anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Waredrobe: Out with the Old

IMG_2088It was time.

I have postponed this for long enough.

There was no more room left for excuses and wishful thinking.

I stood in my walk-in closet and looked at my extensive collection of clothing.  Shirts all organized by style, followed by skirts, then dresses.  There are so many items on the rack that it was hard to add anything else.  Many items that should be hung, are neatly folded in the dresser that is outside of the closet.  My numerous pairs of jeans are in the cube bookcase that sits below my large bedroom window.  I have quite a collection of clothes, I am definitely not in need.

Over the last two months, the weight gain has resurrected, and I am officially up ten pounds. (le sigh) Therefore, the amazing, beautiful, wonderful, soft, LuLaRoe dresses that I bought during Michelleapoolza in January, no longer fit.  They are tight on my arms, and my chest.  I do this dance, jump, karate chop maneuver to get the zipper up the back of the dresses.  It is time that I say, so long, not goodbye, because this is not permanent, just so long for now.  I remove them off the hangers and put them in the large tub that I retrieved from the garage.  I lay the dresses in the box and tell myself that this is just for now.  That history has shown me that my weight fluctuates and decreases over time.  I remind myself that I am in the best place I have been since I can remember, mentally speaking.  That these are mere clothes, they do not define me.  I have a fleeting idea of putting the scale in the box too, but I shake my head as that is far too drastic of a move.  Once the LuLaRoe’s are in the box I go for a second pass through the closet.  I remove another five dresses, numerous shirts and before I know it, I need another bin.  And off to the garage I go…

I wrongly associate my worth by my size.  As my weight increases, my perceived self-worth decreases.  I look at my body and I can see some changes, but not that big of a change.  Therefore, I work to challenge the thoughts that cross my mind.  With summer fast approaching, I fear the swim suit, I fear what others may think of me, and how I may be judged.  I feel like I want to create a sign that says “I gained weight because I am on medication for bi polar disorder” just because I wrongly assume that people are wondering why I look the way I do.

But, in the back of my head, I have the verse that my mom told me repeatedly growing up (and still tells me today) … I am beautifully and wonderfully made… She also has helped me to focus on what is true, and praiseworthy.  I am not defined by my size or shape.  My mental stability is far more important than the number on the scale.  I will focus on what I have gained and redirect my negative and destructive thinking.  I will not resort to old eating disorder behaviors, laxative abuse or over exercising.  I will focus my attention on maintaining stability and consistency.  I will press on.

 

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Sweet Spot

IMG_1611Over the weekend it dawned on me that I am in a sweet spot.  This is unrelated to my current preoccupation with cake, although that IS part of it.  The sweet spot is about where I am in my life at this moment in time.

After being on the Bipolar roller coaster filled with dips of depression and curves of anxiety for the last umpteen years, I am finally in a place where everything is falling into place.  I am not too proud to state that I am aware that I am where I am as result of the medication that I am taking and the fact that I am now taking it as prescribed.  (I have fallen prey to falling off the straight and narrow when it comes to faithfully following my prescribed medication regime now and again).  However, this does not change the fact that I am in a good place and it feels simply amazing to be here.

I was telling my spouse on Sunday that I feel like he and I are in a really good place.  We have never been in a bad place, but when one person in the relationship suffers from mental illness it can really put a strain on the relationship.  And when I was in a really bad place in 2016, I was not in a good relationship with anyone, not even myself.

Daily I can see improvements in many areas of my life.  I am no longer having panic attacks while driving.  And this is a huge relief, as I spend at least an hour, if not more, on the road every day, and the whole having panic attacks each time I was in the car was really starting to wear me out.  I also am suffering from little to no anxiety in general.  My brain is far more at ease than it has ever been (and my oh my, what an amazing gift this is).  When something comes up, I quickly process the thought and then release it, let it go and move past it.  I am not sure I have ever been able to do this successfully in the past.

Although there are days that run incredibly slow and I struggle to obtain the amount of mental stimulation that I need to stay focused, I am not depressed.  I still lack some motivation, but I set time limits and at the given time I begin working on an assignment that needs completion.

And then there is cake!  Getting back into making cakes has been exciting.  I thought that I had lost all my skill set due to going on medication for the Bi Polar.  In the past, my best work was completed while I was manic.  Now that I am stable I thought, “I’ll never be able to create cakes the way I did before!”  Well, I was wrong.  It turns out that much like riding a bike, the skill set never went away, if anything, it has improved some during my dormant time over the last two years.  Being stable, and being calm, is a MUCH better combination for creating and decorating cakes.  For one, my hand doesn’t shake and that is a total plus.  I also can keep my stress to a moderate level.  The challenge that I am running into is the thoughts that bounce into my head about being “good enough”.  This is something that I have struggled with for years and years, and each time the negative thought comes through my head, I use an affirmation to dismiss it.

I recall that in 2016 my doctors told me that there would come a time when I would be in a much better place, where there was stability and balance and my symptoms would be slim to none.  I will admit that I did not believe them at the time.  I was so under water that I could not begin to imagine a time when I would not be in a living hell.  But, as always, they were right, and here I am today, in a good place, thrilled as hell to be living a happy life, and pushing aside the little hiccups (like weight gain) that I have allowed to derail me in the past.

There WILL come a time when the good will come.  It WILL arrive, and it will be glorious.  It WILL be treasured and cherished.  It WILL be the thing that leaves an ever-lasting smile on your face…  The sweet spot.

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Rewriting Old Narratives

pexels-photo-891674.jpegI sat before my therapist yesterday and I listed off several things that I wanted to work on during our sessions.  The two big ones were how my past relationships are still affecting me and my negative body image issues.  We started to work on the past relationships.

I was in relationships where I was lied to, cheated on and treated in an abusive manner.  What was said to me and what happened to me still lingers in my mind.  When the anxiety increases, let’s say when someone decides to not take all her medication for a week, the flashbacks start back up and the nightmares return.  And all of this usually involves the exes.

My therapist suggested that I work on rewriting the old narratives.  She said that although you can’t change what happened, you can engage your brain in focusing on other aspects of what happened and get yourself out of the dangerous, destructive loops.

I sat and stared at her.  I was a little clueless.  I questioned her, and she gave me an example.  She stated that although my husband cheated on me, lied to me, stole from me and ultimately asked me for a divorce because I couldn’t bear a child, I CAN focus on the fact that I stood up to my abuser and I chose to leave the relationship.  That I no longer allowed the abuse to continue and although I was incredibly scared to be on my own, I took that leap of faith and I made a move that ultimately benefited me.  That because of leaving, I was able to take a relocation offer and move across the country to start fresh and to focus on my career, which was my everything to me.  Through the years of being with him and suffering one abuse after another, I generated so much strength that it propelled me forward and I received blessings in disguise.  I also learned how very important communication is to me and how I must have it in a relationship.  Through this I learned that I really wanted a partner, a best friend, an equal.

So, I have been sitting here trying to think of other ways that I can rewrite the narrative.

Although I have previously wrote about this, it is often on my mind, so I will share again.  It was devastating when I found out that I suffered from infertility, and that I would most likely never bear a child of my own.  And it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the real reason behind the words “irreconcilable differences”.  But, recently I found out that I carry the variant gene for Cystic Fibrosis, which occurs in 1 in every 2000 births.  Not having a child, protected me from having a child that could have been born with the condition.  And being Bipolar, that is known to be hereditary, so I very well could’ve passed that on to my child as well.  So, when I rewrite the narrative, I can focus on the good that has come out of this situation.  I have no links to my ex-husband, I was able to relocate across the country, I was able to get away from abuse and find love.

Now, I have a man in my life who is good to me, who loves me for me, despite my various health and mental conditions.  He is my best friend and my partner and we both know the importance of communication in a relationship.  He has two amazing children who get to be in my life!

I am sure that there will be times when I get stuck on the negatives that have happened and how I was hurt and rejected, and I have no idea why.  But, now I am working on focusing on the positives, rewriting the narrative, telling myself over and over again all that I have gained and how going through what I have been through has brought me to the place where I am today, in a place where I am grateful for my life and thankful for all that I have.

Bipolar Disorder

Reflections

Ever since I was a child, I have always enjoyed writing.  I have always had grand ideas threflection-in-the-mirrorat crowded my mind and writing was a way to get them out.  But as years passed and my mental health issues became more problematic, I stopped writing altogether.  It was suggested by my partner that I start my own blog so I could get back to what I enjoy, writing.  After much dragging of my feet, in July I started this blog.  I had major anxiety related to publishing my writing.  Doubts filled my head…What if no one reads my blog?  What if I get bad responses from those that do?  What if I am not good enough?  That last one was the clincher.  Much of my life I have feared that I would not be “good enough” and this prevented me from doing things that I really wanted to do.

I started the blog for me.  I have so much going on in my head that having a venue to get my thoughts out was what I needed.  As I began writing, it took me a few blogs to get in my groove.  My first few blogs were lengthy, and my language was like that of a sailor.  And as I kept writing, I was able to be more concise.  My language was more moderate, while some blogs were humorous, many were serious.

With this year ending in a just a few days, it has me thinking about what is to come.  What will 2018 be like?  And that has me thinking about all that 2017 brought into my life.

I celebrated my 32nd birthday in January. It was the first year that I was mentally stable for my birthday.  In years prior, I was suffering from dangerous manic episodes, being impulsive and outrageous.  While in 2016, I had just started on the down whirl spiral of a major mental breakdown that lasted three quarters of 2016.

A few months later in April,  I went on my first ever overnight backpacking trip.  It was glorious and wonderous, leaving me feeling so incredibly alive.  Within days of my return, I found out that I needed to have emergency surgery to remove a large mass from my abdomen.  Within a few weeks I was back to myself and within a little more of month I was back to hiking.

In May, I made the decision to yet again, resume working on my bachelor’s degree.  With only one quarter of the credits I need to graduate left to complete, I was motivated to finally finish, after working on this venture, off and on, for the last four years.  This go around, I have been able to get so much out of my classes and I am soaking up everything I am learning like a sponge.

Due to my success and stability, I came off the mood stabilizer Saphris, and ended up jostling my system and spent most of August wavering between mania and depression.  Starting treatment using a new mood stabilizer called Vraylar transformed my recovery and it restored my stability minus the nasty side effect of weight gain.  With the start on the new medication, I was successful in losing 22 pounds, which was a huge victory for me and helped me to improve my mental health and how I felt in my body.

The last quarter of the year has been uneventful.  Maintaining stability, balance and routine has helped me to remain in a very healthy place.

I am uncertain what 2018 will bring to my life.  I plan to continue living in a way that is healthy and focuses on making my health and well being a priority.  Of course there are plans to get back to the gym, eat healthier and break some bad habits that I have formed, but I know those will resolve themselves as long as I keep the eye on the prize.  I plan to be the most authentic me that I can be in 2018 (hey, that rhymes!)  Staying true to myself is the main thing that I need to ensure that I can successfully achieve my goals.

I wish you well.  That you may be able to look back at 2017 and acknowledge all that has blessed you in this year we are leaving and that you may look to 2018 with hope, encouragement and motivation.

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