Hello 2017, I Know I’m a Little Late

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I entered 2016 with a mantra rather than a resolution, “Do not live a mediocre life.” 2016 was pretty kind to me, because I decided I was going to work really hard to make it that way. I decided that if this was my one shot at happiness, I had to take it for all it was worth. Do what you want. Be what you want. Why couldn’t I? I thought, “stop making excuses and start making plans.”

So, I started taking classes at my “dream” college. I was blessed with an amazing relationship, with a truly amazing guy. I flew in an airplane for the first time. I took a leap of faith and quit waitressing. I learned (okay – I’m still learning) to cook. I started taking care of myself mentally and physically, which resulted in less panic attacks and less depression and me losing about 30 pounds.

12:00 AM, January 1st, 2017. I was pumped. I brought in the New Year with my boyfriend, thinking “It’s gonna be a great year.”

Well, life is unexpected and unpredictable.

Where did January go?

That’s what I was left thinking when my rent rolled around on the 1st and I found myself grateful for the 3 day grace period. Where did the time go?

I jokingly made comments late December that the gym and track were going to be crowded with January-ers. People that pumped themselves up to achieve goals in 2017, overworked and then fizzled out. Mid-February, things would go back to normal for the most part and we wouldn’t have to wait around to use the tiny gym at my apartment.

It didn’t matter if it was more crowded, I wasn’t there.

I was the opposite of a January-er. My plan was just to continue all of the awesome things that 2016 had brought me and taught me, but instead I wasn’t leaving my bed.

A week into January, depression hit me harder than it ever has. I would do my school work (missing the occasional deadline), go to work and sleep. That was it. For weeks. Work and sleep and fake smiling and hysterically crying and beating myself up and putting myself down and sleep and then work and then fake smiling and…

Days passed without me really comprehending it. I got to a point of depression where I didn’t care if I was ever happy again. I felt like happiness was a lie, and that I had found the truth. Life was miserable.

I won’t go into details here of the effect that oral contraceptives have on people with bipolar disorder (especially those who rely on Lamictal). Maybe I’ll write a post on that in the future.

But, I will say that without the patience and perseverance of those that love me (and an increase of medication), I wouldn’t be a brand new February-er. No, scratch that – 2017-er. (Hmm, hard to say and not very catchy at all lol)

So, January 2017 is gone. It’s gone and I feel like I barely got through it. But looking back is a lost cause, and blaming myself for falling off the wagon…. again, a lost cause.

Did you miss out on January? Maybe you started off with momentum, and you’ve come to a screeching halt? Are you disappointed in yourself? Do you just not have time to reach your goals? Are you telling yourself that it’s not the right time to prioritize what you want out of life?

Here’s what I’m suggesting:

Whatever you want out of life, whatever it is you want to be or do…. Start now. January wasn’t a failure if you started drinking soda again, or fell back into a toxic relationship, or gained 3 pounds or didn’t get that promotion at work or whatever it is that’s trying to tell you to just give up. Stop. Don’t be a burn out. Don’t obsess over a resolution you missed. Why not make your resolution just to try harder and work harder for the life that you want, and love the life you have.

Aim for a continued happier lifestyle, not a deadline. January is gone – but I’m not, you’re not.

Why not try again?

Until next time –diy-daydream

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My (Overly-Honest) Journey With Bipolar Disorder

My Overly Honest Bipolar Journey.jpg2015 was a really rocky year for me. Mainly because I experienced my first round of hypomania (and had absolutely no idea that I was). I was impulsive, reckless, careless, irritable and harsh for no reason. I bounced back and forth between heightened confidence and crippling self-loathing. I drank a lot. I smoked cigarettes. I spent money I didn’t really have. I bleached all of my hair blonde and then chopped it all off a month later. I wore more revealing clothing (which isn’t normal for me) and even got a tattoo “just because” that I literally thought of on the drive to the tattoo shop. And I thought all of this was normal!

It was a time in my life where I was already questioning, “Who am I? What do I want in life?” I wrote off my recklessness as being young. I thought my rude comments and standoffish attitude made me appear stronger and more independent. I saw my vices as grown-up displays of how deeply wounded I was from the cruel, cruel world.

Hey, I promised humiliating honesty, didn’t I?

I have so many regrets from that year, so many embarrassing, cringe-worthy stories, but my biggest regret is how I treated other people. My hair is growing back, I’ve changed my wardrobe, and I guess, technically, I could get the tattoo removed. But I can’t take back harsh words and I can’t take back careless actions that hurt other people.

And I will always, always be sorry for that.

I still get mad at myself over it. And while I know that technically bipolar was the root of the problem, I still don’t feel I deserve any less blame. I’m trying to forgive myself, and trying to embrace that when we make mistakes, we can learn and change accordingly.

One night, early-November I found myself standing in the kitchen with my mom. I was hysterically crying that I had to change. It wasn’t any circumstance making me so miserable, it was just me. I couldn’t keep being angry all the time. And I was. I was so, so angry and it was rooted in this self hatred that I had for myself. I didn’t know who I was. I was so up and down and back and forth that I was just emotionally exhausted. I had panic attacks constantly. I knew that I couldn’t keep arguing with, yelling at, and treating the people that I loved in a way that was so hurtful.

I sat in a psychiatrist office not too many weeks later. Looking back now, I’m not sure why it took an entire year to realize I needed help. An hour later, she told me that all of my “symptoms”  were caused by type II bipolar disorder and she prescribed medication before requesting I come back in a few weeks.

The diagnosis was weird. It was like this huge weight off my shoulders. There was a reason I was being so terrible, feeling so terrible. I suddenly felt this huge sense of possibility of who I could be. I stopped thinking it was a flaw in character, but instead saw it as an illness to treat. My outlook changed, my attitude changed. Thank you, medication.

On the other hand, I felt embarrassed. There’s this huge stigma around mental health and no matter how hard I tried not to, and told myself I was being ridiculous, I felt a little ashamed. The first time I went to work, I felt like I had a flashing sign hanging over me blinking “bipolar, bipolar, bipolar.” I totally freaked myself out, and for no good reason.

And in the back of my head, I just kept thinking Damn, I’m going to have to deal with this my whole life. 

It was a weird combination of relief, possibility, embarrassment and dread.

But little by little, it became my new normal.

Now, in hindsight, as 2016 comes to an end, I have a little over a year of my bipolar diagnosis in the rearview. Believe it or not, I see having bipolar as this weird blessing.

Sure, that sounds a little crazy… but hear me out.

It has forced me to really listen to myself. Really, really listen to myself. I’ve realized that medication alone isn’t the fix-all, cure-all. I can now identify little cues that say, “Hey, you’re getting a little more on the depressed side of the spectrum!” And same goes for hypomania. Checking in on myself and my feelings is a skill, and one I am still perfecting.

I haven’t had a panic attack in… hmm.. How long has it been? About half a year? Longer? I’m not specifically on anxiety medication either. I’ve learned how to watch out for triggers. I’ve learned ways to channel my anxiety.

It’s made me realize it’s okay to need other people.

My mother is a huge part of my support system. Words can’t capture everything she has done for me.

And I’ve been lucky enough to find someone who’s patient with me and loves me unconditionally. He has put in just as much effort as I have in understanding how to best live with bipolar disorder. I don’t know how I got so incredibly lucky.

It’s also made me examine my flaws. Because, oh my god, I’m so far from perfect. But since I’m constantly on the lookout for symptoms resurfacing, I think a lot (maybe too much) about my actions and words. It’s made me notice ways to improve my behavior, my attitude, my relationships and in result, my life. It’s made me realize that I will always have things to improve, and that I am capable of making these changes.

And last, it has given me the opportunity to relate to and understand others. I am able to reach out to and hopefully help people who might be experiencing something similar. If I am able to make someone feel less alone in their mental health journey, that makes it all worth it. Please, know that who you and your illness are not the same thing. A year ago, I was so far from my true self. I was so lost. I felt so alone. Who I am, the person that I know I am now, is so far from who bipolar had convinced me I was. I am not bipolar. I have bipolar. It does not define me and your mental illness does not define you.

My List of Mental Health Tips:

  • Get on a regular sleep schedule. Get enough sleep. Go to bed earlier, get up earlier.
  • Accomplish something every day. Be proud of yourself everyday. Small things count.
  • Take B vitamins for more energy, try to cut the caffeine addiction in half, then in half again. (Try.)
  • Find an exercise you love and stick to it. I never thought I’d love running. It’s like therapy to me now. It lifts my spirits, eases my anxiety, makes me proud of myself, and makes me feel confident in myself.
  • Stop focusing on yourself and obsessing over your problems. Take time to think, how can I help someone else this week? Take time to remember to check in on people. Take time to show people you were thinking about them. Remind people that you care. Go out of your way to be kind. So much of anxiety is me, me, me. This is my biggest tip for obsessive worriers. It’s a shift in focus and it works wonders.
  • Set reasonable goals. Give yourself something to look forward to. Start thinking about ways to improve yourself and your life.
  • Read articles focused on self care and self improvement. If one really resonates with you, save it in your phone and reread it when you need to. I have one about trust I read every few months when my brain goes wonky. When my negative, irrational thoughts are too loud, it’s nice to replace them with someone else’s rational words.
  • Find a hobby. Occupy your brain. Don’t just watch TV. You’re never too old to start something new. I can crochet a scarf and absolutely nothing else, but it’s relaxing! I write, I play the ukulele (not very well), I create art. It’s so important to work towards improvement, even at things that don’t seem very important. It’s so important to feel proud of yourself. I can’t stress that enough. (Maybe one day I’ll be able to crochet a hat!)
  • Talk about it. Talk it out. But even more so, remember to listen.

 

Alright, that’s it for my rambling about my continuing Bipolar Disorder journey. Remember, we are all works in progress!

Please feel free to share your story in the comments, submit questions, or reach out for support.

Don’t Quit Your Daydream.

diy-daydream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An In-Depth Guide To Overcoming Depression // Part 1: Why You Should Talk About It

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For some reason, depression is something a lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about, even though it affects approximately 1 in 6 people at some point in their lifetime. Think of it this way: you’re sitting in a baseball stadium filled with people. Now, break up the stadium into six pieces. 1/6th of the people there have or will experience depression. That’s so many people and that’s only a tiny piece of a much larger picture. 

I think we’re afraid to talk about it because there’s this pressure to appear perfect to the world. We broadcast so much of ourselves online now, and it’s easy to pick and choose the best parts of ourselves to share. We obsess over the best caption, the best angle, the perfect post. We sit in such close proximity to the next person on our newsfeed that it’s impossible not to compare. (Yes, I am writing a post about social media detoxing soon!)

No one is perfect. We all have flaws. Yet, we ignore this and compare our blooper reels to everyone else’s Oscar worthy performance. It’s unfair. It sets impossible standards and takes away from our authentic self, and our authenticity in our relationships with the people around is.

One thing about depression is it’s isolating. Depression starts telling you that you’re alone, that you deserve to be alone, that you’re a burden to others, that people don’t like you, and won’t miss you when you’re gone.

It’s all a lie. Every single mean thing that depression tells you is a lie. And maybe you already know that or maybe you’re shaking your head and scoffing because “This girl on the internet definitely doesn’t know a thing about me.”

Either way, knowing this truth or not, really doesn’t change the fact that you feel this way.

That’s why it’s so important to talk about it. So imperative and urgent to reach out when you feel alone or you think someone else might be feeling alone. Talk about your experiences, the low points, the breaking points.  One day, you’ll talk about how it gets better, how you pulled yourself out of it and conquered an illness that tried so hard to conquer you.

I once went to a mental health lecture and when the doctor was discussing common delusions of schizophrenia, he made a statement that when he put his patients in a group, multiple people would start claiming they were Jesus (a common delusion of grandeur). By the end of the group session, they were able to work it out that they surely weren’t all Jesus, maybe none of them were Jesus. Ding ding ding! We have the answer!

I think this works for depression too (and all mental illnesses really). When you start having open and honest conversations about how you feel, you start realizing you’re not alone. You start feeling less “crazy.” You start realizing that things can get better. You realize that depression is not your fault.

It does get better.

In my next post, I’ll be discussing my personal journey with depression and the many different forms it can take. Before I continue any further with this post, I want to encourage you to consider professional help if you feel it necessary. I can give you advice all day about living with mental illnesses and keeping a positive mindset, but I cannot prescribe you medication (and sometimes that may be what you need). You

I’ll leave you with one piece of advice today: Do something nice for yourself. Maybe it’s a bubble bath, a glass of wine, a new book. I promise, YOU deserve it. Then do something that will help future you. Pack a healthy lunch for work, make your bed, go ahead and meet that deadline a day early. Give your future self a little break. And lastly, do something you’ll be proud of yourself for doing. For me that’s getting outside and getting active. Even if you don’t want to, I recommend you do these things anyway. And then tuck yourself into bed, get a great night’s sleep, wake up and do it all over again!

Subscribe to be a daydreamer and get notified when I post the next part of my In-Depth Guide To Overcoming Depression.

Also, feel free to use my contact page to chat with me anytime.

Never give up. Don’t quit your daydream.

diy-daydream