The push past fear: On dealing with anxiety.

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Do you ever go through a crippling few days of anxiety? One minute everything is fine and then suddenly you find yourself thinking the worst? You’re not alone. Lately I’ve realized just how much I have to lose and it’s made me anxious in ways I haven’t been for a long time. It seems ridiculous. I’m happy. I’m living my dream, yet I fear I’m going to lose it. I fear that someone will get hurt or that something big and terrible will happen. It’s a trick our mind plays on us. Oh, you’re happy? What if you weren’t?

It’s a stupid thought and we know it, but it’s there and it’s hard to ignore. I don’t think it’s possible to completely dismiss those thoughts. I think they’re intrusive and loud. It’s not easy to just pretend they don’t exist. So acknowledge them, look at them, understand what triggered it. Understand the root cause of that fear and how your mind got to where it was.

Then go on living exactly like you aren’t afraid.

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I told people I’m bipolar on the first date:

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I told people I’m bipolar on the first date and I’d still be doing it if I was still dating.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t at first. I was terrified of what people would think of me, how it would effect my chances with someone. I wouldn’t tell a soul, I thought it was something that should be saved for a few months in, a “so I should probably tell you…” that comes when your ready to confess.

But why was I confessing? I wasn’t guilty of anything. I am bipolar, it’s part of me and it has been for a long time. I’m not ashamed of it, I’m annoyed by it a lot, but I’m not ashamed of it. It was out of my control and it made me stronger. It’s just there, a consistent part of me, and I share things about me when I’m trying to get to know someone, so why shouldn’t it be shared as well?

Sure, there is stigma, but there is stigma on all sorts of things, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be talking about it. Maybe by hiding our disorders we’re adding to the stigma. We’re acting ashamed, so they must be shameful! But it isn’t. Bipolar disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, so I started to act like it.

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The preventative treatments for life:

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I’ve written a lot about medicine, homeopathy, and wellness, but that’s not what this blog post is about. I’m prefacing with that because I want to mention the rise of preventative medicine. We went through a phase we we were only treating symptoms of illness instead of treating the lifestyle issues that caused it, we’re finally changing that and it’s a great move. But, I think we should be doing preventative treatments for far more than just our health.

Life is hard to predict, there is no denying that, it has so many twists and turns that it’s really hard to know whats going to happen, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t practice preventative care.

There are a lot of things that we know happen throughout life, we know that relationships crumble, money problems arise, energy levels fall, stress arises. There are just some things we can count on, it’s unfortunate that they aren’t all good, but the bad things can be managed gracefully if you have a plan.

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What is the key to beating depression before it really takes root?

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I was able to successfully ward off depression my freshman year of college, but I wasn’t able to do so my senior year. What was so different and why didn’t I catch on in time to fix it?

It’s a question that crossed my mind today when I thought about how long it had been since I mindless danced like crazy around the room. I did it a ton my freshman year of college because I knew it made me happy and I needed it, along with a lot of other things, but since then? It’s been a hot minute since the last time I cranked music just to dance by myself. That led me to ponder on the fact that I didn’t do it my senior year of college, which was the year that my depression actually caught me. I work so hard to keep it away my freshman year, why didn’t I attempt to do the same three years later?

It’s a multi-layered question, but I think it can help me understand how to catch my depression in earlier stages in the future. Sometimes pulling out all your coping mechanisms is enough, sometimes you need medication, but the fact is it’s always easier to fix it when you catch it early.

My freshman year was hit with really bad break ups, both a romantic one and one with my best friend. I knew I had every reason to be sad. I acknowledged that sadness and I knew that it was logical. My senior year was different, it shouldn’t have been, but it was. My close college friends all graduated a class before me and I became isolated the same way I had my freshman year, but I still had friends in the area so I dismissed the sadness. It wasn’t valid and I was fine. I kept telling myself that, and it’s amazing what lying to yourself can do. You can convince yourself that crying every night is completely normal, and I did. Was it because my pain was more understandable my freshman year? Was it because I knew college sometimes started out rocky and that break ups were always messy? My senior year I thought I was supposed to be clinging onto my last years of college bliss, but instead I found myself angry I wasn’t done yet. Everyone around me was sad to be leaving, did that make me feel like my emotions were less valid?

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You’re allowed to be overwhelmed by good things.

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There’s a lot happening in my life. 85% of those things are wonderful things that I’m excited about, but every now and then I still find myself completely overwhelmed by it all. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean that I wish it wasn’t happening and it doesn’t mean that I wish it was happening differently. It just means that while I’ve been racing full steam ahead and my engine started overheating.

I think there can be a lot of shame when you feel overwhelmed by good things, but a lot of time it just means that you’re a little too busy and you’re feeling too much. You can be excited about progress and still fear change. You can be happy about a big investment and still be nervous about what it means for your saving account. You can be busy with amazing tasks and still feel overworked by them. Also? You can be excited about too many things and simply get burned out from the force of that single emotion. Emotions are a lot to bare and they can effect us not only mentally, but physically.

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Positive things my bipolar disorder has gifted me with:

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I wrote a post a long while ago about how it’s okay for people to call mental illness a gift. It’s one of my favorite posts. I can’t decide if it’s the bipolar jokes or the fact that it’s about Van Gogh, but regardless, it still stands. It’s is okay for people to call their mental illness a gift the same way it’s okay for them to call it a curse. Both can be true.

I spend a lot of time writing about ways to function with mental illness and to overcome some of it’s trickier parts, but I wanted to make a post about the good things my mental illness has given me. So here’s a list of positives that have come from my bipolar disorder:

  • Creativity: Bipolar and creativity have long been linked. For most the creative streaks come during the manic phases, for me it seems like my creativity hardly sleeps. I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember, which is fitting because I got diagnosed at age six. Over half of my hobbies are creative ones and I fully thrive in the environment they create. I love my hobbies and I love this skill set. There is nothing I would trade for it.
  • Healthy coping mechanisms: A lot of people have unhealthy coping mechanisms, in fact, I don’t feel like it would be a stretch to say that most people do. It’s hard to function with a mental illness without learning coping mechanisms, and unhealthy ones just don’t make the cut, they end up making us feel worse. So to function, I’ve learned healthy coping mechanisms, ones that work and can aid my medication to the point where I can handle most everything thrown at me. It took a lot of work to get them, but I’m so happy I have them and am able to fall back on them whenever I need them, whether those needs are triggered by bipolar disorder or just everyday life.

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Hate is addicting

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I think we have a skewed perception about what is addicting and what isn’t. There are a lot of substances that aren’t addictive physically but can be mentally. It’s very easy to get hooked on a feeling, hooked on emotions. We can crave the endorphins that something releases or the power we feel when we do a certain act. Are emotions technically addictive? No. Do you get emotional withdraws from them all the same? Yes. That makes them addictive enough in my book.

But it isn’t just the good emotions we get hooked on, it isn’t just things that numb our pain, sometimes we can get addicted to the things that fuel it. It’s an interesting thing really, but more and more people are becoming addicted to outrage, addicted to anger, addicted to hate.

Maybe it’s the way we take in our news, maybe it’s that the most outrageous, enraging headlines are the ones to grab our attention. Maybe it’s that social media has acted as a barrier from other people emotions, so we don’t realize when we are treading to far, maybe then we become desensitized to it to the point that we no longer care when we do. Maybe its the fact that we’re taking in so much hate all the time that we start to think of it as normal, and therefore needlessly dish it back out into the world.

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