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

 

 

 

This Week in Gratitude

I used to do a link-up that was a 10-things of thankful, and I did quite enjoy doing it every weekend.  The format has changed now, and I can’t find any linkups, so I decided that at the end of every week, I will go out on my own and do a gratitude post.  There are so many things out there to be thankful for, yet it is easy to not bring them to one’s consciousness in a mindful way.  SO, this is part DBT exercise, part because-I-wanna exercise, and mostly because I want to remember the good stuff, for when the time are NOT so good.

Without further adeiu:

  1.  This week, I am thankful for the four-cup coffee pot my mom purchased for me.  I had a huge coffeepot before, and the result was always that I would drink the entire contents every morning, which would leave me sick.  Ok, so yes, no self-control.  To remedy the situation, I gave up caffeine, but have started to miss it oh-so-much, so this is the solution.  The theory — the less coffee that is made, the less I will drink.
  2. LarBear has been a champ this week (well, every week), but especially this week, with helping me get a caffeine fix every morning even when there was no coffee pot.  I’m not sure why a large coffee at McDonald’s must cost $1.95, but it is clear we will be saving money now with brewing it at home.  Oh, and LarBear can avoid going out in 25 degree weather, all for the sake of a cup of coffee.  I think he will appreciate that!
  3. The very small mouse problem that started a couple weeks ago in my basement (this is what happens when you live in the country), is no more, after Mom’s boyfriend hooked us up with some poison.  I placed it carefully where the dogs couldn’t get to it and there has not been one sign of a mouse ever since.
  4. I am thankful that I have found it within myself to continue to work on giving second chances and third chances and fourth chances to people in my life who, well, may not deserve it (from the outside looking in).  It can be really hard to give up on someone who has been around your entire life, although not impossible.
  5. In a related thankfulness/gratitude moment, I am grateful that I can still see the good in most people, even when it is buried very deep below the surface.
  6. I am excited about Thanksgiving plans, getting to see the Big Dawg’s side of the family, and possibly going to see my maternal grandfather’s side of the family a few days after the big Turkey Day.
  7. Somewhat related, I am very grateful that I am *with it* enough to think about doing these things, and being around all of these people (that I am not used to).  Baby steps, Rosa.
  8. I am grateful basketball season is upon us, and I have already made it to two games at the local college.  Go Bods!
  9. I am thankful for interpersonal communication effectiveness skills learned in DBT, as it seems like LarBear and I get clearer with each other every day, and my other relationships continue to improve, as well.
  10. I am grateful/thankful/proud that I have cranked out almost one post every other day for over a week, and don’t feel any signs of slowing down yet.  I am grateful people still read, still comment, still like, and still listen, even after all this time.  Some of my favorite people are my online blog friends, and I am glad I didn’t mess that up too terribly with my extended absence.

What are you grateful for this week?  Making these lists may seem a bit mundane now, but they are very helpful to look back on in the future when things might not be so rosy.  I know they have helped me tremendously!

No Overloading the Rosa

It is only within the past couple of days that I have been able to see any kind  of real improvement without major backsliding.  I have been **gasp** calm today, even in the face of really dumb arguments and an empty jar of peanut butter.  I have only cried twice and I slept almost three hours uninterrupted.

A tiny bit of clarity is in my thoughts today, and for that I am grateful.  I attribute it to the countless years of DBT with Goddess of Mindfulness and the very small piece of me that has been able to resurrect some of that in my life the last few days.  A small kindness or simple yet firm decision can go a long way.

My simple yet firm decision (that I have come to with surprisingly little angst) is that I must get back on a schedule, and do things that make me feel better, more grounded.  One would think that, having lived with bipolar disorder nearly my entire life, this would have come to  me sooner.  Well, it didn’t, or maybe I wasn’t ready to do it.  But now I say “no.”

In the next week, I will eat dinner before 8:00P and take meds by 8:30P.  I will read and blog and work on new art projects (charcoal drawings, thanks to stepmom Karen).

I will stay out of stressful situations.  I will not interact when I don’t want to, and I will not force things  because I “should” and other people want me to.

I will not talk about why I don’t believe in God, or my theories on ISIS, or watch the local news.

There will be no overloading of the Rosa, just soft and easy with myself and my time.  It will work this way because it has worked before, and because I say so.  Not a lot of willingness in there, but sometimes getting through the first steps means being the opposite.

Getting the Real Answer

“How are you?”

“How are you doing?”

“How are things?”

“How is your day going?”

Innocuous little questions, right?  They’re just a transitional phrase used to get to the next part of the desired conversation.  Usually, that is.  I often don’t know when I should respond with “terrible” or “fine.”  My tendency to lead towards fine is there, but at the same time, if I’m not quite honest, more is expected out of me in the ensuing conversation than I may be able to give.

Of course, if your therapist or your pdoc is asking, you’re going to tell it like it is.  Hopefully, anyway.  I went back to see Dr. Wizard today and explained to him my symptoms.  Continued depression, brain fog, returned crying spells, poor sleep, and racing thoughts.  He decided to keep the Geodon where it’s at (180mg) and increase the Abilify (now 10mg).  He also prescribed more sleeping medication (the same stuff as before) except at twice the strength.  He says, depending on how my July 9th appointment goes, we will lower the Geodon some more and raise the Abilify.  It was in my best interests during this conversation to be as candid with the good doc as possible.

Now I get back to town and I run into work to do a couple quick errands.  One of the employees (who knows where I was last week) asked me how I was doing and I gave him the standard, “hanging in there,” answer.  It wasn’t appropriate in that situation to tell him how shitty I feel, but at the same time it would be rude to blow a lie into  his face about how great I’m feeling.  I did my two little errands and ran off — it was hard to be there with customers and worrying if the customers will speak to me and how I will respond.  I’m just not ready to be back yet.  I hope I will be soon; just not yet.

Then I ran into the Big Dawg.  He also wanted to know how I was doing, so I said, “crappy, but I will be fine.”  Of course, this is some variation on the truth.  I do feel crappy, but everything will turn out in the long run.  He seemed happy to see me out and about, so I didn’t want to burst his bubble too terribly much.  At the same time I didn’t want to give him false hope, because the chances of him seeing me in a crying jag in the near future are pretty high.

By the time I got to Mom’s house, I was teetering on the edge.  I told her all about how bad I felt and how non-functional I was and of course, I cried.  Cried my eyes out and whined and cried some more.  Thank goodness at this point she is used to it and doesn’t freak out when this happens.  She told me to “chillax” for awhile and she was going to do some planting in her garden.  The theory was that we were going to get to the grocery store for me today.  I hope we do, because I don’t have any food, but at the same time, I am dreading it.

When my blog demands the questions, “how are you?”, sometimes I just lie and make things sound better than they really are.  Sometimes I am honest, too honest, and I feel exposed.  Today is one of those days I will be honest.

I am sleep-deprived and sleepy, all at the same time.  I am feeling positive that I was able to see my therapist yesterday and Dr. Wizard today.  I am hopeful that these med changes will be great ones and I”m hoping like hell I don’t have to go into the hospital again.  My brain feels foggy and like I can’t pay attention, and driving is almost scary at this point.  I have very little ability to concentrate.  I feel sad, depressed, out-of-sorts.  I feel kind of like someone close to me just died and I am going through a grieving process.  I am anxious and skittish.  I feel afraid for what lies ahead, in the short term and long term.

I spent the entire 45 minute drive to therapy yesterday replaying conversations with DSB in my head and thinking that maybe it’s MY fault that he treated me the way he did and that I should have done something differently so he would have stayed.  Except, I didn’t want him to stay is what I finally realized.  Why he should come up at a time like this, I don’t know.  Maybe because he was here the last time the shit hit the fan.  Perhaps.

I feel guilty because I am barely reading any blogs, but will start doing more of that when I am able.  I know everyone is writing great stuff, so if you see that I came by and liked something but didn’t comment, it’s not personal.  I am just unable to string a few words together sometimes, but I want you to know that I stopped by.

I feel guilty I am not working, am not cooking, am not cleaning, am not doing much of anything.  I feel like a leech on my parents, but they continue to assure me this is not the case.  I feel like I am harrassing the mental health center, and while this may be true, I am in need of help and I will fight for it.

Because there’s one thing I do have, out of all the negative emotions and feelings, I still have FIGHT left within myself and I will not let bipolar disorder get one over on me at this point.

Grief Anniversaries Compounding More Grief

I am so glad this weekend is over.  I’m glad DSB’s surgery is over and now everything is on the steady with that.  I’m glad I have the first round of inventory entered into the computer.  I beyond love love love my dishwasher for enabling me to keep a very clean kitchen at all times, although it was constantly being cooked in by a very messy DSB.  I am thankful for Klonopin, even though I get tired of taking it.  But mostly, I am just glad the first five days of 2014 are over, because I don’t think I could take much more.

I have spent more time today crying and boo-hooing and angsting and sobbing and catastrophizing today than I care to spend in about a month.  I mean, the waterworks will just not shut off.  The negative tapes were churning away in my head and I just felt so sad and hopeless.  And I couldn’t figure out why.

And I’m not saying this is the only reason, but it is likely a factor.  My grandmother died two years ago yesterday, and today would have been her birthday.  I wasn’t particularly close to my grandmother, but it was her death two years ago that sent me over the deep end.  I firmly believe that I probably wouldn’t have taken such a nosedive if that terrible timing hadn’t ended up the way it did.

I have a lot of my grandparents’ furniture in my house.  I bought some new silverware yesterday, and I cried when I found some of my grandparents’ old silverware tucked underneath some more current items.  Cheap steak knives is what they are.  Except they don’t look cheap.  And are probably not.  They were Grandpa’s and thinking about him and those steak knives brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Isn’t it awful how grief compounds grief?  I’m over my grandmother being dead, and it’s only been a couple of years.  My grandpa is a whole ‘nother story.  He died in 2004 to be exact.  He died exactly 14 days after my 25th birthday.  I distinctly remember that I was on the Atkins diet at that time, and I heard the call right as I was starting to eat a steak dinner.  I couldn’t ever eat that particular blend of seasonings again.

There was a huge thunderstorm going on and I can remember the Big Dawg picking me up and taking me to the Assisted Living place where my grandparents had been living.  There was a big empty room, and Grandpa was on a stretcher, all wrapped up in white sheets.  And I totally lost it.

And I still do lose it, thinking of him.  I think of all the things I wish he had been able to see, to do.  I wish he had been able to meet DSB, to go fishing again, to make terrible soup, to hold his favorite dog, to see my sister get married and have her little boy.  He has so much to be proud of, and I can’t help but think that he absolutely MUST be up there looking over.  I don’t know how I would or could go on if at least some part of me didn’t believe that.

And maybe that’s strange to not know if there is a God, but to be certain there is a heaven.  I really don’t care.  I pray rarely, but I do talk to Grandpa, and the Bird Lady.  And I really do think sometimes they answer me back.  And I light a little candle and I send a thought, and that’s enough for me.  So that’s what I’m going to go do.  Light a candle.  Take a Klonopin.  Pray for dreamless sleep.

Amen.

Go Home

Sometimes, when I’m out and about, I get this feeling that I just don’t want to go home yet.  It’s almost a sense that there is something bad waiting for me there.  Don’t get me wrong, there really isn’t.  DSB is kind and sweet and the pups are the best.  But still, sometimes, I don’t want to go home.

On occasion, I don’t want to go home because I don’t want to interact.  I would rather think and be still and not have to utter a word, even if it was only one word. There are times that I don’t want to go home because I don’t want to face my poor housekeeping.  Other times, I just don’t wanna.

Today in particular, I didn’t want to go home.  I wanted to go see my mom and talk to her.  DSB and I had stopped by my godparents’ home, now vacant, with the Bird Lady dead and my godfather in a nursing home.  I have some happy memories of that place, and it reminded me and I remembered and now I feel sad.

I also was reminded of the year I spent there with Dr. Love, a year of near-constant bickering and arguing and passive-agressiveness and almost no love.  I feel sick when I think about that relationship.  It should have never happened.  But, it did.  I have to deal with that and those memories, and that made me sad and anxious and mad.

So, we did end up coming almost directly home from there.  I feel almost sick over today, when there is so much to be grateful for, which makes me feel even the more sick that I feel this way.

DSB saw his doctor and the cancer has not spread.  They are going to remove his left kidney, but he’ll be fine.  No chemo, no radiation, just a short hospital visit and about a month’s recovery time.

I saw my orthopedic specialist who informed me that my foot has healed completely and perfectly, and that I am in pain because I need to wean myself off the boot instead of trying to do everything all at once without it.

So, two happy, good, awesome things happened today.  I am not appreciating it and I hate that.

I feel as if I may cry, I feel as if I may throw a chair out the window.  I also feel as if I may just get naked and go huddle into the fetal position in bed and not come out until today has passed.

This isn’t fair.  I can’t let my emotions get hijacked like that.  I should have been on higher alert, or something.  I should feel positive and happy and relieved.  Instead, I feel anxious, sad, and angry.  I can’t see the good for the bad and that just isn’t fair to DSB.  I need to snap the fuck out of this ASAP before something truly dire does happen, like breaking all the glass windows out in my sunroom.  Because that sounds pretty good about now.

Weekend Snark

I’ve been feeling kinda funny around the edges here in the last few weeks off and on.  Sometimes, the day passes and all is well.  There have been more than a few days, however, that would likely have been better spent in bed, thereby protecting all those who interacted with me from my snark.  This weekend, I have been particularly snarky.

It seems that I am losing my ability to communicate effectively.  In that, words are tumbling out of my mouth so fast that people are asking me to repeat myself.  I hate that.  Hate when it gets like that.  Instead of concentrating on talking slower and more clearly, I get pissed.  I refuse to communicate.  I can barely stand to speak to anyone, nevertheless get around to enunciating.

It is times like this that I let shit slide.  And I mean, the shit has done slid here in this house.  There are dirty dishes in the kitchen, dog hair lining the hallways, used tissues piling up on the coffeetable, and plants dying of thirst.  And while it causes me anxiety that my surroundings are in such disarray, I can’t seem to make myself do anything about it.  Such is the dialectic here, people, ever-shifting…anxiety-provoking disorderliness, yet I just don’t give a shit.  I think I’ll sit here and stare out the window at the gosh durn snow.

Effing snow.  Effing cold weather.  Effing February.  Oh mother effer!  I should probably use my sun-lamp, but I’m afraid that I am on the fringe of a mixed episode and that would shoot me straight to the heart of one.  Ok, maybe not on the fringe, but on the fringe of the fringe.  Of the fringe.  Denial is so cute, isn’t it?

I’m starting to let this broken foot bullshit get me down.  And the prospects, according to the doctor, my physical therapist sister, my mother (who invented the Inernet), and everything I’ve read indicate that this is a very slow-healing break and it could be 3-4 months for it to heal, if it does heal, and maybe even then surgery will be necessary.  I feel effed six ways past Wednesday.  I am sick of this boot and sick of being off balance and not able to do the things I want to effing do.

And for today, I’ve said the effing “eff” word enough and I’m thinking of opening my back door and screaming “Mother Fucker!” to the effing snow.  Maybe that little release will keep me from eating DSB for dinner, and maybe I will practice a little radical acceptance around the fact that 8″-12″ of snow (and ice) is headed our way tomorrow and there is nothing I can do about it.  DBT can be a real bitch.