Venting

V (1)When I saw my therapist Wednesday he gave me a homework assignment. He even wrote it down, because otherwise, it would have gone right out of my head.

“Challenge absolute thoughts (All or Nothing thinking). Find 15 cliches that relate to adapting to uncomfortable situations. Practice squared breathing exercise three times per week.”

I’m not saying the assignment is stupid. It’s very worthwhile, actually. It’s just that I have so  much going on right now. Does he not realize that? The A-Z challenge goes until next Thursday (I think), I’m crocheting one very large granny square per day for a blanket I’m trying to complete, and I just had the piano tuned so I could learn “Joy” and “Thanksgiving,” two George Winston songs, for my mom’s 88th birthday in October–it’s been at least 20 years since I played the piano, so it will take a lot of work. That’s not nothing. And let’s not forget Lucy, who needs to go out and potty what seems like every 15 minutes. We don’t have a fenced in backyard, so I need to literally take her out on a leash.

There. I just vented. I don’t do it often on my blog, because what I try to do here is help other people, and it doesn’t help you to know about my troubles. But once in a while, venting helps, because people can relate. It’s certainly better to talk about negative emotions, properly, than leave them bottled up inside. If we vent to someone who genuinely cares about us, it can make us feel better. Sometimes we may need a second ear to make sure we heard what we think we heard right. Venting instead of directly confronting the source of our frustrations is a much safer bet.

I hope you have a grand day, and don’t  be too shocked this is so early! ha ha

Ciao Bella.vent

Managing

`M (1)P.S. You’re not going to die. Here’s the white-hot truth: if you go bankrupt, you’ll still be okay. If you lose the gig, the lover, the house, you’ll still be okay. If you sing off-key, get beat by the competition, have your heart shattered, get fired…it’s not going to kill you. Ask anyone who’s been through it. —Daneille LaPorte

Well, it turns out I’m not the best sort of person to do this sort of thing—-the A-Z Blog Challenge. See, besides writing the blog post itself, we’re supposed to comment on each other’s blogs. But I can barely keep up with posting every day. It hasn’t become a habit yet. Who knew? Well, all I can do is my best, you know?

As I was reading through the articles I had marked about managing the symptoms of anxiety, I just got overwhelmed and all of it started to not make any sense at all. So I thought, what the hell? I’ll just write down what do to try and manage my own anxiety. That way, after you read it and it makes no sense to you, you can substitute in what you do! Ha ha ha.

Remember to breathe. The first thing that happens to me when I get anxious is I forget to breathe or I start to breathe really shallowly, which amounts to the same thing. So, I have to actually remind myself.

If I’m feeling worried/bad/sad/mad/frustrated, change the thought. Works every time. Change how I’m thinking, and I’ll feel differently.

Crochet/meditate through the problem. The repetitive nature of crochet lends itself to meditation very easily. While I’m crocheting I can think through a difficulty, or–better yet–let my mind empty itself and sort of rest.

Relaxation. I usually do deep breathing while I sit in a comfortable chair, eyes closed, but I breathe differently than most people tell us to. I breathe in through my nose (through the diaphragm) and back out through the nose (not the mouth).

Reading. This is just a really fun escape, because it takes me so far away from anything and anywhere I was before I started reading. It’s tough to be anxious when you’re in the middle of a thriller or a romance. Really. Try it.

Color-by-Number and Dot-to-Dot. I went to a Michael’s art store and found these intensely intricate adult color-by-number and dot-to-dot books. Except I’m too intimidated to start them, because I’m a perfectionist and I don’t want to make a mistake. LOL! How insane is that?!

Television. It goes under the escapist column, but it’s also very educational. I learn how other people act in similar situations, too. And we got the Amazon Fire Stick recently, so have been stuck on Mad Men (we’re on Season 4–there are I guess 7 seasons), for real.

Doing my best. It’s all I can do. It’s all any of us can do. ifeel

Just Relax

RelaxThere must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. ~Chinese proverb

Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at other times move forward with it. ~Ray Bradbury

It seems like everywhere I go people are talking about relaxation these days. My therapist asks me about my stress level, like it’s something that can be quantified, measured on a daily basis. lying down

I probably mentioned already that I’m participating in an study for bipolar disordered people on a site called Optimism. I love the name, but the site is both complicated and ambiguous.

The site tracks your mood every day, how well you coped, hours slept, quality of sleep, whether or not you exercised, and took medications, if relevant (here’s where I find some ambiguity. It doesn’t ask if your meds make you feel like you’re on auto-pilot, or so thirsty you could drink a gallon of water and it wouldn’t be enough, so tired you’d just run a marathon…only you hadn’t). It then goes into three different categories: stay well strategies, triggers, and symptoms. 

Relaxation fits under the Stay well strategies, along with adequate sleep, plenty of water, and routine, just to name a few. I use a relaxation cd daily. One of the choices on the cd is A Walk on the Beach. The narrator uses the elevator technique to take me deeper down, until I’m so relaxed I’m actually somewhere way in the basement. Ha ha ha

If only it would stay. Not minutes after that, I checked my email, and there was something from an editor or promoter of a book I’ve signed up to read on Netgalley. Now, I love reading more than anything, and I just finished my third book for them. I have three more books in the queue before the book this promoter spoke of. All the relaxation I’d just had given to me went right out the window. I had no idea what to say to this person, so I took my usual route. Say nothing, and keep plodding along. My dog, Lucy, would have peed on the email and gone on her happy way. 😀 We should all be so lucky.

dog

Putting On That Other Pair Of Shoes

forgivingGentle readers,

I’ve been trying and trying to write this blog, wanting it to be gentle and light, to bring you good vibes so you’ll come back and keep reading. But my mind and heart are heavy with all the colossal blunders I’m making that I keep wanting to slough off onto my illness. A mixed episode of bipolar disorder is nothing to laugh about. It’s like a modern version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My loved ones never know who they’re going to be speaking to from one minute to the next.

Until I got into Al-Anon, I used to get so mad at my sister when she wold blame her absurd or borderline abusive drunken behavior on her disease. Even after becoming a regular around the tables, it took me a long time to get that being a drunk is a disease and not a choice. I know, ridiculous right? Who in their right mind would choose the humiliation and shame attached with being an alcoholic? She is responsible for any fallout, and she has to try to amend as much as she truly can, but she has to love herself first and foremost. That’s why it’s called a selfish program.

I wish there was such a thing as a teleporter, so I could teleport myself to a tiny, solitary island far, far away from any living people until I Get Better. Until then, I keep apologizing, then praying and trying again. I’ve started taking my Flexeril (20mg per pill, a muscle relaxant), which I had a WHOLE bunch left over from when I initially hurt my back years ago along with 3x daily dose of Xanax. It makes me sleepy, and a little loopy, which is a weird trip to be on with all the racing thoughts and flighty ideas in my brain. But it makes me a little less prone to blurt out the first thing I’m thinking—I would do anything to not hurt my mom or my sister. Go ahead. Let me have it. Tell me I’m using, that I’ll become a drug addict. I’m already addicted to prescribed Xanax, what’s a little Flexeril thrown in?

I better stop now, because I’m very tired, and I know I’m not making sense. I guess the take-away from this is: be very careful when we go to judge or feel resentful of someone else. We never know when we’re going to be the one struggling with a problem which can easily be judged and resented. But only when we accept ourselves and love ourselves where we are can true change begin to happen.

When I talk to my sister now, and I hear her go into “beat up on Carol” mode, I try to jump in and get real logical with her. She did the best she could at that time with the information that she had. Now she knows better, she can do better.

This is my first ever dysphoric mania episode. I feel so lost at sea. And it’s super hard to take that same advice and apply it to myself. All I keep thinking is “Idiot. Stupid. Mean. Jerk. Way to go, jackass.” It is probably the reason that I still have suicidal ideation and that many with this type of mania attempt suicide.

Argh. I’m blabbing and I’m getting totally incoherent. Please be gentle with yourselves today, no matter where you are on your journeys.

Peace out. xx better

Love Yourself Through the Process

exercise-cartoon1When I saw this cartoon it made me laugh so hard, and I was drinking coffee at the time. 😀 Then I realized it’s all about expectations and how what we think about things make them difficult. I hope that makes some sense. We dive into recovery and expect so damn much from ourselves from day one. God forbid we don’t meet those expectations. So when we can learn to laugh at ourselves it’s f***ing fantastic!!

When I told the brilliant Dr. Walker this morning (therapist) that it wasn’t fun making paper cranes anymore, and I told him the whole story about how everyone on Facebook (yes I have that much power) knows about my promise to make 1,001 paper cranes in the memory of an old cherished professor. So now it felt like a crushing burden, and it wasn’t a joy any longer. I kept putting it off each day until I was too sleepy. So he said “Why does it have to be 1,001? Why can’t you just make as many paper cranes as you want, keeping the fun in it, thinking of your old prof while you’re making them? The gift is not in the quantity of the cranes, it’s in the gifting of them, it’s in the meaning of them.”

forgiveHow’s your mood lately? Me, I’m ever working on irritability. 😦 I’m a work in progress. Mania is still at an all-time high, so it would be better if I could be in a rubber room right now, but it’s not an option. LOL  

Not so happily, I got in an argument with my sister again on the telephone this morning. Two bipolar people trying to both be right at the same time is so not good. We made up a safe word for when either of us feels things are getting out of hand: orange. Yes, orange. As in: “Orange you glad I asked you to stop talking?” 😉

After that conversation I got off the phone and just wept. But post-therapy, I decided the conversation belonged right here, along with my bad feelings, because I was being way too hard on myself: crapThen I walked away from the crap, literally turned my body away, wiped the stupid tears from my face, walked outside and looked into this:

beauty (That’s me ecstatic about the sunshine and higher temps of an impending spring day.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: no matter what you are recovering or healing from, it’s a tough process. To borrow a phrase, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We didn’t get damaged in a day, and we’re not going to get stronger, healthier, more empowered in a day either.

The biggest take-away I want for you to keep in your head with this post that took me forever because I kept nodding off (It’s so not you or the subject matter! Lack of sleep and problems adjusting meds is all. It’ll pass.) is this:

beautiful1

Be careful who you give your power to. Peace out. xx

7 Do’s and Don’ts in a Manic Phase of Bipolar Depression

7. When you wake up, startlingly wide awake after just a couple hours of sleep at night, don’t listen to your brain when it tells you you’ve had quite enough sleep. Do perhaps drink a glass of water and try to lie back down. If you can get it, this is a most excellent investment: Delta Sleep System. I think Jeffrey Thompson must be some kind of genius, because this puts me to sleep every time, even when I don’t stay asleep because of being manic.

6. Don’t get up instead, lurch over in a drug-induced stupor to make coffee and get onto Facebook. FB is a never-ending loop of “shiny” from which one never escapes. Not good for the manic phase. Do try guided visualization. You don’t have to buy these. There are plenty super great ones available on YouTube. Here’s one that I try to stay awake to, but her voice is so soothing it conks me out every time:

5. Don’t go onto sites where you know you can read books for free in exchange for reviews. (I have 13 books in a queue because of such a dilemma. “Oh look, another book that would be perfect for me to review!”). Do try, hard as it is, to have no more than two books going at one time.

4. Don’t announce to the world a huge almost impossible to fulfill goal if there is a chance in hell you may not fulfill it. Case in point: I announced on Facebook that I would make 1,001 origami paper cranes for the family of a favorite professor who passed away last year. The deadline is May 16th. My goal was 14 cranes a day, which started out doable. I’ve made a total of two cranes. Two. Which means if I want to catch up, I have to make 54 cranes today, or recalculate completely so that I make more than 14 cranes a day to make the goal. Do find something both meaningful and meditative to occupy and burn up all that excess energy you have.

3. Don’t drink tons of caffeine. I know, I know. Your body is exhausted and your mind is racing. Don’t drink more than 1-2 cups of coffee/tea in the morning if you need that jump start. Any more is just asking for a train wreck. Do drink lots of nice cold water. Sleepytime tea is fine too. Hot water with lemon is good, so I’ve heard, but I’ve never tried it myself. Any other decaff tea/herbal tea you can find is wonderful, but make sure it’s decaff. Your body is a precious, precious vessel and it needs as much rest as it can get, even during the day right now. Napping at this point is fine.

2. Don’t take your aggression out on your family, or the ones you live with. Right now, they may be your biggest supporters. Do tell them you need space right now, and don’t be afraid to leave the room physically if you need to be alone. Picture Marlene Dietrich, the blond beauty, saying, “I vant to be alone.” <grin>  Be prepared to apologize, and make amends.

1. Don’t speak whatever comes to your mind to strangers! This is difficult. I am learning it the hard way. Part of mania is that it can make you want to tell people they’re “doing it wrong.” Do keep your thoughts to yourself. Count to five, because right now ten is too hard. Walk away. Fake-smile (you know what I mean, the kind that doesn’t quite reach your eyes). Pretend you’re the fictional heroine of your favorite book. Just do what you need to do to get through the moment, because you don’t know how every stranger will react to confrontation.

I hope this helps. It helped me just to write it. Peace out. xx 523527_470164159680997_689013679_n

We Believe What We Tell Ourselves

When you know yourself you are empowered. When you accept yourself you are invincible.
— TINA LIFFORD

At the Sunday morning meeting yesterday, when we broke up, I chose to sit at the Hope For Today table. The topic of the reading for that morning was perfectionism, and how, despite being gentle with other folk, we can be merciless with ourselves.

As I listened to the other people at the table, I learned something important, something I could so relate to. What we say to ourselves about our imperfection, our blunders, or our stumblings along the way of life is more important to recovery than the imperfection itself. How we get back up, dust ourselves off, and continue on, makes a huge difference.

Raise your hand if any of these statements sound familiar:

“You stupid idiot!”

“How could you have done something that dumb?”

“Well, there you go again…”

“&%$* it! Why even bother at all?”

I’ve said these things to myself, and others. “If you were a real writer, you’d write every day…be published…” and self-defeating statements that I begin to believe because I’ve said them over and over to myself so often. Would I dare say that to a struggling writer friend? Not in a million years. I know what that would do to her spirit. Yet somehow it’s okay for me?

No. And it shouldn’t be for you either, if you want to move forward and beyond perfectionism. Guess what? Everyone has a flaw. If you don’t see it, that just means they cover it up really, really well. 😉

Today, take some time and notice how you talk to yourself. Catch the harshness of your tone, and change it as soon as you recognize it. Pretend you are talking to your very best friend.

You are, you know. 😉

Peace out.