Interpersonal Relations

Relating to people is the most difficult thing any person does. We maneuver a minefield when we try to convey our thoughts. At best, we can be aware of some of the history the other brings to the communication experience, but we can’t know it all.

We can’t know if the other person is feeling off because they were rushed in the morning. Their personal history may be a factor. Maybe they skipped breakfast and are feeling hungry. It could be a worry about a sick relative.

There are so many variables every time we want to communicate with another person. The best we can do is be sure of what we need to convey and be as careful in how we speak as possible.

I’m taking a long time to set up something that’s simple to say: I had a fight with my boyfriend. I really don’t understand why he appeared so angry. I truly don’t understand it. I tried to keep the conversation light, but it did not work.

In the end, I had to defend myself by stating I did not deserve the anger I was hearing.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’ve talked to my therapist. I’m willing to accept several outcomes. There’s an outcome where we move forward and try to help each other, and there’s an outcome where I move forward without him. That would hurt a great deal, but I’m willing to do it, if it comes to that.

What’s remarkable is I know I’m going to be OK with any outcome.

I am a person who lives with mental illness. I live in recovery from bipolar disorder. To realize I’m going to be OK is huge. I have spent years in therapy building a core that is stable enough to withstand the storms of life. Whatever happens with my boyfriend, my core is still going to be stable.

Obviously, I want to move forward with my boyfriend in my life. I love him. I love me, too. I owe it to myself to be with a man who recognizes and respects my stable core. I’ve worked hard on it. It’s firm.

While all this drama plays itself out, I get to continue living my life. I feel good.

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Disagreements with Therapists

Last week, I had a difficulty with my boyfriend, but he did not want to talk about it. I discussed this with my therapist, who advised me to talk to my best friend when I have disagreements with my boyfriend. I talk to my best friend about everything, and I agreed to try this.

In the ensuing week, I had a different difficulty with my boyfriend, and I realized that not talking to him about it was utter nonsense. I have to be able to have simple, compassionate discussions with him in order to have a healthy relationship. I did indeed discuss the latest difficulty with him, and we worked through it.

I’m going to talk to my therapist tonight about his faulty idea. I know the result will be better communication between us. I also know that there will be further explanation of what he meant, which I had forgotten or didn’t hear fully. I’m not worried about it. I have an excellent therapist, and we get along well. Because we get along well, I do not fear telling him that he was wrong about an idea. We’ll work it out.

Therapy is vitally important for me. It is a place where I tell all. All. I leave nothing out. It frees me so profoundly that I have a place where I can go and reveal my darkest parts. I used to carry secrets that made me ill. I don’t suffer in silence anymore. I have a place where I can be totally open. It’s hard to describe the joy that gives me.

Meditation is the most important thing I do, and therapy is second. Taking medication is a very close third, then comes exercise. Finally, there’s sleep, which I’m not getting enough of right now. There’s stuff going on at work that has me stressed, and the result is less sleep due to anxiety. I have no trouble falling asleep, but I don’t get enough hours of good rest. My diet is important, too. I try to eat food that is good for me. I do a pretty good job of it.

Another day in recovery.

Using a Tool

Every day, I feel discomfort because of events. Something will come along in my day that is stressful, and it causes me to have negative emotions. I have a tool I use in these situations that helps me release the stress and anxiety.

I sit and close my eyes and relax. Next, I try to figure out where in my body the stress or anxiety is being stored. Sometimes it’s in my stomach, sometimes my chest, and sometimes my head. I ask myself what color it is and what shape it is. I try to get a good image of the thing.

After I’ve got a good image of it, I very gently reach inside and slowly remove it. I am gentle about this part of the process. Sometimes it comes out easily, and sometimes it’s got hooks attached to my insides. I’m always gentle, and it always comes out eventually.

Then I give the thing to the Universe, and I always say, “Please recycle this into the laughter of children.” It’s just a little ritual. It’s energy that I’m releasing, and energy never disappears, so I like to think it could be recycled into something joyful.

If that seems like it might work for you, give it a try.

Self-Care Now

I’m at work today, but part of my job actually is scrolling through Facebook. I have to look for appropriate material to post about mental health. I’ve got to say much of Facebook brings me down these days. There’s little about hope and recovery. There’s a lot about problems in the world.

Here’s what I’m doing today to nurture myself.

I took a break. I walked down to the cathedral and sat for just a few minutes and released all the negative energy that had built up in me. The walk was good. The sitting was good. The releasing was wonderful. The walk back felt lighter.

I chatted with my boyfriend this morning. I kept the conversation lighthearted. I could have chosen to talk about serious matters, but I kept it light because the amount of negativity in the world is overwhelming right now. We both need a break.

I’ve been chatting regularly as always with my best friend. While we’ve had some serious subjects come up, I’ve been trying to keep that light, too. Again, we both need a break.

I am concentrating on looking forward to this evening when I hope to see my boyfriend. As work issues arise, I remind myself that I have something fun coming later.

These are really small things, but they help me feel better.

I like to hope that we can all find little things to nurture ourselves. It can be as simple as taking a minute to look at pictures of flowers if you’re unable to walk in a garden. Take a walk outside, and breathe deeply for just one minute. Spend time with a pet. If you don’t have a pet, watch funny pet videos on the internet. Read a children’s book.

There’s a new fad: adult coloring books. I highly recommend these. Get one and color to your heart’s content.

Nurture yourself now. You’re worth it.

Enduring Difficult News

The news is full of difficulty these days, and it’s unlikely to become easier in the very near future.

In good times and in bad times, my first priority is my recovery. In difficult times, I must concentrate on the steps I take to maintain my stability.

  • I take my meds as prescribed, because they work for me.
  • I have increased the frequency of my visits to my therapist to weekly. Talking to my therapist is a valuable tool for me to use to keep my mind clear.
  • My meditation has become more important than ever. I use it to clear negativity, and I meditate multiple times each day.
  • I exercise. I speed walk 2.5 miles a minimum of 3 times each week. I am convinced exercise helps me stay stable.
  • I eat food that is good for me. A year ago, I drastically cut the amount of processed sugar I eat on a daily basis. It has made a wonderful change in my mood, and I’ve lost 45 pounds (20 kg). I eat a lot of vegetables.
  • Finally, I do my best to get good sleep. It’s the only time my whole body is shut down in order to refresh itself.

When the news is full of difficulty, my most important response is to maintain my own recovery. I cannot be an effective advocate for my mental health peers if I’m out of sorts. I am my #1 priority.

Releasing a Fantasy

I have a very vivid imagination. It has served me well through my life and given me lots of good insight into many varied circumstances. I prize it.

Sometimes I get carried away, however. That came to a head yesterday.

I’ve had a fantasy for about 4 years that I fed and nurtured. At times, it preoccupied me.

In therapy yesterday, I realized it’s too big and taking up too much of my dreams. I meditated when I got home and did a bit of a release of it. I had some reservations about the release.

In this morning’s meditation, I concentrated on accepting the reality of my life, which is sort of a release. It felt good.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fantasizing. I feel no shame. I’m grateful for the entertainment it gave me.

But it’s time to move on.

I’m moving on.