Finding the hidden positives

Often when we are asked to think of things that make us thankful, we think only about positive things.  “I am getting an A in algebra”, “I got a raise at work”, “the puppy did not pee on the carpet”, “that cat did not barf on the floor”.  But, we can be thankful for all things and that includes the not so positive things that have happened in our life.


My parents divorced when I was young, it was for the best.  It was hard to be the product of a divorced family and there are some horrible memories that I have as a result.  But, because I went through a divorce as a child, I am better able to understand what my kids are going through as they too are the product of a divorce.

When I look at my marriage I focus on if I had not been married and then divorced, I would not have learned how important it is to communicate.  In addition I would not have learned that you don’t always need to accommodate (be a doormat) when you are in a relationship.  And that it is important to not lose yourself when you are in a partnership.   I also learned how to ask for my needs to be met, with little to no guilt.

Chronic Physical Illness

I have had chronic pain since I was about 13.  But, I think it made me a stronger person.  Not sure I have ever gone more than a year without having body pain that was present all day.  It helps me to appreciate the days when there is no pain, or a decrease in pain.  I feel like I have greater empathy for others because I know what it is like to have pain and then still needing to persevere every day.

Mental Illness

I have had challenges with a balanced mental state since I was in my mid-teens.  I’ve met with numerous doctors and been on many medications.  I have been given a laundry list of diagnosis’ and I have suffered.  Throughout the last 17 years I have met so many people!  (People! People!)  My life has been made better by the people that I have met, they have touched my life and I believe I have made an impact on their life.  My struggles to maintain mental stability force me to take in each day because I do not know if tomorrow is going to be a “good” day.  I have learned the practice of mindfulness as a result and this has greatly improved my life.

Three major events that occurred in my life that were unfortunate and caused pain, emotionally and physically.  But, the way I look at it, is how they improved my life.  I have been made stronger due to the life that I have lived.  Each time I am thrown a curve ball, I keep my eye on the ball and I swing.  When we change our perspective, amazing changes can happen.  The Mayo Clinic states that “positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health…it is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits.”

I challenge you to look at your life and find the hidden positives.  Simple things like finding your favorite shampoo on sale or remembering to put the creamer away before leaving for work, these all count.  And then if you expand and think about the bigger aspects of your life and what positives are hidden there, this will transform your life.

May you be blessed and have peace during this time of Thanksgiving.

#blessings #positives #mentalillness #chronicillness #bipolar #chronicpain #anxiety #depression #thankful #thanksgiving


Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Unquiet Mind

gong-meditation_grandeThis weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Gong Meditation at my local yoga studio.  I had never been to such a class, but was intrigued by the summary that was included on the email that I received:

“In this 75-minute meditation we will use sound to regenerate the neurons & their interconnections, create deep relaxation, clear the mind reduce stress related issues such as: depression, fatigue, anger, hostility, fear and loneliness, stimulate the glandular system to a higher level of functioning, & strengthen the immune system.”


So, I thought, “clearing the mind from depression, fatigue, anger, hostility, fear and loneliness” all while I am laying on a mat listening to a gong, this def sounds like something I need to attend!  I am all about getting additional benefits from doing simple exercises.

Upon arriving at the class, it was packed… the room is on the smaller size and there was about 30 people squeezed into the room.  I felt like one of many sardines trying to fit into their assigned space in the little tin can.  I knew no one and I was unsure if I was supposed to talk to my neighbors or just be quiet.  I was alone and felt alone.  I thought everyone was staring at me.  I thought that the room was closing in on me.  I wanted to grab my phone and text my partner to let him know what it was like.  Like a lifeline to someone I knew because if I could reach out then I would feel less awkward.  But no, I did no such thing.  I sat there, and I started to participate in deep breathing.

Not long after this little panic attack the session started and yup, we did more deep breathing.  Being in a room where all the occupants were participating in deep breathing was an amazing experience.  It sounded like hundred of bees buzzing.  The room started to warm up just based on the presence of so many people.  I began to calm down.

After the breathing exercises, the main event started.  I laid on my mat and struggled to get comfortable.  I ended up laying half on my stomach with my right side of my face to the ground in a sort of fetal position.  And the gong started…

The instructor started speaking in a different language.  I was at first taken aback as earlier in the month when I was manic, I heard the instructors speak in a different language, but it was a hallucination and not actually happening.  But I was for sure that this time the instructor was speaking in another language and this go around it did not make me paranoid, but relaxed.

With the gong started, I was scared.  It was a loud, heavy sound.  I felt it pressing me down into the floor.  I felt fear and anxiety and I wanted to leave.  I was completely overwhelmed by what was happening.  But, the rules of this studio are once you enter, you remain in the room.  So, I laid there.  With my eyes closed I saw the colors of white and black vibrating before my eyelids and they were clashing into each other in rhythm with the sounds of the gong.  I thought I was tripping out on some major psychedelic drugs!

After a few minutes, my mind decided that it was going to go into overdrive.  I was thinking about what my family might be doing, what was I going to make for dinner, did I do all my homework, is anyone looking at me while I am laying in this weird position.  I kept telling my brain to focus, and focus, to go back to the radiating colors of white and black, feel the emotions, feel the sounds, let my body release.  But it was a tremendous struggle.  It did not help that there was a person snoring a few mats over and that was totally distracting me.  I was deciding whether I should refer them to my sleep doctor, so they can get assistance with their obstructed sleep issues and potential sleep apnea.

I laid there thinking about the mindfulness class that I am scheduled to take in May and how am I going to be able to release my mind, so I can learn the techniques that are part of the cirriculum.  I was thinking why does my brain constantly have to go, go, go?  I also reverted to the Gretchen Rubin book, Better than Before, that I am reading about habits and breaking of habits.  I was thinking about which habits I want to break and how am I going to go about it and most importantly when?

Before I knew it, the class was over.

It was quite an experience, one that I am still mentally processing.  I am not sure what physical changes I experienced since taking the class, although I am not sure I feel better, I know I do not feel worse.  I plan to take the class again when offered next.  I hope that I will be able to disconnect and go to an emptier space in my head (if there is one) the next time that I attend a class.




Photo Credit: https://gongs-unlimited.com/

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Uncategorized

The Perfect Figure: 36″-24″-36″

d53a6c9f34bfd6c200a31ff94e6d8100For many, many years, I have had it in my head of what I think I should look like.  And much of this can be summed up in a Victoria Secret model.  Flat stomach, edged with muscles, thin thighs, perky butt and very present, a voluptuous bosom.  And in addition to have the “perfect” measurements of 36-24-36…Totally practical right?  I mean there are a ton of everyday people walking around sporting this type of body, right?

With the help of Victoria Secret bras, I was able to pull this look off for several years, yet never fully satisfied.  Never having kids helped me maintain a trim figure and the whole slipping back into the whoas of Anorexia and Bulimia every few years also did the trick.  I maintained a lower weight for my frame and I was quite pleased about it.  I did not really have to exercise and when the scale started to inch up, I just cut down on my intake, exercised a wee bit and alas I’d drop the unwanted pounds that had crept on board.

Much changed when I had a hysterectomy in 2014.  That flat stomach now was a little round.  The weight I maintained for 10-15 years, was now 10 pounds heavier.  My hips were wider, bum was thicker and holy Jesus and Moses I surpassed a B cup and graduated into a C cup.  However, I was maintaining my weight, although a little bit heavier than I once was, so I was dealing with it.  No need to get all crazy and start becoming a gym rat or anything.  Just kept an eye on what I ate, do the occasional starvation and laxative abuse and the number would stay right where it should be.  Easy peasy!

In 2016 I ended up gaining a little bit more than 20 pounds as result of the mood stabilizer Saphris.  I was so incredibly depressed that I did not care about the weight gain.  I just wanted the emotional pain to stop and for the misery to leave me.  When the clouds parted, I was disgusted with my weight gain and miserable.  I had never been this weight in my life and much to my surprise I was now in the “overweight” category and I thought my world was ending.  Months later I came off that medication and I lost the weight that I had gained.  However, that bump in my abdomen was still present and this was just not acceptable.  I’ve never worked out so much in my life, only to see a reduction in inches, but that damn bubble was still there.

Presently, due to medication and hormones, I am nearly 10 pounds up and yet again, miserable.  Although thinner than I was in 2016, I am heavier than I was at the start of the year and the number on the scale just keeps increasing.  For a person who thinks Christina Hendricks is gorgeous, and I envy her, in my mind it is just not acceptable to look like her.  Why do I deem the perfect shape being that of a Victoria Secret model, a shape that a very small population possesses?  Why do I have to choose between mental stability and weight stability?  Why is how my clothes fit more important than how my brain functions?  Why is the number on the scale the thing that determines my worth?

It was suggested that I take every Victoria Secret model picture that I have in my home, or that of a person that fits that shape, and put it in a box and burn it.  It was also suggested that I take a Barbie doll and add her to the mix, as she is also an example of unrealistic expectations when it comes to shape and size.  I have yet to do this, as I think it is a bit funky, but I did look in the mirror today and I told myself that my shape was gorgeous.  That I was perfect just that way that I am.  I was recently told that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I behold you to be beautiful” and this is from a man whom has never lied to me, therefore I should believe every word that he tells me.

This is a start on a very long and treacherous path of self and body acceptance, but it’s about time that I conquer this thing, before I self-destruct.

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Self-care Sundays

sleepy sundaySunday morning was spent baking up a storm, gluten free cakes, of course.  In previous years I have been known to make castle of cakes and have even completed wedding cakes for a few brides.  But, when the mental break down of 2016 stormed through, the creativity that used to swell within me, dried up faster than droplets of water during the summer in the desert.  The lack of creativity forced me to abandon cake making.  I sold more than half of my supplies and said that there would be no more cake making for Michelle.

Often in my life, I excel at something, but when hardship comes along, I drop it like a hot potato.  In school, I was a flutist, entered into competitions and achieved awards for my perofrmance.  But when the eating disorder blew through, I lost my edge and turned my back on playing.  Following the music, I started working with the high school newspaper and achieved the status of Editor in Chief.  As editor in chief, I won the opportunity to meet Colin Powell as part of a county wide writing competition.  But when college came around and I got involved in a relationship, there went writing and the dreams of being a journalist.  Next was teaching.  It was something that I wanted to do for years, but when He said it didn’t make enough money, I turned my back on that as well and went the business route.  I thrived in the business world and really came into my own, but when 2016 marched in like a lion, my ambitions of having a corner office with a view and an upper management position, leapt away like a little lamb.

Over the last year, I have maintained longer stretches of stability, or the sweet spot as we like to call it.  When I have finally been able to get on the right medication regime, things started to come back.  My fashion sense finally returned, and oh boy did I miss it.  Crafting returned and although it hurts the good ole bank account, I get such enjoyment out of creating and adorning our home with handmade embellishments.  As gifts started to return, I started to feel more courageous and wanted to try my hand at baking.  I figured I would start slow and just do cupcakes, but then if all goes well, I would venture out and take on more challenging assignments and maybe even some cakes.

Today was a day of baking and decorating.  As the cakes were just for practice I dove right into the decorating and worked on my piping as well as experimenting with colors and adornments for the cakes.  With an order for next weekend (gender reveal cake) I wanted to practice piping rosettes, so I have increased confidence in my ability and when I deliver the cake, I can be proud of what I am selling.

After all the baking, I was exhausted, which was nice, because yesterday I was experiencing manic symptoms and was incapable of sitting still.  So today, when I snuck in an almost two-hour nap, I knew that I was back in a better place.  Listening to a book on tape (Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica) I snuggled under my favorite throw and stared at my companion, the twenty-pound feline, Hunter Mahoney, until I fell asleep.

Today was a day full of self-care.  Spending time creating, getting lost in a book, snoozing for a few hours and finishing up some household chores.  I feel well rested and ready to take on the new week.  I feel like I have balance, although a little on the high side, I am not too far from a nice even keel.  Oh, how I love sleepy Sundays.

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Living for the Weekend

lazy weekendsThere is something about the weekends that cause me to fantasize about Saturday and Sunday starting as early as Monday morning.  And that makes me wonder what is it about the weekends that makes them so incredibly desirable.  Is it that, for the most part, that we can sleep in?  That we don’t have to report to our jobs?  That we are free to do what it is that we want to do?

Over the two days that comprise the weekend is when I can complete the most amount of self-care.  Sleeping in is one of my favorite things to do.  I am all nice and snuggly on my super soft bed with my warm comforter and throw blanket and usually a large 20-pound feline lying next to me.  To know that I don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time makes me feel free.

The ability to have an incredibly lengthy morning wake up process, lounging in my pajamas for hours that at times surpass the morning hours, is heavenly.  We typically have larger breakfasts on the weekends.  I’ve lost count the times I have woken up to the smell of banana pancakes and bacon on any given Saturday and Sunday morning.

The fact that on most weekends, I get to see all my family.  During the week, we all have varying schedules and different report times, and me being the sleepy head that I am, there are mornings when I am not able to see both of my children, and even my spouse in the morning.  But on the weekends, that is not the case.  I not only get to see them, but I get to be lazy with them.

Several times a month, the weekend includes a lengthy hike.  What makes the hike even more enjoyable is that we don’t have any where that we need to be.  There is no rush, no hustle and bustle, there is just being in the place that we are, doing what it is that we so desire to do.

Crafting in the form of painting, making wreaths or baking and decorating cakes have been something that has taken up several hours on a given weekend day.  Having my creativeness back alive within my body has been such a pleasant gift.  I get lost in what I am doing and can forget all that usually fills my head, there is not stress, no worries, just pure enjoyment in creating something out of nothing.

The weekends for me are blank canvases.  I can do what it is that I please, when I feel the need, for as long as I so desire.  And those are the reasons that I long for the weekend.  To be unrestrained from the stress, hustle and bustle and constant movement that’s present Monday through Friday, is such a welcome change to the pace that I have become accustomed to.

Now to get back to the cakes that are baking in the oven and the icing that is waiting to be made… Happy Sunday!

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Spring Break: Girls Gone Wild

spring break photoOver the last week my college was on recess for Spring Break.  The timing could not be more perfect, as my co-worker took a week of vacation and I was tasked for filling in and completing their job responsibilities during their absence.  It was a much busier week than I am used to, but obviously I survived.

Throughout the last week, my work load doubled, or maybe even tripled, and I still had doctor appointments, off site meetings and family obligations.  There was a bit of back and forth, an immense amount of driving, and numerous deadlines (some of which I totally forgot about).  To say it was a stressful week, would be an understatement.  I made mistakes and had to confront my fear of failure head on, each and every day.

On top of the chaos that was in place, I made the decision to monkey with my medication.  I had been consistently gaining weight over the last few months, and this week of all weeks I decided I had had enough and was going to do something about it.  I did not stop my medication, but decreased the dosage to what I was on back in January.  I was determined to lose the weight I had gained as my clothes were starting to fit snuggly and I was having no part of that.  I knew that messing with my medication was not smart.  I even told my spouse that I knew that I should not make any changes until I spoke with my Psychiatrist, but none the less, my repulsion related to the weight gain was so strong, that it overpowered my thinking.

Almost a week into my cutting my doses in half, I woke this morning and was determined to complete the household chores.  Now let me tell you that I am in no way a Cinderella, waking to the sounds of blue birds singing and immediately starting in on chores.  I am the person that takes an hour to become human, only after consuming two cups of coffee.  But that was not the case this morning.  Within two hours of being awake, the laundry was started, kitchen was cleaned, a month’s worth of clean clothes were put away and the bathroom was tidied.  I stood in the center of my kitchen wondering what else that I could get into.  I wanted to bake a cake, but I was out of eggs.    My spouse asked me what I wanted to do, and I just stared at him.  There was so much running through my head and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.

I chose to confess my sins knowing that I was going to get “that” look and I was going to be asked why I made the choices that I had and I would have to give my lame reason.  I would admit that I was jittery and was in the mood to hike and run in circles, anything but sit still.

One should not alter their medication without the direction of their physician.  It’s not smart and there are consequences for such actions.  I pay good money to work with my doctor and my making changes willy nilly thwarts the progress that I have made.  When will I be able to succumb to this monster demon called body image acceptance?  Why can’t I have my proverbial cake and eat it too, a weight I deem acceptable and mental stability?

I see my doctor on Tuesday and I will be honest about what choices I have made and I will deal with the consequences.  Managing mental health is a journey and there will be ups and there will be downs.  I am on board for the ride, just struggling to keep my hands and feet inside the car at all times.

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Grandma’s Table

the tableIt’s a very basic, oak, round table that comfortably seats four people, but when extended can seat up to eight.  There are panels that hold up the sides of the table where two people will always hit their knees.  And when the family sits down together for a steak dinner and starts to cut their meat, the whole table shakes.  Most times, the table adorns a hand embroidered table cloth.  While at others, the table is bare and you can see the water rings from cups that the cats knocked over and heat markings from when I left a hot casserole dish on the table without a hot mitt.  I am certain that there is some yellow and black paint on the table from an afternoon of painting shared with friends.

This table was my Grandma Julia’s dining room table.  Part of an elaborate dining room suite set that she purchased many, many years ago.  I spent many nights having dinner at this table when I was a child, and more time having yogurt and shortbread cookies while playing Chinese checkers with my cousins.

I acquired this table when I moved into my grandparent’s condo after I chose to leave an abusive marriage.  I did not have much, so the table was a real blessing.  While living back east, following church on Sunday’s, I would have my family over to my place and we would have a large brunch and circle our hands around the table listening to my brother pray the most entertaining prayers that I have ever heard in my life.

Now, the dining room table fills the center of the dining room and is used nightly for family dinner.  I cannot begin to describe what it feels like to have dinner with my family at the same table that I used to have dinner with my parents and my grandparents.  So much history, so much love and so much joy.  And did I forget to mention, so very many delicious meals!

My grandma died while I was being treated for anorexia.  I never was able to say goodbye to her and that is hard to deal with.  But, I feel like she is still alive within me because I have several of her most treasured belongings, one of those including the dining room table.

My grandmother treasured her family.  Her house was the place we all gathered nearly every weekend.  Every time I decorate the table all fancy, I stare at it and think “Grandma is looking down and she is happy to see that her table is being used in the same way it had been used in years prior.”  And the times I sit down with either my family or my friends and we paint, I know that again she is smiling as she was an artist herself.

I miss her.  I will continue to fight every day to conquer the demons that try and grasp their hold within my life.  I will live a life that I feel she would be proud of.  And I will show her everyday that I am not succumbing.  I will press on, move past, and honor her legacy.


Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Where I’m Supposed to Be

field-meadow-flower-pink.jpgToday I was driving into work and there was a very bad four car pile up.  I selfishly was thinking, “wow, I am happy that I am safe.  Good thing I decided to change up my hair for the fourth time this am causing me to leave the house late as that saved me from being in that accident.”…  In the same light, when I am stuck in a line at the grocery store, it crosses through my mind that I am being protected from a horrible accident due to being held up in line.  The reality is that the person in front of me has bought 25 cans of cat food for her 8 cats, but none the less, that cat lady kept me safe from something horrible.  So, I think, everything happens for a reason.

I was on the phone with one of my friends after yet another trying day.  It had been a while since we spoke and we were catching up.  She too is a step mom and has a blossoming career, and between that and the fact we live on opposite sides of the country means we don’t chat as much as we have in the past.  At the end of the call, we settled on talking about our families, like we always do.  We both shared the same acknowledgement that we are where we are supposed to be.

See, neither one of us has ever conceived a child.  Just was not in the cards for us, I suppose.  But, we both have teenage step children who we consider to be our kids.  We were sharing about how we both have made decisions in our lives and it brought us to where we are now.  That we have been through some shit and we were brought to exactly where we need to be.  We love being step moms, the kids and their fathers.

After a horrid divorce, following an abusive marriage, I packed up my belongings, my cat, and I drove across the country.  I did not do this on a total whim, I was given an opportunity to transfer to our Southwest office and keep the job that I loved.  It all made sense.  But, I did leave all that I knew, my family and my friends, to go on an adventure.

Within a few months, I was in a committed relationship with the man that I now consider to be my soulmate and I met the children that would, in time, be one of the main reasons I make it through every day of my life.  This was all unexpected and not part of the plan I put together.  I ended up being where I was supposed to be exactly when I was supposed to be there.

Life was nothing close to candy coated living in my new landscape.  Numerous health conditions weaseled their way into my life and wrecked havoc.  I went through the worst of what life had to offer for me.  I was forced to be stronger than I had ever been because that’s what life was requiring from me at the time.

All of the trials and tribulations, from all the years ago, up until today, have brought me to who I am and where I am today.  I am not living the life that I thought I would be living.  I thought that I would have a corner office with a view, and travel on business every week, own nothing but pencil skirts and stiletto heels, but that is not what was intended for me.

I have a family.  I am a mom (something I was certain would never happen for me).  I am loved for me, the all over the place, chronically ill, mentally unstable, filled with anxiety, caring, loving, sensitive, me.

We are all on journeys.  Every day brings us closer to where we are supposed to be.  Each time something happens, it happens for a reason.  In the end, we are living exactly what we are supposed to and it’s up to us to take a moment and look at what our journey has taught us, how it has made us a stronger person and how if we just keep taking one small step at a time, we do get to where we are supposed to be, even if it is not exactly what we thought it would be or where we thought we would end up.

Press on.  Embrace what you have.  Love yourself.  Accept the past.  Live in the present.  Look forward to the future.