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

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.

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


anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Side Effect: Weight Gain


It’s been a week since we made further changes to my medication.  Increased the Vraylar (mood stabilizer) and stopped the use of the Wellbutrin (anti-depressant).  I am neither manic nor depressed, so I suppose I am in the sweet spot.  I feel a bit subdued though, not as happy as I had been in the weeks prior to today, but also not as mellow as I was three weeks ago when I was dealing with the depression.  This could be a happy medium, although, I would like to have just a little bit more sunshine in me, to be honest, but beggars cannot be choosers.

Speaking of beggars, one thing that has increased is my weight.  And this is always a very touchy topic for me.  Struggling off and on with Anorexia for the past 18 years leaves the subject of weight gain to be a big taboo topic.  I know that in time, as we age, most people gain weight.  I also know that different medications affect a person’s weight in diverse ways.  I know that I am not defined by what I weigh or what I look like.  I also know that my mental health is far more important than the number on the scale and what size clothes I wear on my body.

With all that being said, I am still struggling.  Over the last month, I have gained five pounds.  Which is not THAT bad, but considering that I have been much heavier in the last year, a gain of five pounds hits my fear center and I start to fret over whether I am going to gain back all the weight I lost previously.  And this scares the crap out of me.  I was finally getting used to my body, embracing where I had some curves and accepting the number that smiled back at me from the scale.

I tell my brain that I am fine, that I am beautifully, wonderfully and fearfully made.  That an extra five pounds will not be the end of the world.  I do believe that underneath the surface, is the issue that this weight gain is not within my control.  That this weight gain happened as a result of medication that I don’t want to take for a disorder that I don’t want to have.  All things that are not within my control.  And let me tell you, I like to be in control.  I like to know what is going to happen and when and by whom.  And when I don’t, I get super agitated.  So, having a mental illness that is defined by the variance between poles, makes being a person who likes to be in control, a touchy subject.

I go back to what I have learned from years and years of therapy: control what’s within your control.  I think on what IS within my control?

  • The way I mentally handle this weight gain.
  • How much I exercise and what I put in my body.
  • Ensuring I get adequate sleep
  • Resisting the temptation to weigh myself daily

There’s several things that I CAN do in this situation.  By changing my mindset and focusing on what I do have, instead of what I don’t have, this whole situation takes a different path.

  • Focus on how my mental health has improved since making this medication change
  • I have a healthy immune system and have not fallen ill despite all the various sicknesses that have been plaguing the masses
  • I am a role model to my daughter and want her to be body confident and have a positive body image, and she can learn this by me leading by example

I have always hoped that one day I would not be so incredibly critical of what I look like and how much I weigh.  As I have gotten older, I am doing a better job, but I still have room for improvement.  However, I will give myself credit for being rational and not stopping my medication due to the weight gain, and instead of turning back to a deadly eating disorder, I am responding with a rational mind.





Photo Credit:

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.

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Zero to Sixty

IMG_1182After removing Wellbutrin from my cocktail of medications due to the debilitating anxiety I was suffering with, about a week in, I started to feel the throws of depression starting to suck me under.  It was a little bit more than gradual, a little sluggish, then harder to concentrate, and then it took everything in me to do the littlest tasks.  I reached out for help as soon as I realized this was more than just a few bad days.  I will admit that I was quite frustrated that although I had received relief from the anxiety that now I was dealing with depression.  I was like, “really?”

After speaking with my doctor, we decided to bring back the Wellbutrin and hope that the increase in Lithium that was implemented previously will combat the anxiety and prevent it from coming back.

Within just a few days, the sun broke through the clouds and the birds started chirping.  However, there’s a catch (there’s always a catch, it seems) … I went from down to a little up, to rocket launching Elon Musk’s car in space.  And that’s when I said, “oh shit!”  I tried to convince myself that it was just from having coffee, or the anticipation for the Girl’s Night In I was hosting, but after I cleaned (I mean cleaned) nearly my whole house within just a few hours, I knew that it was more than a little caffeine high.  I had gone from zero to sixty, depression to mania.  And that’s when I nearly cried.

My house is spotless, which is a rarity, just ask my mother.  I had a phenomenal gathering at my house where I was able to teach my friends how to decorate cupcakes with all the gadgets that I own.  And then we painted, we painted for hours… I cranked out I think four pieces of art, all that I like, which is not the norm.  I could’ve kept painting or decorating cupcakes, but it was getting late and I ran out of cake and frosting.  Nearing midnight, I was sitting on the couch and I was so wide awake deep in my bones.  There was excitement that was dancing within me.  My mind was in overdrive.

With assistance of a sleep aid, I did get a full night’s sleep.  And woke to attend a hot yoga class.  It did not totally kick my bum, but it was close.  I forced myself post class to listen to a guided meditation, or seven, in attempts to get the humming birds to go away.  Hummingbirds is the way I describe the mania that I experience.  Hummingbirds are constantly moving and fluttering their little tiny wings, always jetting here and there, constantly busy, and alas that is what I am like when manic.

The meditation did not work.  I finally put away two months’ worth of clean clothes, reorganized my bathroom cabinets and did all the laundry for our family of five.  I am attending another yoga class this evening and will probably run errands to prepare for making supper.  Sitting still is posing to be a problem.

I am currently sitting outside watching my cats lounge in the warm sun, while listening to soft classical music fill the air and I feel refreshed.  I also feel like I am going to run around the yard in about 30 seconds and hope that no one sees me because I MUST move.

I see my doctor tomorrow and I am quite interested to see what the next plan of action will be.

So yeah, this is Bipolar, this is what it is.  I am along for this ride, the ups and the downs and all the in between.  This is my life.  It is the only one I have, so I make the best of it.  It’s not always ideal, but it I embrace it.  I focus on what is within my control and the positives that are in my life.