How I’m Really Doing

I didn’t want to write this because I was afraid of people thinking I’m broken or judging the way my mind works. But in reality I agreed to share my journey and that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have been in a weird headspace for the last week. Kevin is overseas with his family and I am so excited for him and all they will experience together. My mood started prior to him leaving. I think the feeling of loss and missing him and just amplified the problem.

Last night I didn’t sleep at all. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel I needed it, in fact I took melatonin AND Benadryl, as I have done every night for weeks. Usually it helps and I fall asleep no problem. But last night not even the entire bottle would’ve made me sleep. I laid in my bed and was stuck in this place where my brain was looping all of these negative messages and I knew for a fact they weren’t real. At some point the last few days my brain decided that Kevin is dead and he’s never coming home. We talk almost daily and check in with each other, so I know he is very much alive.

My brain does things like that on a regular basis. It takes one thought and runs with it until it debilitating. I didn’t eat anything at all yesterday, I guess as a way to punish myself for the way that I’ve been acting in my head. I ate breakfast today by force, because I knew I had a big presentation at work and if I showed up looking like death my coworker would call me out on it.

I promise I’m not an obsessed girlfriend. I am a girlfriend that has a brain that cannot believe positive messages to be truth. No matter how many times he tells me I am beautiful, I rarely take the message to heart. Since he left for Europe, if he doesn’t say “I love you” enough times in a conversation I assume he no longer does. The rational part of my brain understands that this type of cognitive thinking is not ok. I cannot keep torturing myself, by thinking of the worst possible thing and fixating on it. I am making myself physically sick to the point where I am angry at myself.

Rest assured I am seeing my psychiatrist this afternoon to go over my medication. Since starting lamictal I have noticed slight changes in the “down time” or what I perceive as my level of normal. The change is that those moments actually exist. I have spent YEARS of my life with my brain flipping back and forth between depression/anxiety and hypomanic episodes, and let me tell you that is exhausting. It’s like having the best few days of your life and nothing can take away your happiness, you can accomplish anything. All the way to being in the darkest place in your mind you have ever been, with no hope of things getting better.

I know I need to find my own sources of happiness, and in truth I have those. I have pets that rely on me for everything and I love them more than anything in the world. I have family that I can count on to talk to me and help me feel better. I have friends I can call/text when I need them or if I need to go out and get away from my environment. I have a job that is incredible, and I am in school excelling at a subject that I am passionate about. I love to draw and paint, and find new serial killer documentaries on my streaming apps. I have ways to distract myself from feeling sad and fixating on problems that do not exist.

Now it’s about discovering ways for me to cope. I need to find the right chemical balance that will allow me to have more of those moments of normal. I crave to feel like my head is silent for once, and I can be in control of my thoughts and emotions. I will get better, it will just take some time.

It’s Been a While..

I realized that I have been a little recluse in my postings in the last few weeks. Reflecting on it I have just been feeling a little hypocritical from professing my anti-medication stance for the treatment of anxiety. I still feel that my decision was correct, but my anxiety therapy never treated the whole story. Anxiety can easily explain some of my symptoms, and physical manifestations of the disorder. However, I always felt like there was so much more to the story than I had realized. Sure I was nervous, had upset stomachs, would get shaky when nervous, would lash out in anger, and generally avoided certain situations. Here is where we get into what I mean by “more”.

On top of anxiety, I also had serious bouts of depression. I would get into these ruts where it felt like my life did not have any meaning. My brain constantly told myself terrible messages, as a way to punish me for being happy about anything. I lived in a state of fear for days at a time where I thought everyone was always mad at me, and I was a disappointment to those around me. These symptoms would last for days, and I got really great at hiding them. I convinced myself that if I needed to cry I would do it when I was alone. I let others see when I was in distressed, but not nearly to the extent that I was actually feeling bad.

I also had moments where I was in a state of feeling wonderful. Absolutely nothing to get me down, and I had so many ideas and goals that I was going to accomplish. I would start elaborate projects with plans to make my life perfect. At one point I started writing a book, I was coaching for Beachbody, I started grad school, I’ve changed jobs so many times over the years on a whim, and all due to this feeling of having zero consequences. I have also been an avid spender. I will go on these shopping sprees where I can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and not feel an ounce of guilt (until my sad spell hits). I bought things I didn’t really need, but inside my brain, I told myself I really needed them.

My life for the last 17(ish) years has bounced between one of these two moods. There were very few moments where I felt like I was at my perceived level of normal. I would go days wanting to do nothing but sleep, then 4-5 days later I didn’t need sleep anymore and could stay up all night. It’s a dangerous cycle that kept my brain exhausted in this flipping mode. It was also hard for people around me to deal with because I heard so many times “why can’t you just be happy”, “stop being so angry”, “just stop spending money”. I would get increasingly frustrated with people around me simply because I know. I know my actions were sometimes wrong, and I could never articulate what it was inside me that prevented me from making better decisions.

I feel like I owe everyone in my life an apology, but some of my actions I was not fully in control of. I am known for saying sorry, even when I don’t mean it if it avoids conflict that I don’t want. Since starting my medication, I still cry a lot. I had a moment on Tuesday where I felt like there was no hope for me again. Kevin was leaving the next day for a 2 week trip in Europe with his family, and I knew I was going to miss him terribly. I have been dreading this trip ever since I learned it existed. I am aware that 2 weeks is not that long for someone to be gone, but it does not take away the fact that I feel so sad without him around. I became angry at myself for wasting our last night together being sad and crying over it. The messages in my head got so negative, I did want to hurt myself. The best decision I made that night was to tell Kevin exactly what was going on in my head and hopped into the shower to relax.

The hardest thing anyone can do in their life is to admit that something is wrong. I spent way too many years in denial that I could be helped or that anything was wrong. I now have a great support system between my family and Kevin that I feel I am in a good place to be cared for. There are moments when I cannot carry my own weight and need to lean on my loved ones to get through it. The most important conversation that Kevin and I had was that none of this is his responsibility to fix. It’s natural when you love someone to want to fix things that are hurting them, but this is something that I need to heal on my own. All he can really do is to be by my side and listen to me talk. Right now that’s all I need is reminders that everything is going to be ok.

Conflicting Reflections

As I previously stated in my last post, I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. Since Monday I have been on a cycle of intense crying and sadness, mixed with feelings of confidence. I realized during my reflections that I have had this disorder for a very long time. This may even go back to my adolescent years.

See, when someone has bipolar disorder they experience moods of “highs” and “lows”, but to the extreme. I read an article that discussed what the symptoms of both were and I was astounded by what I was reading. In the moods of being manic or hypomanic (the “high”) someone can be irritable for no reason, seek risky behaviors (over spending, sexual activities), overconfident, and feeling like they need to talk for no reason. During a mania the brain cannot understand that these behaviors are inappropriate. Over the years I have seen many of these symptoms in myself, but always thought they were related to anxiety, and while I was worried, I made decisions that were harmful but never felt bad about them.

The other feeling is depression (the “lows”). During a depressive episode someone who is bipolar is often misdiagnosed as just having depression. During the depressive moods you feel extremely sad, loose interest in activities that you used to love, have thoughts of self-harm or feeling like you shouldn’t exist in this world any longer, and feel like you are worthless to everyone else around you. There are other symptoms like loss of sleep by feeling you do not need to sleep or undereating that causes your body to be unhealthy.

Since starting my medication on Monday I have begun to have more moments of feeling level. And by level I mean not manically crying and not being happy, but in a more neutral state. I have had trouble eating this week (only consuming about 500 calories a day), so that is been my main focus to try to find food that sounds good to me. This task is difficult, because I find myself in a constant state of nausea, and lack the motivation to push myself further. I’m not sure how this medication is supposed to make me feel, but if it allows me to control more of where my moods end up, then this will be a win.

I also saw a new primary care physician yesterday. She was the sweetest human being on the planet, and when she saw me crying in the exam room she immediately gave me a hug and told me I was too beautiful to be upset. She offered words of encouragement that the plan of treatment I have developed is a good idea. The main reason I had behind having a primary care physician on my care team was so that I have a medical professional aware of any complications or issues beyond my mental health. Having a balance of care is extremely important, especially when dealing with medications that change your brain chemistry.

I have felt like a hypocrite this week, because I started taking medication. In previous blogs I was adamant that I was able to control all of my anxiety issues solely through talk therapy. The truth is sometimes our brains are unbalanced chemically beyond our control. Mental health is thought of as a separate area of healthcare, but it is no different from someone treating diabetes or heart disease. I had to accept this week that I am allowed to grieve, because this is like any other major disease diagnosis. There will never be a time in my life where I will not be bipolar. This disorder will be a part of me the rest of my life, but I have good faith that I can manage my symptoms.

I am terrified of the stigmas that surround mental health disorders and having people think I am crazy or not worth giving a chance to love. I know historically I have been labeled a “crazy girlfriend” or “clingy”, but I know now that it was not my fault. I was unable to control my emotions and moods, but I vow to get better and live my life just like everyone else. I do not want my emotions to go away; I just hope there will be a time where I am in more control. I am doing this work for ME and not for anyone else, because the people in your life that are worth having around will stay by your side.

 

Clarity and Confusion

Mental health has always been something that I am passionate about. I have used my experiences to try to eliminate stigmas that are associated with different disorders. I knew when I was young that I was different from everyone else. I was self-aware that the way I processed emotions and feelings was different from the “average” person. I have had moments in my life where I felt bad for being different, because of the messages I received. I have always hidden away parts of myself, because I didn’t want anyone to worry about me.

In March I made a decision to end a relationship that I was no longer happy in. My decision seemed drastic to some, but I knew that it was for the best. I could’ve gone about the decision differently and changed the method in which I ended things, but I do not regret it. In March I also made the best decision of my life, to follow my heart. I had been mentally separated from my previous relationship for about 6 months prior to meeting this new person, so I knew my heart and soul were ready to love again. However, mentally I am not in a place where I can properly support someone else, and as a result I lost them.

Today I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. In my previous treatments with mental health I was treated primarily for anxiety and depressive episodes. Right out of high school I was put on antidepressants, which I never felt helped my symptoms. When I discussed this, among many other things, with my psychiatrist, she explained that antidepressants can actually make bipolar II disorder worse, which is why I never felt relief with that medication.

Bipolar is something so new to me, and I am not entirely sure what it entails. I have a treatment plan, I started some medication, and I am following up with talk therapy next week to start that part of my treatment. Bipolar was explained to me as a mental disorder where you experience drastic moods of lows and highs. I have days where I do not want to be on this planet anymore, and I physically hurt inside from emotions. Then two days later I feel like I can take on the world, and I am making impulsive decisions just to feel pleasure. I always thought of these things as two separate disorders, anxiety and depression. What I didn’t realize is that they are connected, and some of my other symptoms are also related.

I know this is a time in my life where I need to be thinking about myself. I need to get better for me. Not for the benefit of anyone else in my life, but because I DESERVE to be the happiest and best version of myself. I have made so many decisions lately that have impacted my life for the better and for the worse. But as my dad told me today, we always make decisions and sometimes we have to live with the consequences of those decisions, but that’s life.

I also need to come to terms that some of the things that I have done over the last few years have not been entirely my fault. I did them, sure, but I didn’t always understand why I was doing it. I just want everyone to know that I am working on it. I’m going to still have days where I am sadder than other days, but as a rule I want to focus on being me. I want to find out who I am and what makes me happy. I am ready to move forward from here and to continue to grow and understand what all of this means.

I Will Get Through This

My mind feels like a horror movie right now. Replaying the worst parts of my life and constantly reminding me of the bad things that have happened. My brain’s instinct right now is to think of the worst-case scenario and react to life as if that is already the assured outcome. I have been having trouble lately trying to process how I’ve been feeling. I’ve always used this blog as a place to put my thoughts and feelings. As a way to explain why I am the way that I am. I want to help inspire other people to be honest and open with themselves, but I feel like a hypocrite because I also haven’t been dealing with my emotions in a healthy way.

If you haven’t heard, the divorce is final. I can guilt-free move on with my life, and in fact, I have. I have met someone that is absolutely incredible. From the first day we met, I was accepted by him for being authentically me. I have been able to be weird, say crazy things, and share my life views without being judged. This person has added a lot of depth to my life and is the perfect complement to who I am. Our relationship goes both ways, and I love that he is able to be himself around me. I feel like I’ve hidden behind masks for so long and always tried to please people that could not be pleased. I feel a sigh of relief that I no longer need to use those masks when I am around this person.

In opening up my heart and emotions I have been trying to deal with too many issues at once. I am still healing every day from what happened with my past relationships. I am struggling to stay focused at work and it has not gone unnoticed. Work was supposed to be a sanctuary away from what has been happening in my personal life but due to coworkers being petty that too has become a source of stress. I feel like a bad pet mom, and like I am not doing enough for Macie and Herman to help with this transition. I am financially stressed, but the nature of my job does not allow me to have a second job. I haven’t been coaching because I haven’t been doing any self-care. I have struggled to maintain the energy levels to be able to deal with all of these trial and tribulations.

I am starting therapy again on Wednesday with a new therapist closer to where I am living now. I am excited and nervous about this new adventure. I know I need professional help because where my mind is right now, I cannot continue to live this way. Every single day I cry. I cry about everything and nothing all at the same time. I have been pushing people away from me, including Kevin. I am just so afraid that how bad I hurt; I will hurt the people that I love the most.

I am embarrassed by my current financial situation and need to figure out how to live my life again from scratch. I didn’t have the typical undergraduate experience of moving away from home and being on my own. Through my college career, I went from living at home with my parents to being married and not having to take on that financial stress. Everything was always calculated and paid for me, so I am re-learning how to be fiscally responsible. I love to gift people closest to me and it breaks my heart that I am unable to do so.

I have found through all of this that I need to figure out how to self-care. I have not wanted to paint. I have not enjoyed my workouts. I have not wanted to go on new adventures (because every day is a new adventure). I have not been sleeping. I have not been eating well. But most importantly, when I try to do these things, I feel guilty. I feel like I am punishing myself for everything that’s happened and believing that I am the bad guy.

I believe that I do not deserve to have good things. I believe that I am destined to always have people leave me. I believe that pushing people away from me will minimize the pain that I cause them. I believe that I am a bad person. I believe all of these things because I allow myself to. I have accepted in the back of my mind that I am all of these things. I have told myself repeatedly these messages until that was the only truth that I know. I am heartbroken that I have allowed myself to become this way.

I have always been optimistic regardless of how hard life has gotten. I have always had a spark of light inside of me that keeps hold of the person that I want to be. I need to find that light again and I think that is what my frustrations have been focusing on. How am I supposed to believe that other people love me when I cannot love myself? The answer is I can’t. I need to remember who I am and that I am worth it.

My goal for the next week is to find five things each day that I am thankful for and write them down. I am going to start my day with these five things and I am going to repeat them 5 times for every time I tell myself a negative message. I have had people ask me how they can help and honestly, I need to be the one to help myself. This pit of hell I have found myself in is inescapable unless I believe I can climb out of it on my own. I may ask for help and, in those cases, I hope that you help me. I have a lot to live for and fantastic future plans, but I need to get through this. I will get through this.

Decisions, Decisions

I’m going back to therapy kids. 100% my own choice, and absolutely necessary. I was excited a few months ago when I ‘dumped’ my therapist, but I never could have predicted the turn my life would take and how I would react to it. I feel like a complete failure for needing treatment again, but I have a full understanding that this is what will happen for the rest of my life. I will continuously be in and out of treatment programs because anxiety is never truly healed.

I am ready to come clean with a few life events. A little over a month ago I asked Steven for a divorce, make it official. We had some issues last year that was making me question the future of our relationship, and to be honest I felt like it was better to move on than to fix something that wasn’t healthy for either party. There are a lot of people in my life that are unhappy with my decision, but it’s my life and my choice to make. My family is upset with me, I have lost nearly all of my friends, and I lost someone that I relied on for everything.

We got married when we were 22, and to be honest that is really young. I thought back then that I was officially an adult and I was as mature as I would ever be. My mindset back then was not great, and I felt like I needed to rely on someone else to make me happy. I remember when I was 17 in high school, and I made this 5-year plan. I wanted to find a man and marry him. Growing up in a Catholic background, marrying young didn’t seem out of the norm, so this life plan was what I set out to do. We would have been celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary this month.

But through the last year, and through my therapy journey, I realized that something big was missing. I wasn’t able to talk to him about my anxiety and I always felt like I was compromising so much of myself to make him happy. Knowing what he did for a living it was difficult for me to express any negative feelings or emotions because of no matter what his day was automatically worse than mine. I gave so much to him that I absolutely lost every sense of who I was. I had to discover, over the course of 4 years of intense therapy, who I AM.

Decisions like this are not taken lightly. I know many friends and family feels blindsided by what happened, however, you cannot possibly understand the dynamics of every person’s relationships. I would NEVER judge someone for seeking their happiness. I would NEVER be angry or turn my back on someone for a decision they made to improve their own life. For anyone out there that thinks I am just a heartless bitch, you’re completely wrong. If you think I don’t have pain from this, you’re wrong. I have been dealing with so many different emotions for so long, and I finally have had enough.

You cannot possibly make another person happy if you are not happy yourself. I found myself in that relationship being incredibly unhappy. I stopped discouraging people from flirting with me because the attention felt good. I was getting some of my needs met by complete strangers, and I couldn’t even properly communicate how I was feeling to my own partner because our dynamic did not work.

Am I a horrible person? Depends on how close your mindset is. You can see me as a villain because I left a marriage where I had everything. We were building our dream house, we were financially set, we were planning some lavish vacations, and on the outside, we made a great team. In reality, I made the hardest decision of my life to leave all of that behind and go out on my own.

I now live in an apartment by myself in Uptown, where I am solely responsible for Macie and Herman. I lost 2/3rds of the income I was used to having. I have had to learn how to pay bills and set up all of my utilities. I went from living in a house with a decent sized yard to an apartment complex with 70 units and a major lack of grass. I remember the first time I went to Target after I moved out and needed cleaning supplies. I was so used to ordering them from Melaleuca that I wasn’t sure how to even buy over the counter cleaners. It’s those little things that keep me humble and reminds me of the decisions that I made.

My life is slowly adjusting to a new norm. Macie and I go for 1-2 walks every day or travel to a nearby dog park. My work commutes are 12 minutes now instead of 35 minutes. I live 2 blocks from Eat Street, that has tons of incredible restaurants. I am 2 blocks from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which is one of my favorite museums in Minnesota. I met someone that makes me laugh every single day, and I appreciate him showing me how to smile again. But most of all I have the freedom of independence to make decisions on my own and be my own person.

There are times that I feel so incredibly alone, but I would rather feel that than to hurt someone I care about by lying about my feelings. I know I don’t owe anyone in my life an explanation, so I am not even going to try. There is nothing that I could possibly say that would make the people that hate me feel differently about my decision. Just know that in time we will both be happy, and that life works out how it’s supposed to.

My choice to go back to therapy is to help regulate my moods. Right now, I have been experiencing moments of being really high-highs and really low-lows. When I get into the low emotions, I feel an emptiness that I have never felt in my entire life. Having depressive episodes is terrifying because of the level of pain you experience overshadows anything good happening. I had moments where pain on the outside sounded better than any pain I was feeling on the inside (which is absolutely not the answer). It’s going to be a long road to a full recovery, but it’s a journey I am willing to take.

If you’re someone that is mad, confused, or upset by what is going on, don’t be. Feel free to blame me, but please be respectful of the situation.

Let Me Breathe

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: life never gives you more than you can handle. My anxiety in the last couple of weeks has been pretty out of control. I have been trying to keep a focus on the important things in my life, but often times I find the need to pause and catch my breath in order to continue. I know you’ve noticed my social media silence. I know it’s been blatantly obvious my life has shifted direction. I am not comfortable disclosing exactly what is going on right now, but know that I am ok and will continue to be ok.

I just find it funny how one conversation or a few words spoken can change the entire dynamic of your life. If you think about every decision you make and every opportunity you have to do things differently, but for some reason, you were meant to make the decisions that you do. I have lost a lot over the last few weeks, but I have also gained so many wonderful surprises. I believe most of all in fate. I believe that our lives are pre-planned for us and our fate is sealed. We make decisions and interact with others because destiny decided that for you.

I have spoken about this briefly, but I was raised Catholic. I no longer practice Catholicism or any other organized religion, because there are too many flaws that I am unable to see past. I think if you believe in God and Jesus, and praying is helpful to get you through the hard times, by all means, do that. I think having faith in something is part of what keeps humanity grounded, but there are also side effects to that, both good and bad. In some respects, my outlook on this issue has alienated me from being able to discuss this topic with people close to me, and trust me I get it. I have just found my own source of faith in myself and believe in my ability to be strong and overcome any obstacles that thrown in my direction and I will leverage that strength to get me through every day.

Tough decisions are hard. Sometimes we go through experiences and believe wholeheartedly that our entire world is ending. My inner optimistic voice is what fuels my fire to continue to look on the brighter side. I make the choice every single day to see the good in others, to make an effort to make another person smile, and to focus my energy on activities that promote good in this world. My outlook is what drives every single decision I make. I have learned that some choices you make will not make those around you happy. Sometimes it is worth disappointing people to achieve your true happiness, and knowing someday they will find theirs too. I have found pleasing everyone around me to be taxing and I wasn’t being true to the person that I need to be.

I know that time heals all wounds. I just hope that the people that truly care about me will accept my decisions and just be there for support. You do not have to understand the circumstance or agree with my decisions, but I need to know that the people that I love are there for me through this transition. In time there will be great things that come out of this experience, but I need time to heal and I need time to live in a world where people keep their judgment and opinions to themselves. Trying times are hard enough to come to terms with, but when the people you love most turn their back on you it is absolutely devastating.

My anxiety feeds on the idea of abandonment and being unloved. I am making the choice to not feed my anxiety but to let it starve. At the end of the day, I control my own happiness. I chose the path my life is going to take. I cannot sit around and look for other people to understand because that is an unrealistic expectation, and honestly if you cannot be an empathetic human being then clearly, we don’t belong in each other’s lives.