Building A Life Worth Living, Week Two

life worth living

 

Thanks, first of all, to Mental Mama, for creating the lovely banner for, what I hope will be, a permanent series.  I wish I had half her talent.

Another note, if I get enough interest in this challenge, I will start a link-up (or rather, one of my techie friends will teach me how to do a link-up) so we can all revel in each other’s awesomeness.  The only requirements are that you blog about things happening in your life, that make your life worth living.

This, of course, is a “DBT thing,” but is not JUST a DBT thing.  It’s all about making your life better so that  you’re not just living day to day, but you are feeling JOY and experiencing the small beautiful things mindfully and putting purpose in your life.  It is gratitude and it is wise mind, all rolled into one.

The things things that are making me happy and mindful and present and thankful right now include:

1) My new-found ability to not bitch out an inept customer service rep.  Instead of using vinegar, now I use honey to coax out of that intractable rep just what it is I am needing.  It is amazing how being nice and polite on a regular basis can settle into you, making it your “go to” mode instead of anger and bad feelings.

2) A friend who convinced me to go see my pdoc when I was going to just stop taking a couple of my meds altogether due to unpleasant side effects.  All I needed was the suggestion, and I listened.

3)  Much thanks for Dr. Wizard being in my life.  He listens, he understands, he takes action.  Anyone should be so lucky to have a pdoc such as this.

4) Moments of unexpected mindfulness while cleaning, while playing with Kizz, while driving, while breathing to fall asleep.  You practice mindfulness on a regular basis, and it just finds you in everyday life.

5) My friend, Kelli, who showed me how to use the makeup she gave me, and my hope and belief that it can improve my self-confidence.

6) The grace given to me, possibly through my Aunt Pat G. or by Glo, that keeps me on track and keeps me hoping and hoping and hoping for faith.  Faith, I have not given up —  please do not give up on me.

7) The fact that it matters to me that there may be faith within me.  I am not a hollowed out shell, I am a person and there are things that matter to me.

8) My ability to find wise mind amongst the chaos.  This has perhaps been the greatest gift DBT has ever brought me.

9) The fact that I do not necessarily need words to see the love a person has for me, but rather it can be shown in actions.

10) Learning to balance a social life and a private life.  This one is hard, because the temptations live on either side of the dialectic, but middle ground can be found with work and introspection.

If you would like to be a part of this challenge, let me know in the comments or in the following private feedback form:

 

(Tentatively) Bouncing Back

As I was searching GoogleImages for photos for this post, I was struck by just how popular the idea of the “bounceback” is.  It applies to people, places, sports teams, jobs, the economy, relationships, and just life in general.  I wrote the title “(Tentatively) Bouncing Back” before I started searching for “bouncing back” photos, and now am left wondering if I should have chose something else.

But that’s what this is, in the life of Rosa right now.  I’m bouncing back, and I say I’m bouncing back tentatively, because not so long ago (say, maybe a week), I was in the throes of despair.  That’s how it can be with bipolar disorder, so I have to be very careful that these extremely good moods I am having are not just an upswing.  So, I’m tentative.

I do feel myself, the real me, the un-sick me, coming back to life.  After a psychiatric hospitalization and then over six weeks of dealing with very poor physical and mental health, I am starting to feel like “me” again.  Like Rosa has returned to the building, if you will.

Over the past week, I have been getting out more, doing things with family, doing more around my house, just moving around more.  I started back to work on Tuesday.  I thought I would never catch everything up and it would be a huge mess for all eternity, but after flailing on Tuesday, I managed to get everything up to snuff by end of day today.  So see, Rosa?  Not that bad.

I went to the grocery store for the first time in over six weeks today.  I am almost phobic of going grocery shopping, but I went to my cute little IGA in the bad part of town and managed to get everything on my list while staying within my budget.  It was such a good feeling…no, an amazing feeling.  Like I had just kicked that grocery store’s ass and taken it’s name.

I know, in my brain, what I need to do to feel good.  All those things on my Building Rome’s goal lists — I need to do those.  And I need to do the day to day stuff, make sure I get out enough, make sure my house is taken care of, make sure I am taken care of.

It’s a lot easier to have better mental health when you don’t feel sick all of the time.  I have figured out what I can and can’t eat to make myself sick.  I have some tricks to feeling better mentally, and I have been putting them to use.  I think one of the main things that has been  helping me lately is good ol’ DBT.

One of the skills, “one-mindfully in the moment” encourages you to approach something head-on, with full concentration.  It can be anything from doing the dishes to playing with your dog to singing in the shower.  You put all of your attention on that one thing, and I swear, you enter an almost-Zen state or, it’s a lot like (almost exactly like)  “being in the zone,” if that makes more sense.  If you do enough one-mindfully in the moment, you will find that you are also more mindful in general during the day.  Living in the moment is the only way to go.

So I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing over this past week; doing those things that are making me feel good and feel happy.  That’s right — Rosa is happy.  She’s bouncing back.

Got High Hopes

Day one since I don’t remember, I’m feeling pretty decent.  I got a good uninterrupted night’s sleep, I pumped myself full of iced tea, had a good chat with a friend on FB, and now I’m blogging.  And I don’t feel cloudy-headed.  Daresay, I feel pretty darn good.

Now, I am not new to the bipolar scene.  I, as much as anyone, realize this could be fleeting.  Realize that this could just be a little  hypomania and I’ll have cycled out of it by midday.  But for right now, I’ve got high hopes.

I’ve given myself a deadline of 12:30 pm to get off my butt and start doing some cleaning in my house.  I plan to sweep and vacuum, and clean the kitchen.  There’s laundry that needs doing, but its inconsequential laundry, like blankets I don’t use, and sheets I won’t need for another week.  All the “important stuff” has been done and is ready to be put away.  Okay, maybe I’ll put away some laundry, too.

The scary thing about having high hopes, is that they can crash ever-so-quickly.  The scary thing about having high hopes, is that you share your high hopes with other people, and then you often disappoint them.  The scary thing about sharing your dreams with other people is that they want those dreams for you, too, and they start expecting, maybe more than you can handle.

There’s a fear to having high hopes.  A fear that more will be expected, that you might not be able to deliver, that the high hopes you had in the morning are gone by noon.  There is a fear to getting better.

That sounds crazy, though, doesn’t it?  Don’t we want to get better?  I personally do, but at the same time, I’m terrified.  What does getting better mean?  Does getting better mean that I am going to constantly disappoint myself when I can’t measure up?  Does it mean that people will pull their supports from me when it seems I can do it on my own?

What does it mean that I am able to read a book again?  Or do some housework?  Or write a thought-out blog?  Does that mean I’m going to be setting up some new standard by which people will judge me from?  And if I have a little setback, does that mean I’m getting sick again?  And what if I do get sick again, or rather, WHEN I get sick again, am I going to remember what I did last time to get out of it?

Because I usually don’t.  I go from well to sick to kinda-well to better to good.  And then back down.  It’s like a ladder you fall down and then have to climb back up again.  And the rungs are slippery and sometimes you fall a little bit or lose your footing, and you’re just so unsure of it all.

The answer of course, is to live in the moment.  Isn’t that the answer with most things?  I have been doing daily diary cards and emailing them to the Goddess.  I won’t say that I’ve been doing a perfect job keeping up with them, but pretty well.  And those cards remind me that I need to stay in the moment.

Right here, right now, I feel good.  Enjoy that, revel in it, dance around in it a little.  Because right now, this moment is good.  It is SO good.  It doesn’t matter (and we won’t think about) that things could be shit in a couple hours.  What matters is that right now, I feel good and happy and like I could be productive.  I have high hopes.

This song is one of the happiest songs I know, and I have it on repeat.  Give it a go; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, no matter what type of music you like.

Living in the Moment

The last few days have been very emotional for me.  There’s only a few people in my life that really know what is going on, namely my sister and Dad because they have mostly been the ones dealing with it.  And I tried to talk about it with Mom tonight, but time and people got in the way and I don’t feel like I was able to say everything I wanted to say.

A more complete post will happen later this week with all of these goals I am setting for myself and the progress made thus far and so on, but really, right now, I’m just spent and I don’t think I can go into all of it at this present time.

There is something important, of note — I have found my new theme song.  This fits better with what I am going through right now than any other ever has.  I think Goddess of Mindfulness would especially approve.

 

“Living In The Moment”

If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps?
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don’t know
And I know I’ll only do this by
Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home
Living in the moment

I’m letting myself off the hook for things I’ve done
I let my past go past
And now I’m having more fun
I’m letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone

And if I fall asleep
I know you’ll be the one who’ll always remind me
To live in the moment
To live my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home

I can’t walk through life facing backwards
I have tried
I tried more than once to just make sure
And I was denied the future I’d been searching for
But I spun around and hurt no more
By living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home

I’m living in the moment
I’m living my life
Just taking it easy
With peace in my mind
Got peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Oh, wherever I’m going, I’m already home

I’m living in the moment
I’m living my life
Oh, easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
Peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home
I’m living in the moment

 

Willingness, Floating in the Sea, and a Recommitment

For days, weeks, I have wanted to just give up.  I was wrong.  I AM ready to fight this depression.  I am ready to kick it’s scrawny little butt across my backyard so that it lands in my compost pile.  I’m ready to do what it takes.  Do you hear that, world?  I’m WILLING.  I almost forgot the word and I decided to be the poster child for willingness again after a gradual buildup of faith in myself over the past two hours (because that’s just how my mind works, ok?).

After years (like over ten) of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) training, I remembered that I have to use my skills in order to keep everything in top working condition.  Okay, let’s be honest, I didn’t remember.  Goddess of Mindfulness reminded me.  For an hour straight.  Yesterday afternoon.

Why do I always forget?  Why do I always denounce DBT as something that won’t help me?  For the past year, I have been running away from it.  And this isn’t the first time.  I’ve lost count of the times I have decided that a completely proven therapeutic program just isn’t for me.

It’s really hard to have a negative therapeutic experience with someone and continue on believing in the same basic principles that she was teaching you.  The impulse is to jump away, far away, get away from demands you deem unreasonable.  Burn that bridge.  Decide what  you need is intense trauma work.  Forget mindfulness, forget self-soothe, sacred self.  Stop saying loving-kindness meditations.  Completely give DBT the fuck up.

Forget IOP, forget all those other great therapists.  Forget hugging a tree and magically becoming the most willing person on the planet.  Literally.  Banish all those memories of getting better, too.  Tell yourself it had to have been a fluke.  Skills are for idiots.  Skills are for people who aren’t smart enough for “talk therapy.”

WOW.

I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that DBT will bring me up from the depths.  Again.  DBT and I have an excellent track record.  Why I keep dismissing DBT after falling down the rabbit hole, I am not sure.  I think it has to be a subconscious desire to not get better.  Or something fairly similar.

Perhaps something to discuss in my next therapy session, which I am ecstatic to announce is in two weeks.  I am really trying to embrace therapy again (after the last year of having fairly terrible therapy sessions) and all the good things it does for me, and I don’t think it could be any easier to get back all those good things without the therapist I very first started with when I was 16, and then off and on until 2012.  (If you’re new to this blog, her name is Goddess of Mindfulness, often shortened to GoM.)

At the mental health center where I now only receive medication services, there works the director of the intensive outpatient DBT program.  She is a lovely woman and I have the utmost respect for her.  She was my co-therapist (along with GoM) the first time I came to the outpatient program.  She is the one who asked me to hug a tree when it was clear that nothing else was working, and she is the one who was not surprised that the tree hug led to great, great things.  When I was really down, fighting, resisting, pulling away, she said the greatest thing to me:

“Imagine you are stranded in the ocean, no land or boat in sight.  If you struggle, as you are now, you grow weary and die.  If you float, you live.”

This therapist taught me that the best way through the stress and up/down emotions and angst was to float.  “Just float.”  You  have no idea how many people say that to me, because I have told them that story when they were struggling, or I have asked them to say it to me when I am struggling.  She was and is a powerful woman, strong words, intense, amazing in her ability to help heal even the most painful wounds.

And to float is to be mindful.  To float is to be willing.  To float is to use your skills and avoid a freak-out.  To float is to acknowledge that pain, but then watch it float on by.

I can do those things, I know, because I have done them before.  I am already feeling a great sense of calm washing over me, writing this out.  My homework of 1 act of sacred self, 1 act of loving kindness to a loved one, and 1 act of loving kindness to a stranger have all been completed for the day.  I feel like I am floating, having come to remember that DBT will save me, if I am just willing.

Cultivate 2014: Quite Belated Thoughts on 2013 and the New Year

unnamed

 

Isn’t that the most lovely image, to bring to mind ideas and thoughts with shapes everchanging that you will implement in the New Year?  I thought so, too.  #Cultivate2014 is the newest series of prompts I will be participating in, in order to bring meaning and structure and reality to my deepest wishes and desires of 2014.  The prompt for January 13th is as follows:

What did you set out to accomplish last year? What did you do to cultivate your goals and your life? Did your intentions manifest last year?

Bwahahahah!  I didn’t set out to accomplish a darn thing in 2013.  I was goal-less, aim-less.  My constant “have stable mental health” was there, but there was no sense or purpose driving it.  There was no consciousness about it, no meditative thought, no digging inside my brain to see what the problem might be.

Until there was.

I dropped off the blogging grid in August of 2012, just days before my 31st birthday.  2012 was a rotten year and a great year.  I had met the love of my life, I had spent the weekend in a psychiatric hospital, I lost my favorite therapist, I knew true love, I had a new doggy friend.  But life was somewhat intolerable, and I (apparently) couldn’t be bothered to write about it.

By February of 2013, I was back to blogging again, back to putting my thoughts and dreams onto “paper.”  I was back and forth, feeling terrible mentally, feeling  high, feeling unlovable, feeling high high high and low low low.  It really is hard to get all that written down, but I was trying to be semi-mindful at that time and knew I needed to record so that I could go back and repeat what had worked and avoid what hadn’t.

All in all, 2013 was a year of trying to stabilize my mental health, develop my relationship with DSB, and really, not do much else.  Even though it’s not in the best of shape, I am somewhat stable emotionally, mentally, whatever you want to call it, here at the start of 2014.  I’ve been up and down here right directly, but over the past few months I have known a bit of peace.  Living with bipolar disorder and anxiety, there will forever be ups and downs.  Times of tears and times of joy.  Times of wanting to punch someone in the face and then, alternately, wanting to kiss everyone you meet.  And I don’t think I will ever live any other way.  And I am ok with that.

If 2013 taught me anything, it’s that I can apply myself to a problem and fix it and make it better.  I quit smoking in 2013 and am still quit here in January of 2014.  It hasn’t been easy, but it has been done.  I have some big projects to tackle in 2014, and I hope to be more mindful in the way I do things and see things and approach things.  I hope to live a more deliberate life and not wander so much.  I hope to ground myself in that which is real and release negativity from every aspect of my life.  2014 will be a great year…I will wish it so.

Self-Loathing in the Face of Self-Compassion

Reverb13 Day Nineteen Prompt, provided by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray, is as follows:

The Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

In the past year, I have been on a mission to understand and practice self-compassion, which is sometimes defined as “extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering,” and what I have learned has made me realize that this practice is at the heart of everything. 

How will you practice self-compassion?

Talking about practicing self-compassion and actually doing it are quite two different birds.  All throughout DBT, there are mentionings of practicing self-compassion.  And really, I’ve never been good at it.  And frankly, I’ve never tried at it very hard either.

Below the surface, there is just so much self-loathing.  Even now, when I’m doing better, I still really hate myself for a variety of reasons.  From the fact that I can’t seem to keep shit straight at home to the “failures” I see in my interpersonal relationships.  I turn quickly in judgement of myself, over and over.  At the slightest action or inaction, I belittle myself in my head.  I am not sure I could be kind to myself, if I tried, and I really am not sure how to try.

My thought is, “S0 what, you let yourself off the hook for things just in the name of self-compassion?”  I guess so.  I don’t really know.  You criticize yourself less, see yourself as more human, give yourself the benefit of the doubt?  I don’t know how to do that.  I don’t know if I can even try.

But I find myself telling people I care about to be kind to themselves.  Be good to yourself, be kind, be loving.  I can encourage that in others but I can’t pick up a torch for myself?  This topic hits a raw nerve, because although I have come so far, I still, deep down, hate me.  I’m sure that isn’t quite right, but it is so.

From “Hooray’s” to Having no Faith

For those of you who read yesterday’s post, I would like it to be known that I cleaned up and organized the most cluttered, chaotic, consistently out-of-control room in my house.  That’s right, I kicked my laundry room’s ass.  I put all of my winter clothes away, did about six loads of laundry that’s been sitting around I-don’t-know-how-long, hung up or folded DSB’s entire wardrobe and my entire summer wardrobe (and we are not people with small wardrobes).  That bitch is done, amen!

I also cooked a healthy, homemade meal and cleaned my kitchen.  Those aren’t things I really give myself a pat on the back for because I do them every day, but I have to admit…it DOES feel good to do those things and do them consistently and well.  Hooray for that!

On the flip side, I have been really hard on myself lately, and I although I think I deserve every bit about it, all of the guilt and angst and wasted emotion is really eating me up.  It’s affecting my sleep, and Lord knows that when my sleep gets affected, bad things happen.  And also let’s say that, when I’m in wise mind, I know that I don’t really deserve quite all of that nastiness.

And let’s also say that I have been having one hell of a time getting into wise mind.  I don’t think it’s from lack of trying, either.  I keep having these hugely reactive emotion mind episodes.  It seems like my first instinct is to scream, “NO!” at me, anytime the said person asks me to do something.

I feel like I am so negative toward everyone and everything in my life, and like I’m always saying no, no, no, no, no, when people ask me to do something.  I know in some ways, I am trying to protect myself because it just feels inside like I am very fragile right now and I can’t quite explain it.  I just feel really sensitive, like I’m going to crack open at any time and I won’t be able to put myself back together.

I’m at a point where I’m not sure what I should do to make myself feel better.  Of course, there are things I could do, but I have no faith that any of it would make me feel better.  No faith in DBT, no faith in myself, no faith in anyone, really.  Where does one go from here?

This and That

Overall, the last week has gone rather well, especially the latter part.  I worked Thurs-Sat, we were quite busy, and I handled it.  I went to a busy grocery store on Friday at 5:00 p.m., which was actually quite brave of me.  Friday-payday-just-off-work crowd had the place slammed and I am usually so not good with that.

But, I was on a mission and I survived.  With barely any anxiety.  As I texted my mom…”I killed that bitch!”  And I rewarded myself with a dollar vanilla cone from Sonic.  Victory never tasted so good.  I have barely been able to step foot in that grocery store, crowded or not, for over a year due to social anxiety.  I honestly don’t know what came over me, other than I was just plain determined.

I saw the doctor on Monday and he said my foot was still “cracked,” but then he poked and prodded it, determined I wasn’t in any pain, and told me I could take the boot off and resume my normal business.  So, I did.

By Thursday, an hour into my shift at the store, I was calling my mom and asking her to bring me my boot.  Foot is totally killing me.  Worse than right before I took  it off.  I am beyond bummed about it and pretty pissed at my doctor, and even more so with myself for listening to my quack doctor.  I have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist on Monday for a second opinion, so we will see how that goes.

DSB sees the urologist and gets the results of his tests on Monday, as well.  Monday could be a good or crap day, depending.  Right now, I’m just trying not to anticipate and to live in the moment.  Adaptive denial, I believe they call it.

QoB has been out of town since Thursday and is not due back until Tuesday.  Life is a little different around the edges without her around in many ways, but it seems like she is having fun and a much-needed vacation.  It’s a good thing, because once the season starts at the stores, she won’t have a lot of extra time.

I am still feeling like I have to explain every move and emotion to DSB (through no fault of his own), and it’s not a good feeling.  I still feel like I have to be on the defensive, and it doesn’t feel good.  I think I have some past trauma stuff popping up when it comes to all of that, and I am hopefully going to be working on all of that soon in therapy. I think it is much needed, especially for the sake of DSB and mine’s relationship.

Wow, I just re-read that last paragraph and it is just now making sense that the way I act in this relationship could be influenced by past abusive relationship.  My brain has been in complete denial!  Off to do some research!

Episode, Schmepisode

I haven’t blogged for the last several days because I haven’t felt I had anything of import to say.  I’ve also been less than motivated, full of self-criticism, and in general avoiding any kind of reaching out.

I saw my therapist on Tuesday.  About a month and a half ago, I had switched to seeing her every other week.  With a few cancelled appointments due to snow, DSB illness, and other random occurances, I managed to see her twice in six weeks.  Not good.

During our meeting on Tuesday, I decided that I wanted to go back to seeing her once a week.  I am on a somewhat steady path, and am ready to tackle some demons that have been haunting me for several years.  I’m ready to take on the trauma issues, the self-confidence issues, the self-assurance issues.  I’m ready to take on things that I have just dealt with that need to be changed.

For the past few weeks, I have been feeling a bit purposeless, but with these new therapy goals, I feel like I am taking life by the proverbial horns again.  I am not a person who does well with doing this, undirected.  I feel confident that I can resolve many problems with the help of my therapist, and the support of DSB and family.

One of the things that I want to do is be better-informed, as in, possibly start keeping up with news and current events.  I have such a good time talking about things like this with my Dad and he is always super well-informed, watching the news and reading the paper daily.  I want to have more conversations like this.  I want to contribute.  I want to have something to say, an opinion, an idea.

I am also considering returning to group DBT on a weekly basis.  I have talked with my therapist and she thinks it is a really good idea.  It helped me a few years ago when I went through it, but my experiences with it this last time were not good.  I told my therapist that I only wanted to attend her group and she said she would be  happy to welcome me.  I have a lot of trust and faith in this therapist, and really enjoyed her in IOP (intensive outpatient group).  I am hopeful that group DBT will be helpful for me again.

So, as the title states, I don’t think this is an episode.  I am thinking of it as a bump in the road, a nail in the tire, a nagging headache.  It will pass in due time, and with some work, things can be a lot better.