Who, What, Where (A Brief Autobiography)


Contrary to popular belief, I am indeed still alive and well. It’s been a rocky road (unfortunately not the ice cream, though I desperately wish it was), and I have absolutely not fulfilled my resolution to continue blogging more often, as it’s been about 4 months since my last post. I’ve said this before (so many times) but this started out as a humor blog exclusively, but as I’ve gotten older and faced adult challenges, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to be constantly hilarious. I’m still hilarious, but am faced with the fact that I am a multi-dimentional, emotional human being. Of course, that’s okay. Less entertaining at times, but okay.

So what have I been up to? Dealing with multiple mental health crises, honestly. I stay pretty private about it for the most part, mentioning it only in passing unless talking to specific people about it, but you’re all part of the internet so I feel a little more anonymous and lately am less concerned about talking about it anyway. I don’t feel any shame about it anymore, but I also believe it is my story to tell when I want to tell it, and only when I want to tell it.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar II at the very end of 2016 and began various methods of treatment at the start of 2017. It’s been difficult, to say the least. Everyone has their misconceptions about what bipolar even is and I’ve received a lot of unnecessary and unsolicited advice from both strangers and those close to me. Be warned: the comments section here is not a forum for advice, but is perfectly allowed to be a place of kindness and support if you really feel the need to speak to me on this subject. This is not a dialogue. It is absolutely a monologue, and I feel perfectly fine drawing that boundary.

I will give very brief and basic introduction to what Bipolar II looks like for me. I know a lot of people don’t understand the disorder (or didn’t even know it existed in the first place):

I live my life in one of three states at any given time: hypomanic, stable, or depressed. I also occasionally experience mixed episodes, which cause me to swing from depressed to hypomanic within short periods of time. Hypomania is sometimes defined as “mania lite,” but I find that definition both overly simplistic and invalidating, as it implies that it isn’t distressing or difficult to live with. During hypomanic episodes, my symptoms range, but can include extreme irritability (what I call “road rage whilst walking”), insomnia, restlessness, compulsive speech, persistent risk-taking compulsions, increased focus on projects (I’m talking picking up an activity and not stopping for days — I’ve acquired several lovely hobbies over a short period of time) and lack of appetite. These episodes last for at least 4 days, but typically last longer for me. I also rapid cycle and at one point had 5 or 6 episodes within a two month period, which was super fun except when it totally wasn’t.

Essentially, I don’t sleep, I don’t eat, and I can’t shut up or stop moving. Sometimes this all feels really fun and freeing, because suddenly I’m the life of the party. Often, though, I feel scared and get the sense that I don’t know who I am or what I’ll do. In general, emotional swings that severe are really distressing.

It ain’t easy, folks. It’s taken a lot of dedication and effort to work toward stability and feel like myself, but I’m getting closer every day. I think. My goal is to keep the hypomanic and depressive episodes fewer and farther between so I can remain stable longer. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I barely slept for the past three weeks, and started absolutely losing my mind until I finally found the perfect combination of relaxation, essential oils, tart cherry juice, and ocean sounds to get 9 hours of sleep for the past four nights…this is probably the only reason I’ve found the energy to write this post in the first place. That combination may not work forever, though, as I’ve learned in the past, and I’ll have to switch things and work even harder. Extra medication is sometimes involved, sometimes not. It’s hard to know what will help at any given time.

I’m finding plants have helped me heal a lot lately. Doesn’t matter how hypomanic or depressed I am, potting a plant will make me feel sane, if even for just a few hours. Plus, I gain little green friends and purify the air in my house all at once. An unexpected but absolutely appreciated medicine, for sure. Celebrating life and maintaining my creativity has been essential — there’s a lot of art, bass playing, and journaling that goes into my stability. I remain vague about other parts of my treatment because it ain’t nobody’s business but those are also difficult and frustrating at times. Support groups help the most.

I’ve had a lot of revelations over the past 8 months…about life, my will to live, what and who I love, what I deserve in this life and the next, what I want to focus on and what I want to leave behind. I’d 100% prefer to not live with bipolar, but if I have to, at least I’ve done a lot of soul searching and self exploration to learn how to manage it.

Hopefully I’ll write again before another four months have passed, but you never know. Either way, know that I’m here, I’m alive, and I’m more than just this disorder.

xo

If you’re interested in learning more about mood disorders, NAMI is a really great resource. If you happen to be a person living with bipolar, DBSA meetings have benefitted me more than I can ever explain. 

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The Truth About Anxiety


There’s only so long you can take anxiety before it makes you loathe everything around you (and everything about yourself). Because there’s only so long you can beat a dog before it bites back. But where do you direct the anger you feel toward anxiety? Who do you bite? All the anxiety, everything that makes you hurt, seems to be coming from inside you. And it starts to eat at your insides, causing you to want to rip them out, throw them across the room, and scream. Imagine that: ripping your guts out and just chucking them 10 feet, seeing them splat against the wall. Imagine that actually being satisfying. That’s what anxiety does. Even though that image is disgusting, it can be preferable to letting that horrible, clawing feeling stay inside you. 

Or there are the times when you feel guilty for feeling sorry for yourself at all. You don’t have cancer, you’re not really going to die, and a lot of people don’t even think anxiety is real. With everyone doubting you, with you doubting yourself, it’s hard to feel sympathy for yourself. When you ask yourself Is it okay that I feel this way? Is it okay to cry because I want it to stop? Is it okay that I don’t want anyone with anxiety to sympathize with me? Because why the hell would you want to commiserate with some other poor sap who also hyperventilates in the middle of the night when you can’t even “commiserate” with yourself? Odds are, you see yourself as weak for letting the anxiety get to you in the first place, so you’ll likely not want to blabber about it to others.

Sure, you say you’re open about it. You tell people you have an anxiety/panic disorder, but you’re so cavalier about it. “Yeah, I get really anxious. I have panic attacks. They’re scary.” But you never go into the heartbreaking/gut wrenching details. “I used to think I was going insane” or “I automatically think I’m unsuited to be a parent whenever I have an attack.” Because talking about attacks, and what they do to you, terrifies other people. No one likes a psycho.

Attacks. What a way to put it. Accurate, yes. Possibly dramatic? Sure. But not really. Everything you’ve ever hated throws itself against your heart at once. Every unknown that ever scared you jumps out of the bushes again. Every bad memory, no matter how deeply buried, troubles you once more.

But it’s all you, all inside you. And unless you rip your guts out and sling them across a goddamned room, you don’t know how to make it go away.

Every single person in the world needs to understand this, because I’m sick of hiding myself to everyone else. Sick of having to pretend that everything is fine, sick of skulking off into a dark place so I can flip out in solitude. Not that I’d want to have another panic attack in public, because that’s more traumatizing than anything else I’ve experienced. But I don’t want to feel like it’s this big secret, like I’m some monster that comes out at night. It doesn’t mean I can’t function in normal society, it just means that sometimes I can’t function within my own head. 

When nobody else understands this, or maybe they even act like you’re being dramatic and lying to yourself, it’s hard to get better. So I’m getting better through therapy, because psychologists understand. 

There’s no one to blame for the way that my brain works, and that’s including me. I am not to blame, because I do not do this on purpose. So I guess this is sort of an education session for y’all: People with these problems aren’t being dramatic, and they deserve support, not skepticism. 

So go out and accept everyone, my little muffins! I know how wonderful you all are, and you give me support on a daily basis. Go do good for everyone else. 

xo