After the craziest end to 2016, I decided that drastic measures needed to be taken to change the current status of my life. I had been utilizing the best group of people as my support system, and when Lent came around, my support system had some pretty great suggestions on what I would be giving up. One of them was the need to “always win.” This would be referring to my consistently argumentative nature, and my inability to let things slide. Bah hambug! I decided to generalize all of the ideas and try to just eliminate most issues by giving up negativity.
The first thing I did was get rid of the journal I had started the beginning of the year since it was full of depressive notes. I started a new entry, just an update, and tried to keep it as hopeful as possible. This first step definitely made me feel like I was on the right track. I then made my intentions known to my friends. My friends were supportive, as they always are, and I got a couple kudos. A deep breath and onward I went.
The first week or so was very intentional. I was constantly reminding myself that I needed to be positive and turned every irritation into a learning tool. It felt like I was using the pain from my newly plastered perma-grin as a reminder of what I was trying to accomplish. Perma-grins are not as utilitarian as the good old fashioned rubber band.
By the third week I had given up “learning from my mistakes” and basically just avoided negativity by joking about avoiding negativity.
“You gave up negativity for Lent? That’s great! How’s it working out?”
The last couple of weeks of Lent, I gave up giving up negativity all together, and was positive that I felt more positivity by embracing the fact that I was just plain negative. You follow?
“Why are you so negative?”
“Because it’s easy.”
To sum it up, I still come out on the positive side, regardless of how this would have unfolded. I am positively on the better end of selflove, despite hating most everything else.
I’m sure some day or another, I’ll find positivity again, but forcing myself to do so is just plain negative.
There’s a lot of stigma that comes along with having a mental illness. I was raised in a culture where mental disorders simply did not exist. We don’t take medicine for depression, depression just means you’re sad and that was temporary. Even now, in this culture, the stigma exists. It’s all in your head. Of course it is. Not a lot of people will admit to having been diagnosed. I have a close few that discuss it with me, and I’ve compared it to a sort of Alcoholics Anonymous group. We’re there to support, and hold each other accountable, but not to out each other.
If I think back to when I first realized I was thinking different that everyone else I would go back to when I was 16. That’s when I first experimented with cutting and/or burning myself. At 16 though, you chalk it up to teenage angst. I was sheltered. Despite the attitude problems, I was a good student, and I rarely spent time outside the house. I had friends at school, but I didn’t have close friends I hung out with outside of school. At 18 it started getting worse, and by then, I knew something was wrong and I did write suicide letters just in case, one for my parents, and one for my sister. I kept them inside my journal cover, and still have them to this day.
Around 20, a doctor suggested I was suffering depression. We tried a multitude of medications that just didn’t work. By 23, I saw a specialist, and was diagnosed Bipolar Manic Depressive. To this day I still question the diagnosis. I remember the doctor asking me, “Why do you think you act the way you do?” I simply stated “My mother is emotional. My father is temperamental. I’m both.”
The doctor placed me on a new medication that did work. It had its side effects of course. The manic went away. I lost my passion to be creative, my motivation to be productive, I lost my drive to live. I woke up every morning, went to work, did my chores, and lived like a zombie. I was referred to a therapist. She was actually very helpful. I communicated that I wanted to live without the medicine. She gave me projects to focus on. Things like concentrate on your blog, try going back to school, reevaluate your relationship with your parents. So then I had things to focus on and I was happy to write in my journal again, because I saw them as challenges I needed to accomplish. I think this was when my OCD with to-do lists started. We both agreed that since I knew what my triggers were, I could safely get off my medication, but I had to promise to start immediately when I felt I wasn’t going to be able to handle myself anymore.
Years passed. I had many slip ups, but nothing big. I had big life changes occur, but I still managed to keep my drive. Whenever I got in my depressive state, I’d give my friends the heads up. I would refuse social invites. I would stay home and read or watch movies. I kept to myself until it passed. I looked forward to the manic stages. I took advantage of the excess energy. Got super productive, super active, super social. That’s how I lived. I am an in-betweener.
Last year, during Tallgrass Film Festival A Light Beneath Their Feet was screened as one of the independent films, I watched it and it made me think of many things:
I could be worse, I could be like her
What if I end up like her?
What can I do not to end up like her?
Is this how I seem to everyone else around me?
I am still struggling with my own inner demons, there is absolutely no denying that. I am paranoid of how others perceive me, and I am attacking myself with makeshift scenarios that may or may not occur, or have or haven’t occured. I’m trying to keep my focus, I am trying to be productive, and I am trying to be accountable. This is going to be my life, for as long as I choose to live it.
I don’t think I can sum up all the battles I have to fight on a daily basis in one blog. So I choose to just site a webpage with the symptoms. These are not all inclusive. And if anyone reading this, wants to reach out, give advice or ask for advice, I hope you feel free to.
Symptoms of a depressive mood episode may include:
• feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
• loss of interest in once pleasurable activities such as sex
• behavioral changes
• fatigue or low energy
• problems with concentration, decision-making, or forgetfulness
• restlessness or irritability
• changes in eating or sleeping habits
• suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt
On the other extreme side of the spectrum are manic episodes. Symptoms of mania may include:
• long periods of intense joy, excitement, or euphoria
• extreme irritability, agitation, or a feeling of being “wired” (jumpiness)
• being easily distracted or restless
• having racing thoughts
• speaking very quickly (often so fast others are unable to keep up)
• taking on more new projects than one can handle (excessively goal directed)
• having little need for sleep
• unrealistic beliefs about one’s abilities
• participating in impulsive or high-risk behaviors such as gambling or spending sprees, unsafe sex, or making unwise investments
Some people with bipolar disorder experience “mixed mood states” in which depressive and manic symptoms coexist. In a mixed state, a person will often have symptoms that include:
• extreme changes in appetite
• suicidal ideation
For those that want to watch A Light Beneath Their Feet it is currently available on Netflix.
For those that missed my Facebook Live rant, the blog will become more and more personal, and less “watered down” or “censored.” I feel for myself it should serve a multipurpose, especially since I have found less and less time to journal, and more and more time posting on Facebook which for some people seem “excessive.” I’m not saying I’ll be posting less on other social media but definitely, I need to use this blog more as an outlet for how I feel and what I think. It’s not for anyone else, but for myself. I think it’ll more therapeutic and inspiring for myself, and for anyone else that might want to read it, take from it what you want.
I sat at Barleycorn’s (local bar) last night and started a conversation with the bartender, “So you don’t know me…” I think that’s a great opening because it tells them this conversation is not going to be normal. Finally, I asked when are you supposed to have a midlife crisis and he states “depends on when your life ends” and I thought what if I die tomorrow, I already missed it. And he said “Live each day like it’s a midlife crisis.” That was so good, I told him I’d write it down and I did.
Now, I’m starting my midlife crisis, and I don’t know when and if it will end.
Watching the movie “Mad Tiger” Kengo Hioki (AKA Peelander Yellow) explained his history in art and painting and finally after 10 to 20 years finding it ridiculous and “killing” his art.
“Resetting myself? No. It was an execution. I wanted to kill myself. I also hated myself. That’s why I wanted to kill myself.”
So, this is my version of my execution. Somewhere along the line I thought I could be the cookie cutter adult. Kill that. I’d rather be happy.
Kengo and I at Barleycorn’s last night
Yes, I’m quoting a guy that looks like Pikachu, and he’s sort of grumpy in the movie, but who isn’t now and then. He eat your smile, though! Gotta catch them all! That should be a life motto.
Watch “Mad Tiger” trailer:
*also available to stream on Netflix
And to end, another quote from the movie:
1 John 4:18 … ‘There’s no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.’
Our fear originates from relationships with people. That’s where our fear is coming from. We put a mask on to pretend that as if everything’s going well and just have a facade and superficial relationships. That’s how we end up becoming insincere to each other by lying and deceiving.
This ended up being longer than 2 mins. Please excuse….
So the last post was back in February and even then, I was already slacking. Life got hectic. I had work, some health concerns came up, bowling league, ended a work contract – started a work contract, and basically everything in between.
I do intend to keep this as regular as possible again, starting with this video. I have not stopped reading books, I have not stopped watching movies, and most definitely I am still learning new crafts and new recipes. So long, story short, I’m still alive.
Ever feel like a change? I big change! A social experiment sort of change. I went blue. Lots of thanks to my friend Rachael for helping with this. Usually, I get the “are you sure?” “but your hair is so pretty?” Well, it’s my hair, and it grows back. I said, blue, she said, ok. I told her, “Look, I’m about to make a mistake, let’s make it a big one.” And I think the wine also helped in persuading her.
So, I got a box of Splat Envy and she started bleaching. Yes, we are having way too much fun. I believe some Snapchats and Periscope feeds were involved.
I do not look as good blond.
She went in with the blue and I found out much later there is a reason that people wear gloves.
Right after I tried to rub in more blue all around my head myself. I blame the wine.
After washing, immediately happy with the results.
The next day on the way to work, feeling good! Hahahaha! Yes, it was a drastic change and I still get smurf jokes and such, but I love it. Enjoying every minute, (except my early grocery shopping event this morning when random stops to say “you must be cold, your hair turned blue” I just smiled and kept walking. I’ll murder you with your own shopping cart, Creepy! JK. No murders occurred.
There’s a bigger change in the horizon. Wait for it… Yes, Rachael is coming back, this time I know we need more than one bottle of wine. Learn by experience.