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:

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.

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.




Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Finding Balance defines balance as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady or also defined as keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.

This makes me think.  How much balance have I had in my life?  Have I been able to remain upright and steady, in a position where I am not falling?  Sadly, the answer is no, no I have not had balance in my life.  It also makes me think about how hard it is to achieve balance.  The tight rope walkers make it look so easy… arms stretched out to either side creating a “plus” shape to the body… slow, carefully planned steps, placed on the rope and before you know it they have made their way successfully across the rope.

When you have mental illness, it can be challenging to find balance in your life.  With so much out of your control, how can you achieve balance?  I know that I have struggled for years to maintain balance.  As far back as I can remember, I was either up or down, running around like crazy, taking on far more than any human could possibly handle or dead on my feet and horizontal for days at a time.  There was no grace or fluidity, just ruggedness and inconsistency.

Recently, we have been working to tweak my treatment to relieve the symptoms that cause me to suffer.  This is not just changes to medication, but is comprehensive and includes sleep, diet, exercise, school, work and relationships.  As I make slight changes to one portion of my life, it directly affects another, and I feel like I am completely overwhelmed with all sorts of change at once, even if the changes are small and feel like I lack any balance at all.

In addition to having balance with mental health, there is the aspect of balance in life itself.  I have been pursuing my college degree for fifteen years at this point.  I have either been in school or dropping out of school because life was just too much.  Until recently there was never a good balance of maintaining a career with school.  Since relocating in 2009, I have been in a relationship with a man who has two children from his first marriage.  This was another area where I struggled to have balance.  How much do I give?  Where are the boundary lines?  How much time do we spent as a family and how much time do we spend as a couple?  Can I handle not being the number one priority and center of attention?

And then you mix it altogether:  Having a mental illness, being a college student, having a career, being a step mom and a spouse.  At this point everything gets a bit dicey.  If you pull too far in one direction, you neglect another, and this could cause astronomical consequences.

But, when I take a step back and use the wide-angle lens, I can see that the slight changes that I have been making are ultimately creating balance.  I have a job that provides me with flexibility, so I can get the help I need to keep my mental and physical health in check.  Although I have some stressful days, the stress is nothing compared to what I used to endure.  My job also allows me to see my kids every afternoon and spend excellent quality time with them.  The dynamic of my job enables me to be a part time student and work towards my degree, which has been a goal that I have had for 20 years.  The balance I have during the day, allows me to be the type of a spouse and mother that I want to be.  I also have the time to work on my studies and achieve adequate exercise to maintain a healthy body.

I am in a place where I still would like more balance in my life, but I am the most balanced I have ever been.  And for this, I have joy.  It’s taken many years, a ton of sacrifices and an enormous amount of loss, but I will force myself to focus on the positive, and the biggest positive is that I do have balance, and I am having success in my life as result of the balance that I have worked so hard to achieve.



Photo credit: Trapeze walker at Circus Girl University of Florida, March 1952. Photo from Life magazine

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

You are Worthy

11392815_10100231227237599_7983052867398520666_nYou are worthy.

You are intelligent.

You are strong.

You can accomplish all that you put your mind towards.

You can do this.

This too shall pass.


Oh affirmations, those lovey little bugs that are a pain to do, but my oh my they make a difference.


I first was exposed to affirmations when I was a child, and all through my childhood.  My mother was a Rockstar.  She would tell us repeatedly how beautiful we were, that we were intelligent, that we were worthy of God’s love and so forth.  I never knew how much those words would be needed until February 2016 arrived.

I suffered from a major mental breakdown the first quarter of 2016 and it rocked my world like there was no tomorrow.  And at several points I was not sure if there was going to be a tomorrow.  Through the breakdown, I was finally diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder 1 with a mixed episode after 15 or so years of being symptomatic and improperly treated.  I suffered immensely for five (5) months before succumbed to attending treatment.  Two months later, I learned a bit and met a few amazing people and finally started back at work.

It was in treatment that the importance of affirmations resurfaced.  And to be completely honest I thought that they were the most insane things I have ever been asked to do.  “You want me to look in the mirror and say what? Yeah that does not work for me!”  It wasn’t until I was forced to say affirmations to myself in front of my whole group that it slowly began to sink it.  Through tears I recited something to the effect of, “I am worthy” and that was one of the hardest things that I have ever done.

The next day I sat down with my teenagers and we all filled out cards with affirmations.  That night we each drew a card out of the box, read it out loud and each family member spoke back the affirmation to the person who drew the card.  I had the card that stated, “I am intelligent” and my family spoke back to me, “Yes Michelle, you are intelligent”.  My children loved this exercise and it became part of our routine for an extended amount of time.

I no longer think that affirmations are a waste of time and energy.  I think that they are incredible and have helped me through many a day.  Today I was telling myself that I can do this, I can persevere, I can tackle this hurdle of what feels like the starts of a depressive episode.  I thoroughly feel that a positive mindset is a great partner to have when co-existing with a mental illness.  At times, we need to be our own cheerleaders.  We need to root ourselves on, tell ourselves that we can do it, that we are worth it, and we make a difference.

In case you were not aware, you are awesome.  You are talented and have special talents that make you immensely important.  You have purpose.  You are an incredible gift.




Note: This blog was originally uploaded to the blog site:, however, it is original work by author bellasbabbles


Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Today is a New Day

IMG_1204Due to the mild winter that this region is having, I was able to go hiking again this morning.  Although I like to sleep in, I have been pushing myself to get up an hour earlier, so I can get out of the house and fit in some hiking before heading off to work.

Yesterday, I also went hiking, but the experience was very different from today.  Due to the mania, yesterday my brain was flooded with thoughts and my body burned with energy.  For portions of the hike, I ran, and I ran like someone was chasing me.  For those that don’t know me, I am no runner, not my thing, even if someone was chasing me, I would probably walk.  But I was brimming with so much fire, I felt like I had to do something to burn off the energy.  Although I was listening to music, I was thinking about all sorts of grandiose matters:  Shopping, painting, part time jobs, transitioning to being a full time student, increasing my hours at work, should I cut my hair, should I have bangs, what color should I dye my hair next…  It was relentless and was incredibly, incredibly distracting.

But today, well today was different.  There was not the feeling of hummingbirds welling up inside of me.  There was a calm in my body.  I was not shaking like a small dog.  I had some peace.  Mind you, I am a little hungover from an increase in the Vraylar, but it was not too terrible, just a bit tired, but not exhausted.  The morning was overcast with some amounts of rain sprinkles.  The cloud cover was ominous, a little scary and amazing.  Very few people were on the trail and I prefer this, I am not all about interacting with people while hiking.  It’s my alone time.  And today it was just that.  I was alone, on the hike, in my mind and in my body.  It was such a gift.  I thought about all the things that I was thankful for and how I was blessed.

I shared with my friend about my positives for today including that I evaluated my credits remaining and I will be able to graduate by May of 2019.  I have been in and out of college for nearing 16 years.  Starting and stopping so many times I lost count due to mental illness.  So, finally getting my Bachelors degree is kind of a huge deal to me.  After I shared, she said “that’s all?” and this made me go into thinking mode… after I got to the top of the mountain I was climbing, I had a list and I sent her a text with the following:

“I didn’t run out of gas on the way here.  I live in a place where the sun shines nearly every-day.  I have medication that can help bring me down off a manic high so I don’t have to suffer.  I have an incredible support group including family, friends, doctors and co-workers.  I am stubborn.  I have drive and perseverance.  I’m forever looking to improve myself for the better.”

When I was young, my mom shared the Bible verse Philippians 4:8 (NIV) that states: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

And this is what I do.  Everyday.  It is a new day.  A day that has provided me with clarity and peace, a little grogginess and just a tad bit of zombieness, but it’s a glorious day and I am blessed.