Reflections on an Imperfect Time

peace

I am currently in a place I never thought I would be.  I did not believe in the recovery model for mental illness even a few months ago, nevertheless thought I would be in a place in my life where the “recovery” stage would be very real and tangible in my day-to-day existence.

I never thought I would have any extended time of peace, and I never thought I would define peace as the picture to the left does:  “it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I am there, hallelujah, amen, thank you.  There is chaos all around me, but my heart is calm, it is steady, it is beating strong.  All of those thoughts I had of giving up, have vanished.  Those thoughts of giving up that I had almost constantly through every day of the last several years of my life, the ones I didn’t *know how* to get rid of, the ones that kept me cycling through the hospital and the crisis residence and at the mercy of people (supposedly) saner than I on the other end of a phone line…gone.

I have been through months of adversity without losing my steadiness, and there are even more big changes to come.  I am ready.  I know how to climb the mountain and I am familiar with the path and the twists and turns, and I know it will be hard as Hell and that the Devil himself may stand in my way, but I know within myself that I am ready for this adventure.

selfish

QoB is moving away, and my contact with her is sure to greatly decrease.  I am learning that my mom is not the young person she used to be, and that it is time for her to turn her thoughts and her activities and her energies into herself, her new relationship, and into being a cherished Abuela.

It is hard to let her go, to stop calling her so often, to not count on her for every little thing, to really *grow up* here at age 34.  I have had my mom by my side my whole life, she has gone to bat for me countless times, and now, I need to go to bat for myself and count on LarBear to be my touchstone.  This doesn’t mean the relationship I have with her will be any less special, it just means that it is time for me to learn to count on other people.

I *DO* have other people I can count on in this life, and she deserves all the happiness available to her, and if that happiness is retirement and open prairies and big blue skies, then I wish all that for her and more.  There is such a thing called a telephone, and it isn’t like I will never ever see her.  It will just be less.  It is only within the last month, I think, that I would ever have been able to accept this for what it is.

With QoB moving away, retiring from the life here, comes the need for LarBear and I to move.  Physically move, that is, into a new home.  Of course, this creates stress and upset and all of the above, but we need to start living within our very own means, and know that we can still be okay.  We don’t have a terrible income, and it is enough that we will be able to find a nice-enough place to live.  Of that, I have no doubt.  I only wish the process were speedier, more certain, less of a time-suck.  I am ready to find the place and get the stuff moved and BE THERE.

what everyone is doing

The part of the recovery model I am most focused on now, which is also part of DBT, is that I am building A LIFE WORTH LIVING.  The past several years, I have been eking by, and I’m done with that.  I do not want to define myself by my mental illness, and I don’t want others to identify me that way, either.  I am a strong woman and I have a good man by my side, and I honestly feel I can tackle whatever is around me, that needs tackling.

I have even more support outside of my relationship with LarBear, whether it is the constant support of my mental health center contacts, or my Dad, or the Big Dawg.  I have places to turn to.  More than anything, I want LarBear and I to build a beautiful life together, and we are well in the process of doing that.

I don’t want to be “the crazy one” forever, and I tire of being looked at that way by family, acquaintances, the like.  I believe that I am even *more* sane and well-balanced than the average bear, because I am insightful into my life and I *do* examine my own thoughts and behaviors and I also spend great gobs of time practicing DBT and going to therapy and the like.  Practicing my skills isn’t something that anyone should look down on a person for.  Chances are, some of the skills could work for you, or for you, or for my mom or for LarBear or any number of people.

I have more skills in my toolbox than most people, and I think that is wherein the true advantage lies.  I have those skills and I am in touch with different things that help me to feel better, such as writing and making jewelry, and I do not let a single day pass in which I do not create something, anything.  It is so very important — not the product, but the process.  It doesn’t matter if you try a new recipe or build a Lego village or paint a picture…the creativity that dwells within us, heals us, and there is a multitude of proof or evidence out there that healing can happen, no matter how desperate you feel your situation is.  If I can do this, you sure can, too.

live beautifully

Advertisements

Taking Back the Happiness Key

Keys

I’m not old by any means, but at thirty-four years of age, I have learned a few things.  Many of them have solidified here in my brain quite recently, but there is no less reason to celebrate, and no other reason to not be joyful that the lessons WERE learned.  I believe that one of the most important lessons I have learned references the above photo, and not letting others hold the key to your happiness.

I spent the majority of my life figuring this one out, and now that it is fairly stuck in my head, I have absolutely no intention on letting it slip back out again.  Not to say that I won’t have moments when I don’t misplace said key or loan it to someone that isn’t worthy, but overall, the key to my own happiness resides within me, and I can’t be any more pleased to have finally figured out this life lesson.

Part of a Rosa problem, is to let the actions (and sometimes inactions) of people around me, bring me down.  Through DBT and individual therapy, and just a whole lot of pondering, I have realized that what other people do or don’t do, is entirely up to them; it is my REACTION only that I control.  If someone acts offensively toward me, I might wonder what that had to do with me, and be very confused (or scared or upset or other negative emotion).

Here recently, I have realized that sometimes people behave badly for no reason (or, no reason to do with something I can control).  I can walk away.  AND, I can walk away with my head held high, because I have learned another lesson the hard way — this is not about me, and not everything IS about me.  I am not the center of most people’s universe, so just because they throw sticks and stones my way, doesn’t mean it is about me.

I wish I could have realized some of these lessons when I was much, much younger.  Growing up in a household where one parent often flew off the handle for (seemingly) no reason, and spending a lot of time thinking that things were my fault — much displaced guilt, shame, fear.

Being in romantic relationships where I was constantly being bullied, although I could never see a *why* in it, but just figured it was something I “had” to take — how I wish I wouldn’t have lingered in those situations so long.  Knowing that I may not have, knowing that I hold the key to my own happiness and it is my reactions to other people (and their behavior) that I am able to control…wow, if I could only have known those things then.

So where to go from here?  I have already stopped taking the bullstuff of others so personally.  When someone around me is having a bad time, I don’t always assume it is because of something I have done.  If I am feeling down or blue or sad or anxious, I have tools that I pull out to make myself feel better.

It doesn’t always work, but it seems that I have learned to better comfort myself, rather than constantly seeking comfort from another person.  Now, I still do seek comfort from others, but I am also now much more likely to do the things I know how to do to comfort myself first.  This makes for better relationships all around, especially if I am not begging someone else (generally QoB or my Dad or LarBear) to comfort me all the time.

comfort myself

via teachingliteracy.tumblr.com

 

 

 

Building A Life Worth Living, Week Four

life worth living

 

The tiny miracles, true friendship, amazing family, beloved critters, and lovely events in my life that have made life worth living this week:

1) The ability to send an “unpublished” post to a few friends, have those friends reply in earnest, and wind up with an email chain full of great advice and love.  Thank you…stuff like that makes my week, any week.

2) The beauty that I was able to start again with Goddess of Mindfulness, the ORIGINAL therapist to end all therapists.  She has been a great support to me in what has been a really difficult week.  I have never had a mental health professional be more supportive and more willing to spend the time.  And to genuinely care — that might be the best part.

3) That a tiny miracle, a new baby, may be growing in the belly of one of my dearest friends.  That I will be able to be witness to this little one from pregnancy on up, is precious.

4) The trust that QoB and the Big Dawg have in Blue Cat and myself, to run both stores while they are away at a conference.  The Rock and I did it last year, and it seems that the Big Dawg is getting better at ceding intense control.  That, and we’re trusted — that is the big part.

5) The resiliency of the Kizzer Wizzer.  She had been so accustomed to me being at home 24/7 when I was sick, and now it seems I am gone all the time.  She has transitioned beautifully and is still a happy little dog — she gives me no reason for guilt.

6) The ability to end the week on a high note, feeling good, feeling positive and optimistic, and most importantly, living in the  moment.  The weenie roast at the end of the week was perhaps the best time I have had, with friends, in quite some time.

7) The reaffirmation that I made the right decision in not having children.  It is lovely to watch friends’ and families’ children grow, but I know deep in my  heart that I could never do it myself.

8) The wisdom, courage, and forethought to remove myself from toxic situations before they become too ugly.  Truly beautiful wise mind.

9) Noticing the serious side effects of a temporary medication after one day, being mindful to it, and deciding to not continue.  My mental health is a priority to me, and I would rather have painfully swollen feet and ankles, than to be up peeing every two hours, all night long.

10) The sheer joy of having a big bag of ice in the refrigerator, so I can have my water as cold as I like it, thus motivating me to drink more water.

Building a Life Worth Living, Week Three

life worth living

 

To sum it up (once again), building a life worth living is a concept from DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  When we are miserable, we aren’t concerned about our quality of life.  As we strive to get better, we start to care and we start to notice our actions that lead us to that better quality.  This series will become a challenge anyone can join, with an official kickoff in the next week or two.  Of course, if  you’re feeling froggy, jump and do it now — just pingback to this post.

1) I was able to see my sister and Baby O today.  An early birthday present, call it what you want.  It made my whole month.

2) A little bonfire at the HH with QoB and the Big Dawg.  Sometimes very few words are needed.

3) The realization that the majority of 2014 has been utterly yucky for me.  The following realization that I am still standing with most of my mental health intact.

4) Taking the pressure off Sister Sara and taking one for the team, feeding Dad’s cat while they are on vacation for a couple days.  True and unexpected appreciation is always welcome.

5) My niece, Little E, turned three today.  When Sister Sara was pregnant with her, I was so disappointed she wasn’t born on my birthday.  Sooo close.  Feeling very grateful to be a bigger part of her life.

6) Making plans to see a good friend next Sunday.  Yes, I have friends.  It is freaking awesome.

7) Talking to Goddess of Mindfulness on the phone.  Sometimes you just need to let it all out there, and it is so helpful to have someone on the other end of the line, letting you know that  your feelings are valid.

8) Chatting with my buddies on the Interwebs, feeling like I gave a couple pieces of good advice, and unfortunately, also like I must buy frozen pizza next time I am at the grocery store.

9) Coming up on the Big 33 and realizing there are many good people in my life, and they love me, and I love all of them.

10) Getting the banner Mental Mama made for this series to fit ALL the way across the page.  Always getting a thrill from figuring out something techie.

A Life Worth Living, Week One

Sometimes there is a good thing going, and it gets ruined by a handful of people.  That is what happened with me and Ten Things of Thankful.  I deign not to participate in it anymore, but I do feel like it is important to get some thankfuls out there at week’s end.

There is a saying in DBT, that you are working toward “a life worth living.”  Amen to that, because in the throes of all that hell and depression and anxiety and mixed episodes, it DOES NOT FEEL like you are living that life.  If you stick with it long enough, however, you start to find little happy flowers popping up in your flowerbeds and you can go out anytime you like and smell the wet earth and lightly-scented flowers.  That, my friend, is a life worth living.

10551025_775654615825019_1710925520776141566_n

 

The following are the events, people, dogs, and other things that made my life worth living this week:

1) Here, right now, in this moment — I can go to the grocery store by myself without massive panic and anxiety.  I even got myself some pretty good deals with the minimal amount of money I had to spend.  I am getting to a point where, *sometimes* I don’t need that boost to get there.  That is huge for me.

2) I thought I was going to lose a chat friend, and then I didn’t, and the chats are better than ever.  Not panicking, not pushing that person away, not going over the top…things I would have done before, they didn’t happen.  I processed it angry, I processed it slightly pissed, and then I processed it neutral.  In all things, neutral won out and wise mind prevailed.

3) I have made plans for the week.  I am having ice cream with Dad today, I am having dinner with my stepsister tomorrow, and I am having a make-up party with my best friend from high school on Tuesday.  I am looking forward to all three events and it makes me feel good that I can get out and do these things.  Having people around you who care helps create a life worth living.

4) All of my prescriptions are waiting for me at Walgreens.  This may seem like no big deal, but it took years of fighting several years ago to get me on the insurance I needed to afford my meds and it has taken years of fighting to deal with the Walgreens system and finally figure out what it was that I needed to do, on my part, to make sure my meds were there and ready and there were no problems.  Figuring things out like this create a life worth living.

5) Sometimes things come about that make you realize who your true friends are.  The ones that stay and listen and give advice, and the ones who can’t be bothered.  Learning which people to keep in your life and those which exist only so you can serve their every need, that is a big life lesson.  Sometimes the time comes when you have to “cut the fat” so to speak and let a few go.  Learning how to do this through effective communication is learned in DBT and builds more credence toward a life worth living.

 

I know I  have been blogging about DBT a lot lately, but it truly is the best thing that has ever happened to me, as far as my bipolar goes (well, except maybe Lithium 🙂  It is a good therapy for nearly every disorder, and the tenets really do help people even without the disorder.  All you have to do is practice the skills, and the happiness will come.

If you’re feeling froggy, feel free to link up to this post with your own list of what made life worth living this week.  I would truly be honored.  Or, if you don’t want to do a list of your own, leave just one thing in the comments.