Just Sigh

I did something daring for myself last night. I went out. I went to a popular gay bar. I struck up a conversation with a young lady visiting from out of state. She was in town to visit a friend. I sat and watched the crowd.

There was a two-person band playing. They were fun and energetic. I got up and danced once by myself. I was invisible. Nobody looked at me. Nobody joined me. I danced the whole song.

This morning, I couldn’t meditate for the first time in four years. I think I’m angry at the Universe, but I can’t feel the anger. That’s not unusual for me.

It took courage to go out alone. It took courage to dance alone.

I went to a LGBT meditation group this week, and part of the time we shared in small groups about how we love ourselves. I shared that I loved my courage. I really do have a lot of it. I live with enormous amounts of fear, but I still get up and keep going. I don’t quit. I love my courage.

This morning I feel damaged, but I know this is just a feeling. It will pass. I have things to do today. I will do them, and I will enjoy myself. I will bravely walk through the feelings that I have right now, and I will be in good spirits.

A Really Hard Time

I’ve been experiencing a really hard time for the past few weeks.

As regular readers know, there are many changes at work. One of the decisions of the new leadership was to move forward with a training that has been delayed for 2 years. I run this training and am excited to do it, but it means I have to rush some preparations. Some of the preparations are important.

I’m doing this one-week training on top of conducting another one-week training 2 weeks before.

I’m busy. I’m very busy.

In the middle of all this busy-ness, the bosses decided we had to move cubicles within the office taking a day away from preparation.

This sent me over the edge, and I began to experience symptoms of extreme negative self-talk. The result was that I had to take days off work due to the stress losing more valuable preparation time.

In all this I have discovered a new tool that works great! When I get an extreme reaction, I feel exactly where it is in my body. I picture its shape and color. I really get into feeling it. I then ask it what it wants me to know and what it needs from me. Every single time, it needs my attention in some way. I then give it that attention. I go further by thanking it for being brave for holding that important feeling. This always has a way of calming the whole feeling. This new tool really works!

I have no idea if the trainings are going to go well, but I’m going to show up and do my best.

Busy

Work is changing a great deal. There has been a change of management and a restructuring of the organization. Not only did my boss change, but my place in the structure was rearranged. The new big boss is proving to be good. She’s very vocal about praise for what we’re doing.

One of the things we’re doing is trying to pull off a training that I’m supposed to run in less than a month. This is a process that we would put six months into in the past because of needing various approvals. Doing it in a month is exciting and stressful. I’m excited to do the training, but all the planning is overwhelming. Thankfully, the new bosses understand this can’t be done alone. A team is working on it. That helps my peace of mind a great deal.

I’ve been in this job for almost four years. I basically worked alone for three and a half years. This new team environment is welcomed. I like the idea that there are people helping me to get projects moving.

All this is affecting my sleep, one of the pillars of my recovery. I’m taking some medicine to give me good nights, but it’s less than ideal. It’s not a sleep medicine. It’s simply one that has a side effect of causing sleepiness. I need good sleep, and it really upsets me when I don’t get it.

I have been doubling up on my meditation. I used to meditate only in the mornings, but I’ve added a time late in the afternoon or evening before bed. This helps me feel better. It keeps my mind clear.

I’ve also been seeing my therapist weekly. These sessions give me the opportunity to say a lot of stuff out loud that I keep within. All that keeps my mind clear, too.

My diet is unchanged. It’s mostly vegetarian with very little refined sugar. My birthday was last week, and the man I’m dating baked a cake, but he only put in half the sugar. It was still just as good.

The one area I’ve really slacked off on is exercise. I’ve basically quit. It’s not ideal, but there’s so much stuff going on in my life right now, and I’m not even going to think about it. Things will settle down in a few months, and I’ll restart my speed walking routine. I refuse to berate myself for this one point.

All in all, I suppose things are pretty good right now.

Struggling with Meditation

This morning was the first meditation session that felt good in many weeks. I’ve been struggling to concentrate. I mentioned in a recent post that I’ve had to revert to visiting My Happy Place. It’s a way of walking toward a place of peaceful concentration. I only had to do the initial stages of that process this morning before I was able to sit and breathe and just concentrate on my breath. It felt so good.

Also, my meditations have been very brief lately, but this morning was back to a good length. It’s not great, but it was better.

Regular readers know that there are a lot of changes happening at work, in April I broke up with the man I was dating, and I’m trying to establish a new relationship with another man. All this happened at the change of seasons which is a time when bipolar disorder can destabilize. It happened to me. I was able to take some time off work and then ease back into the routine, but it was not fun.

Taking time off work for illness including mental illness is not the same as a vacation. When you’re sick, all your energy goes into managing the illness and getting well. There’s no time to relax.

I’ve got lots to do at work, and I need some guidance with how to proceed. I’m hoping for the best.

Alternative realities

Things at work are improving, but they are still shaky. Things with the man I’m hoping to be seriously dating are moving along.

Because these things are still developing, I don’t feel settled. The result is that my mind plays games. This morning, I’ve been having strong fantasies of an alternative reality to what I’m living. Thoughts about turning back time and making different choices are really strong. Really really strong.

I have found myself ruminating on the choice I made almost four years ago to accept the job I have and leave disability behind. These thoughts are very strong.

I know that what I have now is better than the life I had while I was on disability. The uncertainty I live with now would have only been replaced with a different uncertainty had I stayed in that life. The programs I was reliant on could have been changed easily by the government.

Working is good for my recovery. It gives me so much good self-esteem and increases my feelings of self-worth. The bureaucratic challenges I face in my job cause me stress, and I handle it with meditation and exercise. I’ve gained so much more inner strength by working. I often tell my story as part of the work that I do, and just telling my story reminds me each time of how far I’ve come.

I moved to a different city when I started working, and I’ve made many new friends. They are good people, and I’m glad to know them. Obviously, I would have never met them had I stayed in my old life. I wouldn’t be on the cusp of what I hope is a long-lasting relationship.

I’ve got a few things beginning at work with the potential to make things run very smoothly. I’m positive that once things move more easily, the flashes of fantasies of my old life will disappear.

Writing about this helps. I feel better.

Returning to My Happy Place

A very long time ago, I wrote about My Happy Place on this blog. It’s a safe place I go to in meditation. It has changed a great deal over the years I’ve been going there, but the constant is that it’s safe.

Meditation is an important part of my recovery, and I’d got to a place where I was just sitting and breathing, but for some reason in the past few weeks, I’ve needed the structure of returning to My Happy Place. I’ve needed the steps in how I get to this place. I’ve needed the process. It’s a journey, and I’ve needed that to feel better.

I start by closing my eyes and breathing. I walk to a door in my mind and open it. This is the entrance to My Happy Place. There is a simple rule about this place. It has to be pleasant. I opened the door one day when I was feeling a lot of turmoil, and it was blustery in My Happy Place. I refused to accept this, snapped my fingers, and changed it to pleasantness. The sun shone, there was a cool breeze, and birds were singing.

I walk across grass to a fountain of light. There is a cup by the fountain I can fill and drink the light. It gives me energy. Next I walk across a bridge, up a slope, and enter a building of light. Inside the building, I can pray, sing, or dance. It’s a free space I can use to do anything I want. Sometimes I leave this space and walk into a dark room where I just sit and breathe in meditation.

The important thing here is that I made this space. It is completely from my imagination. It’s what I want and need. The idea is to create a place where I can be completely safe. Anyone can create A Happy Place.

For reasons that I need to figure out with my therapist, I’ve returned to using My Happy Place. I suppose I will get back to simply sitting and breathing, but for now I’m really enjoying how good it feels to be back in a place that’s so comforting.

There’s hope!

I haven’t been friend-zoned after all! Hooray for me! The man I thought who’d friend-zoned me has been over to my place twice since I wrote that, and we’ve had a good time both evenings. We have good conversations in person and on the phone. I’m very hopeful that this will develop into something romantic.

There’s more reason to hope on the recovery front. This past weekend, I received a message from an old friend thanking me for my candid posts on this blog and on Facebook about my recovery from both mental illness and alcoholism. He told me he has just passed two years alcohol-free, and he said my posts helped. It does me so much good to hear that.

I’ve had several notes from readers here also thanking me, and those kinds of words are so valuable to me. It really makes a difference to me to hear that my experience resonates with others.

I am full of so much gratitude for the people who take the time to read this blog. I am full of so much gratitude for my recovery. I have so much good support. I have a good psychiatrist, an excellent psychologist, a wonderful best friend, and amazing friends. I’ve had really good teachers along the way who have helped me develop the good tools (medication, meditation, therapy, exercise, sleep, and diet) I use to keep myself stable.

I started this blog nine years ago. I’ve come a long way, and I’m so grateful.