Learn to Love Yourself in the Alone Time

I have spent the last several months going to work and going home. Not much socializing. Sometimes once a month I would go out if invited to something. I was trying to save money. And I was trying to work on myself. I went to counseling and did other activities to pull myself out of depression. I don’t have insurance so that was the best I could do. I remember feeling alone often. I looked for ways to stay busy and distract myself from how I felt. I wished I could afford to go out and spend time with even one person.

As I was getting to a better place with my finances, the pandemic happened. Everything shut down. I lost a lot of work. Other than concerns for my income, my daily routine didn’t change much. I couldn’t read a book at a coffee shop, but I could live without that. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t mind the alone time. I still feel alone but it doesn’t bother me as much. I’ve grown to a place where I enjoy cooking again. I read more. I write fiction more. My creative ideas are never ending.

During the pandemic, there were videos of celebrities feeling upset during social distancing. This reminded me of how I felt. I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me or how I felt. We were all reacting in a normal way to isolation. I hope people are discovering new things about themselves. If you’re bored during isolation, you need new hobbies. If you’re alone and uncomfortable, you need to love yourself and enjoy your own company. We all should set time aside to be alone. It’s important to our wellbeing. Find your happiness in the alone time.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

The Best of Me

“You gave me the best of me, so you’ll give you the best of you,” are the lyrics to “Magic Shop” by Korean pop group BTS. I have been listening to this song over and over because I keep thinking about these words.

Sure, it’s not the most eloquent phrasing but I think that they are on to something here.

For ages we have all been told to give everything our best whether it’s academics, athletics, music, art, relationships, etc. That if we give anything our best effort we have a higher likelihood of succeeding.

During the many times I have sat and contemplated these lyrics, I understand it as we so often give the best of ourselves to others but have a harder time giving the best for ourselves.

I try to give my best to my family, boyfriend, pets and friends but when it comes to giving my best for me, that’s a different story. I know that eating well, exercising and having human interaction is good for me but I don’t always put in the effort. If I had a paradigm shift, I would try harder to do the things that are good for me so I could be at my very best.

If I gave my best for myself, what would my life look like? This is a question I have been focusing on, digging deep into it to find a possible answer.

I still don’t have an answer but during these weird times of social distancing and staying home basically all the damn time, I have time to really think about it. I also have the time to focus on giving myself the very best of me.

What do you think of these lyrics? Do you have a similar interpretation or not? Do you think you give yourself the best of you?

Please everyone be smart and safe!

Never Wrong.

My name is Bailey and I am defensive.

I am defensive in a way that gets me in a lot of trouble. Something that took me a long time to do is admit fault. I would say that this is one of the biggest improvements I have had since my diagnosis. The medication didn’t make me suddenly humble, or maybe it did… It made me calm, even toned, and of sound mind. I don’t feel as if it is me against the world. I am no longer sitting on a pedestal I built for myself. I am able to recognize that there are repercussions for my choices before I do them.

I still slip. I find myself in these conversations where I just can’t end with “you’re right”. The other day I was getting ready to leave for work and went to pour a cup of coffee. There was only coffee pod left and my mother asked if I was going to take it.

thoughts to myself- of course I am. I am going to work and need the coffee. You are staying home and don’t need it.

said out loud-yes….  This was followed by her saying that I told her she could have it.

Now, this should have ended with me saying that I didn’t remember saying that and I would pick more up after work. As you can imagine, this is not what happened. You see, I already made up my mind that she was wrong. She hadn’t even said something she could be wrong about…she just asked a question that I didn’t like. ‘

What ended up happening- I threw myself deep into a tirade about how she doesn’t work and can go to the store so I should have it. I told her that she is making up a whole conversation. I unapologetically took the coffee and stormed out.

I still have moments and days where I lose my cool. Days where I forget that my actions have consequences, my words hurt, and it is just okay to be wrong. I am infuriated with myself. I hate that this is a habit I have formed and I hate that when I realize I am doing it, my defensiveness only deepens. Once I realize, I get more defensive to hide my fuck up.

Thanks for listening to my rant for the day. Don’t tell anyone I admitted this, I will defensively deny it until the death.

A Decade Mental Health Reflection

10 years is a really freaking long time. Looking back I think this may have been the most transformative decade of my life because so many monumental things happened.

I graduated from high school and college. I got my first part time job at Wendy’s (a fast food restaurant in America) and first full time job (that I reluctantly quit). I fell in love twice, lost my virginity, had my heart broken many times and bought a house with my boyfriend of nearly 3 years.

**I’m going to be writing about self harm and suicide. If this may be triggering for you, I suggest waiting for my next post. Talking about self harm is triggering for me still but I want to talk about it openly and honestly.**

Self-Harm

During this decade I learned about depression and anxiety, finally labeling how I had felt for most of my life. I cut myself for the first time in 2011 in my college dorm room because I felt an overwhelming sense of depression and loneliness. This action impacted my life quite a lot. I used it to cope with my mental illness when I was at my lowest points for many years.

You can still see some of those early scars on my arms in the right light. I usually notice them in the summer when the sun shines the brightest. It takes me back to all of the pain I felt in those moments, when I thought this was the only way I could survive each day.

Therapy

Back in 2014 I was in my last year of university, I had returned to the main campus after spending a year in a big city and abroad in England. I struggled so much to readjust to life on campus but I couldn’t. I couldn’t focus, I had no energy and no drive to attend classes or do my assignments.

This brought me to seeing my first therapist, Jennifer. She was the total opposite of me personality wise, she was straight-laced, practical and put together while I walked into her office a total wreck. She was a counselor at my university that I saw every other week. She helped me take those first steps to sorting through my mental illness which lead me to the therapist I have been seeing since September 2016.

I love my current therapist. She has been with me through my very darkest times struggling with intense suicidal thoughts and daily self harm. I saw her twice a week for months until I got a grip on myself. Once I finally made it to once a week I was so proud of myself. I now see her more or less on an as needed basis which I never thought would be possible.

Suicide

After a bad breakup from my first love, my life was in shambles. Before this I had occasionally had suicidal thoughts but they were not even close to the level of intensity these were. “Kill yourself” was on repeat in my mind constantly. I couldn’t have a moment of silence without hearing that phrase.

I never attempted suicide, I think because I had such a strong team of professionals supporting me. My therapist, doctor and psychiatrist were helping me, I didn’t want to let them down by dying. And we were all working to find a medicine that would help me.

Since being on medicine I haven’t had intense suicidal thoughts. I have them occasionally  if I’m at a low point but other than that I am ok.

I’m sorry this post is so long but I wanted to write up a brief bit of my mental health journey from this past decade. In 2010 I wouldn’t have expected for all of this to happen. Life surprises us, it surprises me on a regular basis.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!

My Healing Journey

At the beginning of the year my number one goal was for me to work on healing myself from the inside out. I had put my own inner healing on hold for a long time. I had pushed down the most painful memories of my childhood in hopes I would never have to think about them again. Over these last eight months more and more old wounds have been resurfacing. Old wounds that I forgot were even there were resurfacing. This was finally my time to work on healing myself.

 

I grew up in an abusive household facing abuse from my mother on a daily basis. I suffered from this abuse from a very young age up until my early adulthood. I suffered from physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. The most damaging towards me was the psychological abuse.

 

Growing up I always knew there was something “off” about my mom because of the way she treated me. I was the oldest child and I guess my mom figured she could take out all her aggression on me. My brother was extremely lucky because my mom treated him completely opposite of how she treated me.

 

A month ago I read a book about healing from Narcissistic abuse. It opened up my eyes to what narcissistic abuse is all about and it confirmed for me that it was the abuse I suffered from growing up. It confirmed my theory that my mom was a narcissist and the symptoms & actions described fit my mom perfectly.

 

My entire life I could never fully be myself. My mom was the one who called all of the shots during my childhood. It didn’t matter what I wanted to do, if she didn’t like it then I couldn’t do it. It was like my mom was trying to live out her life through me. I wanted to play piano and my mom hated that, she threw away my piano books because she didn’t want me to play it. I wanted to do gymnastics, but she told me no & convinced me that I was never good enough to do it in the first place. She hated me having friends and never let me hang out with my friends. This occurred throughout my entire childhood.

 

She terrorized me, manipulated me, and controlled me my entire life. This book opened up my eyes to how abusive a narcissist can be and how evil they can be.

My mom caused me immense pain growing up. She told me things no child or person should ever have to hear especially from your own mother. I was screamed at so many times. She told me lies like that she didn’t want me born, she wished she aborted me when she had the chance, no one in my family likes me, I’m a burden, I have no friends, I’m fat, I’m not pretty, and I’m not good enough. She RARELY told me she loved me & meant it.

 

Now that I’ve reached adulthood and have started my own healing, I feel like I’m starting to find myself all over again. My mom never let me express who I was so I was always fitting into the mold she wanted. I finally feel like I’m starting to find my own identity and who I truly am as a person.

 

At first I felt like I was going through an identity crisis because I didn’t know who I was as a person at first. It’s forced me to dig deep inwards to get in touch with my true authentic self. I’m still learning who I truly am on a daily basis. I’m starting to finally feel free again since I no longer have to conform to what she had led me to believe my entire life.

Belittling Myself

*This post is a combination of processing and asking for input from my fellow bloggers and readers.*

Today my boss came up to me asking if we could have a chat. My heart sank a little bit thinking I was in trouble but I wasn’t. She brought up how I project my work to others, how I often times don’t give myself any credit.

This came up because yesterday we had to introduce ourselves during a meeting and I identified myself as my supervisor’s right-hand woman instead of my title. I often don’t say my title, which is the Development and Program Marketing Specialist, I usually say I do communications or that I help my supervisor.

I’m not good at talking about myself or making myself sound important. I think it’s a combination of years of low self-esteem, the idea that nobody cares what I have to say and not thinking I am important. So when somebody asks what I do, I brush it off saying, “I do our Facebook” then drop it.

In reality I do a lot more than schedule Facebook posts.

My boss said she wants me to be confident in my position, work and skills. She told me I am more than my supervisor’s right-hand woman, that I am my own independent, functioning person.

I was not expecting that conversation at all.

In all honesty, I don’t feel important at work. I think that anybody could do my job so, to me, what I write, create and do isn’t special. I felt that at my last job too, I compared my writing to my fellow reporters too often.

I come for 40 hours a week and do what I’m told. I recently had to do two marketing campaigns, one for a day camp and the other for volunteer training. I gave no ideas for anything, I asked my superiors what they wanted and I did just that.

Damn, this is turning into an entire in depth self evaluation that I was not expecting to have today.

The moment our conversation ended I thought, “I need to see my therapist.”

What about you guys? Do you have trouble talking about yourself or do you have confidence in doing that? How does your self-esteem effect your work?

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Why I’m Thankful for Hitting Rock Bottom

Four years ago was when I hit rock bottom. I was sexually assaulted and that experience broke me. I was drinking everyday not wanting to deal with life sober.

I was eating all the junk food I wanted because I didn’t want men to look at me anymore.

I stopped caring about myself and everything around me.

 

I allowed my depression to consume me.

I was cycling in and out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes.

I stopped taking my meds because they weren’t making me better.

Instead of seeking out help at that time, I turned to alcohol.

 

I drank to numb the pain and to take my mind off of what I was going through.

I didn’t want to deal with reality or that my life was crumbling around me.

I wanted to forget the pain I was dealing with.

 

I believed the negative thoughts my depression told me.

I believed I was a burden to others.

I was fighting every single day to survive.

I had lost my will to live and wanted out of the world so bad. I spent days in bed only leaving it to shower and eat. I was a total mess, but I didn’t want to accept that.

I was living in fear and denial. Food and alcohol was my comfort and best friend at the time.

 

During that low point of my life, I never thought I would feel happiness again or live a life where I was sober and successful. I was fully convinced that I was going to be miserable my entire life.

 

It wasn’t easy climbing out of that dark pit and getting back into the light again.

It was when I looked at myself in the mirror one day and didn’t recognize the person I was. It was when I got the courage to step on the scale for the first time in over a year when I saw how much weight I gained. It was when I promised myself change needed to happen.

 

I had no idea how I was going to do it. But something inside of me was saying to just try.

It told me to take baby steps everyday so I could make progress in the right direction.

To slowly climb my way out of that deep dark hole I was living in.

 

I look back now and while I was miserable then, I’m thankful for going through that.

I’m thankful for hitting rock bottom and going through some traumatic events.

I’m thankful because it made me strong. It challenged me to build up mental toughness.

It broke me, shattered me into a million pieces, leaving me to figure out how I was going to put myself together again.

 

I prayed and prayed to God to give me the strength and will to push forward.

Everyday got a little easier and I got stronger. It showed me what I’m truly capable of and that with enough will and determination I can get through anything. Sometimes you have to hit that low point in life to climb back to the top.

Having a Mental Illness as a Kid is Tough

I truly believe that I was born anxious.

I had serious separation anxiety as a baby up through most of elementary school when I was away from my mom. This lasted for way longer than it should have for a normal child.

As a kid, at least in my experience, I didn’t have the brain capacity to understand my emotions. I couldn’t express my feelings plus I didn’t want to. I thought that what went on in my brain wasn’t normal therefore I didn’t want anybody to know.

I struggled in school socially because of anxiety. I hated being with people I didn’t know, I didn’t like the focus to ever be on me and I always wanted to keep to myself or to my couple friends.

If I was put into a situation that made me anxious, I would cry. At 6 years old I couldn’t explain why I cried so often in school. Saying, “I cried because I didn’t like how everyone was looking at me when the teacher made me stand in front of the class.” never crossed my mind. Also if I said it, I’m not sure anybody would have understood what I really meant.

I remember taking a quiz or I was doing a worksheet in first grade. For some reason it made me upset, maybe I didn’t understand how to complete the sheet, I don’t know. Whatever triggered me made me cry which inspired the girl across from me to announce to the whole class that I was crying. My nightmare of everybody looking at me became a reality which made me cry even more.

When I reflect on being little, I so often think about the struggles that went on in my own head. I try to think about the fun things like my brother and I playing with our Crazy Daisy, going to the beach, eating ice cream and playing Pokemon Blue Version on my Gameboy Color.

I found childhood to be difficult and I think a lot of it has to do with my mental illness. Reflecting as an adult I would describe myself as being uncomfortable in my own skin. I always felt like I was in an itchy sweater that I wished I could take off so I could be anybody else but me.

I think that constant awkwardness was a result of anxiety and depression, two words I didn’t know until I was a teenager.

My awkwardness has decreased as I’ve grown but only in the last couple years have I felt comfortable in my skin. It’s been one long road to accepting myself for who I am.

Fellow Bipolar Writer readers and writers, did you have signs of mental illness as a child? If so, did you understand what was going on in your mind? Did adults around you see that you were struggling?

A Birthday Reflection

Yesterday I turned 26 years old. I had an absolutely wonderful day spent with my family and my boyfriend. There was nothing lavish or anything but it was time well spent and I felt appreciated by everyone.

One of my love languages is quality time so getting to spend time with the people I’m closest with was awesome.

It is amazing how a few years can change your perspective about life.

I remember when I turned 24 I reflected upon how I was celebrating my birthday while I struggled each day to live. This happened towards the end of my 7-month severe depressive episode, I had no idea that my suicidal thoughts were going to soon be quiet.

I thought to myself, “This is so odd. How can I celebrate my life when all I want to do is die?”

Soon after April 13, 2017, I found the right antidepressants and was finally able to attend therapy only once a week instead of twice. I got a new job plus a side gig that cut my stress level by over half.

I fell in love when I thought I never would again.

Later that year I got to see the most beautiful sunset ever in Las Vegas and go to the desert in California (two places I had never been before).

Right now my mental health is doing pretty well so in this reflection, I am glad that I didn’t kill myself. I’m glad that there was a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.

If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, I hope that this post gives you perspective. In the moment you think that life will never get better. But it does.

Reflections on my Mental Health – 2018

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I can’t believe that we are already here at the end of another year. I grew a lot this year in my mental health, and I have seen the fruits of writing The Bipolar Writer blog.

This mental illness life is never easy, but I am glad where I am at with my illness. I still have a long way to go, but I can take what I learned into the new year. Perhaps the most significant win in my mental health in 2018 is with my depression. I had my share of depression. Going into 2018, I started with a small depression cycle that I got out of by early January. The worst of my depression started in March and ended in May, it was tough going, but this blog kept me whole.

The best thing was my decision in July to stop antidepressants all together (I have a long  history with antidepressants.) It was tough at first. I relied upon antidepressants for years, and the transition was a struggle. By October, I could see some real change. Being honest it was a fantastic experience because I have learned to deal with my depression without antidepressants. My depression has been at its lowest levels since I was a teen. I still have bad days. In this Bipolar life, depression will always be my most familiar companion.

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My greatest struggle 2018 has been my social anxiety. I knew this going into the year, and while I have been working on getting back to the time when anxiety was not an issue, there is a lot of work to be done.

The worst part comes from the isolation that tends to happen when my anxiety is spiraling. I get comfortable with being alone that it becomes an everyday thing. I tend to revert to my natural state which is being an introvert. I am comfortable staying in and working. Everything from being a writer, a student, and a freelance writer allows me to stay within my comfort zone. I end up losing weeks at a time to isolation, and to be honest, it is just easier. I know that has to change in the new year (I will write my goals for 2019 in another post.)

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Sleep.

It has been so elusive in my life. It is always a struggle to get sleep– getting to sleep–and having an uninterrupted sleep while sleeping. Wow, that was a more than a mouthful. I know this struggle is the hardest to understand what is going on because of the medication, I can’t sleep without my Seroquel.  Sleep was so hard for me going up and into my adult life. I would go days without sleep (this is possibly due to mania which is why I have always taken Seroquel) and it would be worse without having Seroquel in my system.

One thing that has been on my mind is my Seroquel. I am not sure if it right for me, but I am lost without it. I have a new psychiatrist (no idea how permanent this one is), and one of the areas I need to work on is sleep. I plan on going back to my sleep doctor who will help if I stick to what the doctor way says.

2018 has been a decent year, maybe my best. What I learned and everything that I have written over the past year has helped me grow. I have a better understanding of my mental health than I did in 2017. What I have learned most is that we can always keep fighting, and always keep getting better.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Crazy nana

meagan paddock

Claudia Mañas