And all is well, because, even when things aren’t really all that well, they really might be anytime in the next few seconds or days or weeks or months. A year, maybe, at worst, but things tend to get back to a sort of homeostasis with me and stay that way for at least a week, sometimes longer, not usually shorter than a few days.
At the ripe old age of 36, I’ve discovered that the almighty “how are you doing” question is quite highly overrated and can really only measure a very finite period of time, and is really only a relevant question if you want to know how I am doing right at that moment.
Maybe it isn’t this way for everyone, but I have very little ability to look back over the past lengthy period of time and give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down, mostly because, at least for me, life is, in general, quite up and down on a given week.
I don’t even like filling out that paper at the therapist’s office that asks you to rate your week “on average,” because in a given week I can have suicidal thoughts while during the same week feel intense feelings of contentment and happiness.
No, it’s not like that every week, but it is like that a lot of weeks. I highly suspect most people are similar. That borderline diagnosis that they like to slap on me from time to time, that I don’t resist that much anymore, sums up the generally extreme reactivity I have to my environment and the emotional “third degree burns” that do seem to continually pop up no matter how much therapeutic salve I slather on them.
I am getting to the point (GASP!) that I am just beginning to accept all of this. So I am emotionally reactive, so things seem terrible and horrible and beautiful and wonderful all at the same time. Well, that is just a day in the life of Rosa, and probably a lot of other people, most who wouldn’t dare admit to such crazytalking.
I think so many of us, and even more of us who deal with mental illness of some sort, believe that the up and down and up and down of the bipolar/BPD/borderline/whatever-you-wanna-call-it roller coaster is just one big fat symptom. I think maybe, just maybe, it’s life, and even more, it’s what you make of it.
I don’t want to spend my whole life (as I have spent much of this blog), bemoaning the lowest of lows and glorifying the highest of highs (not to say that I will not continue to do so, because writing about it is therapeutic in itself). Instead, there needs to be more living in the moment, more striving to make each day better with the choices that I am able to make about what activities I participate in and who I surround myself with and what I feed my brain and my body.
I have felt this sense of wellness before, about my general feelings that I am likely and very quite possibly a little crazier than at least some, and the feeling of wellness has always occurred when I started taking care of my business.
I am building structure, I am exercising daily, I am eating right, I am taking care of my relationships, I am taking care of what I feed my brain, I am sitting in front of my sunlamp and I am engaging other people (outside of the Internet) through social activities (such as at the pool in exercise class or at the mental health center in groups), I am attending multiple modalities of therapy, I am creating something new everyday, I am crafting jewelry and papercrafts and hugging my dog and being nice to my boyfriend and getting plenty of fresh air and all of those things I know I need to do.
How did I learn to do all of that? Well, it’s all pretty simple DBT skills, actually put to use. That’s the key there: put to use.
As an aside, I took a test (for fun) while I was collaging at art therapy today (because my AT is an absolute nut and quirky and everything an art therapist should be), and it determined that I demonstrated a moderate internal locus of control.
Meaning that, I believe that if something is going to happen, I have to make it happen. I don’t believe in luck, I believe in actively doing. It struck me that this is what I am doing now. While for the longest time I was waiting for some external force to come and sweep me out of depression, it turns out that all I really needed to do was make some choices, force myself to start building structure, using DBT skills, and those skills build one upon each other.
Right now, and for the past little while, things have been good, really pretty good, rising up from being pretty roller-coaster-ish…and I attribute that to DBT, to making things happen, and to getting off my butt and DOING.
The act of not doing is so much easier, but the act of DOING, doing ANYTHING at all, is what is keeping me going.
A time has passed since Sweet Lucy Lou went from her heaven on Earth to that Rainbow Bridge in the sky, where she awaits her family in due time. I haven’t written about it or even posted a short excerpt on Facebook because this feels like such a huge loss, and I didn’t want to trivialize it, and I didn’t want a bunch of FB “friends” extending their condolences that I didn’t feel up to accepting gracefully.
Truth be told, Lucy was my mom’s first standard poodle and she rescued her almost 11 years ago. I grew up with Lucy, but she came to live with me about three years ago, when it was deemed that my flat house with no stairs would be better for her ailing hips and back. LarBear and I have loved her to the moon and back and poured everything we have into making her happy over the latter years of her life, And Lucy and Kizzie, they were quite a pair, always keeping each other company, keeping each other entertained, loving each other.
But as we all know, dogs generally have shorter lives than those of their humans. Lucy actually lived about two to three years longer than she may have, and I would like to think it was because she was so well loved. I remember clearly my last moments with Lucy, and the blessing my mother gave me when she took Lucy from my home so that they could visit the vet and Lucy could be pain-free and happy forever. I never could have dealt with that and my mom knew that, and besides that, Lucy was her love, too.
I have been sad awhile now, not all to be put down on the loss of Lucy, and I have actually been quite in denial, just letting it smack me upside the head at the most inopportune times. Like today. Today was Kizie’s first car trip since Lucy left. She hasn’t stopped looking for Lucy or keeping Larry and I in her signt since Lucy left, and that all came to a head today. We drove her to the vet for an allergy shot, and she uncharacteristically whined the whole way and paced the seats. Nothing would calm her.
After her shot, LarBear dropped me at the urgent care clinic to get a prescription for a sinus infection, among other things, and he said that she cried and cried when I got out out of the car and was cocmpletely inconsolable and stuck right to his heels the time he was home. When I came home from the doctor’s office, Kizzie was just so happy to see me. She turned into the puppy that I only see so often, and it was clear that she thought, too, that I had left her like Lucy.
And so it goes like this, and I am all heartbroken again. Lucy was a good dog, the best kind of dog, with a sweet smile and a wagging tail always and the best disposition. And she really loved popcorn. And cheese. I sit here typing this with Kizie at my feet, LarBear by my side, and I miss her. I miss her and so does everyone else. The only thing giving me peace is that she is waiting for us and is in pain no longer.
Rest in Peace Lucy Lou. There is still a whole lot of love for you here in this world.
Roughly two months ago, I was talking about “still waters” and not rocking the boat. I always have these fantasies that those feelings of stability will have some sticking power, but I have been downright down and depressed and agitated lately, and more lately than that, physically ill and the most exhausted I have ever been. All through this period, I stopped caring about things.
At first it was a conscious decision, like, “eff that.” Then it became quieter, until I wasn’t reaching out to anyone but I was doing my best to keep up pretenses and did a lot of cancelling appointments, making excuses for why I couldn’t/wouldn’t be there/had disappeared.
I am not right on top of pulling myself out of this sinkhole, but I am more aware of it, at least. I have started smoking again (yeah, I know, I know, I know) and am going through the whole beating up of myself over that failure. I have barely been to the gym in the last month, and have even given up on my calorie tracker, MyFitnessPal, most days. I am trying to resurrect all of that slowly, but to lay it all out there, it’s not working for me.
I have let issues get so big, piles so high, and issues so neglected that I am extremely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point of panic attacks and almost nightly nightmares, which is not a good place to be. I haven’t felt like reaching out to anyone, somewhat because the response I am afraid I will get it how PROUD people are of ALL MY HARD WORK. When it comes out here that there has been no hard work, just continued survival and nothing else, I don’t want to have those words ringing in my ears.
On a related note, I get so sick of myself saying, things are great, things are mediocre, things are terrible, and then up and down and back all over again, that it is a lot of the reason why I don’t blog often. If I am this sick to death of me, I don’t figure anyone else wants to hear this shit either.
I am generally one to exaggerate any given idea, event, moment, description, but it is truer than true that my life is really pretty darn okay right now, and has been for a little while.
Yes, there are bumps in the road, but I am using skills more frequently (and without overthinking) to get through the bumps, and the bumps pass much faster than they ever used to.
For once in my life, I can say that my stress level is relatively low, and while that is super and great and amazing, the mental health issues I deal with can make me take calm and serenity and throw it out the window, to replace it with something a lot more familiar, like drama.
Yes, I am saying it: My life is good right now and it is a daily, sometimes moment-to-moment struggle to not sabotage the hell out of it. I have my slips mostly with LarBear, and he is very forgiving and never holds those little fits against me. He knows what is going on, just as I do. Things are good, and it is hard sometimes when things are good, because that is just so unfamiliar.
I laughed when I saw this post on Facebook, but there is such a grain of truth to it. How many days in the last five years did I basically not get out of bed, or get up and get showered or dressed? A lot, y’all, too many to count. I spent months at a time not even leaving my house.
Now that I have regular activities like church and social whatnots and am exercising at the local pool every day, I am finding that I actually LIKE being out and about. I don’t like to be out all the time, but I like it more than I ever thought I would. Because things were the opposite for so long, sometimes I start to fall into a pattern where I ignore my social obligations, my appointments, the pool, these new people I have met, but I find myself turning the mind quickly back to this semi-stability that I have gathered (through a ton of hard work).
After years of angst, I finally have the people in my life that I need and deserve, and I have enough self-respect to cut ties when things are toxic or harmful in some way. I still give people far too many chances, but I rarely let another person really harm me without slamming the door in his/her face. I truly believe that the church family that has come into my life recently was meant to be, that the people in my exercise classes and at the YMCA were meant to be in my life right now for specific reasons. I especially see now how my relationships with family members have changed for the positive, and how it could not have happened before. And of course, some may tire of hearing it, but LarBear was certainly paired with me by something more purposeful than chance.
I really think that the key to my happiness now, and the methods that I employ to stay that way and to avoid fighting the peace within and without, is that I am doing things in my life every day that I love, with people that I love, with intention and purpose. I have an amazing amount of love in my heart that is poured in by others, and my heart is full enough to pour into others, as well, which makes my heart even fuller. Being positive and doing what is effective, is what works. Keeping a close eye on your mood and your thoughts and your feelings, is very important. I think so much of it just boils down to paying attention and to living a life you love. That may sound oversimplified, but that is my sound bite.
After a busy weekend, I realized I had missed TToT for a couple weeks, and was so grateful (#1!) to find that the linkup is open until Tuesday. If you enjoy these posts, I would highly encourage you to join in with those who are thankful. More information can be found at the TToT website, here.
I have missed blogging over the last month or so, but have found that I have relatively little to say. I am thankful (#2!) to be back to it today. Blogging, for me, is like a comfy old sweater that you find at the back of the closet. I don’t realize how much I miss the comfort of it until I do it again.
The Mother’s Day service at my new church was really amazing. I am eternally grateful to my friend, Marla, for getting me back in the swing of going (#3!). It is a smaller church, not anything fancy or pretentious, and the pastor has delivered a wonderful, easy-to-understand message each and every service I have been to.
Since this week’s theme was Mother’s Day, he talked about the gifts we should be giving our mothers. The gifts of acceptance, of appreciation, and of affirmation. He said he knew of many people who were still blaming the issues of their lives on parents long into their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and how freeing it could be to give these gifts to one’s mother, no matter the relationship. I have a pretty decent relationship with my mom, but was grateful (#4!) for this message, because it told me that God really wants me to accept her even more fully, appreciate her beyond the mundane, and use affirmation to build her up at any turn, no matter the situation. I was so moved during the service, that I shed tears, and I was truly touched, thinking of my mother and my life, and I how I can do better and not blame her for things beyond her control. As the pastor said, “You didn’t choose your mother, but she didn’t choose you either.” That really rang true for me and I was grateful to hear it (#5!).
Although a bit redundant, I must give thanks again (#6) for the LarBear, for being my rock, for being my everything, for always being there. Mother’s Day is a difficult time for me, as I struggle with my own choices long ago not to have children, and I see what a positive impact so many women are making in the lives of their children. Facebook was particularly hard to look at this weekend, but while I am sad and lonely and regretful about never having children, I am also thankful (#7!) that I have never brought a human into this world that I wasn’t fully able to take care of. Some people were meant to be aunts, and dog moms, and that is enough for me. It is hard to swallow sometimes, but I am grateful for the decision.
And in no particular order, to close out the post, I am thankful for:
8. Instagram and the wonderful people, beautiful and meaningful pictures and posts, and the ability to interact more with my sister through it.
9. The birthday that keeps on giving, LarBear and I are booked for a two-night trip starting next week to the Kansas Cosmosphere, and we are thrilled!
10. The confidence I have found in crafting, where if I see it, I now believe I can do it, and I DO THE THINGS. Thank heavens for a creative mind.
Re-purposing a spiral-bound day calendar into something pretty and funky for the desk. Who doesn’t like peacocks?!
It is not exactly official, but any therapist I have ever had, as well as my mother and numerous boyfriends have said that I am the queen of being hard on myself. Now, I like the idea of being a queen (Let them eat cake! Ha!), but I don’t think this is the sort of thing that I need to continue to be proud of.
There are tricks to not being so hard of yourself, and I learn and then unlearn and then relearn them about every three days. Or more often, if the circumstances merit. Just like the rest of life, your response to life will really vary based on hundreds of different factors.
I have been trying especially hard in the last ten days to be gentle with myself, because I have had some physical maladies (getting both toenails pulled surgically from my big toes) and rehab time with those maladies, and some psych med issues, not to mention being far off my routine (mostly because two toes have been keeping me at home, fairly immobile) — well, it was really too much for me to think that I wasn’t going to have a stumble or two.
Now, the beauty of getting older (and I mean, one of the MAIN beauties) is that, every once in awhile, you learn your lesson. Sometimes you have to repeat it two or three or five hundred times, but it gets learned and it sticks in your head and, every great once in awhile, the stars align just so and BAM! you work yourself through your issues without going into great drama and hysterics.
I say maybe, because although the last ten days was fairly manageable, I had some seriously hysterically tearful moments. Happily, I can say they were short-lived and didn’t put a damper on my entire life. I have found that there are things (things, yes, these things) that can be done to make life a bit easier.
For me, I have rediscovered that I need quiet/alone/introvert time at least a few hours every day, and if I don’t get it, I become very, very cranky. This has maybe been a hard lesson for LarBear to learn, but as an example, about thirty minutes ago, I yelled, or maybe just said loudly, “Ok, I’m going to the office,” and he (for once) didn’t take it personally. He is starting to “get” me, after all this time, thank goodness. So here I am, with my headphones on. I shut off my peripheral vision (just in my imagination), and have been sitting at my glorious desk, crafting this superb document for the interwebs (ha!) and doing my very best to stay in the moment.
It really does work, at least for me. A few of the other things that help me are music (loud in headphones, preferably), taking a drive, a shower, lighting a new candle, putting on makeup, sitting on my front porch, writing things down in my planner, and last, but most certainly not least, I do a lot of journaling in my altered art journals. I also make these little books out of scrap paper. I am going to end with a few pictures of altered art journals and the mini books so you can get an idea. They are pretty awesome, another amazing thing I have learned from art therapy.
It has been such a long time since I have written a “Ten Things of Thankful” post. I was a bit worried the group had broken up, but it makes my heart happy to find that the same core group exists, and they even have their own webpage now (which you can access by clicking the above link).
Someone once said that there are so many flowers at a funeral is because people have more regret and guilt in their hearts than gratitude. I don’t believe that is true, but I do believe that people, in general, including myself, specifically, don’t always access their gratitude to the same degree that guilt and regret can be at the forefront of the mind. To make things even more complex, there are some circumstances or people or events or states of being that people feel both regret or guilt for, yet are intensely thankful for this particular item in their life.
One of the often-mentioned “thing of thankfulness” is a person. I know I am incredibly grateful for the different people in my life, but I also have great amounts of regret and guilt about how, perhaps, I have handled some of the situations I have found myself in with certain people. It follows that my feelings towards some people are a mixed bag, just as my feelings toward certain events are mixed, are a sort of paradox. How dialectical, right? (Ok, Ms. DBT, we get it!)
In no particular order, I am currently, at this moment, crushingly grateful (and sometimes regretful of certain bits) for:
LarBear continues to be my daily rock. Sometimes we disagree, sometimes we even have harsh words with each other, but we always come back together, stronger than ever. We don’t ever let an argument or disagreement last very long, and we are both keen to point out to the other just how much we love each other, just how good we are together in so many ways, and how any negativity that might exist between us is always overcome by a sincere appreciation for the love and caring that we have for each other. I had to kiss many frogs (toads, even) to meet my prince, and I don’t think my life would feel complete without him in it.
There are the obvious people in life that I am thankful for, namely those people making up my inner circle (when added to LarBear). I have to say that I am happy with the relationship I have with QoB and Mikey Mike, moreso than ever before. I feel like we all understand each other better than at any other moment in time, and also feel like I have been able (with some prodding) to step out more into my own life and not rely so heavily on them, but know that they are still available, and still right there. My dad is also a great support, and is often “the one” who gets selected to talk me off the ledge, if you will. He can, at times, insert such compassion and common sense and reason into a conversation, that he can truly set my many anxieties aside.
My sister, Ab…wow, I am just so proud of her, for the great mom that she is, for the amazing things she has done with her life, for her accomplishments professionally and personally, but mostly I am proud of her because we have worked and worked at building a relationship and I feel like we are really getting there. She is teaching me things about life that I never knew, never appreciated, and I would like to think that she is realizing the things that I have to give to the relationship that are of value. I am very thankful for my network of online friends. While there is only one or two people that I “speak” with on a regular basis, it seems that I can return to these relationships after months of being “gone” and things can be picked right back up.
My mental health treatment team is pretty amazing, and I was lucky enough to be in touch with Goddess of Mindfulness lately, and that just made me realize how far I have come in so many different areas.
I haven’t been in the crisis center or the hospital for just over one year now, with my last stay being in April of 2016. There have been several times when nurses, therapists, family have wanted me to go, but I have (stubbornly) resisted and here I am, still standing and doing pretty darn well.
My jewelry is starting take off at the gallery, after nearly a year of it just kind of sitting there. I am getting better at my craft, and taking more pleasure from it. Like my original art therapist said, take pleasure in the process and everything else will fall into place.
I have managed to get into an exercise and nutritional plan that works for me. There have been tweaks along the way, but I am seeing some success and I am staying away (for the most part) from any eating disordered behavior, and I haven’t been able to say that for ages.
I have found a new friend, and she has introduced me to a new church. I am taking things slowly, but it feels good to be back in a church and I really am enjoying the people in this particular place.
Kizzie and Lucy continue to keep on keeping on, even though now they are considered to be something of “senior” dogs. They still play and want snuggles and pets and pretty words and treats, and I plan to just keep enjoying every moment we have with them.
Last, but certainly not least…I have a new niece! Miss Adelaide Louise was born to my sister and her husband earlier this month and she is sweeter than sweetness itself. More to come about her and my nephew, Oscar, who is now THE big brother!
My friend, Marilyn, often tells me I am doing better than what I think I am, struggling about the same as most people (sometimes a little less, even), and I often have a hard time wrapping my head around that little nugget of wisdom, although it is often very true.
I have “survived” a great deal in life, and here I am, still kicking almost 36 years into this great life that I have created.
I know what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what works and what doesn’t, and when I can keep these things at the front of my mind, I can exist in a state of fairly ok-ishness. Of course, there are ups and downs in life, but everyone has ups and downs. I think I just tend to experience mine a little more fully than some in the world.
There is very little in my life right now that is inherently “bad” or “negative.” It has taken many years of therapy, but given enough time and the right support, I can usually get even the negative situations worked out fairly well. When I am not in a full-on manic state or a full-on depressive state, I can say that I actually live a pretty full and happy life. Of course, I have my moments, but I am beginning to learn and accept that everyone on this planet has their moments.
We all have certain things we struggle with more than others, whether our issue is bipolar disorder, some other mental illness, a physical issue, or just tough circumstances. The point is to keep going, and to keep trying to make one’s life increasingly more peaceful, more happy, with more love.
I am currently dealing with some issues related to medications and a disruption in my routine. It has thrown me for a loop, but I am dealing with it, how I know to deal with it. In a week or so, I am going to be able to hit the exercise routine again, and in the meantime, I am getting the nutrition part of things under control.
I am crafting daily, have had some good sales at the gallery, and am working on some really beautiful new pieces for the gallery. That makes me very happy; it is something I derive a great deal of pleasure from.
I have been getting back into my reading and am thinking about trying my hand about doing some shorter, yet still glowing, book reviews….some that I had promised to do long ago, and some that no one has asked me to do, but that I feel the book is worthy of praise and is important for others to read.
So I am still that DBT girl, standing in front of my life, asking myself to keep trying, but to try a little harder, even though I am doing the best I can. I will probably always be that girl, and that is fine by me. It is progress, not perfection, that I am after.
I am not sure why I can’t seem to remember that I am absolutely powerless to control pretty much anything, especially the whim and will of other people or the weird Kansas weather or (to a degree) how my body will react (generally dramatically, whichever the direction) to a big medication adjustment or how my frizzy-ish hair is going to handle the day’s vacillation in humidity.
Here we are, another week has gone by, there have been ups and downs, but I am surviving, and am in fact surviving in somewhat decent humor. A bit over a week ago, things were getting a bit too roller-coasterish with my mood, and my Seroquel was increased (for the second time this month) and I really thought that was not going to affect things (overall), too much. I was, of course, terribly wrong and while it has given me moments of extreme grogginess, the really irritating thing is that I am just extremely hungry at all times, no matter what I have just eaten or what else I have done that day. In addition, the sugar/carb cravings are back and I really do put a lot of that on the Seroquel.
Some of it is me, though — me not handling anxiety well, me not handing “change” well, me just reverting to slacker (eating) ways. The other problem the past week or so has been that I have not been able to do my normal exercise routine, partly because of bad knees, but mostly because of serious toe infection (both big toes) and extreme ingrown toenails. My primary care, thankfully, decided that now was the time to pull both toenails. They have actually been giving me trouble for years, so in a sense, I am happy to start over with a fresh nail bed, but it was quite painful and remains a bit more than slightly painful, the dressings are not easy to change, and I have had to back off of my daily trips to the pool to do aqua aerobics.
I am on Day One of no exercise, and one would think I would be faring better, especially considering years and years of slackerdom and the past year in which I barely moved from the couch. No lie, however, I am going quite stir crazy and have been bouncing from project to project to project. Nothing is satisfying the itchiness inside my brain, and to keep that itchiness company, my stomach is constantly complaining that it be filled. It is a miracle that I am not hugely over-eating my plan calories allotment, but the desire is definitely there.
I am going to have to figure out some more creative ways of telling my cycling brain to shush, of telling my growling tummy that it is not in fact starving, of settling the feeling in my legs of wanting to bounce around, and so forth. I am employing all of the usual remedies, like chair exercises, doing new crafts, working on special projects for others, reading, talking Kizzie and Lucy’s ears off, browsing the internet, trying to organize different spaces. I think I need something totally different, and I have thought about it all day and decided that maybe YOU have the suggestion that I am needing.
So please, do tell, what amuses you when you feel similarly? I am pretty open to suggestions, provided it includes nothing illegal, smoking cigarettes, or imbibing in any kind of mood-altering substance. Let’s hear it!