Some sagely advice

Do you love someone with depression?. This is fantastic advice. We lost a very well known woman today to depression, who was struggling for so long. Charlotte Dawson not only suffered, she was cyber bullied by trolls incessantly. Instead of support and love, she was at the receiving end of hate and harassment.

Nobody chooses to be depressed. Nobody IN THEIR WELL MIND commits suicide. People who are unwell in their minds do this, they take themselves away from this cruel world because they feel like they have no better solution, no better choice. This is why I say that Charlotte died from depression. It is so real, and we all have the power, as individuals, to make a change.

If you see something isn’t right – ask about it. If your friends behaviour changes – ask about it. If you know your friend is struggling – check on them, as often as you can. My friend saved me. Your friend might save you. You may save someone.

And finally, the biggest change we can make is to not accept the disgusting bullying behaviour. The people who hide behind their keyboards ARE cowards and ARE to blame. It is not right. And before you say ‘just ignore it’ – no. People who have unwell minds can’t ignore it. We have a tape recorder in our brains on repeat. Repeat repeat repeat. Of course people with mental illness are great actors. We are awesome at pretending everything is dandy. Great at making excuses for not leaving the house. We are good at hiding. Suffering in silence. It isn’t fair.

Depression, like all mental illness, is invisible. Yet it takes so many souls away. Make a stand and protect the ones you love. If we all protect the ones we love maybe, just maybe, more people will be saved.

RIP Charlotte Dawson. I loved your powerful personality, your take- no-prisoners attitude. May you rest in peace now you have your wings.


doin’ the dance of millions

I cannot be the only person feeling this way.  It is not possible.  I am not special nor am I unique.  The feelings I have are not bizarre.  They are not ‘just mine’.  For some reason I feel comfort in that.

It has been awhile since I wrote.  I had been ‘doing well’.  I spent the first nearly 10 weeks post hospital in a great place.  Then as per usual it all swirls about and I am in the middle of some kinda Soda Stream whirlpool.  I have energy.  I don’t.  I want to be there, with those people who are friends and care.  Then I don’t.  I wonder if that is normal.  I fucking hate it.  I am right now overhauling my house.  Again.  For who?  Because I have few visitors.  Because I am paranoid.  Because mess.  Kids.  House.  Crumbs.  Under the lounge is filthy.  Again.  HOW.  Then all of the other things.  The freaking dog pissed on the carpet again.  I am excited that I get to use my carpet shampoo machine.  I have so much going on.  Yet nothing.  I don’t want to die tomorrow  because honestly I know I have not lived nearly the life I need to live.

So my partner went for a partners interview with my psychiatrist.  I now see my doc fortnightly.  Which is good on one hand – I freaking need it.  On the other I feel helpless.  Like I am unable to make confident and just decisions about my mental health.  Ultimately I am grateful that I have my partner looking out for me like this.  I don’t know how he stays with me.  How he puts up with me.  I am hard work.  I know that.  I am even hard work for myself.  If that is even possible.

So, yeah psychiatrist fortnightly.  Dietitian because I have put on 9kg in 12 weeks and cannot stand to look at myself in the mirror.  I might seem confident but I feel like utter shit and look like a fat balloon.  And I feel bad  because once upon a time, when I was thin, I judged people who were well rounded.  I fucking JUDGED THEM.  And now I am ‘well rounded’.  I feel like shit.  I judge myself.  All day.  Then I feel like a selfish bitch.  Usually I just feel like shit.

I am feeling like the blog posts will be coming on hard and strong in the next while.  I just hate, hate, hate myself and feel ridiculous.  And awful.  There is no way to explain it without sounding like a complete fuckhead basically.  I put up a wall and I sit on my fat ass behind it, ignoring what is going on, on the other side.

the to-do list

to-do-list (1)

This is what greets me after I input my password into my computer.  This has been reminding me for over a year the very simple things I need to do.  Today.  Every day.

– Count my blessings.  I need to always remember that although I may struggle at times, the joy and happiness that I often feel far outweighs the hard times.  I don’t have to remember every single good thing.  I may even forget what that good thing was.  All I need to remember is that I have two feet, two arms and a big heart that continues to keep me alive.  I need to count my blessings, not my downfalls.

–  Practice kindness.  I don’t always want to do this, and I often have to check myself before I react irrationally or irritably.  I need PRACTICE.  I also need to know that not all situations require kindness in the stereotypical sense.  Sometimes in order for me to be kind to myself, I need to be not so kind to others.  I feel like this is being honest with my inner self and something I find easier to accept and do with time.  How can I practice being kind, when being kind usually ends up with the absolute flipside happening to the other person or thing?  I need to practice being kind, yes.  I also need to learn what true kindness is.

– Let go of what I can’t control.  The big kahuna.  No body likes feeling out of control.  In a world where little makes sense, often retreating to our own zone, where we can control where the forks and spoons belong in their drawers, where and how we store or fold our towels.  Whether we think a stick shift is better than an automatic transmission car.  These are things we can control.  Inanimate objects that we can physically move when we want to, and usually find them in that same place when we seek them.  So what of the relationships and the way we interact with fellow living beings?  I feel like some of these points intercept in concept to a degree.   They make the big picture.  I need to understand that I have very little control over anything at all.  None of us do.  We think we do but look around you.  I don’t particularly want to get too heavy at this time (mid first triple shot coffee) but really.  LOOK around you.  I look into the faces of people lost.  Lonely people.  Sad people.  People who look alone even though they are in a crowd.  We are disconnected.  We are out of control.  So while I subscribe to the concept of ‘letting go of what I can’t control’, I want to challenge it.  I do feel that this statement doesn’t actually refer to my ramblings though.  It is far more shallow than that.  Just let go of what you can’t change.  You cant force another person to see things the way you do.  You can’t force the government to see sense and change their policies.  You cant stop Gina Rinehart from digging our glorious country into hell, all for money.  Look at what you can change, what you can control.  Beyond the forks and the spoons.  Let go of what you can’t control but look for inspiration and the ability to change what you can.

– Listen to my heart.  I have failed my instincts so many times.  I have been guilty of ignoring that pestering, niggling feeling that I get when something just ‘isn’t right’.  So terribly guilty.  I am going to listen now to my heart, and I am going to trust it.  Without question.  It doesn’t have to be a massive statement that I state publicly on a freaking sign – I can keep it to myself.  Yet I do have to start trusting my self.  I do.

– Be productive yet calm.  We have been learning SO much about planning and goals in here.  It has shifted my thinking so much.  I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn these things because now I feel like I can actually GET THINGS DONE.  Systematically.  Processes.  Step by step.   When things are broken down into small segments, the task is so easy.  Talk about epiphanies abounding.  It is all going on here peeps.  ALL GOING ON.

– Just breathe.  Yeah right.  I know.  I breathe from my throat, not my chest.  It creates panic and can bring on attacks at any time.  So I guess that is another thing I need to practice.  The best part of ‘just breathing’ is that if you do truly, really, deeply breathe, the other points seems to just roll on.  They happen.  Calming the nervous system enough to be able to be productive, calm, listen to my heart, let go, practice kindness and count my blessings.  This is the key element that facilitates ALL of these amazing things.

your job is to just be a friend

So, you have just found out that someone you know, or even love, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  You might feel confused, you might feel worried.  I try to remember how I felt before I was diagnosed how it felt when a good friend told me that she had bipolar.  I know for sure that I had no idea what it was and it did kind of scare me.  What should I do with this information?  What is the expected response?  What is the response she needs?   What kind of attention do I need to give to this, in order to ensure that our friendship didn’t change just because she happened to have a little extra ‘something’ that lots of others don’t?

Mental illness is taboo.  There is no other way to put it.  Nobody wants it and those that have it are most likely to hide within their diagnosis.  Usually they will be very wary and careful about who they share this news with.  There are underlying reasons for this – the first being the most obvious.  People don’t understand, and what people don’t understand can scare them.  The many other reasons pretty much stem from that very one reason.  It is taboo.  It is scary.  You might feel like you never really knew this person at all.  However, chances are that they are still the same person they were the day before they were diagnosed.  Chances are that they’ve been living with this all of their lives.  The only thing the diagnosis does is give that person the chance to get well, the access to medications and services that they haven’t had access to in the past.  They have been given the chance to finally, maybe, stabilize.

Don’t offer unsolicited advice.  Don’t diminish their feelings.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is happening to us so therefore it is a reality.  It may sound irrational to you but sometimes, some things sound so completely right and rational to us that it is better to just open your ears and shut your mouth.

Up until I decided to share my truth with the world (sounds dramatic eh?  Well, if you know me you know that I have a knack for the drama) I was so terrified that I would be judged.  Actually, not judged – misjudged.  That people would back off and I would be left all alone.  News flash peeps.  The absolute opposite has happened for me.

So now you know this very personal thing about the person you know, or love.  What should you do next?  You could ask questions.  Listen.  Ask them about it.  Ask how they feel.  Tread carefully.  Most of all, don’t be scared.  The person who has this condition has trusted you with something that most people probably will never know about them.  Don’t tell other people.  Keep it to yourself.  If you are worried about them, talk to them.  Be straight up.  We have a sixth sense when it comes to this kind of thing usually and let me tell you, while I am more than happy to put myself out there in order to bring more awareness, 99.99999999% of others are not.  It is not your news to tell.  It doesn’t need to be the next 6pm news headline.

From time to time, if you are really close to the person who has shared this with you, you will notice different behaviour patterns.  This is normal and to be expected from bipolar.  Everyone who has bipolar is very different, so don’t put us all in the same basket.  If you do notice a behaviour that is out of the ordinary (increasing spending habits can be a big one, withdrawing from social events, there are a gazillion things that can be warning signs that things are on the up or down), don’t ignore them.  Talk about it with the one that trusted you.   Once again, tread carefully and no no no unsolicited advice.  The person who has trusted you will hopefully have a team of educated professionals that offer medical assistance to them to aid their rocky road to stability.

Your job is to just be a friend.

Stand as a Mountain for you

Yesterday afternoon saw me feeling the most ‘level’ I have felt in a long time. I feel the same way this morning. Nothing has changed!! It is so exciting to see that this is all working out. It feels bizarre too because I am hoping (and praying) that this feeling sticks around and I am able to continue as I feel right now into the future.

There have been confronting times in here though I have learned a lot. One of my favourite lessons was learning how to set realistic goals, how to break them down into bite size pieces and then actually undergo the process of making my goals a reality. Setting goals has always been so daunting. It all seemed too big, the task far too huge. Overwhelming. Traumatising. It might seem so simple for most people to set a goal and follow through, perhaps even automatically, to fulfil the tasks required to achieve the goal. My brain works differently, setting goals increases pressure on me. It heightens my anxiety and makes me feel like I am going to fail before I begin.

Mood disorders are an animal of their own. Sometimes they are lions, ready to pounce and attack. Sometimes they are easily scared and flee so quickly like a bird or a lizard. It can feel like those of us that have bipolar are in constant fight or flight mode.

As mentioned in previous posts, I tend to rapid cycle. Very rapidly. So on any average day I can go from feeling ahhhhh-mazing and powerful to feeling dull. And low. The part that I am so scared of now is that the persistent smile on my face, bounce in my step and happiness in my chest can be mistaken for a shift of mood. This is where I start learning about my self. Start logging these feelings and physical reactions. Am I thinking with reason? Am I irritable? Do I have amazing ideas? Can I save the world? Am I irrational? Am I genuinely happy when I see something funny, or am I laughing to fit into the crowd? Did I really like that ladies hairstyle, and why didn’t I compliment her? Are my energy levels normal? Am I regulated, a little high, or medium high or over the top high?? This is all going through my mind right now as I try to learn more about myself and give myself the chance to finally understand where I am at.

Coming out of the daze I feel very vulnerable and meek. I should have complimented the lady who had nice hair. It might have been just the thing she needed to hear today. I should listen to myself when I feel like being kind – the same way as my friends listen to me when I cry for help.

One of my truly amazing friends told me something today. It really shifted my soul to a degree, and made me feel so nurtured, cared for and loved. She said ‘I will not judge you if you ‘flip’ on me. I will stand as a mountain for you and know that its forces are beyond our control’.

That comment alone has made me feel so incredible. I have lost touch with many people through my cycling, through my ‘flipping out’. I’ve been lied to, I have been avoided. Yet here is someone who I know will stand by my side always. Having a true support network is key for me. I remember my mother telling me as a child that if you can count your true friends on one hand, you are doing pretty ok. I am going to relate that to friends in real life because hey, the interwebz didn’t exist back then. And guess what, I am doing pretty ok.