Image by Dave Davidson from Pixabay
I feel like my new habit is monthly personal posts with other content sprinkled around here and there sporadically. It has been about a month since my last personal post which was titled: “Feeling Like I am in an Okay Place Lately.” And I am happy to report that I am still feeling like I am in an okay place in life right now.
My psych doctor even switched my monthly appointments to every other month since I have been doing so well on my medication combo. My doctor actually told me that she was proud of me and how I adjusted to the work life after being out of work for about three years. Hearing someone say they were proud of me made me feel good. I feel like my efforts to better myself and get reacclimated to working again haven’t totally been overlooked by others.
It’s okay to be in the in-between spots of where you want to be in life and where you currently are.
It’s okay to not be doing the same exact things as other people your age. Most people my age who I went to school with seem to have life figured out and have kids and a nice house and good car while I am here just trying to make sure that I remember to take my meds every day while focusing on trying to stay mentally and physically well.
I used to fixate on feeling like I failed in life because I don’t have all the typical stuff that I thought people my age should have. It’s one of those, “I thought by the time I hit 30 I would be remarried and living in my own house, with my own little family.” I didn’t think I would be in a long-term relationship where marriage was out of the question and have a missing fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured with the fear of getting my own car and driving myself places on my own due to a bad car accident I was in, in 2017 that caused me to fear driving altogether
I have realized that it’s okay for me to not be where society says I should be in life by age 34. Everyone is dealt their own set of cards with their own struggles and journeys. I am on my own path in life and that’s okay too. I understand that simple tasks may take me longer to complete than someone who doesn’t suffer from mental health disorders but that doesn’t mean that I am less of a person because of it.
Life is hard enough without adding harsh criticism about ourselves. We have to learn to be gentle with ourselves and to stop worrying about where we compete with other people. Every single person in this world is unique in their own way. And everyone handles life’s challenges in their own way as well.
We have to learn to be accept ourselves as we are because we can’t just trade lives with someone else to make everything all better. It doesn’t work like that. We are stuck being just as we are. We have two choices; accept ourselves as we are or fall into the darkness of resenting ourselves.
I try to work on accepting myself as I am every single day.
Some days go better than others but at least I am trying to be more productive and better myself compared to how I used to just sit, sulk, and loathe in self-pity most of the day. It’s a work in progress, and that’s okay. It’s about making progress and not trying to achieve perfection.
I’ve had 34 years of self-hate built up that I know is going to take a lot of time to undo and change my thinking. One day at a time, though. One way I have been working on trying to accept myself is to start realizing that the number on the scale doesn’t determine someone’s beauty.
I’ve got some extra weight on me and that fact doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to. There are some days when I accept myself and how much I weigh and it doesn’t bother me one bit. Even having one day where my weight doesn’t bother me is a blessing because I used to harp on myself daily for how much I weighed. I would talk to myself so negatively and it would bring me down into a depression. But the fact that there are some days where I’m okay with how I look shows some major progress for me.
It is true, though, how much you weigh does not determine your beauty. How you treat others and how you act toward your fellow man and woman tells more about your beauty and worth than some number on a scale. Plus, it’s good to realize and understand that everyone is built differently and one person could weigh 150 pounds and look almost anorexic while someone else could appear thicker at the same exact weight.
I never thought that I would ever get to a place in life where I feel okay in my own skin even if I don’t feel like that every day. Now, mind you, I said that this is a work in progress so I still have some days where my old thinking takes over and I start to sulk again, but at least it’s not an every day thing any more.
Structure and routine can help those with mental health disorders.
I am really starting to think that maybe my old therapist was right. She told me that structure and routine are beneficial for people with mental health disorders. From not working for three years, I had no sense of structure or routine at all. My moods would spiral all over the place.
My therapist kept wanting to send me back to this partial hospitalization program that is Monday through Friday from like 8am – 3pm. My old therapist felt like going back to the program would help me gain some structure but I fought hard against it because I didn’t want to go to the partial hospitalization program again for the like the fourth time and have to deal with endless hours of group therapy and relearning the same shit all over again since the program never changes much.
But maybe I should have gone because I feel like maybe the structure and routine would have helped me back then more than doing nothing but writing all day. It took me some time to get used to the work life routine, which wasn’t easy for me, but the structure and routine from holding down a job is the one main thing I could think of that changed for me that could be what’s been different with my mental health and wellbeing.
Monday through Friday I get up at 7:50am when my alarm goes off, then I start work at 9am, and then leave work between 4 and 5 pm. After work I usually just eat dinner and try to relax before I take my night meds between 8 and 9pm. Then I go to sleep and do it all over again.
I will admit that working and having the routine I do kind of makes me feel like an elderly woman at times because of the predictability and being in bed before 10pm. I was and still kind of am a total night owl who prefers to stay up all night and sleep in the next day. But in order for me to function properly at work the next day I have to make sure that I get enough sleep at night. But, in all honesty, I think I’d rather feel older than I am then deal with the sudden and random Bipolar episodes that felt uncontrollable and so much worse without having a structured routine.
I do still have nights where sleep eludes me every now and then which throws me off the following day and has the potential to turn me into a blubbering mess. When I don’t get sleep, functioning feels almost impossible the next day. Tonight might be one of those nights though because it’s 8:30 pm and I don’t feel like taking my meds right now. I am not ready to go to bed yet.
I don’t currently have a therapist.
At the moment, I do not currently have a therapist. When my old therapist, Lori, dropped me as a client after a major mix up I found another therapist but just didn’t feel a connection with her and stopped attending my sessions. I just hate having to start from scratch because I’ve been hell and back in my 34 years and there is a lot of history to go over and rehash.
Maybe I should just give my next potential therapist copies of both my books (“My Bipolar Mind: A Memoir” and “My Bipolar Mind: Surviving the Chaos“) to barrow and tell them to read it before scheduling our first real session to save time on going over my past history and traumas. If they would read my books they would know enough about me to skip a few steps and make the whole starting from scratch thing easier to deal with.
Part of me feels like if I want to continue to make progress that I need to find a new therapist soon. But another part of me feels like I have been doing pretty well without being in therapy. The whole starting from scratch thing is the main aspect holding me back from looking for someone new at this time. Maybe the therapist I didn’t feel a connection with could have worked out if I was more patient in the beginning steps of starting with a new therapist.
There were some sessions with her where I wanted to talk about what was currently going on with me but couldn’t since she was trying to obtain my history. Then there were times I wanted to talk about the past but the therapist needed me to stay focused on the present to get more information about me. I felt like after every session I could never get enough off my chest because my emotions got lost in trying to explain the back story of what was bothering me.
Plus, I never even got a chance to have an in person session with this therapist because of the global pandemic. Everything was over the phone and the first two sessions there was like a 5 second lag and we kept talking over each other while trying to compensate for the lag. It was frustrating. Plus, every few minutes the call would bleep out words when we were trying to talk making it even harder to have a deep conversation. The therapist was using Vonage which is what we use at work and I run into some of the same issues at work that I had with the therapists phone line.
Keeping in Touch
One thing I have really been slacking on is staying in touch with my (minimal amount of) friends. I am not good at reaching out to people on a frequent and regular basis. I get distracted by life or sometimes I am just incredibly tired from work and don’t feel like talking to anyone. People often tell me that I go M.I.A. a lot. But to my friends and loved ones, just because I don’t reach out to you every day or even on a regular basis, that does not mean that I don’t care about you.
I tend to get wrapped up in my own little world and days can sometimes go by before I notice that I haven’t talked to someone specific for a few days. It’ll hit me out of no where that I haven’t heard from so-and-so in a little bit and then I’ll make a mental note (that I don’t always remember) to send that person a text message or something to show that I am thinking of them.
Plus, my chattiness often goes by my moods and how I am feeling. Some days I could have an on going conversation for hours on end while other days I don’t really feel like socializing at all. When I am manic (as long as it’s not the agitated kind of mania) I am a social butterfly. But if I am on a down swing talking to others can feel completely draining and even slightly annoying.
You won’t always be able to see the progress you’ve made.
When I am feeling mentally well and stable, seeing some of the progress I have made is easy enough to do. But no matter how much progress I make, I will always be Bipolar. I will always have days that are mentally challenging and on those days it can be hard to see and feel the changes that I have made for the better. Some days I still question whether or not I have made any real progress and if I am actually doing better than I have in the past.
Some days I wonder if my good mood has to do with stability or if I am happier because of a manic episode. That question will always remain in the back of my mind when my mood is good. It can be hard to differentiate real feelings of happiness and mania in the moment. Sometimes that moment has to pass before I can see what’s real.
But just because you can’t sense the progress you have made during challenging or difficult times doesn’t mean that the progress isn’t there. You’ll be able to see clearer once the hard moment, day, or days pass by. It’s easier to see where you are really at mentally when you are at your baseline. When you are at your baseline, your mental health disorder isn’t clouding your judgement and it’s easier to think clearly.
The best way to see your progress over time is by mood tracking or charting on a daily basis. It lets you visually see the areas you have improved in and what you still need to work on.
(You can check out our Monthly Bipolar Mood Tracker by clicking on the highlighted link or by clicking HERE, that I created and you can even download and customize the tracker so that it suites your unique needs and fits you personally!)
Plus, you can share your mood tracker with your psych doctor and/or therapist so they can get a better idea of where you are at mentally and emotionally. Showing your mood tracker to your doctor can also help them figure out medication adjustments or changes that may need to be made.
You won’t see all the progress you’ve made immediately either.
Making changes in your life that can help with your mental health and wellbeing doesn’t cause a miraculous change over night. You won’t usually be able to see the changes you have made right away. It takes time, patience, and effort. Some days you may feel like your moving two steps forward just be thrown three steps back, but don’t let that deter you from continuing to try to make progress and from working on yourself..
We all have those days where we feel like something in our life has sent us back a few spaces or even back to the drawing board. That’s okay and completely normal. So, don’t give up on yourself after setbacks. You can do this. Even if you don’t believe in yourself right now, I believe in you!
Final Random Thoughts of The Night
My plan from WordPress was due to be renewed by March 4th, 2021 and I wasn’t exactly sure whether I was going to renew it or not. I don’t have as much time to blog as I once did and I was questioning whether other’s actually feel like My Bipolar Mind is helpful and beneficial or not. But a few followers have recently left me some really kind comments that reminded me of exactly why I got into blogging about mental health in the first place.
Sometimes I just need those little reminders from other human beings that help keep me encouraged and help keep me in the blogging world. Just knowing that at least one other person gets comfort, help, or a feeling of belonging from some of the things I post was enough to make me want to renew My Bipolar Mind for another year. So, I paid the $101.72 this afternoon at work.
I just get discouraged at times and feel like nothing I say could possibly make a difference to someone else. Or I will feel like maybe this blog has run it’s course. But I put so much effort, time, and money into creating this safe space for people with mental health disorders and their loved ones that I don’t think I could bare to let it go and delete all my hard work.
I also created My Bipolar Mind for those who feel like no one could possibly understand what they are going through and I share my own struggles along with the individuals who have guest posted on this site to show people that they are not alone in their struggles. There are other people in this world who get you and what you are going through even if that person is a complete stranger.
I’m glad I decided to keep going with My Bipolar Mind. Even if I only help one more person, that one person is more than enough to make me want to continue with this journey. It’s important for people to be able to speak up about their mental illness and share their story and have a safe space to do so because it really does help tear down the bricks surrounding mental health stigma. #EndTheStigma
People tend to fear what they don’t know so speaking up about mental health disorders and what they are and what they aren’t can help educate others to help remove some of that fear of the unknown. There are still people who need to be educated more on mental illness because they still believe people with mental health disorders are dangerous or less of a person because of their disorders. We have to start by unraveling the myths that surround mental health stigma.
There are even people I have met who work professionally with individuals with mental health disorders who are still misinformed and look down on the people they care for. You can read all the psychology books you want, but unless you have someone you love and care for that has metal health disorders or unless you struggle with them yourself, it can hard to fully understand what it’s like living with a mental illness and that our illness doesn’t make us less of person compared to those who don’t struggle with their mental health.
Just remember that just because you have a mental health condition, it does not make you less of a person by any means. You are actually stronger than most people give you credit for and stronger than those who don’t struggle with their mental health because you face battles inside your own mind that no one else is aware of every single day and yet you still manage to get through the day despite those internal battles. You are simply amazing!
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.