Interesting Changes

I took a break from writing for a while, and some things in my life have changed.

One startling change is that I have started to watch a television show. Many regular readers know I have been seemingly allergic to all varieties of television shows. I had a physical reaction to the machine that rendered me incapable of sitting through anything. I also avoided videos online, though this was not universal.

You can read about my difficulty watching television here, here, and here. It was a real handicap, and I have met other people with bipolar disorder who had the same experience. Television caused a switch in my brain to click that incapacitated me.

I have started to watch the new series called Cosmos with the host Neil deGrasse Tyson. In fact, I haven’t missed an episode of it. I enjoy it greatly. I sat down apprehensively to watch the first episode, and I was pleasantly engrossed. I have not felt the old click in my head that forced me to stand and pace or even leave the room. I am very happy with this change.

I have another pleasant change to report. I have had a spiritual shift, and I am now able to experience my emotions with more detachment. When emotions arise, especially the heavy, negative ones, I can observe them, give them the attention they deserve, and watch them pass. I still feel everything a normal person feels, but I don’t succumb to them. They no longer overwhelm me.

I had an occasion to witness this closely just two days ago. An event occurred that made me very sad. My feelings were hurt. I endured the sadness for a whole day, but it did not incapacitate me. I meditated on the event. I recognized the sadness. I welcomed it even. I did not fight the emotion. I simply let it sit in my being, and I watched it.

It was there all day, but as I lay down that night to sleep, I knew it would be gone when I woke the next morning. I was correct.

Many readers may be wondering how I made this spiritual change. I did it through meditation. I sat on my special stool and went to my happy place. While I was relaxed and letting my mind concentrate on itself in my happy place, I asked my Higher Self if it would like to be part of my everyday existence here and now. My Higher Self obliged. I now maintain a conscious connection with this part of me that is new. I walk taller according to my therapist.

This new connection has given me a new perspective on many things. I have a firmer sense of self-respect. I know my worth. I suffered from low self-esteem for decades. That has miraculously vanished. My thoughts are clearer. When negativity arises, I ask it where it came from, observe it, play with it at times, and let it pass.

I am growing, and I like it. I celebrate me today.

Week 2 of Job Training

The second week of job training starts tomorrow, and I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to it so much that I only got five hours sleep last night. That’s not a good thing for me. I normally sleep nine whole hours. I’m concerned that it’s a sign of a swing toward mania.

I got some very good financial news recently, and I’m watching myself for signs of overspending. Spending sprees are a symptom of bipolar widely recognized by psychiatry. There’s nothing better than a whole day spent losing money I don’t have for this gay man. So far, the only luxury has been a dinner with one of my daughters at a cheap restaurant. I don’t think that’s overdoing it yet.

I’m taking my medication as prescribed. I am taking care of myself by brushing my teeth, etc. I am doing the daily maintenance called for in my WRAP.

Who am I kidding? I’m not faithfully following my WRAP. I’m neither meditating nor exercising. I am doing the other things on my Plan:

  • maintaining my sobriety
  • drinking plenty of water
  • eating healthy meals
  • chatting with my best friend
  • checking in with myself
  • talking to supporters
  • educating myself about my recovery and my illness
  • writing
  • being open about my sexuality

I am following those points on my Plan but not two important ones.

Meditating keeps me focused. Even a short five-minute session in the morning affects my mood for the whole day. I sit on a stool in my bedroom and breathe, and then I follow a well-worn path to my happy place, which you can read about here.

I want to exercise. I love walking. I love power walking to be precise. But I can’t right now. I’ve developed painful plantar faciitis, and simple walking around the house is difficult. The good news is that the job training requires me to travel and stay in a hotel with an exercise room. Perhaps there will be some machine there I can use. If I like it, I’ll check out the YMCA’s gym when I get home next week. Maybe I’ll join.

You know what? I’m really fine. I will meditate today and hobble around a local park for some fresh air. I’ve made — what are for me — earth-shattering changes in the last three weeks, and I am happy.

I am happy!

You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life? - Rumi

You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life? – Rumi

A Forgotten Prayer

I have a friend who used to live near me but moved in the last few months. We kept in close contact when he lived here, and we still send emails often. He’s quite depressed. I want to share with you a small portion of the last message I sent him:

When I was first diagnosed bipolar, I was furious with god. I was livid. I had to face the fact that what I viewed as my greatest asset (my intelligent brain) had become my darkest enemy. Through that time, I didn’t stop my daily prayers. In fact, they went something like this:

Dear god, please help me to think that it might be possible that I could begin to wonder if it would be imaginable that I might want to have your will done in my life.

It was a very long phrase asking god for help. Today, my prayers are to the one or just to the universe. I share this long phrase with you, because I think you might be able to begin to wish that you could possibly in some way apply it to your own situation.

I share it because it reminded me vividly of that prayer I used. It was a long phrase I used when I first discovered there was a name for my mental illness. That phrase got shorter over a period of about three months, until finally it was simply “may god’s will be done in my life.”

It’s been a long time since I thought of that prayer. It makes me feel so good to know I’ve come so far that I don’t need that kind of rambling phrase lifted up to god. Today, I simply talk to the universe. I’m open. I feel full today.

Spiritual belief

I was raised in a rabidly devout fundamentalist Christian home. From a young age, I was taken to church three times each week. It was a big church but not what are known as mega-churches these days. There I was taught the seemingly simple truth that I was destined for hell, unless I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my lord and savior. I had to be saved from my vile, wicked self.

As a young child, I couldn’t imagine what I’d done that was so bad, but the preacher corrected that thought. In fact, it was with thought that I had sinned the most. If I had thought the sin, I’d done it, or so I was told.

As I began to grow up, I became aware that I was somehow different. I didn’t have a word for it, but I felt I was different from my friends. When I reached the age when boys start to mature sexually, I realized what the difference was. I looked at other boys the way my friends looked at girls. I don’t remember when I first heard the words homosexual, gay, or fag, but they were thrown at me at a young age in hateful ways. What’s more, the preachers told me that as a homosexual, I was irredeemable. Unlovable. Sub-human.

In adulthood, I searched for a Christian religion that would provide me with love, solace, and salvation. I didn’t find it. I read a lot about Buddhist teachings, and I don’t believe there’s a match for me there either. However, I do enjoy meditation, but that is not exclusively Buddhist.

It was actually in A.A. that I found a faith that worked. I have a spiritual belief today in a loving universe that wants the best for me. I can close my eyes and feel loved. I used to close my eyes and find hell. Now, there is peace and quiet.

I don’t know what to call my faith. I follow no religion. I simply choose to believe that there is something more to life than what meets the eye.

I don’t know what god is. I don’t know if it’s an old, white-bearded man on a throne in the sky or Aristotle’s unmoving mover, or the scent of marigolds on a hot day. I know that I choose to believe.