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.

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Sleep Cures

I firmly believe that good sleep is one of the keys to my recovery. It’s the only time I’m completely shut down, so it’s vital that I get good sleep.

Two nights ago, the neighbor’s baby, who is the most adorable little girl, woke up at 1AM and woke me up, too. I could not get back to sleep. I got up and did my normal routine including meditation. I was functioning on a low level, but I was functioning.

I worked. I used my break times to walk to the cathedral and meditate there, refreshing myself during the day.

Last night, I crashed at 6:30 right after I ate dinner. I had to apologize to the man I’m dating that he couldn’t come by for a visit, but he was supportive and told me to get good sleep.

I slept really well and woke up in the wee hours. I got up and had a cuppa, and then I had a really good meditation. It felt so good. I wrote a good entry in my journal about it, and then I went back to bed. I read just a few paragraphs in a simple book I’m reading (by Anthony Trollope, mindless Victorian lit), and I went back to sleep and got 1.5 more hours of solid sleep. It was wonderful!

I’m at work now doing work things. Work. Work. Work.

I feel so much better than the past two days. During those days, I kept telling myself that the yuckiness would pass, and it did indeed pass.

Recovery works.

Walk through it.

Walking Through It

I’m concentrating very hard on walking through one day at a time. Sometimes, it’s one step at a time.

I had an excellent meditation early this morning. I lost some of the peace when I went through some morning events. I was able to walk down to the cathedral during a short morning break. A quick meditation there brought back the calm.

Dating has turned my routines topsy turvy. I’m not reading on the bus in the morning. I’m texting him. It’s delightful, but routine helps aid stability in people with bipolar disorder. So I’m learning to live with the disruption. I’m trying to feel my way through the new energies that lack the old routines. It requires a lot of maneuvering to get through these energies.

The dance of my life has been staid for a very long time. I’m learning new dance moves, and this requires a lot of allowing. I have to allow newness to enter. I have to allow new people to come into my space. I had a very predictable set of daily habits that are bending and warping to the newnesses.

For the past week, I’ve been meditating on walking through it. I start each meditation with the intention of finding the energy to just walk. I’m walking through the new one step at a time. Just walking. Just one step. Each step does not carry the thought of the subsequent steps. Just one. Just this one. This single step.

I can breathe through this newness one step at a time. I don’t have to think about future breaths. Just this one breath. Just this one.

I’m Dating

Yes, you read that right. I’m dating. It happened quickly. I’m elated at times. Other times, I’m shaking.

The man is wonderful. We met for coffee one Saturday morning after chatting on a dating app for several days. I didn’t plan it this way, but my diagnosis came out during that first meeting, and he didn’t run screaming from the room.

He’s actually very supportive. For a week, we texted often, and we saw each other in the evenings a few times. It all got quite overwhelming for me. I was having a lot of trouble concentrating, and I had to leave work early one day because I was simply not able to function. Luckily, I was able to see my therapist that day. The result has been that we’re being more careful about texting, and I’m doing more grounding exercises during my morning meditations.

The grounding exercises are key. They give me a stable foundation to each day. In my meditations, I’ve been concentrating on staying stable just one day at a time. I’m trying not to think past today.

I’ve been enjoying myself a lot. It’s been a lot of fun honestly. I’ve been alone for a very long time, so this all feels so new. I’m just walking through it one step at a time. I just keep walking.

Moods

I had disembodied anxiety this morning. I couldn’t put my finger on where it was coming from.

I found myself using ineffective coping mechanisms to try to lessen the anxiety.

During my morning break at work, I went to a nearby cathedral where I sat for a short meditation. In that state, I realized this is the energy of a new kind of dating life that I’m wanting to experience. There are a lot of unknowns around my dating life at the moment, and my body was reading this ambiguity as anxiety.

I now recognize the energy as the creation of this new dating life. The energy is still there, but it doesn’t feel like anxiety any more. It’s just a kind of rustling in my stomach. It’s a little pleasant actually.

All of us have moods. We have to realize they’re not permanent.

Spirituality and My Recovery

I often talk about meditation on this blog. It is one of the five pillars of my recovery.

What I have not talked about yet is spirituality. Meditation, after all, is a spiritual practice.

I get an enormous amount of good from my daily meditation. It has enabled me to develop a calm center that I can return to when my world is chaotic. (For my most recent post about mediation, click here.)

It’s easy for me to have faith that there is something more to my existence than the things I can see with my eyes. I grew up in a church and continued going for a long time. The idea of faith in a spiritual realm is not foreign to me.

My beliefs have altered greatly over my life. I no longer go to church, but I feel closer to something I call Spirit than I ever have. I get that from meditation. I have many friends in recovery from mental illness, and many of them tell me that spirituality is important to them.

Spirituality is a very personal part of each individual’s recovery. We each get to decide for ourselves what we want to include in our recovery. I find that meditation is very helpful. If you want to know more about my meditative practice, search “meditation” on the blog.

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?