Losing two years to Lyme Disease: What it taught me.

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I lost two years to Lyme Disease, there is no way to sugarcoat that. Two years of my early twenties got flushed down the tubes, they were spent in unbearable amounts of pain on the sofa. I couldn’t drive, couldn’t work, couldn’t see my friends, I used all my energy to bathe myself. It was difficult. It was terrible, but two years simply vanished in front of me.

It’s a harsh reality, but as we start this new decade I find myself not mourning those two years. It’s not because in retrospect they weren’t that bad (because they really truly where) it’s just that those two years played a special role in my life.

They taught me perspective and gave me sympathy for the sick and disabled in ways I’ve never experienced before, but they also reshaped me. You see, when you’re that sick and that unable you spend a lot of time thinking, you spend a lot of time evaluating, and dang, if I didn’t spend a lot of time praying.

Our early adulthood years are formative, college had taken my brain and worked on it and worked on it. My years on campus and in class had reshaped my brain, and some of that molding was amazing, but some of it needed to be left pliable for the realities of the real world coming after.

I feel like in a way I had a couple of buffer years. A couple of years where I was stuck in limbo and had time to purposely mold myself instead of just letting life beat me into shape. I don’t know if I would have taken all the time to think and process if I hadn’t been forced to. I think I would have kept on keeping myself too busy to be that deep in thought, too busy to truly reflect on my life. And it’s in that way that God used my sickness for good. He gave me the time I needed to take in everything and realize what I needed to work on and what I needed to change.

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The little things that get you through depression:

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Every now and then you’ll see a post on social media that says “the only reason I haven’t committed suicide is because my dog would miss me” or “the only reason I haven’t spiraled into deep depression is because I’m looking forward to this trip.”

These statements are dark, but a lot of statements having to do with mental health are dark, it’s unfortunately part of it’s nature. But these statements are important, because they give reasons to live, reasons to be happy, reasons to look forward to life.

A lot of people struggle to pull themselves out of depression and while you’re in it it’s easy to believe that you need something huge to make a difference in your daily mental health, but that isn’t true. The little things might not send shock waves through your entire life, but they give you reasons to move forward, and I’m begging you to cling to the little things.

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If you look for the bad you will find it.

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It goes for people and events, if you look for the bad in something you will always find it. If you go in with a negative mindset you will find something negative, it’s a simple game of find and seek. Sometimes those bad things are big, sometimes they make us feel justified for our negative views, but the problem is, when we find multiple small negatives, we still find our mindset justified. We still think we’ve done the right thing by raining all over the parade because we found something wrong with it.

Nice going being right, I guess.

The problem is small negatives don’t make a bad person or a bad event, they don’t even make a bad group. Small negatives are everywhere, and not just in the things we hate. All your favorite people, events, and groups also have small negatives. You’re just not looking for them in them, you’re looking at them with a positive eyes, which leads to the second point, which is if you look for the good in something you will find it.

It’s the exact same as the reverse. The half full and half empty debate is raging on, but it’s too generic of a saying, it implies that you’re either always an optimist or always a pessimist. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We find good in the things we want to find good in and we find bad in the things we want to find bad in.

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About a past post: I think there are wrong ways to feel emotions.

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Someone I know personally sent me a message about my language in my last bipolar post, about how I said that under the right treatment plan you could feel emotions the normal way, the right way. I seemed to have slightly ruffled feathers by implying that there was a normal and right way to feel emotions.

It’s true, I suppose, that everyone reacts to their emotions differently, even completely healthy people with no hint of mental illness, that being said, there is most definitely, without a doubt in my mind, a wrong way to feel emotions and it’s not normal.

Being bipolar does not define me, but it is most certainly something that is wrong with me, I think to say otherwise is dishonest. I wouldn’t have chosen to be bipolar, even though it has gifted me with some wonderful things, like being so creative. Actually this has been a debate in my mind, would I give the creativity in exchange for the mood disorder? I don’t really know, but I would never miss the disordered moods. I’d never miss not being in control of my emotions, of not being able to feel happy when surrounded by things that should make me overjoyed. The simple fact that I could be in a situation where literally nothing is wrong and still feel depressed? That is the wrong emotion, that is the wrong way to feel emotions. The same goes for being so manic you lose control of your ability to rein in your thoughts or in some cases control your actions. Is that right? Certainly not. It is a wrong way for emotions to overtake you. They aren’t supposed to do that, they can be consuming, but they aren’t supposed to be controlling.

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I ran out of one of my bipolar medications…

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I ran out of one of my bipolar medications, and not in a “I wasn’t paying attention” sort of way, but in a “my doctor was on vacation, I switched pharmacies, and spent hours on the phone only to finally get my medication after four days of not taking it” sort of way.

After two days of not having it I noticed something, a hint of self loathing, then the next day a large drop of despair. A taste of where I would be without my medication. I don’t understand why, I’m at a really really good place in my life. Things are going great. If I would have guessed I would have thought that if I stopped all my medications I’d be manic, but I was faced with something else, clearly, after my little medical mishap. I’d be depressed right now.

I don’t know if that was what startled me most over these bits of mood turbulence that came from only four days without just one of my many medications, was it that I would be depressed now without them, surrounded by all the current joy I have, or was it the fact that this is all it took for me to feel those ends fraying, me losing control over my emotions?

The reality of bipolar isn’t an easy one, even for someone like me who isn’t a control freak. I’m not in control of my own emotions; perhaps I’m painting with too wide a brush. I am in control when I’m also in control of taking my medications.

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Appreciating the little things creates a better big picture.

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You know when you have a cold and you regret not being amazed by the fact that you can breathe out of your nose 99% of the time. It’s crazy how much of life is like that- over looked, under valued honest to God gifts.

I think we take too much for granted. I think I take too much for granted.

We all begrudgingly admit that we’ve taken people and larger opportunities for granted, we can see them easily with clear eyes. We tend to see those when they hit us in the face. We hate it when it happens and it makes us try to reorganize our lives so we don’t do it again. We think big picture, and it helps our mental health, to think about everything on a larger scale, to know how important these people and opportunities are to your life.

But even if we are trying to take care and appreciate all our big items, even if we are cherishing our loved ones and trying to take every hand that’s reached down to us, we can still be stuck. We can still feel overwhelmed. We can still feel like we’re on the losing end. Maybe we don’t have that many loved ones, maybe the tasks before us are too big or simply not enough. Things happen and life often falls short of what we want it to be, even if we are trying to appreciate the big things. Even if we’re trying not to take anything for granted, but the fact is, when we’re doing these things we aren’t being overwhelmed with how amazing the little things are.

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Touched by Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament: A Book Review

The definitive work on the profound and surprising links between manic-depression and creativity, from the bestselling psychologist of bipolar disorders who wrote An Unquiet Mind.

One of the foremost psychologists in America, “Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness” (William Styron).

The anguished and volatile intensity associated with the artistic temperament was once thought to be a symptom of genius or eccentricity peculiar to artists, writers, and musicians. Her work, based on her study as a clinical psychologist and researcher in mood disorders, reveals that many artists subject to exalted highs and despairing lows were in fact engaged in a struggle with clinically identifiable manic-depressive illness.

-Goodreads

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