We Lost a Friend Today (Trigger Alert)

This is an especially tough day. Let me paint you a clear picture. I wake up an hour after my morning call still with fever and congestion. The flu is literally kicking me in the ass. I got some disturbing news about someone I was once interested in. And I just continue to fight through. In Buddhism, we are grateful for obstacles, because the more challenges you have in your life – you are not stagnant. I have for sure not plateaued by any means in regards to today. That’s for damn sure.

When I walked into the break room at work this morning at 10:30 exactly someone came up to me and gave terrible, terrible news. Her relative committed suicide. Meanwhile, I didn’t exactly know this girl. I never met her. But I knew And you all knew her, too. She was one of us. One of our family. She suffered from bipolar (and psychosis).

Over the last few months my dear friend at work had invested time and trust into our talks about her relative. She is someone who isn’t like us and just needed to vent for the most part. I was there for her and gave her my advice as someone who has been through and is currently going through the troublesome times. A few months ago she told me that Natalie was doing well. When she described her current situation I instantly felt in my gut that Natalie was far from doing well. She was manic. And what happens after mania? A downfall. I predicted it and knew in my heart that she wasn’t okay, but never do I imagine that someone will fall down so hard. I know it happens and I’ve seen it happen. But I always want to have the benefit of the doubt that the disease is not as controlling as it is. But it fucking is! It pains me to say that. At least it is when you’re not receiving the proper care and you don’t WANT TO receive it either.

Last Friday she was going through a time that I grew familiar to years ago—before the awareness, before the therapy, before all of the hard work put into my life, before the sobriety, before the correct support—she was depressed. The depression that can only be described to the sane as a deep, dark hole full of solid nothingness. Where no light shines, because it’s too far into the earth and where our own light can’t even shine because it’s too hidden buried under any sort of stableness we never knew. The darkness that keeps us awake at night and wakes us up in the morning. Mornings where life is the most scary monster we could ever imagine and a smile is only a mask we were so that the sane can stop asking us questions.

I knew her feelings all too well that when I heard the news today I cried not because I felt for her family or the fact that it is a true tragedy. I cried because I know what went through her mind when she jumped in front of the train. It brought up the feelings that I had almost nine years ago. The night when I swallowed 60 xanax and somehow was jolted to a reality of pain. When my boyfriend at the time called me a selfish bitch and hung up on me and never spoke to me again. The Christmas I ended up in the hospital eating coal (what an ironic twist in fate) singing Amy Winehouse’s Rehab to cheer myself up in front of the nurses because if not I was going to really go mental. It was the day when my sister saved me because she happened to answer the phone.

But she didn’t have that. Natalie was so dark into the hole and somehow the universe was able to swallow her whole. The pain I have when I think of how much we all could have been there to save her, posing as her safety net with open arms because we understood her sadness.

It’s a sad day in my world today because her light is brighter than ever in this world since she has passed.

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PUSHING MYSELF.

I woke up today with depression all around me. Even though it was a beautiful sunny day, I know why. It’s because I had two beers last night. Nothing more than alcohol depresses my entire fucking system. I need to stay away from alcohol for the next few days. At least it was two beers and not there, because it could’ve been worse. And what’s more to say is that I’m surfing the crimson wave, ladies. That’s another terrible time for me each month. Nothing better than being on the rag and already having a spout of depression.

As I sat in my miserable moments and thoughts, I needed to mentally PUSH MYSELF. It crossed my mind to place myself into the hospital, because what once was a good idea has now become a bad habit. Escaping life is not the answer. I have to continually tell myself. It’s bullshit. Knowing that I can’t fucking fix this disease always weighs on me. I have enough stressors.

In years past I used to miss on average about 1-2 days a month for mental health days. It disgusts me that that’s even a term at times because many Millenials seem to take those days less seriously and miss them just because they need a mental break. But on those days, I sat in my house and slept. Did absolutely nothing. Wasn’t really good for me because I got even deeper into my misery. However, I took them because I could barely get out of bed.

I sit in the bathtub now pouring my heart out onto an anonymous audience I personally don’t know because that’s the only thing I can do. I will probably go to my keyboard next.

Having an internal battle each and every day makes me sad. All I wish for is stability and peace. But our minds are our worst enemies. Why can’t I just be normal?, I ask myself. Oh right, because I’m fucked up. Isn’t that the easiest way to describe it to me. Knowing there’s a name for my disease helped in the past, but it doesn’t help me anymore. It almost weakens me because my mind uses it as a crutch to explain the dumbness that is found within me in times like these. I don’t want to be like this forever!!!

I feel paralyzed by this disease. I give my power to the disease and allow it to take over me. I want to accomplish so much in my life but when it comes down to it, I have so much fear. But being weak is all relative. If I compare myself to others’ strengths, most of the time I will come out on top. I try not to compare usually, but in this situation, it’s somewhat helpful. We bipolars have been through so much (not physically) that we are battling OURSELVES all the damn time. If I could fucking spend half of that energy just battling through more important life issues, I would probably be a damn billionaire. Unfortunately, I’m not. I’m just a single mom with financial issues like most other middle-class Americans who is working hard every day for a 9-5 job just to get noticed at times so I can push forward.

It’s all about the push.

And I’m tired. Maybe some of you have answers for me… or words of comfort. Because right now, I’m crumbling on the inside.

Here comes the sun…

I can feel it. My concentration is back. I’m focusing more than ever on work. Work is going fantastic. Not worried about my love life anymore. My son is happy. And I am musically driven. Why? Vitamin D. That’s all it is.

It was a beautiful weekend and I went for a long hike in a beautiful state park, went sledding a few times, and got so many things done around the house. I’m almost finished quite a few projects and I couldn’t feel more content. It’s no coincidence that because the sun is out, I’m feeling great.

However, an underlying fear is that I will feel too great in only a few short weeks. I’m nervous about traveling for work in a less than two weeks because well, that irritates my mania, and because I will be extremely relaxed and hyper. There’s no other explanation for it. Meds haven’t changed, and I’m doing the same exact things.

These are reasons why being in a relationship for me right now is just not right. I can predict my moods when I feel the subtle changes, but I will never be able to entirely control them. The sun is a love-hate relationship for me. I am accepting when he is there, but I’m pissed when he makes me ecstatic.

This is when I become annoyed with the fact that I have this disease and I can’t do much about getting rid of it. The shit ain’t going anywhere!

I have to remember that I’ve come a long way and to just enjoy the moments I have that are truly wonderful.

Chaos is simple.

Constantly I hear the words ‘unconventional’ and ‘crazy’ fly out people’s mouths and being used in the same sentence with my name or some pronoun to replace it. But for me, chaos is simple. Difficult is easy. Complex makes sense. It’s structure, stability, and sanity that are a struggle. Why? Is it because I’m a lefty? And I think with my right side of the brain. Or maybe it’s because I’m allergic to chocolate and strawberries. Oh no, maybe it’s because I’m a hybrid. Nope, I’m pretty sure I know why.

I mean, let’s face it – bipolar people strive on drama and chaos. Not that I’m into drama per se, but I need some sort of drama in my life. And if that means waiting until the due date to pay a bill or scheduling three events in one night – that’s my fix. That’s what I need. It makes sense to me to feel overwhelmed than to actually live life like a normal human being.

My sister asked me today why I always wait until I have 3-4 loads of laundry to do instead of just doing it once a week. I told her because that’s what makes sense to me. Of course, it’s not logical to most people – but it makes fucking sense to my brain. I didn’t need to defend myself, but she always feels the need to make me feel incompetent even though she isn’t trying to.. She’s telling me what she believes is best. And maybe that’s why I become uber sensitive to others’ words. Because what they feel and think is best isn’t what I think. My perspective is skewed. Better yet, my perspective works for me. Someone like me.

Think about it, if my normal is a rollercoaster for most, then wouldn’t their normal be my rollercoaster? If we could just reverse things and look at everyone’s views in a more empathetic fashion, we would judge less and accept more. Living in a world where my norm is the irregular, I have always thought that my brilliance was something amazing. But really, it’s just our normal. I can’t explain why I feel the way I do, so I shouldn’t need to feel as though what I do feel is eccentric. It’s just different.

I wouldn’t go too far in saying that my brilliance is sheer genius, because it’s far from it. But for me, walking into a room and creating a catchy song on the spot out of a few ideas someone throws at me is simple. For others, they would need years. Looking at a piece of wood I can create a beautiful artistic piece in my mind and go about it and possibly finish it within a few hours. For others, they would need weeks. What I get done in a week, most would accomplish in months. So for me, chaos is simple. I always see a way, a solution, an intricate, yet doable path. For a straight line with structure, I see boring. Slit my wrist now.

Life is an empty canvas I want to fill with color. I don’t wish to take a beautiful painting and cover it with white paint.

Pretty on the outside, Damaged on the inside.

My mother told me tonight that she doesn’t think I have bipolar.

Three words.

What.

The.

Fuck?!

Just because you can’t physically see that someone is hurting doesn’t mean that they’re not. This saying could go true for just about anyone and I am so hurt. My oldest sister had a freak accident (I have yet to really talk about this and probably will hold off for as long as I possibly can) on my 30th birthday last year and everyone is coming to terms that her life is forever changed. It’s apparent (because it’s physical) that she is handicapped. For someone like me, with a mental illness, if you haven’t suffered in a similar way, everyone expects for you to heal because they can’t see it. So if I am smiling or have a good day, a good month, or a good year, I am fine. But that’s not true. Very far from it, in fact.

Denial.

To know that the person who loves me most in my life honestly believes that I am completely fine and don’t suffer pains me. How can my mother believe this to be true? She has known about most of my psych ward visits and all of the depression I have suffered, because I tell her. But because she can’t feel it or see it, it doesn’t exist. Not to her. She honestly thinks that because I live a somewhat normal life (granted, she lives over 200 miles away from me), I must be fine.

If someone like my mother believes I am okay, I wonder what most people think who know that I suffer. Probably most. They probably just feel as though I am emotionally high maintenance or that I am a complainer. I’m pretty exhausted at the moment and slightly on a high because for having a day where almost everything went wrong, something went very right towards the end…

I’ll continue this again at some point. There’s much more to be told. For now, I will accept the fact that my mother will never fully understand me. Three more words.

Fuck.

My.

Life.

Parenting: Breaking the Cycle on Religion.

As humans we tend to think that how we parent our children is the best and most correct way. True and untrue when you really put it into perspective. We know our children best, who could raise them better? But the reasoning on why we think we are truly doing it better than our parents is plain bullshit.

There are cycles we should definitely break as the generations continue and change (not necessarily improve always). Slapping and choosing your switch isn’t done anymore as that is known as child abuse. But our grandparents would swear by it. Other parents knock using the time out system, but in some cases with my parenting–it works.

I had a run in with my mother the other day about religion and it really got to me that she just could not see my point. Then I had a very pensive attitude about the entire conversation on repeat in my head on the way to New York a few days ago and came to one of those “ah-ha” moments.

Let me step back into the story a bit and go over this with you, so you can gain a clearer picture of the events that occurred just last weekend.

Mom: I think you’re straying away from Christianity. (meanwhile she has no idea I am a practicing Buddhist–I’ve tried to steer clear from this conversation because I am attempting to create more healthy boundaries with my mother)

Me: No, I found myself.

Mom: I don’t understand what I did wrong. You don’t love God anymore.

Me: I don’t understand what that means. How so?

Mom: You don’t attend church. It’s so important for you to raise your son with God. I was a teacher for 38 years. Children who were religious were such good students. Children who had no religion had no conscience and were terrible.

Me: Don’t you think that has everything to do with bad parenting, not with the fact of whether or not they were raised in church?

Mom: (silent)

Me: Just because I don’t attend church every Sunday doesn’t make me less of a good person. Take this for example, many Christians I know attend church every Sunday and have miserable lives where all they do is judge everyone who doesn’t share their same ideas. To me, that’s not “Christ-like” whatsoever. It’s small-mindedness. I don’t need to prove my love for God by stepping into a sanctuary and paying tithes every month. I’m quite content knowing that what I am doing in my heart and loving the way I should love makes me a good person.

Dad: So let me ask you this.. If your son died, where would you want him to go? Can you answer that? (becoming more defensive)

Me: Are you saying that I should say Heaven?

Dad: It’s just a question. If you don’t believe in our religion anymore, where is your son going to go if he dies?

Me: So basically what you’re saying is that you want me to raise my son in your religion so that YOU can feel better about yourself in the long run? So that believing that there is a heaven we all go to after we die will make you sleep better at night? Are you trying to manipulate me?

Mom: Raising your son in church is the best thing you can do. I don’t know where I went wrong. You used to preach when you were a little girl. You loved God.

Me: And I still do. But God is different to me. He is not some man in the sky anymore who I will fear. He doesn’t judge me. To me, my Higher Power is the universe. Everyone has God inside of them. God is in all of the energy we have. It’s humility. I know I’m not the biggest thing out there. But I also need logic. A man in the sky who waves a wand around and created everything is not faith. That’s just a replacement for our human answers unable to give us a solution. So in turn we rely on faith-based organized religion. And in the long run, it destroys our society in so many ways. It also creates biases. It creates judgements. It creates wars. It creates hate. It creates hypocrisy. It creates ignorance. We are using religion as a means to allow us to live blindly without investigation. That’s not what I want to do with my time. I hated walking into a church every Sunday being forced to listen to some man who was just as fallible as me telling me how to live my life according to a book created by people who wanted to use church to control society at that time.

Mom: Every verse in the Bible means something. It’s there for a reason. God wrote it.

Me: Men wrote it. Men just as imperfect as us.

Mom: God wrote it. How can you say that?

Me: Because it’s the truth. You can’t even argue with that. Yes, it was inspired by God. Jesus wasn’t Christian. Buddha wasn’t Buddhist. Religion is created by followers, not leaders, who need something to rely on. Instead of being religious, Mom. I’m spiritual. I go by my own journey, not the stories of others. Theirs are inspiring, but not mine.

Mom: So you think all of the stories are false?

Me: I think the meanings behind the stories are what makes the Bible good and those meanings get lost because people are so wrapped up in over-analyzing it. Take the story of Adam and Eve for example. There most likely wasn’t a piece of fruit, it was probably greed or sex.. it was symbolic. Evolution created men over time, not seven exact days.

Dad: What do you think the Bible is then?

Me: The message of Jesus was love. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. You will suffer. When Jesus was on earth the Pharisees condemned him, people disliked him, he was crucified. That is a sign of what humans constantly do. They praise, they destroy, they forget, and continue the cycle. I can’t do that. Jesus’ life is very important to me. Do I think he was the son of God? In a way, we all are. But he taught so much to us. He maintained relationships with people who were outcasts and asked many questions. He was inquisitive. He spoke his mind. His actions were his message. Everything he did was also culturally relevant to his time period. I will not follow his actions and words verbatim, but I understand the message he was trying to send. Similar to Buddha’s message. And I seek enlightenment. I seek a shift in my inner soul and inner being. I’m not worried about what everyone else is doing. For you, it works to attend church every Sunday. But for me, most of those people think that my sister/your daughter’s being homosexual will condemn her to eternal damnation. That’s ignorance! I refuse to associate myself with that sort of thinking. I wasn’t put on earth to judge. I’m just living my life. As freely as possible. I pray all of the time. I absolutely love my life so much more now with a clearer mind. I know I’m not alone. I will not raise my son in that environment, one on the surface that seems peaceful and loving but really is full of judgment and cruelty. I will break that cycle and I hope you can respect that.

Was I wrong? Most likely, the fact that I am open about my forward-thinking probably crushes my mother. And I understand that. But I have suffered enough in my life to belong to something where I don’t have to. I am old enough to choose which beliefs I would like to continue to have. I will not allow a religion to control who I am. It was freeing to say those things because once I said it, I knew I had forever made up my mind. And damn, it felt good.

Bipolar Relationships: Joint Custody

Joint Custody is a court order whereby custody of a child is awarded to both parties. In joint custody both parents are custodial parents and neither parent is a non-custodial parent, or, in other words, the child has two custodial parents.

That’s a nice way of putting it. Here is the real definition:

Joint Custody is a way for two parents to argue constantly over who is doing more and who the other believes is more happy. The pinnacle of these fights usually begin around tax season time when one parent believes they did more for the other. The time when these fights seem to dissolve is around the child’s birthday when the two must unite in some way to have their child at their happiest moments. Both parents whole-heartedly believe that what they are doing individually is best for the child. Both parents answer to single parent issues and know that even though their child may suffer from time to time, everyone is happiest apart.

For the past two and a half years I have been a single mother not only on paper, but also in real life. In some fantasy world my baby daddy believes this means parenthood is a constant competition. fatherTonight I put a stop (at least for some time) to this ridiculousness. Basically, he was complaining because our son had the same sweatshirt on two school days in a row. OK. I can see that if you lived in a white picket fence world this is fine. However, I don’t. We don’t. I live in the city with sky-rocket high rent, bills galore, and in some months paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. Other months, it’s wonderful. It just all depends on what consequence my new self must serve because of the madness I lived for over a decade. AKA bills I forgot about six years ago and now they found me. Yup. Happens all the time.

I had to take a deep breath, because Mercury Retrograde has really gotten to me today and I responded with, “Some days I can’t wake up. It literally takes every single part of me to move out of my bed, dress Kai for school, pack him lunch, dress myself, and drive him to school on time.” I think back to a few years ago where my structure was completely out of whack and I couldn’t even do that. Baby Daddy hasn’t resided with me in so long I guess he had forgotten. I needed to remind him. Now in a “normal” relationship’s custody battles and conversations, this would be possibly insane to hear. But for me, I have come a long way.

Only a few years back I didn’t do my laundry. Still I struggle with that. Easy = struggle. Difficult = all too familiar pain I can deal with. I’m unsure of why that is exactly with me. Instead of being hard on myself and constantly thinking I’m a fuck-up and a loser, I need to pat myself on the back and reward myself for the smaller things in life. Because all of these small responsibilities add up to a big deal.

pat myself

Setting healthy boundaries with those around me, people I love and people I don’t, is so important with my mental illness. With an illness like bipolar where you just shoot up and down like a jumping bean, I need to structure my life in schedule and in relationships.

When he responded back to me he was quite calm and said that he did forget and he doesn’t understand. He only understands reality. That pained me to hear because even after all of these years he still doesn’t get it. I don’t know why I honestly believe that people without the illness will ever fucking get it. Because they will never. Until you go through darkness and euphoria, you will never truly know what it feels like to have this curse blessing disease. He did promise, however, to be more understanding and more supportive of me emotionally. He said he will always be there for me. That made me tear up a little bit and almost miss him. Nope. Can’t go down that path again. I said, “Thank you,” and hung up the phone.

I will continue to try my hardest as a single, bipolar mother, but it’s never going to be easy. Ever. I’ve accepted that. I wish there was a manual of some sort.

manual*Sigh* Good night, guys. It’s been a tough week. I’m glad it’s almost over.