Hamilton

I have been binge listening to Hamilton for several weeks now. This isn’t the first time I’ve listened to it, nor is it the first time I’ve binge listened to it, but for some reason something has really struck a chord with me on this round of binging. There is a line that comes up in several songs “Why do you write like you are running out of time?” and it hit me this morning while I was listening to the soundtrack at work- Why am I not writing like I’m running out of time? I would think that is something I should want to do, always. I do remember a time when this was the case, but for some reason I have lost it. It isn’t like I’m uninterested, or that I lack the passion. I have it. I also have depressive episodes, so it makes things harder to accomplish.
I’ve talked about this before, several times as some of you might be aware. I’m not sure how to always how to keep pushing through these kinds of things, but I am trying either way. What better way then immersion. I’ve spent several weeks doing nothing. I think it was even less than nothing if that is possible, which having lived my life for the last two weeks I know for a fact that it is, but I guess at least the end result is this, me sitting here and writing this instead of continuing to binge watch a show I’ve seen before on Netflix or spending 8 hours a day playing WoW.
Life has a way of getting away with me sometimes. I let so much of what is going on in my head dictate what my life is doing, and not in a good way. I realize that most people don’t know when I’m doing poorly. Instead of taking the time off when I need to get my mind straight I keep up appearances. I go to work and do my job and by the end of the day I’ve spent all my energy for the next week. When I’m out of work it is impossible to get that energy back, no matter how little I do. I could lay in bed and watch Netflix until the moment I’m out of work until I go to bed and guess what? I’m still not recharged when the day starts over again the next day.
I need to start taking better care of myself. I’ve heard so much from so many people about self care, and I know that is going to be different for everyone, but part of my self care involves writing. So I need to be more conscious of what I’m doing or not doing in order to keep and eye on myself and try to get myself into a good head space. There will obviously be times when this is impossible, I do have Bipolar after all, but at least being more mindful of what is going on with myself would be a good idea instead of always trying to ignore it in order to be a functioning adult, or just functioning in general. A few times in Therapy I was asked what I do when I have the kind of day where I just want to build a blanket fort and hide away all day. I didn’t even have to think about the answer. I get up and go to work because I’m required to push myself beyond my limits to pay my bills and to do what is right for my family. I’m going to try to be more aware of those days and maybe at least take it easier on myself. I’m not going to be able to change the fact that I have to get up and do what I’ve got to do, but I could at least be patient with myself while I’m trying to work my way through it.
All of this is circular thinking on my part. I’m talking about pushing myself to write, which is a way that I need to talk care of myself, but I’m also being hard on myself for not writing during a time when I know I should be easy on myself. I guess this just shows that I’ll never really be able to win this fight, but that isn’t really what I wanted to get out of writing this. What I want to be focusing on is taking care of myself. There will be days when I need to push myself in a good way, and there will be days that I need to stop beating myself up and just take it easy.
I want to assume that everyone goes through this kind of process with themselves, but I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one who doesn’t take the time or effort to take care of themselves in a proper way. So today I’m going slow, but I’m still going and that is what is important. For anyone else that is struggling like I am— be kind to yourself and take it slowly if you need it. Only push yourself when it is actually going to be helpful.
As for me: I’m going to try to get some work done this weekend!

writing

Painting in a Cave

My Bipolar messes with my life.

I wish I could say that I’ve got everything under control. My medication is working and I’m control my life, but that would be a lie. Sure things are better since I’ve started medication, but that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Far from it.

Medication is a balancing act. For awhile things will be fine, and then it isn’t. Once I’m on the right dosage I’m sure I’ll get evened out a bit, but for right now, I’m counting down the hours until I can meet with my Psych tomorrow to get a higher dosage of my prescription.

I didn’t want to write this to talk about my medication though, that was only a small part of what I’m struggling with. I’m so out of it I’m not writing. I’m not working out regularly. I’m eating horribly and just not taking care of myself properly. But even that isn’t what I’m really here to talk about.

I realized something with my writing. Or, at least I’m starting to realize something. I have a hard time finishing projects. I’ve always thought it was because I couldn’t keep with one project long enough or because I thought my own writing was horrible, but I’ve started to wonder if maybe the reason I am having a hard time is because I’m not relating to the characters I’m writing.

I’ve also realized I’m writing in genres that I want to read, but I’m not writing the stories that I want to read about.

These realizations, and any others that I get along the way, mean that I’ve got a lot of work to do and  I need to get my butt in gear and actually do it.

I love writing. Anyone who knows me knows this is true. It has been a dream of mine most of my life. Well, I’m getting to the point that I either need to sit down and write or stop dreaming so big. I’m not looking for fame or fortune. I’m looking to be happy, but part of being happy is getting this stuff out of my head and getting it on paper.

I have a ton of work to do. I’ve got a million habits to form. And they all start with one thing– doing the work. Some days that will be easier than others, especially considering my Bipolar and my medication, but I’ll do what needs to be done– or I will at least start trying. I was really on a role at one point, but then I wasn’t. It’s okay, progress isn’t linear, so at least I know that.

I’ve been trying to read more again too. That will help spark some more reading I think. The more I read, the more I want to write. There is a quote from Stephen King that sticks with me, and has since the first time I saw it:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” -Stephen King

I believe this quote to be an ultimate truth in the world of writing. One that I need to live by, among several others, but this one currently above all. And another one about sitting down and writing….

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” -Ernest Hemingway

Yes, that is the one. I guess it is time for me to read and bleed, but please don’t quote me on that. Ever.

I’ll leave you with one last item, the one that I got my title for this post from. A song that always makes me motivated to be creative, even when I really don’t feel like it.

Another Travelin Song – Bright Eyes

Another Post About Mental Illness

Hello again everyone! I’m back with another post on Mental Illness. Why? Because it is so important to me that people understand that there is no reason to hide or be ashamed to talk about their MI, but also because I was asked if there was any way I could write something about how to be a good friend or supporter for someone with MI when you yourself don’t have one. I think that it such a great idea that I have started trying to formulate ideas right away. I’ve even done research (sort of!), for those of you who haven’t realized it yet, research is not my favorite thing to do. I’m more of a write what comes to mind kind of person, but I wanted to have resources out there beyond just what I can write about. Every person is different and every one with MI is especially not the same. What might work for one is not always going to work for another, so keep that in mind as I tell you what helps me.
I have Bipolar II, what that means is I can often become severely depressed, even to the point of mania. I can also be so happy I’m almost euphoric, but those states don’t last as long. Yeah there is a whole lot more with B2 that I could mention, but this post isn’t about what I have, this is about how, as a friend or family member (biological or chosen) you can be there for me, and for others like me. The reason I tell you what I have is because it is important to know. It is important to educate yourself when you can. Don’t believe the misinformation that is out there, and there is a lot. Try to find resources that you know are going to be telling you the truth not trying to push some kind of stereotype.
If you are comfortable enough, ask your friend. Sometimes they won’t want to talk about it, or sometimes they won’t even know they have a MI. For the longest time I thought I was a fairly normal teenage girl. My angst and my mood swings, they were normal because if they weren’t that mean there was just one more thing about me that people could use against me. I didn’t accept what I had until my early 20s, which wasn’t soon enough, but it was better than not knowing I guess. I continued un-medicated most of my adult life thus far, as you can see in a previous post that is no longer the case, but that isn’t what this post is about.
So other than educating yourself what can you do? For someone like me it is as simple as letting me know you are there. Letting me know that you understand that sometimes I say things I don’t mean because I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind to think clearly. I’m a fairly solitary person so my Manic episodes are often unnoticed by those around me and that is fine I’ve spent a lot time dealing with it myself, but as my friend if I call or text you and tell you I need someone, just try to be there. You don’t have to respond to my 6 AM text message, but respond when you can. I just need to know that you are still there and you still care.
When I’m Depressed I often just need to hide away under the blankets, but I can’t because real life gets in the way, so I get up and I do what has to be done. I need extra attention in these periods and they usually last much longer than when I am Manic. I am mentally and often physically exhausted after only a few hours of trying to do anything. I can cry at any moment, and for any that know me, I’m not a crier generally but when I’m depressed it could come at any time.
Beyond my B2 have Anxiety. So that requires a bit more understanding. My anxiety manifests in a few different ways. The first and most common is making plans with friends and canceling last minute. It isn’t because I don’t want to hang out with you, I do, but after making the plans (which I was totally into at the time) I realized that I just can’t do whatever it was we had planned to do. There could be many reasons for this change, but most often it is that going out in public is something that can often be really difficult for me. At least when I feel like I have to be “turned on” in the process. Turned on is not a sexual phrase, I am using it to describe the feeling of having to be present and engaged with another human being, a process that comes easy for most, but not for me. It is exhausting and sometimes I just can’t do it. Now if you want to come over and sit quietly and read books and drink tea, I can tell you I am almost always down for that, but having to be engaging and in public, that takes a whole lot of energy and most days I just don’t have it.
I have just recently started to be able to go out and do things in public by myself. That is a huge step for me. I don’t generally do anything alone and often require the presence of another who fully understands that sometimes I just need you there with me, but I don’t want to have to be engaging. I have a few people that I can do that with, and it is wonderful, but I’ve been trying not to need them so much because I know, especially for my husband, it can put a damper on their plans sometimes. So I’ve been able to go out and do things, and that is great. The reason I bring it up is because I need my friends and family to understand that just because I can do something alone, does not mean I can do it in a group of people. I can sometimes do it one on one, but not always (see last paragraph).
My Anxiety also loves to tell me horrible things. It tells me I’m a burden, it tells me that my friends often don’t actually like me, it tells me people are talking about me, sometimes it tells me that my family doesn’t care. I try my best to remember when my brain is telling me the truth of when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but sometimes it isn’t that easy and I will say or do something stupid because I fully believe what my Anxiety is telling me. This is a perfect time for you to set me straight. I don’t often like to be told when I’m wrong, but I need you to point out when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but still be kind, just firm. Reassure me that yes, you are still my friend and that no I do not want to quit writing. Tell me that I need to stop and think about what I’m saying for a moment. It often helps.
I also have Anxiety Attacks, they are less common currently but I’ve just started new medication so that is normal. If you aren’t familiar with Anxiety Attacks let me describe it to you (keeping in mind this is my experience and may not be the experience of others): My heart races and I feel like everything around me is hopeless. I cry, I rock back and forth, my brain is telling me all these things and I’m believing it. Everything is horrible and I can’t handle much of anything and can often not form clear thought. I’m overwhelmed by everything around me and I just need to hide, or get away, or some how remove myself from whatever situation it is that I’m in. These aren’t super easy to deal with, but the one thing I can tell you, unless I request otherwise do not touch me. Many articles I’ve seen state to get behind someone having an anxiety attack and hug them and don’t let go no matter how much they struggle. I can tell you that I, and almost anyone I’ve ever talked to with anxiety do not want you to do this. For me, it will make things so much worse. Don’t do it, you are not helping if you do. If I ask you to hold me or hug me, that is different, but unless I clearly ask for it, touching me is off limits. Just talk to me, try to be as calm as you can, because I’m freaking out enough for the both of us. If it is in your power to remove me from whatever I’m doing, then that is appreciated. Otherwise just talk to me, be my friend.
Honestly for me all I need is a bit of understanding. You don’t have to know what I’m going through. I don’t need you to understand. I need for you to be my friend. Yeah sometimes I require a bit more effort than most, it is true, but I kind of think I’m worth it. That is really all I can say on how to deal with me and my MI. I’d love to see any others share how to help them, if they are comfortable doing so.

As promised, links: (Don’t take these as a rule, just a way to start to educate yourself)

Supporting Someone With A Mental Illness

15 Ways to Support a Loved One with Severe Mental Illness

For Friends and Family Members

How to Help A Loved One

 

A Doctor Listened to Me!!!

It happened! I got a doctor to listen to me! Yeah I know this isn’t about writing, but believe it or not my life consists of more than writing. That may be blasphemous to say, but it is true. One of the things that I have to deal with more than anything beyond writing is my Mental Health. I have suffered from various ‘diagnoses’ that were never official and never fully treated (normally because I’d get frustrated and stop treatment).
After my brother died in December I went to my Primary Care at the encouragement of my Therapist to seek medication for my anxiety and the deep depression I had sunk into. This depression was/is beyond anything I’ve experienced in my life, and I can tell you I’ve had some pretty bad times in my life with being depressed. So my Doctor gave me medication to treat anxiety and major depressive disorder. I was hopeful, as hopeful as I could be for someone who could hardly make it five minutes in public without breaking down in tears. I just wanted to start to feel better. I would even take my normal depression over what I was feeling.
Four months, that is how long I took those pills. Two visits with my Doctor. I told him every time that the pills just didn’t seem to be working. Sure they helped my anxiety, but my depression was worse. I could hardly pull myself out of bed. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything. I just wanted to hide away and drift off into nowhere. I couldn’t even write. It was horrible. I stopped taking the pills, because my Doctor wouldn’t listen to me and instead of trying a new approach he wanted to give me another medication that would make me feel happier, but would give me anxiety. That didn’t seem helpful since the current pill was actually working for my anxiety, why would I want it back?! So yeah, I stopped taking them.
Fast forward to yesterday, about two months off the first pills from my primary care. I met with a Psychiatrist, which yes, I know I should have done in the first place, but they are SO HARD to get into here. I finally realized my insurance covers Doctors On Demand, an online visit that I can do from home on my lunch break at work. (YES PLEASE!)
The appointment was quick and mostly do the point. I told him what symptoms I have, I told him a little bit of my back story, and I told him what I’m looking for (medication to help me stabilize because not being medicated at this point is not helping me). He asked me a series of questions to gain a more clear understanding. And just like that he understood why the pills I had taken made me feel worse. I don’t have Major Depressive Disorder, no I have Bipolar type 2 (which I had brought up possible Bipolar to my Primary Care but he ignored it). I was not surprised as this theory. It isn’t the first time I’ve been told that is probably what I have. I just never had a diagnosis of it.
New medication. New diagnosis. Things might actually stabilize for me, and that almost makes me hopeful. I know medication can take time, and it can even take time to find the right medication, but having someone actually listen to me, and take what I said into consideration when trying to find a way to treat me, that is important. That is something I wish every person dealing with any condition has, and if you don’t, find a new Doctor. Do not let them treat you for something you don’t have, you could be doing so much more damage then good!
So that is my non writing post for the week, it is also probably my first post that is in addition to my scheduled Sunday posts. Enjoy the extra look into my life!!