Self

I wake up with a spiked paddle in my hand.

From the moment I get up off my knees I silently beat myself with that thing all day.

Yes, I know better. Doesn’t matter. The damn weapon has been attached to me for almost as long as I can remember.

Some days I am distracted long enough to whereas I forget to beat my own self down for a few hours. I can assure you I will pay for it at night, in the dark.

Not sure if there is much difference between this self flagellation and my many former vices.

I’ve put in some work over the last several months to allow myself to lesson the beatings, but they still come.

With all of the added silence that comes with this new isolation, I am finding myself having to constantly put the paddle down. Instead I reach for the phone, or a book, or busy myself with endless cleaning.

I try to remind myself to treat my own self kindly, to use positive words when I talk to and about myself. Sometimes this works, and other times I just tell myself to shut up.

Can we please open the world back up now?

Fog

I look forward to this day all week.

It is set aside as this special time when I can finally breathe. Feel moderately comfortable. Completely and fully exhale.

This time it was different.

There is something dark and heavy in the air. I could tell myself I’m just imagining it. I know how to do that. But I’ve done that for too long.

I’ve ignored this exact feeling many times over, and eventually it comes back to haunt me. It rears it’s nasty two pronged head another day while I’m kicking myself, wishing I’d have headed the warning.

This fog is coming from one of two places. The traditional answer is that it’s emanating from within me. And only me. That’s the script that I’ve been trained to read. It says I messed up or missed something. I can correct it and clear the air.

The other, less palpable answer, is that it isn’t just me. I won’t be able to fix it. I can’t flip a switch and vanquish this darkness. It’s not mine to eradicate. This is the narrative I despise. In this version of the story I have to rely on faith.

Faith that somehow, some way, something else can mend this brokenness.

Hands in the air, no driving with my knees. Just allowing something else to take the wheel.

Certainty

Every day is different.

Every hour, really.

At first I’m okay. Then, I overthink my day and become overwhelmed.

One day at a time. One hour. One minute. Much easier said than done when everything feels so uncertain.

So, what is certain?

Each day, I will wake up. I will because I have to.

I will take care of these children like my life depends on it. It does.

I will take care of myself, because right now that is one of the only things I can do. And I can do it well.

I’ve done it before. I will remember how, and I will do it again. No matter how unclear the future may be, that I can do.

The Flip Side

Living with Bipolar Disorder doesn’t define me.  Maybe there was a time when it did a bit more.  Early on. But nowadays, it’s just there; a part of life.  Just like brushing your teeth or driving a car.

However, because of my Bipolar and because of how fast things can fall apart when I’m not well, I’ve had to develop some kick ass coping skill.  And these individual skills, or qualities, have allowed me to realize the best parts of my life.

To keep my mind from racing, or to put it to good use when it is, I learn hobbies.  The writing started long ago, I’ve found notebooks with old writing from the 3rd grade, and I was storytelling back then too.  But aside from that, I’ve learned to knit, tile bathrooms, cook, paint, sing, install fencing, do electrical work, and build furniture.

When I needed more quiet in my life and less hustle, I learned to camp in the woods under the stars listening to the water break on shore by the lake.  Although we have not successfully been camping since the arrival of our son, we hope to get back to this eventually.  Camping with my wife and family has given me some of my best memories.

While I was looking for ways not to focus on my depression I started a gratitude journal.  Everyday while I have my coffee I take a picture of the sunrise, and write down three things that I will do to make the day great, three things that I am grateful for, and one positive affirmation about myself.  It has been invaluable in redirecting my negative thoughts.

When I needed to go off of all my medication in order to get pregnant I was scared.  Terrified actually.  But like with all things I do, I did my research.  I read every book I could find about Bipolar and Pregnancy (which is not  all that many).  I met with three or four different doctors before I found one that would even begin to reevaluate what I was already taking (which was far too much) let alone work with me to possibly eliminate my medications for at least the first trimester. 

Nonetheless we did find that doctor, and I did taper off of my medication under their supervision.  During the year that I wasn’t taking any medication,  running became extremely important to me.  It allowed me to clear my mind first thing in the morning, or after a long day at work.  I would repeat over and over as I was running “healthy mind, healthy body, healthy pregnancy.” My mind stayed well long enough for us to give it one hell of a try.

If it had not been for my bipolar though, we may have been able to keep trying, maybe we could have tried longer. We could have done different things with hormones that I was not wiling to risk when I was already having to use all of my might to control my emotions.  Plus, I’m sure that my wife would disagree on how successful I was at that.  Because of  all of that, we now have our beautiful son.  Not despite my bipolar, or despite our fertility issues, because of them.  That one might not be a coping skill, but it is the greatest gift this life has ever given me.

So, you see, it’s not all bad.  If right now, you are reading this thinking that things will never get better;  they can and they do.  You will get stronger.  You have to in order to grow and move forward.

 

He Saves Me

He saves me.

He saves me from myself when I am at my lowest.

When I can barely wake up, let alone do anything else.

He is there.

With his early morning, big- as-ever smile.

With his first little kiss of the day.

With his soft request for something eat.

Reminding me that I can’t quit. Not right now.

First I have to take care of him.

And today, that pulls me out of the dark just enough to get in the shower and get us both dressed and out the door.

He saved me today.

 

(Originally written 9-7-2018

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