Plot Twist

I started writing this blog 8 years ago. I’ve been through a lot in that time.

I experienced dire pain that I thought would never end. I walked through it.

I lived with the dawning of hope, and I walked through the pain until I got past the dawn to the reality of the hope itself.

I found deep healing.

I am at a turning point that I could not imagine even a few short years ago. As I announced on March 12, 2018, I am dating a man. It has been very exciting. We have had two arguments. We talked each one through to resolution. I have forced myself to walk through the maelstrom of emotions all this new energy has brought up in me.

I’ve been going to my therapist weekly, but I’m back on a normal schedule of every other week. He’s kept me clear.

I do extra grounding visualizations in my morning meditations now. Staying rooted to the ground I walk on keeps me steady.

I’ve started exercising again, and it feels wonderful. I’m back to speed walking 2.5 miles every day. I want to be in top form because it means I’m closer to him.

And I’m at a turning point. It started when I realized I was nervous about the relationship. It has become important, and I don’t want to lose it. I wasn’t able to see him for 4 days, and it seemed like an eternity, and I ached. I think of him, and I get this feeling in my chest right around my heart.

I’m in love.

It’s the most incredible thing in the world. I want to share it, and I want to hide it. I want to tell everyone, and I want to whisper it to just a select few after they promise not to tell another soul. I want to cry. I want to run.

I’m exuberant.

I’m terrified.

Life has many questions, and none of the scare me at all.

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Nineteen Years

Today, I celebrate nineteen years of sobriety. A friend reminded me that’s a long time. At first I thought about the fact that it’s only a string of single days all put together, but you know what? It is indeed a long time, and it’s a big deal.

It’s easy to live through the single successive days and lose sight of the larger picture. In that string of single days, I’ve built up a lot of really good stuff. A lot has happened that was truly good. There was some bad, too. I remember the bad, but today, I feel the good more.

The best is that I healed. I drank because I was broken. Sobriety helped me know how important it was to reach out and get the help I needed to heal. I did that, and it worked. Read some of the past posts on this blog to understand how I’ve used therapy, medication, meditation, exercise, and sleep in my recovery from mental illness and substance abuse.

And today I celebrate nineteen years! Hooray!

Release One Thing

I was reminded this morning during my meditation that I have a lot of energy swirling around me. There’s a lot happening in my life, and it’s bringing up a lot of past energy. I released a lot. I can only say that it feels really good.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. Sit and breathe in and out a few times. Try to feel wherever you may have discomfort. Imagine it as a solid object. What shape is it? Does it have a color? Is it hot or cold? How heavy is it? Now, very gently, pull it out and release it to the Universe. If it’s heavy, ask an angel to help you pull it out. Fill the space it leaves with light.

Do it with just one thing for now. Do it lovingly, gently.

Release one thing at a time. Releasing a lifetime of pent up energy will take time. Start with one.

Telling My Story

This afternoon, I get to go to the state psychiatric hospital and tell my story to a group of nurses. I’ve done this before, and I’m looking forward to it. The nurses there are always very receptive. One of my sisters is a psychiatric nurse, so I have a special love for them.

Each time I tell my story, I’m reminded where I’ve been and where I am now. It was a long road, but I’m glad it happened. Now, I get to share recovery.

I get to share what happened to me. AA taught me and mental health recovery teaches me that my story is the most valuable resource I have. Sharing my story helps others living with mental illness that recovery is possible.

There’s a whole class taught in our Certified Peer Specialist training about igniting the spark of hope. We do it by guiding a peer through their own realization of having a goal, and we use our stories as part of the guide.

The most exciting thing about it is that no goal is too small or too big. All goals have value. All of them.

I have a goal for today: to share my hope with the nurses.

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.

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.

Using Tools

For about the past 4 or 5 days, I was feeling really good. I was having to concentrate hard on staying “in the now,” but it was working. I could meditate and concentrate on walking through my day until I would have another chance to meditate and refresh. At that next meditation, I could do the same thing.

Yesterday, I woke up agitated. I was not in the mood to allow life to flow. I wanted answers to my questions. I wanted to know the outcomes of present situations. I wanted. I needed.

I was not in a good mind space.

My strength is that I recognized it. I knew I needed help, so I reached out for it. I called my therapist, and he happened to have an opening. I jumped on it. I saw him late in the afternoon after work, and I was able to talk about what was going on.

There are a lot of changes happening in my life. I’m dating as I’ve written about here, and it’s the first time I’ve been dating in an extremely long time. There’s lots of new energy surging through my life. All this affects my equilibrium, and I know how important it is for me to stay on an even keel.

I am so grateful for the tools I have as part of my recovery. Yesterday, I recognized I was off balance, and I used a tool to help me regain it. It worked. I left the psychologist’s office much calmer.

My life is changing. Normally, that’s scary. Right now, I’m walking through it.