Beautifully Broken: These Manic Moments

I painted yesterday.

ALL DAY.

In between taking care of two sick kids and cleaning my apartment, I somehow managed to

Paint.

All.

Day.

(Now mind you-I have no technical skill, I am not an artist. I can draw stick people and color in lines but that’s as far as my skills go. I just like color…and creating something even if it’s simplistic and looks like nothing….)

I’ve been cycling between depression and mania all week, daily, but have spent the past two days full on hypomanic.

Hence the all day painting.

At least I’m finding a release from it; being able to creatively express the explosions of colors and frantic thoughts in my mind keeps me from teetering off the edge.

I’m Bipolar. There are parts of me that malfunction and are broken….

but I’m finally starting to see the beauty that does lie underneath it all, and am learning to capture it, use it, and build upon it….so I don’t give space to the darkness.

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Several people have reached out and asked me to paint a word or picture for them. Instead of selling anything, I have a project idea that would benefit a nonprofit dear to my heart. Once I get the details finalized, I will post the info-stay tuned!

Manic Monday: Full Disclosure

“Mommiiiiiiiiiieeeeeee!”

(little arms wrap themselves around my legs giving them tight, loving squeezes)

Hey sweetie are you ready to go?

“YUP. ” (grabs jacket & my hand) “Who’s in the car with us today, Mom?”

No one sweetie, it’s just us, c’mon. (I pull  him thru the door and out into the brisk cold where the late afternoon sun greets our faces with lazy kisses of sunlight)

“It’s Monday, right Mom?”

Yes it is. Do you remember where we’re going?

“To the therapist. You see the therapist on Mondays after school.  Every Monday, not Saturdays anymore, right? The therapist is like a doctor who helps you fix your mind and ‘motions, right?”

Right. But first we have to go to Target to buy you a coloring book and a toy.

“A toy? Why? What kind of toy?”

Any kind of toy you want as long as it’s not too expensive. We have to get you a toy because I forgot to charge the iPad and you need something to do whi-

“While you talk to the therapist?”

Yes.

I’m not perfect. I haven’t been anywhere close to a Stepford Mom and that is why I believe in having full disclosure with my son about the fact that I see a therapist…a “doctor who helps (me) fix (my) mind and ‘motions.” He’s seen my at my worst since Alex was born nearly 22+mos ago and if it’s one thing that being in therapy has taught me, it’s that full disclosure helps paint a clearer picture for people to see and try to understand. So with Brennan, I don’t hide or keep from him the fact that I need help with certain parts of myself. He understands that there are parts of me that can be out of control and need help or “fixing” so I can be a “healthy Mommie,” as he puts it. He’s only going on 5 but he gets it or at least what he needs to at this stage and that eases the tension on the pressure valve of motherhood to appear like I have it all together. Cause let’s face it-I don’t, and after the past 2 years we’ve had I know he can see and understand that I don’t, so why try to hide it from him? I can’t. I refuse to. I refuse to perpetuate any kind of shame, negative stigma or unhealthy association to this. Even though mental illness runs in my family, it’s something my family sucks the big wad at, talking about their problems, their malfunctioning parts, and seeking solid, effective treatment for them. And besides, it wouldn’t be fair of me to tell all of you the down and dirty 411 of my life and illness and not tell him would it? Me thinks not.

Full disclosure. I give it to my son. In return he gives me the space I need to spend an hour untangling myself from the web of chaos that is my mind and digging myself out from underneath the plethora of emotions buried behind doors I have to learn how to unlock…..

I’m pretty sure the toy bribes make it an hour worth spent for the both of us.

this post is a link up!  Click the button to read more awesome posts and read the creator’s blog….

Manic Mondays: Mood Charting…There’s an App for That

When I first started learning about rapid cycling BP, nearly everything I read mentioned mood charting as an effective tool to understand the fluctuations in your mood. Every article I read listed it as a way to help see any patterns in your mood cycling, frequency, and help in constructing a suitable treatment and management plan.

Feeling desperate to try anything to help manage this dragon I was now living with, I was eager to give it a shot…but I wasn’t so eager or disciplined to stop and journal every time I felt a shift in mood.

Lucky for me (and you!) I’m a techie by nature-gadgets and gizmos a plenty bring out the tech geek in me. (so do who’s it and what’s it galore-quick name that movie!) So imagine my delight when my fingers gracefully typed in “bipolar mood charting” in the iTunes App store search box and up popped a few apps.

Yep. APPS. For MOOD CHARTING. (just typing that got me excited)

I perused a few, reading reviews & ratings, looking at screenshots and reading descriptions…and then I settled on this one, which I’ve been using since November….

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Price? $3.99

You might wince at that and decide paper and pen are cheaper, but we’re talking easy convenience here my mood shifting friends. Playing around on FB or Twitter and notice you’re feeling edgy? Slide a few apps over, and quickly annotate it. Just got off the phone and had a conversation that triggered ya? Pull up your handy dandy app and make note of it!

It’s easy to use, which is why I love it. When I notice I’m overly happy or talking as fast as a roadrunner I simply pull up this screen:

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Select how I’m feeling and if I need to leave a comment about it…

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BOOM.I can. And in less time than it takes me to bust out a status update or 140 characters. Easy peasy folks.The only complaint I have about the comment section is that sometimes it would erase my comment before I was finished writing it, and I’d have to start over. This might be a bug the developer can fix with an update or it might be my clumsy touchscreen strokes. Either way I emailed the company, so we’ll see.

Other than that small hiccup I love using this thing because it really does help you see what your cycles look like over a period of time:

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The best part? YOU CAN EMAIL your chart to your therapist, psychiatrist, Facebook friend list, whoever, comments included:

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See? Isn’t that awesome? When I saw my psych two weeks ago, I was able to just whip out my phone and show this to her…and it enabled both of us to see exactly how I’ve been. No need to fumble for words or memories-it was all there for her to see.

So. There you have it. Mood charting. There’s an app for that. If you’re not bipolar, maybe just dealing with depression or anxiety, check out this app

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And this one for anxiety…

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If you don’t have an iPhone, iTouch, or another Apple device, definitely check the Android store or Blackberry’s market to see what they have.

If you ARE an Apple product collector and could use an app like this, leave a comment. I’ll select 2 people to gift this to and I’ll even throw in a subscription to either bpMagazine (www.bphope.com)

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or Esperanza (Anxiety & Depression) Magazine (www.hopetocope.com)

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Why? Not because I was paid to review this app or sing these mags praises. They don’t even know I’m doing this. I just believing in paying it forward. ;)

(If I were richer I’d offer to gift these to everyone, but until then, only 2 randomly selected commenters)

Love y’all.

Self-Love Saturday: My Box is Full of Color

Remember a few weeks back when I posted about the journey I’m on to make it back to my Box?

remember this?

In that post, I talked about how I most of my life, what’s been in that box has been dictated by other’s, their needs, and how THEY wanted my box constructed. I mentioned that I’m not 100% sure what goes in my Box but I was starting to find out by streaking my way towards it….

COLOR!!!!!!!

Well, guess what? Dying my hair funky colors has helped me identify at least one thing that goes in my Box, one attribute that makes me, well, ME. If you really know me, it’s probably not a huge surprise, but

COLOR…

BRIGHT…

BOLD…

BEAUTIFUL…

LOUD…

Color belongs in my life. It’s at the core of what makes me A’Driane. Lots & loads of color. Gobs of it, probably so much that people would label me tacky, but I don’t care anymore, I’VE GOTTA HAVE COLOR! From how I decorate my living space, to how I wear my hair, to the clothes I wear, they must have color…When it comes to fashion I’m forgoing all sorts of rules from here on out and am just wearing as many colors as possible, whatever feels and looks good. From bold eyeshadows to headbands, to scarves, to the rubber bands I place in my hair……..

Or the color that adorns my fingers and Barney Rubble toes…

O

hard to see, but they are neon orange!

I”ve just gotta have color. From my dishes  to my couch, to my lamps to my bed sheets, my apartment is full of splashes of it. I’ve spent years trying to downplay and even stay away from such boldness because those around me gave me the impression that it was inappropriate for a person my age. “Living out loud” and self-expression is for teenagers & kids, not for mothers approaching their thirties…..but I’m foregoing those thoughts and ideals because they aren’t mine. They aren’t me. Dressing in normal colors and living in clean, modern, sophisticated living spaces might be for some people and that is totally ok. For me though?

Give me color or give me death is the motto I’m adopting.

I wasn’t allowed to express myself growing up, and so I thought the need to do so through what I wore or how I styled my hair was just a phase I needed to get out my system. But the more I’ve been thinking about it, and about my personality, I know it’s something more and I’m finally in a place of acceptance about it.

Being surrounded by and wearing bold, brightly hued, rich & warm colors is a coping strategy for me as well. It creates an environment for me and my boys that breathes health and life, creativity and  expression. I’m hoping that surrounding us with a spectrum of color blinds the dragon of BP so it stays deep in it’s cave. I’m learning fast that mental illnesses like BP are genetic, and being as though schizophrenia and depression run in at least one side of my family, (and I strongly suspect BP runs on the other side) I want to give the boys as healthy of an environment as possible. One that breeds creativity, love & warmth. I want my boys to have that. I want them to look at me and always know that self-expression is okay. Living out loud is okay. Passion is okay. Creativity and thought are awesome and worth pursuing wholeheartedly. Splashing our lives with color is a way to do that.

So, on this Self-Love Saturday, I refreshed my blue & pink streaks in the ol’ Afro, and even added some more. I went through my closet and tossed out every drab, grey item I could find. I promised myself that from here on out, only color goes in the closet and on my body.

We only live once y’all. We only get one shot to do this thing called life. I’m determined to live mine as wholehearted and colorful as possible, Bipolar and all :)

AfroMama & Always Colorful (taken w/my ClassicINSTA iPhone app!)

NaNoWriMo, Life Lists, & Coffee Beans

Man things have been CRAZY ’round here the past month, especially the last 2 weeks. Alot of it I’ve written about but haven’t published because…well, considering where I’ve been mentally the past few weeks, let’s just say alot of what I wrote was dark, angry, painful…hopeless…and even though I’m all about transparency, it’s not always easy to hit the “publish” button. Suffice it to say that I’m not ready to share those posts yet….and when I am, I still might make them password protected so only certain folk can see them…

Other things I haven’t written about but will in another post hopefully later this week/weekend. A few things have changed for me in terms of school, I’ve had some breakthroughs in therapy, I’ve had some crazy racial incidents occur which have me at odds with Bucks County, PA, and some other good stuff has happened…but like I said I’ll get to that in other post.

My last post dealt with a story about Carrots, Eggs, & Coffee Beans. At the end of it I mentioned that I am trying, with all of my might, to be a coffee bean and change the property of the hot water I’m in, break out of the mold, so to speak.

When I went to therapy two Saturdays ago, I spent most of it like I had the previous ones: bawling my eyes out and lamenting the fact that I feel robbed of  a normal, healthy life & existence. I had been telling my therapist how painful it is to realize that my illness (Bipolar Disorder) was brought about (for the most part) through no fault of my own. From what I’ve been learning through reading and just reflecting about my life & my family, genetics, environment, and exposure created the DNA for this disorder to exist and manifest in my life. Looking back I can see that while I may have started struggling severely with depression and anxiety as a teen, I’ve at least had anxiety since I was a child…probably between Alex & Brennan’s age. Generalized anxiety? Intrusive thoughts? Panic attacks? PTSD? Living in fear? Chronic worrying?  Abuse, neglect, and other circumstances were the the breeding grounds for all of those and the set the stage for what I’m living and struggling my way through now. And it hurts. It angers me. It makes me angry with my parents, with my family, it makes me isolate myself from them even more than I already have. Their inability to own the parts they played in creating this mess of my life both infuriates and saddens me. The parts I played in creating this mess of my life infuriates and saddens me as well….but at least I can acknowledge that I’m also to blame for some of this-they cannot and probably never will. And that hurts me ya’ll. Not as much as it did when I first started to realize it a few weeks ago, but it’s still there like a dull ache.

And so two Saturdays ago, I was hysterically babbling  explaining this to my therapist, and asking her what the hell I was supposed to do with this…this…pain, this anger, this resentment, this…STUFF that had erupted like Mt. St Helens within me. “IT’S NOT FAIR! IT’S NOT FAIR FOR ME TO BE THE ONLY ONE LEFT TRYING TO PUT ALL THESE PIECES TOGETHER!’ I screamed at asked her. “I WAS JUST A CHILD! WHY DOESN’T ANYONE GET THAT? WHY DO THEY ACT LIKE IT’S ALL MY FAULT THAT I’M LIKE THIS?! F—!” After a few years moments of silence she looked me dead in the eye and said, “This is not your fault. You need to know that. No matter what mistakes you’ve made as an adult that may have contributed to this, understand that this is not your fault. You couldn’t control this. And the ones who could have at least tried their best to prevent it didn’t. They failed you as parents. As family members. They didn’t protect you, they didn’t get you the help you needed. They subjected to you years of abuse and even sexual abuse. They can’t own it because that would mean they would have to acknowledge what they’ve done and they can’t. So they leave you to deal with it and deflect it all on you.”

“Ok…I get that. I could try to wrap my mind around that and accept it. But what do I do? Why is this so hard? Why is it so damn hard for me to just SURVIVE, let alone LIVE? Why do I feel like I’ve been fighting my whole life just to claw out some meager existence? This is insane! Who would want to live with this? Seriously? I’m going on autopilot because anything else is just too damn hard…I’m tired.”

What she said next hit me like an artillery round to the temple: ” A’Driane….it’s hard because you’re doing something that no one in your family has made strides to do. First of all, you’re seeking help. REAL help for what you’re facing. You’re not hiding behind faith, you’re not hoping that prayer makes it all better, you’re getting professional help. You’re accepting a part of you and doing everything you can to not let it destroy you or make you “check out” on life. You’re breaking patterns, you’re refusing to recycle the garbage that’s been dumped on you…Mental illness runs in your family on both sides and you’re the first one to really seek help and medication and treatment…. and guess what? Breaking out of something like this, of anything really, is hard, hard work. It’s like breaking ground for a new building-you have to break up and overturn what’s there so you can lay down a foundation to build upon. That’s what you’re doing. You’re breaking out and you’re breaking ground-so you and your boys can have a better life. So your boys will have a better chance of fighting this than you did. You’re different. Doing something different is always a struggle. But you have to keep going, because as much as it hurts, and as lonely as it is, the reward is going to far outweigh the cost. Promise me you’re going to hang in there and keep fighting….”

And this ladies and gentlemen is the exact moment when I knew I had found the right person to work through this stuff with. She got “it,” she got me….She understood…and she reminded me of something I had forgotten. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always said to myself, to God, I’ll do things differently. I won’t do what was done to me, I won’t repeat what I had to go through. When I was pregnant with Brennan, I reiterated that promise, telling God I’d keep Brennan if He would just help me not recycle the garbage, if He would help me break the generational patterns from BOTH sides of my family. Until two Saturdays ago, I didn’t fully understand what that promise meant. Now I do.

It means I’m a coffee bean. I’ve been in hot, boiling water my whole life, surrounded by circumstances and situations that were less than ideal and bred a lot of pain and dysfunction in my life and the lives of those around me. I could be a carrot and get soft, weak, mushy…or I could be an egg and let what I’ve been through harden me…I’ve seen examples of both of these in my family and in people I’ve met. But I’ve also met coffee beans-people who take what they’ve been through and allow it to change them in a way that changes the environment around them, breaking out and creating something new, something that smells amazing, something that can be useful. And I’m one of them. I understand so much more now that I really understand that I am a coffee bean.

So, with that knowledge I’m tackling the first item on my Life List: Write Book #1. I’m writing about my childhood, my mental and sexual abuse, how that has impacted me, and set the stage for now having to live a life with a beast of a disorder. I’m writing about my experience living with Generalized anxiety and how it led to my experience with Postpartum Anxiety & depression as well. I”m writing about how I’m trying to balance faith, motherhood, & mental illness. Why? Because I want to destroy the stigmas surrounding mental illness in the Christian & African American cultures. I want my voice, my story to be out there so someone else can know that they aren’t crazy and that they aren’t alone. I don’t care about money or anything like that-I care about helping people. I care about removing shame & empathizing with others. So I’m writing my first book.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo’s 30 day writing challenge and will be spending the entire month writing. The goal is 50,000 words, 175 pages of unedited, raw content. I’m not writing a fiction piece so I probably won’t submit it (I’m considered a Nano Rebel) but I’m still using this challenge as a guideline to get the bulk of my story (or at least a huge chunk of it) out.  Not sure what I’m going to do with it once it’s written in terms of structure or publication, but I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them in December. For now, for November, the goal is to just write it out….write out everything that’s coming to the surface as a result of (finally) being medicated and in therapy.

I started tonight, and got my first 5 pages and 1100 words done….even had one of those clarifying Oprah “aha!’ moments while writing them out….

Here’s to the next 170.

Self-Love Saturday: Streaking My Way Back to the Box

It’s Self-Love Saturday so guess what we’re going to talk about today?

Streaking.

Have you ever gone streaking?  Before today I never had. Yep, that’s right, I’m going streaking…actually at this moment I am streaking. It’s already done, so I can’t go back. Where am I streaking to?  The box. My box. Let me explain…

Aside from an insane amount of schoolwork & midterms to get through this week, in the back of my mind, I’ve been pondering some things.  Nearly three months after my break up, a move, a diagnosis, and starting my next round of educational pursuits, I find myself asking: ” Ok….now what? Where do I go from here?” I’m looking at my new surroundings, the new people I’m meeting, the school I’m attending, my degree program, my boys & myself, and I find myself wondering how I navigate this new terrain, and even wonder if I know where I’m going. I have a map to guide me, but parts of it are missing…or rather, parts of ME are missing & I need to get them back in order to complete my journey.

Parts of me are missing…M.I.A….hidden…..lost….buried under the tangled webs of other’s opinions & expectations. Smothered even, under layers of guilt, shame, sadness, and anger over things I’ve done and things that have been done to me. Parts of me are missing. Important parts. Vital parts. Parts that make me who I am, parts that complete the picture, complete ME.

My therapist must have been reading my mind. When I walked into her office on Tuesday & we started chatting, she asked me if I had “the boxes.” Huh? Boxes? What boxes woman? She reached in her desk and pulled out sheets of paper that had several boxes with word in them….the first box looked like this:

Where it all began...

The other boxes had lots of stars, arrows, more words, & more lines, like this one:

And then the final one looked like this:

where'd the original box go?

As I sat there staring at the piece of paper with boxes on it, she gently said to me,” A’Driane, do you know what happened to your original box?”

Ummm…no.

“You see, inside the first box is everything that is important to us, what we value, what makes us who we are…it’s US. And we place a boundary around those things.  But sometimes, as you can see from the second picture, when we are involved in friendships & relationships with significant others or family members, that boundary line gets distorted and moved.”

Ok, I get that…but how do they get moved And where did the extra boxes or lines come from?

“Our boundary lines shift as we interact with those in our lives. The shifting is sometimes necessary but it can get ugly and become unhealthy very quickly if not shifted for the right reasons. You see, the more you do something that you don’t want to do, the more you do things that make who YOU are at the core uncomfortable, the more you compromise yourself for someone else & their feelings & comfort, the more your own boundaries shift, and the further away from the box you get. Make sense?”

I think so…so what I’ve been doing most of my life and in my relationships…and family is shifting my boundaries around in an attempt to get validation, love, acceptance, or anything like that?

“Yes. How do you feel knowing that?”

Well it explains why I’m angry with people….angry with my ex…matter of fact with all the men in my life except my boys.

“Do you think it explains anything else?”

It explains why I don’t have a box anymore…or if I do, it’s buried under all this other crap I’ve been doing & what I’ve been basing my life off of.  I’ve been compromising myself thinking doing so would make  a person change or make people change their opinion of me, but….

“But?”

But it hasn’t…it hasn’t gotten me anywhere but….but feeling trapped inside all these boxes I created by ignoring my own….and being angry, hurt, & disappointed about it. Feeling lonely because of it…

(sigh)

(silence)

“I think you know what you need to do, don’t you?”

Yep. Gotta go back to the box.

My original box. The one that houses all things A’Driane & who God made her to be. Good, bad, whatever, it’s all there. And I’ve got to stop shifting my boundaries in a way that’s detrimental to my well being. That’s not self-love, not at all.

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t make any resolutions. Instead I chose one word: COMMITMENT. That one word has been my quiet focus all year-even during my lowest moments. God told me that He will give me beauty for the truckloads of ashes I have in my life (Isaiah 61:3) but only if I would be committed to Him sweep them up & carry them away. It hasn’t been easy-it’s been pure hell to be honest. But even during my lowest & darkest moments, He would remind me of His promise, my word, & I would keep going.

Today I solidified that commitment by going streaking. I’ve always been a woman who loves to express herself through her hair. So it only makes sense that I would finally put blue streaks in my hair. Why blue? Because a group of bloggers have been going blue since last month to raise awareness for mental health & suicide prevention, and I am proud of and have been emboldened by their efforts. Because I know what it’s like to live with a mental illness. Because I  want to help those who have suffered trauma, abuse, & mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder. I’m going to school for counseling, and I want to be a dance movement therapist who helps people heal & cope through movement & dance. I’m committed to ensuring my mental health is where it needs to be & to helping others do the same.

I also put purple/pink streaks behind the blue ones. To remind me & to show others that there’s always hope, there’s always LIFE, there’s always LOVE, there’s always joy behind the blue-we just have to work to see it…to live it…to be it.  The purple/pink also symbolize my commitment to self-love, owning my story, & living a wholehearted lifestyle. I know I can, and I believe that the past 3 months I’ve gotten the tools I need to live it.

But in order to do that, I’ve got to get back to the box. To what makes A’Driane, A’Driane.  So I can find the parts of me I’ve put away on shelves & wipe the dust of abuse, of mental illness, of mistakes, of pain, of anger, of LIFE away. So He can make me whole.

I’m streaking my way back to my box, but what about you? Is there a part of you lying in storage or up on a shelf somewhere? Something you put away because life shifted your boundaries & you never shifted them back? Do you feel trapped by all the boxes you see around you now…do you wonder what happened to yours? If so I would encourage you to take some time to reflect and take inventory…if you’re missing some parts of yourself, I’m sure you can find them again-you just have to go back to your box.

what's in your box?

Self-Love Saturday: Focusing on the Good Things

I don’t know what it is about Friday nights. We just don’t get along.

Nearly every Friday night since I’ve said I was going to start doing “Self-Love Saturdays” some craptastic event happens where I find myself struggling to either not fall into the gravity well of depression, negativity or miry yuckiness, OR I fall in and am struggling to climb out. It’s like once I put it out there, the universe or elements thereof decided to throw everything my way to see if I will stick with it.

Last Friday night was no exception. It tried my patience, I had a mild panic attack, and it ended on a pretty awful & frustrating note.  Today, I woke up to find Depression sitting at the foot of my bed asking if I wanted to hang out. I didn’t answer, but that didn’t keep him from following me around, clutching my ankles, making it difficult to be motivated to move. I’ve spent my day emotionally eating everything in sight, chocolate cupcakes included and although I have a mountain of homework to do, I can’t concentrate on it. Oh & I went to therapy today. Met with a “Christian” counselor up at my school’s counseling center. I’m not sure how it went to be honest. I say that because I spent the whole session snotting up tissues, hiccuping, & babbling through tears that wouldn’t stop spilling over my eyelids. So..I don’t know how that went….

BUT. Even though the pendulum has swung me a little left of the middle, and Depression has shown up for a visit, I’m trying not to let him unpack his bags and get cozy. It’s taking all of my energy, but I’m trying to just relax, absorb everything that’s going on with me emotionally & just….BE.  And focus on the GOOD things that have been going on in my life. There’s a scripture that came to me about an hour ago as I sat here at the desk vegging out on Twitter:

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

It pretty much reminded me that it’s ok to feel crappy on a day that I’ve designated to show myself some love & acceptance. That’s part of loving yourself right? To accept the good & the bad and allow yourself the space to feel & sort through things? To allow yourself to just BE? I think it is.  I’ve come to accept that I’m not going to be all rainbows & sunshine every Saturday, but I’ve also determined to not let it get the best of me. I’m learning how to balance the emotions & listen to what my gut is trying to tell me. I”m allowing myself to feel, and when you’re trying to untangle the stickiness of past trauma or recent hurts, feeling is part of that process-you can’t escape it. Especially if you’re on medication-for me meds have started to stabilize me, but that means since I’m not preoccupied with swinging back & forth between raging, intense emotions, I’m finally starting to see what’s around me. The dust in my life is settling & I’m seeing tons of boxes that need unpacking. Each one that I unpack in an attempt to recover & live a healthier life mentally & emotionally is going to expose me to facing some things that I haven’t before….or revisit some tangles I thought I had processed and unraveled.  Staring these issues face to face may cause me to feel some pain, may invite Depression or Anxiety to stop by for a visit, but that doesn’t mean I have to let them stay-or let their voices ring louder than the Truth. I may not be able to keep them from coming over during this season of my life but I can definitely ensure they don’t stay for very long or get to cozy in my space.

So today I’m doing that by choosing to do like the scripture says and focus on the good things. That doesn’t mean I”m ignoring the negative or painful feelings I’m having. I’m acknowledging them,but I’m keeping them in their proper context and space-making a conscious choice to meditate on my successes & the tiniest of victories enables me to do that.

What are my “good” things? Well for one can I just say that being on medication is FINALLY working?! I haven’t been swinging through the bipolar jungle like Tarzan for the past few weeks. It hasn’t been easy, but the rage, the uncontrollable mood swings, the sweaty anxious moments & panic attacks? Cut down significantly since I adjusted my meds last month. YAY!

I made it through my first month of school! It was crazy, overwhelming, & financially painful, but I made it! And I did it all while still seeing my therapist & psych at the VA, AND taking my meds EVERYDAY. YAY! I struggled, but I also recognized when I needed a break & gave myself one. I acknowledged my limits & still kept trekking along.

I have finally started to get over my ex and have let go of some old dreams & desires to embrace new ones. YAY! I’ve been listening to my instincts and trusting my own judgement when I make decisions-turns out I’m not as bad at it as I used to be or as I thought I was.

And the best part? I’ve finally bonded with Alex. I mean REALLY bonded. Bonded as in he comes up to me and gives me hugs, holds my legs, laughs & giggles when we play, I actually WANT to play with him….we’ve developed this closeness in the past 4-5 weeks that wasn’t there before.  It took me 17mos, but I have officially fallen in love & feel connected with my son. All of my worries about whether or not I had “ruined” him or our relationship because of my PPD, anxiety, & bipolar madness have disappeared. All of that frustration & agony I felt this summer, when I said it felt like I was stumbling in the dark? Gone. God has flipped on the light switch & all I can see is the love & beauty is placed in my life through my boys.

Speaking of beauty, last thing. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve struggled with my self-esteem my whole life & it’s taken a severe hit since having Alex. As you know, I’ve been working on that, and guess what happened?  This week, when the Plague was starting to release it’s grip on me, I took a picture:

I AM beautiful. Wow.

 When I looked at it, guess what I saw? BEAUTY. No makeup. Frizzy hair. Unwashed face. Swollen eyelid. Funky breath :) I was so glad to feel healthy again that I snapped this picture to celebrate & I captured a snap of myself full of joy & beauty. I mean, I actually SAW it. I wish I could articulate it. It was as if I had a blindfold on, or blurry contacts or something and all of a sudden they just fell away & I could see the real me. Flaws & all, but beautiful none the less. That’s not being vain is it? I hope not. It’s okay to say “I’m beautiful” with out being conceited, right? I hope so. Because that’s how I feel & what I see when I look at myself now. And when I buy a pair of Spanx next week-WATCH OUT! I’m bringing sexy back ya’ll….or at least my confidence! :)

Ya’ll God & His love are lifting & carrying me through this…it always has. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for it, for Him & how comforting it is to know that despite what I’m going through or what I feel, His love is there, like a banner over me, guiding me through the rubble. So that’s why I’m choosing to focus on the good things. I know He’ll help me manage the yucky stuff if I just keep my mind stayed to the right & not the left. :)

So those are my thoughts for today. Acknowledge the bad, but focus on the good. Meditate on what’s good. Celebrate the smallest of victories or otherwise insignificant moments. Embrace YOU. Just BE. And continue to love yourself through the process.

Don’t worry. We’ll get there. We’re on our way.

Wordless Wednesday: Brain Pathways & Other Snaps From My Life This Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Constructive Pain Release

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