A Rough Week

I’ve had a rough week. I got some unexpected bad news at work that really threw me for a loop, and it caused my anxiety to skyrocket. I’m extremely lucky that I work at a place with generous understanding of mental health issues, so I took off a day and half to recuperate. I really needed it.

I used the tools I have to get through the difficulty. I took the medicine the doctors gave me to help exactly at times like this. It really worked. It didn’t solve the problem, but it helped.

I also called and got an extra appointment with my psychologist. He had an opening, so I was able to get in. He was not mild with me, and I plan to tell him that I think some of his responses were inappropriate when I see him next week. I feel like I should be allowed to grieve for the problem at work, and he’s not giving me space to do that. He wants an immediate shift into the solution, and I want to grieve first. I know that sounds like I want to wallow in the problem, but dammit, if I want to wallow, it’s my wallowing. I get to own that wallowing. I get to feel it the whole way through. No one gets to tell me to “get over it.” I get to decide that for myself.

I meditated, and that helped. Again, it didn’t solve the problem, but I felt better doing it.

Walking helped, too. It got me out of my house and into the fresh air.

Now, I need a dog. It’s a dream.

Advertisements

A Question

Grief comes in waves, and yesterday, I was experiencing a wave of grief for my relationship that ended 2 months ago. I chatted with my best friend about it. I had questions about my ex-boyfriend and his feelings that, of course, my best friend could not answer. I didn’t expect him to. I simply wanted to express my thoughts. He answered with a question:

Why is everyone broken?

And it stopped me in the middle of my stream of thoughts. It was the perfect question.

We are each one of us broken. We have all experienced pain.

My next question is more important:

What are we doing about our brokenness?

Being broken is not the real problem. What we are each doing about it is. I have been actively working on my brokenness for more than 30 years. It has been a long process. I can honestly say that I’ve healed some truly big traumas. I can say to anyone who needs to hear it that healing is possible. It really is. I did it. The work is worth it. There were times the work was painful, but the reward is so good. I feel whole today.

I’m still healing more broken bits that I find under the healed places. It never ends, but it truly does get better.

My healing comes through meditation, therapy, medication, exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet. Your healing will come through ways that are appropriate for you. If you need guidance about how to start, I recommend talking to a doctor or therapist first. You’ll know what’s right for you. Use that.

Walking Through It

In my last post, I wrote about my recent break up. I’m still experiencing varied moods due to the end of that romantic relationship. I have good days and bad ones.

I’m happy to say I’m using the tools I have, and they help a great deal.

My most important tool is meditation. I am able to release a lot of difficult emotions very quickly and thoroughly by doing some simple meditative techniques I’ve learned over the years. I wrote about one technique in that last post.

I’ve used medication, too. I have some medicine I can take for anxiety. I have used them occasionally. I used them daily just after the break up.

I’ve spoken to my therapist often, and that helps give me clarity.

I’ve chatted with my best friend multiple times each day. He’s a rock in this situation, and I’m grateful for his love and support.

I’ve exercised a lot, too. I’ve walked and walked. I enjoy speed walking, so I do it daily these days.

I’ve been careful with what I eat. I allow myself some junk every once in a while, but I’m careful. I eat an almost completely vegetarian diet. It feels like the right thing for me to do.

I’ve been getting good sleep most nights, which is an enormous help. Sleep resets me, so I can start fresh every morning.

Yesterday was a rough day, but I used the tools, and I survived. Today feels better except for the fact I didn’t get enough sleep for some unknown reason. I’ll be fine.

I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Surviving a Break Up

Yeah. It happened.

He got very angry at me, and I asserted that I was not deserving of his anger, so he left. I’m glad he left. I didn’t feel frightened, but he clearly could not control his anger.

I had decided that I would require couples counseling to move forward with the relationship, but he chose not to contact me again. I was uncomfortable with that lack of closure. It left too much up in the air. It meant I was unsure whether he would choose to contact me at some point in the future. Being unsure was causing me anxiety. So I took control of the part that I was capable of and blocked his number.

That’s the first point I would like to draw attention to. I did not have control of the whole situation, and I think that’s completely normal. There are two people involved, after all. Each participant has some control over some aspects of the situation. I looked at the situation, and I studied what part I could control, and I used it.

It’s quite possible that choosing not to contact me after he stormed out was his way of breaking up. It’s not a clean way of doing it. It leaves too many strings dangling.

The second point I’d like to stress is that I did not avoid the sadness. I allowed it to wash over me. The grief came in waves. There were times I ached. I would meditate and release it. It worked for me.

If you want to try it, find a place to sit comfortably. Begin by stating that you want to work through the highest light for the greatest good for all concerned. This sets a nice intention of keeping things as clear as possible with as little animosity involved as possible. Shut your eyes, and breathe deeply for as many breaths as you can. Simultaneously, relax. Try relaxing from head to toe or vice versa. Do the best you can. Now imagine you have a layer of energy on your body where the bad feelings are located. Call on an angel to remove this layer. Breathe deeply while the angel removes the layer of energy. Just breathe. Give it some time. It may take a few seconds or a few minutes. Let it take however long it takes. If your heart aches tremendously, ask the angel to bathe it in purple light. When you feel like it’s complete, thank the angel, and then breathe and open your eyes.

I had to do this many times over the course of about 3 days, and it worked for me, I felt relief each time. Repeating it after the grief returned is not a sign it’s not working. Grief comes in waves. It’s not a failure. That’s just how it works. Allow the sadness its space each time it comes. Allow and release. There is no limit to how many times you can do this exercise. It’s not finite. It’s limitless.

The third point I’d like to mention is that I always kept in mind that this sadness was temporary. No matter how strong the sadness was, I reminded myself it would pass, and it did each time.

The fourth point is that I reached out for help. I chatted long with my best friend. He’s a rock at times like these, and he listened to me without judgment. He offered virtual hugs, and he reminded me of my own strength.

The fifth point is that I used medication. I live with a mental illness, and I took the antianxiety medicine my psychiatrist gave me just for times like these. It worked to help me sleep well.

The final point is that I used professional tools. I saw my therapist twice in 3 days. The second time I saw him, I was assertive and told him that in his office I sometimes felt like he was suggesting some of the anger that was directed at me by my then boyfriend was my responsibility. We had a frank discussion about these feelings, and I was clear that any assertion his anger was my doing was false. My therapist agreed. What he was trying to direct me to was seeing that all encounters are a two-way street. I am responsible for being clear in my communication and being open to hearing clear words. I agree.

In closing, I’ve got to say that breaking up a romantic relationship is not fun. I went through about 3 days when I honestly did not know what day of the week it was. I had to repeatedly look at my phone to see, and even then it often did not register. My thinking was very disoriented.

Today, I know what day of the week it is. There is a sadness in the background, but I can recognize I’m healing.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I am stepping into it one step at a time. I have tickets to see a play this weekend. I bought two, and now I’m wondering whom to invite to go with me…

Walking Through It

Edit to add: We have talked. We have both acknowledged our mistakes, and we are moving forward. I am not blameless, and I took responsibility for my part.

***

I went away on a trip, and my boyfriend took care of some things at my house for me while I was gone. When I got home, I discovered he had not done a good job, and there are problems because of it. The damage done to some things at my home is not the issue. It’s the broken trust. I relied on him, and he let me down.

We have not had a chance to talk face to face about the issue, but we may be able to meet tonight.

The remarkable thing about this whole situation is that I feel okay. I have no idea what’s going to happen. In the past, not knowing would cause my anxiety to skyrocket.

At least for today, I’m okay not knowing. I’ve been using a lot of meditation. I’ve used anti-anxiety medicine twice in the last week, which is very little. My therapist is on vacation, so I have to wait to talk to him until next week. Instead, I’ve been chatting with a very good friend a lot, and he helps me. I’m using the tools to stay stable.

That’s a victory. Using tools to stay stable is a great triumph.

I live with a chronic mental illness, and I use tools to manage it. A number of years ago, it managed me. Now, it’s reversed.

I’m walking through the not knowing.

More About Dating and Bipolar Disorder

As mentioned a month ago, I’m dating. I didn’t plan it, but I mentioned my diagnosis the first time we met. He heard me, but he didn’t say anything. I think he realizes it has an affect, because I have to be careful with how involved I allow myself to get. I have to be conscious of how much time I’m giving him and how much I’m giving my recovery by keeping the routine that my stability is based on.

(Here’s a well-read post about dating and bipolar I wrote a number of years ago.)

So that I think is the key for me as a person with bipolar disorder when I date. My first priority has to be maintaining my stability. Without it, I’m not a good partner.

My partner has a part to play, too. He gives me the space I need to follow my routine. Encouragement from him means a great deal. Words that tell me he knows I’m working on myself are like gold.

I have certain things that are vital to my recovery: meditation, medication, therapy, exercise, and sleep. He can help me most not by monitoring those activities but by praising me for doing them.

I am devoting more energy to those activities these days. I’m going to therapy weekly, because this relationship is new, and it’s bringing up a lot of stuff that needs to be dealt with. My therapist is a disinterested third party and gives me honest, impartial feedback.

I’m taking my medication as prescribed. I have a problem with my feet, so I’m not exercising. My sleep is not good, so I’m going to make an appointment with a specialist.

Meditation is the most important thing I do without a doubt. I can sit and breathe and release energy that feels like it’s weighing me down. I can clear out so much in a short session. It’s not hard or complex. A friend asked me how to do it yesterday. I explained all you have to do is create a happy place in your mind where you can go and walk around and feel stuff in your body and then release the bad stuff. It’s that simple. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Walk through a door to a place that you create that’s happy for you. In that place, pay attention to your body, and release anything that is uncomfortable. That’s it.

My partner can help me the most by being open and by talking a lot about how he feels about what I’m doing. It doesn’t take much. As long as I know the lines of communication are open, I can walk through almost anything. Once I feel like I’m being dictated to or preached to or not being heard, I have a very different reaction.

Dating works when both parties work on it. I do my part by maintaining my recovery first and being attentive to him second. He does his part in a very similar fashion. He cares for himself and is then attentive to me.

Where to Next?

Today is Tuesday, October 10, 2017, and it is World Mental Health Day. I can’t write about mental health as it exists all over the world, but I can write about my experiences with challenging mental health.

Much of this year, I’ve been wondering about my story. I really can’t explain it. I recovered, and I don’t know why. I have a slight grasp on how, but why eludes me completely.

I like to sum up the how in just five little words:

  1. medication
  2. meditation
  3. therapy
  4. exercise
  5. sleep

I think WRAP has something to do with it too, but I’ve pretty much internalized that and rarely actually look at the written document. (You can search for WRAP on this blog in the tags on the right side of the screen of your computer. I’m not sure where the tags are, if you’re on a mobile device. There’s also a little place where you can enter search items. Just type in WRAP.)

But, why?

Why did I recover?

I work in mental health now. I talk on the phone to my peers as part of my job, and it’s quite eye-opening. I hear about the difficulties others are having with many different types of situations. Each caller is doing their best to overcome whatever may be happening that is disagreeable. Sometimes, reaching out to me is one of the ways they’re trying to overcome problems. Other times, they just want someone to listen. It’s usually very clear right from the very beginning what the caller wants from the conversation.

What’s unclear to me is myself. My own story baffles me. You can search the archives of this blog going back more than 7.5 years. I came through some dark times. When I remember those times, I’m amazed I made it through and got to where I am today.

I think I’m spending so much time thinking about the why, because it has something to do with healing. I want to share healing with my peers.

But that’s off. The healing is what happened. Does it matter why it happened, or is the how it happened more vital?

There’s one more point about how that may hold the key: one. I kept it to one step. I concentrated on just the one step I was taking. I never thought ahead to a second step. I thought only of the one. Then, I would take one more step. Then one more. It was always just one.

When I was bedridden with depression, I would do one nice thing for myself for one day. Some days that one nice thing was brushing my teeth. It was one little reminder that I was worth just that tiny bit of self-care. Some days, it was making one healthy thing to eat, or just eating one piece of healthy food like an apple.

Taking only one step. Doing one nice thing for myself. One.

Life is complex. When you add mental illness to it, it can be chaotic. There is so much to think about that it’s overwhelming. Concentrating on only one thing relieves the chaos.

One.

By concentrating on one step, I made many steps. I got from there to here. It took years. I had a lot of help along the way, but I was the one doing the walking. I was the one taking just one step. I want to share that with others.

And now I ask where to next?