and I don’t know if that is because I blocked out some of the negative events I dealt with or because my symptoms were so out of control that my brain couldn’t process it all. Either way, these last couple of weeks have ended with my refilling prescriptions and wanting to cry the first time I went to take them. I’m starting over it feels like, but I’m going to work to get back to where I was earlier this year when I made that decision. Hopefully, next time, it works out.
Is struggling considered a mood? I would say it is right now.
I spent today doing a project for school that involved me delving into my past and drudging up some memories. I became aware as I was working on this project, that I have not fully healed from those memories…some of them felt so fresh that I can’t believe it’s been 10 years or more. Some of them, I found myself fighting to not cry as I thought about them.
I’ve never felt more alone than how I feel right now. I know there are people who have experienced/witnessed abuse too, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to reach out looking for that support. I find myself minimizing what I experienced…or recent events I find myself still denying fall that they under “abuse.” I don’t look at myself as a victim, I see myself as a survivor and a fighter.
But still, I sit here, feeling alone and lost. Unsure how to move on from the feelings I’m currently experiencing. Feeling damaged and fucked up.
It has been an interesting 6 months…I have not been writing here as much, and my FB activity has faltered some. For which, I sincerely apologize.
Early in the summer, I made a major life change by walking away from a toxic romantic relationship. For the first time in my life, I am living by myself. I am learning how to recognize when I am going through a manic or depressive episode, and I am on my own for navigating during those times. I have been handling it all relatively well…I have some strong supports in my corner, and I am so very thankful that I can call them up in the middle of an anxiety attack or when I’m feeling so low about myself that I can barely function.
A big part of my self-growth has been trusting and believing in myself. I felt like I was under attack for the first few months by the person I left. I still feel like I am under attack or scrutiny by others who are in the same social circle.
I spent many times a day questioning my ability to be as independent as I have become, questioning my ability to get through current challenges. I spent a lot of my time trying to identify and understand what emotion I am experiencing. Some of the more common emotions I have experienced during this life change have been: confusion (a LOT), anxiety, depression, anger (so much anger)…
As of right now, I am still learning about myself every day and am still questioning my ability. I made the choice shortly after leaving the relationship of coming off of my medications. I am using healthy lifestyle choices as a way to manage/maintain. There have been days when it is a major challenge, especially since I have a history of spiraling into a manic episode when I am under stress or dealing with major life changes. I have noted some manic symptoms, but no major manic episode has come up….on the flip side, I have had depressive symptoms come up and stay around for days…but again, thankfully I have been creating this great support system that I can lean on/run to when I can’t function on my own.
I have established a personal goal of uploading a new blog post at least once a week and being more active on the FB page Bipolar Real Talk.
I am so confused on what I’m feeling and thinking that I don’t even know how to write it down.
I have these thoughts and self-doubts circling in my brain like vultures. I have feelings bubbling like a mini Mt Vesuvius.
I think I know what I’m doing or where I’m going and then…WHAM…something hits me like a brick wall that makes me question it all. Then I get angry because I’m feeling all confused. Then I’m more confused because if what I was doing/feeling was right, then why am I confused?!
What really upsets me is when I talk about this confusion with people and they immediately jump to everything being “because you’re bipolar.” when in actuality, I’m confused because I’m a human who experiences the world around her and doesn’t always know where or how she fits in. I am a human who is trying to navigate life with a few extra struggles than some. So excuse me if I’m confused!
I established this blog as a way for me to get out my frustrations as I live day to day battling my brain. Eventually it fell to the side as RL started getting heavier. Recently I realized though that I need this blog more than ever. It’s not like I’m in jeopardy of losing my job or home or relationship, but every day the battle seems to be getting harder and harder.
I have gone back to counseling and have been to a few sessions. In the first session I told her I was there because I felt like I was drowning and out of control of my bipolar, and I just don’t know how to handle it anymore. Since then, we have been exploring how my it has been impacting areas of my life. But today she said that most people come into her office wanting for her to tell them what to do. I want to be able to unload without feeling judged or ridiculed and then helped to find new techniques and tactics. I’m not sure how I feel about this tbh. It makes sense though. Having bipolar is MY battle, I can’t expect someone else to come and do something about it. I have to live with it every day.
Lately I have been dealing more with what feels like depression. I am not sure if it’s from what’s going on in my life, or if I’m back to square one where I’m battling with my brain. Either way, it’s making things difficult for me and I just don’t know where to start. I get myself out of bed, but then I sit there some days wondering what my next step is. What responsibility should I try to tackle? How little am I doing because I’m mentally lacking the energy and just want to curl under my blankets and cry? And then I start to feel guilty because how can I sit around feeling sorry for myself when I have things to do and people to take care of?
I know I need to work through this, and I know I can, I just don’t know where to start…
If I had to backtrack to when it first really appeared evident that I have bipolar, I would have to stay that was back in high school. I chalked the feelings of anxiety, agitation, euphoria, and depression to just being a teenager. I remember sitting in a doctor’s office saying how the birth control she put me on seemed to make my emotions unbearable. I remember her saying it’s possible it wasn’t the right one for me, or “there might be something more going on.” I remember staying up for almost two nights straight, random scrawlings in a beat up notebook because I couldn’t get my thoughts to stop. I remember going from so angry I was punching the wall to curling in a ball on my bedroom floor, crying because I didn’t understand what was going on in my head. Again, I just thought this was the response to being a teenager going through my parents divorcing, feeling like I had to be strong to everyone and not show that it felt like I was ready to explode any second. If I could send a letter to myself during that time, it would say this:
Dear younger me,
The world feels like it is coming to a stop around you doesn’t it? You feel as though you can’t get through one more second or you might scream. Your knuckles are sore from punching, your eyes are hurting from crying so much. Sometimes your head hurts from trying to get your thoughts to calm down and to keep everything straight in your head. You just want to hide, but you know you can’t. I hate to break it to you kid, but this doesn’t stop. It does get better though. Right now you feel like it won’t, that you need to escape but don’t know how. But you finally get the strength to reach out for help. You swallow your pride and face on any judgement. You start with counseling where you are made to feel safe and secure. You are strong. You admit that you can’t handle the weight of the world on your shoulders. Then they tell you that you aren’t just depressed, you have Bipolar. They tell you that medication will help keep the moods stable and you won’t feel like you’re ready to crawl out of your skin for days on end.
This scares you, but after watching your mother fall to pieces because she never reached out for help or tried to get things straightened out, you know this is what you have to do. Some days you may hate that you take medication, but remember that you are still the same girl you were before. You still love writing, you still use it as an outlet. You still love music and wish life was a musical. The only difference is now you are in a better place because you were able to realize it doesn’t make you weak to ask for help. Things get better. You’ll see.