100% Success Rate For Over 35 Years

That’s right, I have kept myself alive 100% of the time for over 35 years now.  Maybe that’s a funny way of looking at things, but when you live a life that very often involves suicidal ideation or, on the flip side, very dangerous and risky behavior, you have to figure that 100% is a pretty good number at the end of a 35 year stretch.

For all of the moments of “give up” I have had in the past, the fleeting “give ups” that I have at present, and the “give ups” that I know are going to be thoughts in my future as a person who deals with mental illness, I can say that, at this very moment in time, I have no “give ups” in me, at this current time.

Of course, that could change within the next hour or week or month or whatever period of time you can conceive of.  And, it probably will.  But when things are semi-ok, when I have a day, even just a single day where I feel like I have passed through like a semi-successful human being, I need to write it down, to commemorate it, to throw it a freaking ticker-tape parade.  Sometimes I can go really long stretches without a day like today, and every great once in awhile, I will have a string of “give up” free days.  I don’t have a string of them at the moment, but I have today.

Today was a pretty good day.  I had only very fleeting thoughts of going up, and for the most part my mind just kept pushing me to go on farther, harder, faster, better, more efficient, more brave.  I went into a craft store today, and I did not totally freak out while inside, and spent the better part of 30 minutes in there.  That is no small feat, because as a general rule for the past months, I go absolutely nowhere, not even usually to appointments.

But I had a gift card, and the wise mind part of me knows that, if I have materials that inspire me, I will be more likely to do crafting-type-stuff, which, generally, makes me feel a little better.  I pushed myself to go to the craft store, and I had my lucky, ever-consistent LarBear with me, and I did ok.  I didn’t do amazing or great, but I did ok, and I ended up with some new beads that I am pretty excited about.

Even bigger than that adventure, was the fact that I went into a Kwik Shop gas station and picked out my own bottle of water and used the restroom and stayed inside the whole time, even waiting in line with LarBear to pay, and didn’t flee to the safety of the car.  This is an even bigger deal because I have never ever been inside this gas station or into any place of business in this section of town.  I pushed myself because I knew I had to.  I pushed myself because I want to get better and be able to go more places.  And maybe, just maybe, I pushed so hard because I really, really needed to pee.  Whatever the motivation, I’ll take it.

I know I do better when I use skills like build mastery and build structure, which is basically exactly what it sounds like.  Building mastery can range from doing everyday things like cooking a meal to learning a new skill.  It is basically (in my eyes), anything that you can do that you can look at and say, “that is me being productive.”  Building structure is also just like it sounds, keeping a day full and not having too much down time.

Building structure and building mastery are the two skills that are going to give me real success, in the long run, if I can keep them up.  I am looking at what I have done today and I am pleased.  I have made a plan for what I am doing tomorrow, and I have detailed it out on paper.  If I can stick with it, I will have possibly another day of success.

A more stable length of time is started with stringing one day together after another, and so I have my evening yesterday when I made a new recipe and cleaned up the house a bit, and I have today, with the shopping and getting out in public and cooking a healthy dinner.  Hopefully I am able to follow through on tomorrow’s plans, or at least some variation.

Right now, at this moment, I have no “give up” in me, and there is really nothing else I can ask for, more than that.

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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

Clearly Clicking Ahead

Three weeks ago, it was Entirely Too Soon to tell you all just how much better it seemed that life was getting.  Now that I have had three weeks of relative (gasp!) happiness, steadiness of mood, positive feelings, and lack of severe depression, I am here to confirm that I am quite giddily at a (fairly) solid, maybe slightly elevated baseline.  After over a year of soul crushing depression that never let up for longer than a day during that period, what I feel most is sweet relief.  Over the past year, I was fairly positive that I was never going to ever, ever, ever experience a “happy day” ever again.  Thankfully, I was wrong.

lifeislovely

I feel clear-minded, I feel optimistic, I feel like issues can be worked on, I feel like my toolbox is full, I feel as if I have great love in my life.  I feel so good that I worry my mood is getting too elevated.  This feels a lot like hypomania, building into mania, but I would really like to believe that it’s just good, solid, level, positive feelings.  Bipolar disorder is cruel in that it makes a person unable to trust their own feelings, their emotions, their behaviors.

So, I choose to believe this is happiness.  I choose to believe that a combination of a happy home with LarBear and satisfaction with learning new things and the addition of quite a bit of mental health groups and programs has resulted in a happy Rosa.  It doesn’t hurt that it is Spring, and the weather has been beautiful.  It doesn’t hurt that I have finally crossed the line from willfulness to willingness, and that I am really and truly being honest with myself about my feelings and thoughts.

I have been keeping very busy, between DBT and individual therapy (both talk and art) and art groups and the newest addition, a peer mentor.  My mental health maintenance and my art are now primarily my “job.”  And really, I am working on it all several hours each day, but not so much that I am getting burned out and not so little that I am just sitting around wasting time.

I find that, the more time I can spend being creative and creating things, the happier I am.  For the last several months, it has been jewelry, and more recently, I have moved into papercrafting.  I find that I love learning new techniques and skills, and I find that I am quite good at working with my hands, which surprises me to no end.

I feel that, to make the creativity complete, I need to get back to writing regularly, even if it’s just a 300-word essay on the blog.  I miss it, and I miss the connections I make with other bloggers.  So, I’ll try once again and write semi-regularly.  That’s all I can do, is try.

My main goal, or the goal overall, is to not wallow in my misery.  That is easy to say when not depressed, but super terribly hard when in the depths.  For as long as I can, though, I am going to face any issues head-on, I am going to be effective, and I am going to use every skill I have to keep my mood relatively stable.

This happiness thing, whether it be hypomania on the road to mania or just true happiness, is something worth working for, something worth putting all of the eggs into the basket for.  To have felt the lowest of lows for so long, and to now feel like life is worth living and that the world around is so amazing and beautiful, yeah, I want to hang onto that.

happiness-flowchart

 

 

Am I Doing This Wrong?

And does it really matter?  I started this blog almost six years ago, because I read Dooce and I thought she was cool, and wouldn’t it be cool to put my life online so that I can look back at it and wonder at the choices I had made.  A short time later, it became as such that I used it as a tool to record the ups and downs of my bipolar disorder.  I could spot trends and patterns, and learn from myself.

I am still mostly doing this as a tool to  help myself spot trends and patterns, but what I’ve found since starting NaBloPoMo, is that I really enjoy JUST WRITING.  Not necessarily about my mental health or the day’s ups and downs.  Writing for the sake of writing.  Writing because I have a thought in my head that I itch to expand upon.  Writing because I want to get down in words just how a specific situation or person makes me feel.  To immortalize relationship nuances and happy times and key moments in my life.  You know, to write for writing’s sake.

As I said before, this blog is six years old.  That’s old for a blog!  I’ve given it up a time or two, but I’ve always come back.  Sometimes I’m not sure anyone is reading it, but my quote button at the top of the dashboard keeps turning from black to orange and telling me I have more followers.  The question is, does how many followers I have, or likes a post gets, or comments made really matter?

I think in a way it does, and in a way it doesn’t.  There’s a part of me that talks to other bloggers and hears wowza stats from them.  I don’t get wowza stats and I wonder sometimes why.  And when I ask myself, “Rose, are you doing this wrong?” I feel silly.  Because I’m not really doing it for anyone other than myself.  I think it’s cool if someone can relate, or it helps someone, but I’m mostly doing this to keep my head on straight and so I can express myself.

I’m going to keep on blogging, regardless, even if only my mom is reading.  Because, for the most part, I do it for me and to capture my thoughts and my world.  This is something that can’t be taken away from me easily.  This is something I will always have.  These words.  Six years worth of words, all my own creating.

The Gratefulness in Moving Forward

When I started this blog, I was looking for a fresh start.  Something to really get me into blogging again, that could be positive.  In RosieSmrtiePants, it seemed like all I had been doing lately was complaining, moaning, wallowing.  Oh, and not blogging.  I mean, A LOT of not blogging.  I couldn’t stand to face that blog most days, unless I felt really bad.

Queen of Biscuits asked me tonight if I was going to “abandon” my old blog.  GASP!  Abandon?  I guess I hadn’t looked at it that way before.  To me, I had grown out of the old blog and am starting something new.  I honestly believe I can bring that creative spirit back to me without having it revolve around every single negative thought in my head.  A blog with much less wallowing.  Lord, how I hate wallowing in my own misery…having done so much of it, very well documented actually, in my previous blog. 

Could I have done all of this on the same blog?  Perhaps.  That wasn’t the path I chose to take, and really, would choose again in a heartbeat.  I don’t like the term “abandonment” or the thought that I am “abandoning” anything.  I’m sure that’s not where QoB’s head was at, but it really sparked some angst.  What if this new blog is just some manic attempt at “normalcy” or a misled yearning for something different that I can’t have, that I don’t deserve, even?

But here’s the thing.  It’s not any of that.  It’s me, same old RosieSmrtie, writing a new chapter, searching for my creativity again, for my outlet.  And the only person who really needs to take that to heart, is me. 

This is Your Life, Switchfoot