Babbles: A Dry Well

There are many times that I have much to say but don’t end up writing.

I stop myself from typing because what I have to say is not uplifting and edifying and I fear that I will not be a positive influence on others and therefore what I want to write should not be published.

I have it in my mind that whatever I write must be positive, uplifting, encouraging and inspiring.  And when I am unable to be such things, I stay quiet, I write nothing, or I write but I do not publish.

No one told me that these were the rules.

These guidelines were never posted and I never signed anything that said I would follow something so strict and absurd.  They instead were what I came up with in my head and chose to hold myself to, I guess in a way of punishing myself (I am making a weird questioning face right now that you cannot see because I am not sitting with you in person, but I wish you could see it because it adds so much more depth to my writing).

So, today, I am breaking the rules that I made.  I am typing what I feel that I need to type with no rules attached.  It will not be a free frall, because that is just not the way I roll, but it may be a bit more transparent than my normal transparency.  You have officially been warned.

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And yet, several hours later, really a day or more later… several starts, stops, words and character counts typed later, and a lot of deleting, we just have the opening down on paper…

I have so much to say, and much is coming out, but its jumbled and jambled.  It’s like a Dr Seuss book.  I WOULD indeed like to write with fox in a box while a bird with a word watches…

I am not certain why I can’t unleash totally, let what is locked up deep inside of me flow like the rivers, rather than be stagnant like a dried up canal… but it is just not happening, and I have to respect the fact that my body, soul and mind are not willing to share, at this point and time.

However, I have a few things that I would like to share:

Confession #1:

I don’t always feel strong.  I feel weak a lot of the time.  But I am stubborn and it’s actually my stubbornness, oh and my pride, that gets me through the hard, long, trying days.

Confession #2:

I am angry.

I feel torn about the anger though.  Because I feel so incredibly blessed, so why should I feel mad.  I have more in my life than I think I would have ever thought I would have, but then there’s this whole Bipolar Disorder, and that is the thing that is the kindling to my fire.  Having gone through a “rough time” it is hard to focus on times that were “good” and to see past these struggles.  Hence the frustration that I feel, although these feelings are specifically pin pointed towards the disorder, and no one else.

Confession #3:

I am tired.

I am ready for the time to come where I am balanced.  I am ready for smooth streams and babbling brooks.  I am weary and tired after fighting rapids for so long.  My brain is fatigued as is my body and my spirit.

 

As the weekend approaches, I am nearing a day long meditation retreat that I am looking forward to attending.  I am hoping to get back in touch with my inner voice and obtaining calm and peace in my soul.  I hope that the depression will stay away and I will have the energy to participate.  But most of all enjoy the process.

May your days be blessed and filled with sunshine and warmth.

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Encouraging Myself Before I Snap

I’m having a very difficult day today.

My anxiety levels are high while my depression is begging for me to crawl into bed where I can fall apart.

Since my iPhone woke me up this morning I have wanted to go back to sleep. I considered not getting up, to call in sick so that I could lay in bed all day. But then I remembered…

I had a beautiful quiche I bought at a local coffee shop in the mini fridge at work.

I said to myself, “I can’t let that quiche go to waste. I paid good money for that!”

So I told myself that if I go to work I can try to stay until 12:30 (basically half of my day) and eat my quiche.

This actually worked! I got ready as usual and continued to encourage myself throughout the day. I have been saying, “Ok, can I make it for another 5 minutes? How about another hour?”

It’s past 2 p.m. here on the East Coast of America so I’ve stayed well beyond my original goal. My goal right now is to make it until 2:30. From there I’ll evaluate if I can finish my work day.

Damn my therapist is going to be proud of me!

For when I go home I have no idea what is going to happen. I have been in control all day but I don’t know if I can prevent myself from having a meltdown.

I hope that this post helps somebody out there! Please leave me a comment of what you do to overcome the desires of your mental illness!

Mental illnesses can be so loud and have such a tight grip on us. It takes a shit load of strength to surmount the difficulties a mental illness brings.

Invisible Illness

Mental illness has been shaped as being invisible. The needs of people with mental illness being met has been invisible too. Stop making me invisible. You wouldn’t want it for you.

I heard / saw somewhere that mental illness is an invisible illness.   That people with mental illness are not afforded the proverbial “ramps” they require in order to cope and survive in the world.  And whilst I would suggest moving stairs as a must have for anyone with mental illness, particularly up hill, it’s actually this suggested invisibleness which amuses me so.  You see, if you’ve ever met me, or anyone who is really chronically ill, let’s just say that there’s a lot you’d rather wish you didn’t see, because this chick with severe Bipolar is a very proudly uninvisible me.  Also, if you didn’t know, I would be worried about YOU,

I know that I am inappropriate, that I say the wrong things at the wrong time.  That my brain mouth filter does not work, no matter how many times I try and lodge the closest item into my mouth, to avoid the lithium language that well, lingers after it’s come out.  Yes, I have been known to be THE singular fart in an otherwise perfume factory.  In fact, this endearing trait is perhaps my only consistent thing I’m able to do.  Basically, the opposite of everything that is socially acceptable and done by everyone else.  I’ve had these extraordinary abilities since I was little.  Even then I would feel and experience everything at least 1000 times more than anyone else.  I didn’t have a precise meter to measure this, other than the fact that my siblings didn’t vomit each day they had to go to school, on account of the nauseating anxiety of being late.  It appeared at least through this example,  that I was gut wrenchingly experiencing something else.  Well at least literally, my little psychiatrist self in the making believed.

I am also the same person that will make you three different kinds of biscuits if you come for tea, will write / draw (with no artistic ability) a little note with biscuits I send to take home, I will share my last piece of bread. I also have an even more extraordinary ability which not all people have:  the patience and understanding to help you cry. The kind of cry that’s tucked away, the pain in teardrops no-one wants to see.  No mental illness is not all sadness – but it is in my experience about hard earned boundless empathy.  When you’ve felt the spectrum of emotion I have in my long short life, there are very few emotions I have not encountered. And although I personally flip flopped through my own experience, I am now a well-versed pro in how to deal with anything uncomfortable, clumsy, drowsy, emotional anything.

But no matter how uncomfortable the world may be with my unbridled display of emotion – or stigmatised madness – I am not invisible.  My experiences are not invisible.  My daily fight to conquer my mental illness is real.  And if my eyes look slightly dazed, it isn’t because I’m mad.  It’s because I’m TIRED.  I am taking a nap, while standing, looking at you.  Yes, I have mastered this art too. Because when insomnia is real, you can sleep awake.  I’ve done and do this, cigarette in hand.   I can sing, and I can cry, even within the shortest space of time.  I feel inappropriate feelings at inappropriate times, and if it’s hard for anyone to see or be around, they are infinitely unaware of how it is overwhelmingly amplified in what I can see and feel in me.

People with mental illness are not invisible, we matter, and how we feel matters too.  The world has done the opposite I think/.  Pretended that mental illness doesn’t exist, or when it does, it should be housed in the strait jacket of psychiatric hospital and disability stuff. ’cause in the absence of ongoing stability (we are programmed to believe we can and will relapse) we do have this:  an abundance of feelings we do and don’t like.  All. The. Time. And if you don’t understand it, just think about this:  you would never want to be, at a minimum, invisible.  Please don’t do it to me.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t. I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.

unsplash-logoGregory Pappas

Breathe…Through It

For one to live, we must fill our lungs with air and release the carbon dioxide from within. This is a simple and usually automatic action for every living creature. So why, when we are stressed, overwhust-realhe-just-breathe-powerofpositivity-18995027elmed or panicked do we forget to breathe.

Personally, this lapse of thought happens all too often when I run. It’s my biggest hurdle. I start off at a steady pace and if I’m feeling good, as I gain distance, I lose my mind and move faster than my body is ready for. When this happens, I start to suck air, quickly, as if I was holding it in for hours and now I’m playing catch up. My chest gets heavy and there are moments I even feel light headed. I tend to believe it’s because I suck at running, and the more strained I become, the more frustrated I get and the more strained I become, it’s the cycle of hell. At least that’s how it feels.

At the moment when I’m about to stop, give up, just sit down on the trail and call for a ride, I hear an all too familiar voice, “breathe through it.” Just when I need it most, it’s my running partner, friend and coach, “breathe through it Lisa”. It’s funny, that when we are physically strained or uncomfortable, we have a tendency to remind ourselves, or each other that the air filling our lungs will reduce the sensation of pain. However, when it’s an emotional period in our lives, we can’t seem to remember to breathe.

While I’m sure many parents out there will tell me I’m wrong, because they reminded themselves to breathe 142 times today before their head exploded due to summer vacation only being half over, I totally get it. But, what about the time when you forgot your kindergartener’s sack lunch for the field trip at the zoo, or the night you scrambled to write your final paper for school because you spent the day consoling a friend, or the time when your boss stood over your shoulder while you finished a deadline, or facing a room full at a big interview, or the day your husband came home defeated because he just got laid off, or the call that there was an accident. While each of these scenarios are on different parts of the spectrum of stress and panic, each of them, requires a “breathe” factor to break that cycle of hell we are caught in.

Sometimes that emotional moment, self-inflicted or from another source, takes us to a place where we forget that we need to fill our lungs with air so we can keep moving forward. We forget that in order to live we must breathe.

We are faced with obstacles every day, minor ones, major ones and some catastrophic, and while there are times we want to give up and sit down on the trail, a lot of times we just need to close our eyes, slowly suck in air to fill our chest, hold it just a second and remind ourselves that we are capable of much more than we realize, and at that very moment our first step is to breathe.

When we allow ourselves this breath, amazing things occur; physically our heart rate slows, and our head stops spinning, and mentally we may get just a little more clear in our reaction, solution, or perspective. It can take a few seconds or a few hours, but you’d be surprised the strength, courage and self-awareness you can find if you just Breathe Through It…

Much Love,

Lisa

Photo Credit: Valeriia Bugaiova

5 Ways to Keep Shining Your Light When the Odds are Against You

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. You are the light. And nothing in your dreams will get easier. But if you keep going, you will get stronger than ANYTHING putting you down.

What dims your light? Is it not being supported by friends, family, or loved ones? Or is it taking two steps toward your dreams, only to be pushed ten steps back? When the odds stack up against you, do you keep pushing back or do you allow the metaphorical water to rise above your head and carry you away?

I get swept away daily, like a piece of timber caught up in a torrent. But with each storm, I’ve started to create my own sunshine; and it has made a world’s difference. It can for you, too.

  1. “Right now, it’s like this” – I first heard these words at a Wanderlustyoga event led by the mesmerizing Chelsey Korus. We were in a challenging pose, our muscles burning and screaming out in protest. And in the middle of stifled breaths and pissed off egos, she gently said – right now, it’s like this. This moment and this struggle feels crippling now, like you can’t go on, like you are fighting a ghost. Own the matter of fact that is this moment, because you cannot change it. And the longer you fight it to become something else, the more it will kick you down; until you learn that, right now, it’s like this. But it won’t always be. The pain and challenge and darkness will shift, change, and manifest into something else to show you that nothing is permanent, and you are far stronger than you think.
  2. Become your own advocate – Support will come in many ways: a hug, a handshake, a pat on the back, a gentle “I’m proud of you.” Until it runs out. Until your great feats are left waiting by the door with no one to notice. In these moments, it’s easy to discard our gifts and talents, and simply fall in line with mundane living and thinking. Don’t. Become your biggest supporter and your loudest cheerleader. Shine your light, even if you’re standing in the dark alone; because your purpose does not grow in the hands of the few who approve it or push it aside. It’s a part of you. Own it.
  3. Fake it ’till you make it – Negative thoughts will come after you like a rabid dog; that’s a fact. Some days, standing in your truth and moving toward your dreams will feel like a crippled crawl, and all you’ll want to do is quit. There is no secret affirmation or practice that will erase the negativity that stands behind every courageous push. That’s not how it works. You’ll feel like throwing in the towel more times than you can count, and believe me – the guilt behind those defeating thoughts is nauseating. Keep going. Through every punch and hit, grit your teeth and push on. Through the tears and the fear, slap on a smile and say – you hit like a bitch. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. You are the light. And nothing in your dreams will get easier. But if you keep going, you will get stronger than ANYTHING putting you down.
  4. Ten steps back is a chance to rest and go again – We keep expecting this hill of ours to end, until we hit a plateau and it’s a breezy walk to the finish. But I’ve learned that anything that gives us a purpose in life will be the hardest challenge we’ve yet to face. Thankfully, it will also be the worthiest challenge. Comedian Kevin Hart repeats this mantra before every show – everyone wants to be famous, but no one wants to put the work in. Whether or not you want to be famous or pleasantly known, you want something. In order to get it and keep having it in your life as a drive forward, you have to keep taking steps up. And when that challenge rears its head and knocks you down a peg, as it will, you have the option of quitting or pausing. In those moments of pause is where you have the gift of gaining perspective, inspiration, and re-focus of what you’re after. Take it. And then get up and continue, renewed.
  5. Remember why you started – Your light is what guides you to your Highest Good. It won’t be easy, it won’t be short, and it won’t be linear. But you started your journey for a reason, and you keep coming back to it, even when you’re worn, beat down, and alone. As you walk your path, remember why you started in the first place. Allow the purity of it to become your strength and courage, and repeat it to yourself when the darkness closes in or the steps become too steep. Push back against the negativity that looms overhead, with every intention and bough of faith; because this is your light, and you’re shining it like a star!

I’ve been on my path of writing and sharing my story for years. Some days, I want to burn every page I ever wrote in my journal. I believe in the odds stacked up against me because I believe I can overcome them. They are not my end – they’re simply my reminder. I am here to shine my light, in the cold and in the dark. And so are you.

Keep going.

 

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You Have to Pull Yourself Out of Your Darkness and Here’s How

Some days, you win. Other days, you learn. There is no loss. Your mental illness does not define the core of who you are, and it most certainly does not change what you’re meant to do – and we’re all here for something.

Mental illness – whether it is depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, or any disorders thereof, officially diagnosed or not – create darkness. I used to picture and liken this darkness to the bottom of a barrel, where you can’t go deeper, and you know it, but you can’t climb back out, and you don’t want to. That last part – climbing back out – is where I believe mental illness really defines itself. All of us, at some point or another, have metaphorically landed at the bottom of our barrel. But what draws the line in the sand between darkness and just a bad night is the climb up; and through my own experience and recounted stories of others, I’ve discovered that climbing back out – even if you can see a speck of light above – takes more energy, effort, and willpower than the person has or is willing and able to give. And this reiterates the point – we have to want to climb out; and when we don’t, that darkness becomes a frightening moment for a very long time.

We’ve heard the cliche – you have to want to help yourself. Truer words have not been spoken, and I stand by this mantra with full support. But I don’t think that using this as motivation or advice is enough. Yes, you have to want to help yourself, because relying on others to help lift you up, if all you want to do is fall, is hopeless. No one wins in that situation. But that cliche is simply the intention. It’s what open the floodgates and lights that proverbial fire under your ass that says yes go! It’s time to climb the hell out of this thing! But that cliche is not how we treat our mental illness, and I think one of the biggest challenges in what we face is figuring out how to start the climb at all. And once we start, it’s pushing ourselves to keep going.

The climb up is not a race; it is not even a marathon

It’s work. It’s incredible, difficult, manual, mental labor in the Arizona summer heat. It’s your Mount Everest on steroids, and all you have is a walking stick, some days. And while that may carry zero inspiration as you read this, what I’m saying is meant to give you perspective. Most importantly, it’s meant to give you reality. Diving into our psyches and unleashing anything and everything that we’ve stuffed down there is a journey from which we don’t just stroll back into easy-going living. Dealing with mental illness on any given day is a struggle that no writer ought to put into words, nor try, because those words won’t be enough.

What I’ve learned from my own experience is that climbing back out of my darkness is a one-step process. Every single day, I take a step. Some days, it’s a step up, and I can joyfully laugh and toss any caution to the wind and truly live in the moment with family, friends, and my cat. There aren’t weights pulling me down into the same mental alley where I get mugged and punched by depression and loneliness. Other days, it’s a step down from where I was the day before, and I can feel my heart sink because I was so much closer to the top. But that’s the rhythm of this – the ebb and flow of life are the same for everyone, but with mental illness, that ebb and flow can either take you one wave closer to the shore or to the rocks.

The climb up is a challenge we take on every single day. There are no breaks, and there are no days off. And if you thought that this article up until now has been a wretched downer, please stay with me. You are worth the work. There’s not going to be a single person at the bottom of your barrel with you, and that’s by design. You have to do this. You have to put one foot in front of the other every single moment and believe that you are handling your life. With your action, whether it kicks you down or lifts you up, you are facing your darkness and handling it. Some days, you win. Other days, you learn. There is no loss. Your mental illness does not define the core of who you are, and it most certainly does not change what you’re meant to do – and we’re all here for something.

You have to pull yourself out of your darkness, and it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the greatest and the single most profound thing you’ve ever done. How you do it is by taking the first step, and then always one more. Smile when you’ve done it, and celebrate these feats. If you get knocked down, pause and learn from it. Don’t ask why can’t I do this? Instead, ask what did this teach me? And then keep going. Always keep going.

We are strong enough, but first, we have to decide to be

At the bottom of my own barrel, I remember sitting and waiting for a sign. I wanted to receive something divine that would guarantee that everything would eventually work out and that I would be lifted up to my own light on the wings of simple and thoughtful prayer. And I sat at the bottom of that musty barrel for what seemed an eternity; because signs don’t work that way.

What my depression taught me, in the crudest of ways, was that I had the choice of trudging through mud and mire to climb out of my darkness, or continue sitting, praying, and wishing to be air-lifted out. And even when I fell down, worn out and pissed, the alternative to staying in that solace was reminder enough to make me try again. At the end of the day, that’s the proverbial fire – try again. There are no expectations that our climb needs to be done in one day; we falsely create that goal in our head, pinning our very selves up against the wall. Don’t. Lay down these presumptive ideals that our healing is on an expressway path to eradication. The path is anything but short, but it’s there. It exists. And it’s for our taking.

Try again. And always keep going.

Pulling ourselves out of our darkness does not make the darkness go away. It makes us strong enough to decide that we don’t need to live in it.