Uh Oh, Fear

I feel it settling into my stomach.  It’s a very familiar churning.  I’ve not had breakfast yet, so it could be that.  But I also feel the little beginning of a pounding in my chest – the beginning of what might be a panic attack, if I still had those (I don’t, thanks to an old program that I went through called Attacking Anxiety and Depression).  I feel an absolute discomfort and I know where it’s coming from.  I’ve written many blog entries over the last couple of weeks and what I was hoping would happen is happening but it’s making me uncomfortable.

I try to be an honest writer.  I have always written the same way that I talk, which is why you will often notice me starting sentences with “and,” “but,” “so,” things I know, from English classes, that I shouldn’t do.  But I try to write as if the person I’m talking to is right in front of me.  I don’t write formally because I don’t speak formally or think formally.

Because I write as if I’m speaking, what happens is that the real me always comes out.  As these posts are being created – some of which have been published and some of which are sitting waiting to be published – I’m starting to get a very clear picture of who I am, my positives and my negatives.  I’ve been examining myself for decades so none of this is new to me; I’ve just not been doing it publicly.  Each entry is a little mirror.  It’s scary.

I want to be honest but I also want to be a good person.  I don’t like my flaws.  I overemphasize them, as do many LSersD (long-time sufferers of depression).  I underestimate the good about myself; I’m sure we all do that.  I realize that by being honest, I might sometimes alienate people from my blog.  I realize that by being honest, I might sometimes have opinions that aren’t popular.  I could carefully edit to try and block out the negatives but the things that are negatives to some people are positives to others and vice versa.  And so I’m feeling the familiar churn of fear in my belly, in my gut, because my blog is absolutely a presentation of my SELF to the world.

So why put myself through it?

Because all in all, I feel like I’m an average person – that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing – and I do believe that all of my positives, all of my negatives, by putting them out there, they just might help someone.  So I’m going to go ahead and suffer through it and try to be authentic, try to be honest, try to help people where I can, and try to face up to the reality that there’s a lot of responsibility in having a blog.

Peace


Free photo from Pixabay at Pexels.com

Exploding With Emotion.

I am not an outwardly emotional person. Behind closed doors, I spill it all. If you asked my mom or friends, they would never describe me as boy crazy. I had plenty of crushes but I just am very mindful of how I present myself. I think this is why, when I get into the room with my mental health provider, I am a puddle. I explode with what I can only describe as relief. I feel like I spend my days trying to control my feelings for fear that I am going to push someone too far. When I finally let the emotions flow, so do the tears. I am passionate, hopeful, empathetic. I am all of these things to the extreme. I try to help people who didn’t ask for my help. I cling to people who just want to walk away. I bet everything on a maybe.

That burst of tears that I feel when I go to my appointments, the one where I just feel relieved and heard? I feel that here. I feel that with every post that is written and I can relate to. I feel that with every comment shared on my own writing. I feel heard, I feel understood. I imagine this is how people who run feel (ugh running amirite?). I have heard people describe it as cathartic and how they love leaving everything and just being in the quiet with themselves.

I leave it all on the page. I am sure that I can’t be the only one who “journals”. My journals are just lists, scribbles that don’t mean much, a to do list, a grocery list, a goal, a dream I had last night. I don’t intentionally journal. I don’t even write full sentences or dates. I just release my thoughts onto a page in whatever format or stage they might be in. Sometimes, all I have done is budget. It feels good to see it on paper. One day, when I am gone and my kids clean out my things, they will realize how insane I really am. I have stacks of notebooks with scribbles in them. The same way a child might color random pages in a coloring book with half of them never completed.

Thank you for being the only real “Journal” I have ever had. Thank you for consistently making me feel understood and sane, even when I know that I am not at times. Thank you for encouraging me to come back and carry on.

Looking for gold veins in black granite

How is it best to be, think, or feel,  when we are threatened by darkness, whether from external factors or whether in our own minds?  I think this is a question which concerns a lot of people now.  We look around and things are difficult, there is suffering everywhere, terrible ecological anxieties, political upheavals.    It’s easy to feel disconnected,  overwhelmed and hopeless.   Many of the support mechanisms that would have been available to more connected societies in the past – for example in the form of extended families – are no longer available to us.

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As we live in increasingly dysfunctional and disconnected societies.  We look for something to pin our hopes on, try to obliterate the stress we feel with our busy-ness.  We turn perhaps to self-help manuals, books about meditation or veganism, make New Year resolutions, go to the gym,  write more, work harder, party harder,  rush around keeping busy trying to blank things out.

Hands up if you’ve been there.

I don’t mean to imply there’s anything wrong with yoga etc but I’m not sure if these things on their own can combat the kinds of stresses we are struggling with in modern societies.

The term ‘stress’ itself originally comes from physics and refers to the deformation of a body that has been subjected to external forces.  We talk about stress testing metals for car bodies.  We do not talk about stress testing ourselves, torn as we are between our own excessive expectations and feelings of powerlessness.    But just as some metals bear up under stress differently, so do people.  We are not all the same.

We need to hang on to our dreams and we need to hang on to hope.

Elie Wiesel who won the Nobel Peace prize 1986 said in his acceptance speech:

“Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future. Does this mean that our future can be built on a rejection of the past? Surely such a choice is not necessary. The two are not incompatible. The opposite of the past is not the future but the absence of future; the opposite of the future is not the past but the absence of past. The loss of one is equivalent to the sacrifice of the other.”

(https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-lecture.html)

Wiesel was of course talking about a very specific past, the holocaust.

But how much suffering stems from past mistakes, problems, agonies, losses.  We should not forget them, not even try.  But sometimes forgetting seems like the only possible solution.  How to cope with stress without resorting to harmful thought patterns and behaviours like blotting out activities?  This I believe is one of the great challenges of our times.   How to build a future that is not built on a rejection of the past?    And though, yes, Wiesel was speaking at a societal level, what are societies but gatherings of individual people?

His speech continues with a personal memory:

“A recollection. The time: After the war. The place: Paris. A young man struggles to readjust to life. His mother, his father, his small sister are gone. He is alone. On the verge of despair. And yet he does not give up. On the contrary, he strives to find a place among the living. He acquires a new language. He makes a few friends who, like himself, believe that the memory of evil will serve as a shield against evil; that the memory of death will serve as a shield against death.”

In the reading I have done around this subject, two  factors have emerged as important in maintaining hope in the future.  Those two factors are keeping our eyes fixed on our own goals, and offering support to others.   Self and others, the banner of a connected humanity.

Hope as Daisaku Ikeda says, is a decision.

“Hans Selye. Who pioneered the field of stress research offered the following advice based on his own experience of battling cancer:  first, establish and maintain your own goals in life.  Second, live so that we are necessary to others – such a way of life is ultimately beneficial to yourself.”

(Hope is a Decision, EG Press, 2017)

What Selye describes is what we call empathy.  I think I am right in saying that of the major world religions, all place emphasis on empathy.  Whether you subscribe to a faith or not, this is the gold vein in all that black granite of our suffering.

This doesn’t always feel logical or even possible.  When we are suffering we want to curl up and lick our own wounds not be worrying about someone else’s.   Nevertheless.

“The Buddhist sutras contain this well known parable:  One day, Shakyamuni Buddha was approached by a woman wracked by grief at the loss of her child.  She begged him to bring her baby back to life. Shakyamuni comforted her and offered to prepare medicine that would revive her child.  To make this, he would need a mustard seed he said, which he instructed her to find in a nearby village.  This mustard seed however would have to come from a home that had never experienced the death of a family member.

The woman searched from house to house but nowhere could she find a home that had never known death.  As she continued her quest, the woman accepted that her child had died and began to realise her suffering was something shared by all people.  She returned to Shakyamuni determined not to be overwhelmed by grief.”

( Daisaku Ikeda, Hope is a Decision, 2017)

We do not carry the burden of our grief alone.   This is a good time to remember that.

Sources

Hope is a Decision: Selected Essays of Daisaku Ikeda Eternal Ganges Press, 2017

Elie Wiesel Nobel Lecture December 11, 1986

Social Anxiety and Me

Starting a new job can be challenging for anyone but when mental illness is tossed into the mix, things can be even more difficult.

I am about to start the fourth week at my new job which involves doing marketing for a local charity. Of course during my first week I was nervous, you never know what your coworkers will be like after they aren’t obligated to be polite anymore.

Positive to Anxious

Everybody was very nice during my first week. I got to chat with a lot of people my age which was really great. I didn’t talk to many of my coworkers at my previous job so I had a lot of culture shock which is odd to say about a new work environment.

Week 2 was not as easy as week 1. I had become suffocated by my anxiety, unable to speak to anyone unless they started the conversation. Even then I would try to end the conversation or leave the room entirely to find a space to be by myself which is hard. I used to have my own office but now I share a workspace with 3 other people.

When I did get time alone, I was spinning in my chair, pacing the floors trying to get my head to relax. One day I had to hold my coffee cup with both hands to drink because I was shaking so badly. I asked myself, “Megan, what the hell?! It’s just a new job, how is your anxiety this bad?”

Here Comes the Depression!

That Friday as I walked out the door of the building into the chilly evening, my anxiety plummeted into depression. All weekend I had no interest in anything, I was completely numb. I kept myself busy by constantly cleaning and cooking so I wouldn’t fall pray to my usual answer to depression: laying in bed for hours.

My boyfriend kept thinking I was upset with him or that he had done something wrong. This is the first time he has truly seen my depression first hand since we moved in together. I had to explain that it wasn’t his fault, that it was the new job.

To help I asked if we could watch a “Harry Potter” movie together. I chose the fourth movie, “The Goblet of Fire” which is my favorite one! We got out our toy wands and he put on my special Harry glasses which made the experience so much more fun.

My Therapist Saves the Day

Thankfully I met with my therapist the next day to talk everything out. I explained my fear that nobody would want to talk with me even if I initiated the conversation and that I was too nervous to make the first move.

She reassured me as always that they all just met me and that in time maybe I will make a friend or two. That would be pretty cool to have a new friend!

Her positive words and encouragement helped me get through my 3 days of work last week. I was able to speak to people and even begin conversations with my coworkers!

So progress? We shall see what this week brings, I never seem to know what my future has in store for me.

Have you had a similar experience? How to do deal with social anxiety?

I’m sorry this is so terribly long!!

TLDR: New job makes me anxious so I talked to my therapist. Last week was better than expected.

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure: The Home Stretch

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Photo by Supushpitha Atapattu on Pexels.com

I leave for treatment on Thursday.  It seems to have come upon us quickly in that slow agonizing kind of way.  I am the kind of person that once I have my mind made up, I am set and I am ready.  When I have to wait it is pure agony for me.

I know that good things come with waiting.  I have been able to spend good quality time with my family and my friends.  This weekend we had family photos taken and I was able to take my son’s senior portraits (what an honor!) I have been able to make my list and not only check it twice, but a good nineteen times at this point.

With the time I have had since being accepted into treatment and actually leaving I believe will be three weeks.  It has been a long, tiring, draining three weeks.  I have attempted to get “caught up” work wise, but alas, this does not seem like it is going to be one of the things that is going to be checked off my list.

And that is one thing I am learning.  I am trying, really hard, and I am doing the best that I can.  And that’s the best that I can do.  I am fighting through horrible side effects due to withdrawal from one medication and side effects from another new medication.  Then there’s stress that causes the body to breakdown it’s personal shields and cold season, and oh so much fun.

But, I am a fighter.  This journey will probably be the hardest one I have ever chosen to take, but I am going to muscle through each and every foot step of it, perhaps not with grace and certainly not always with a smile on my face, but I will do it and it will be worth it in the end.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Searching for Balance

Sorry I haven’t been so active here on the Bipolar Writer as I normally am. My life has been so out of whack that I can’t seem to find balance.

I have been coping with this imbalance by binge eating/overeating on a regular basis. Once I open my mouth, I have no idea when I will reach my limit. For the past three days I have felt incredibly bloated because of it which, of course, makes me feel depressed and critical of myself.

Each day I get angry with myself, saying, “Why can’t you just stop, Megan!? You’re not hungry, why are you eating again?”

The stresses of life have been chipping away at my mental health. I get home from work and am immediately overwhelmed by everything that I have to do. The daily chores get done but I feel like I can never get to the random tasks like pulling weeds outside or finally organizing my closet.

There aren’t enough hours in the day to work full time and keep my house the way I want to. Because I go nonstop after I get home from work, I feel like I don’t get to enjoy any Megan time. I want to be able to write again, go to the gym, do yoga with my cats and not worry that I have chores to do.

My anxiety kicks into gear when I start thinking about this sort of stuff.

How do you find balance in life? If you have achieved balance, do you have any good tips?

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure: Perspective

woman wearing black shirt sitting on rock
Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

The days are passing quickly.  I suspect that it is due to being so busy.  However, I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water so to speak, only getting done the bare minimum and my head is swimming with what still needs to be done before I leave for my big adventure.

It seems like every few days I venture to the store to pick up a few things that I “need” for the trip and I am currently storing all items in a small, round, white laundry basket that I plan to bring with me so I have something to do my laundry (good thinking there, because how else would I actually do my laundry if I did not have a laundry basket??)  I feel like I am nesting a little.  I am thinking of what I may need over a 45-day period and it is nerve wracking.  I just started reminding myself yesterday that I have a spouse and he WILL be visiting me and he is willing to bring me items, so I should not worry so much about bringing everything that I need because I have a resource who can bring me items should I forget them.  But then, I was wondering if this is my way of attempting to be in control of a situation that is not within my control.  And if it is also a way for me to act out on my symptoms (shopping addiction) and justify it, with a pretty good justification.  In addition, I am spending time engaging in a mind numbing activity.

This weekend I ran errands and I felt no satisfaction from the shopping that I partook in.  It was not much, not like a “spree”, but more like a shopping trip for things that I did in deed “need” but I was numb.  This tells me that I am, in some ways, starting to shut down.

In other ways I am more heightened in my feelings.  When sitting at the dining room table with my family, I will well up with tears knowing that I will go without these family dinners for an extended period of time.  I know that my family will be fine, I have full faith in their ability to exist while I am away, but I will miss them, I will miss being with them, and I will miss being part of my family.

One thing that I have found is that I am holding onto things with more length, knowing that I have a short amount of time left (less than two weeks) and I am no longer taking things for granted.  I am holding on to each hug, each conversation.  I am staring like a weirdo because I know that I need to keep those memories glued in my mind.

I am feeling the depression starting to sink in.  The sadness, the heaviness, the despair.  Yet, there is so much to do that I have not time for depression, or any dip in my mood.  I need a up kick in my mood to be truly honest, I need a little bit of an upswing so I can have all the energy needed to get all this stuff done.  I feel like I need to be the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, but I feel like I am moving from Piglet into Eeyore and this, well, this is just not a good thing.

I am going to take a break and take a deep breath and let all the buzzing and rushing and racing come to a stop.  I am going to be still and calm in my space and in my mind.  I am going to embrace what I have in this moment and the gifts that have been given to me.  I am going to be kind to myself and my spirit.  All will be well.  This will be a wonderful experience.  I will be safe.  I will have what I need to function in the manner that I need to function.  I will not be in need of things, I will not be in a place of wanting.  My needs will be fulfilled.  I will have peace in my body and my soul.

This is a big adventure.  There will probably be some scary cliffs, but I bet there is going to be some breath taking views.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure

Depression Makes Me Flaky

Canceling plans and  not showing up to things when I say I will has been a constant in my life recently. I am falling back into depression which makes me want to stay home all of the time.

Day to day activities like going to work have been very challenging. Yesterday I couldn’t make it through the day so I left two hours early. When I got home, those feelings of emptiness evaporated. My boyfriend had off yesterday so I got to spend some extra time with him which is always a plus since he works a lot.

Yesterday I also was flaky in my personal life. I lied to my friend saying I was working the day of her wedding and couldn’t come. Why would I do that? The regular, not depressed Megan wouldn’t do that.

I also flat out didn’t show up to my cousin’s last soccer game of her lifetime. I told her I would be there then just didn’t go. I feel so horrible about it, what kind of cousin am I?

I feel like a hideous monster that needs to run back under the bed. That I should’t talk to anyone because I will only let them down in the future.

Reflecting on my actions my stomach turns, my heart races and I can’t shake the feeling that I am a terrible human. My depression has such a deep influence on me that I haven’t made any decisions without consulting it.

“Depression, I was invited to a party what should I do?”
“We are not going. We are staying home, Megan.” 

My hands are stained red with guilt that I am a bad person for telling lies and being a flake. I was raised to always tell the truth but lately my nose has grown 5 times it’s normal size.

Does your mental illness make you act out of character? Do you ever cancel plans because you’re not mentally well?

Megan’s Anxiety Raceway

I have a recurring stumbling block that when I trip over that I can’t always get up from right away. When I have upset someone or done something wrong (no matter if it’s major or minor) I can’t function.

If it happens at work, I can’t be productive. I will spin around in my office chair until I can go home to crawl into bed and hope one of my cats joins me.

This morning it happened and I have barely done any work at all.  My mind continues to race around the thought that I upset someone. On repeat I hear, “you upset this person, there’s no way they will love you anymore” and “why are you such an idiot, Megan? Why didn’t/did you do that? So moronic!”

My stomach is in knots. My brain is a scrambled egg.

Even if what I did/didn’t do is minute, I always have this type of reaction. My anxiety jumps into the Subaru Legacy in my brain (that’s the car I drive), revs the engine and speeds around the race track that is my mind. I’m calling it Megan’s Anxiety Raceway.

I can mess up without criticizing myself only if my actions don’t effect someone else. Like if I spill my smoothie on the floor (did it last year, very messy) or misplace my work keys (happened this morning, they were in my office), it doesn’t matter. Knowing someone is hurt, disappointed or flat out angry at me makes my mind shrivel up. I think again and again about how I should have acted differently to prevent whatever happened.

My regrets stick with me because of my anxiety. I am a professional ruminater.

How do you overcome your anxious thoughts? How do you stop ruminating over stuff? Please leave me a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

What Anger Is To Me

Please don’t tell me that a smile and your sorrow just don’t go together.

I would not look upon my anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, and with non-violence.

When I get angry, I have to produce awareness: “I am angry. Anger is in me. I am anger”. That is the first thing to do.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.