So. Here we are yet again- or here I am yet again. Finding myself coming back to my blog almost a fully year later. I cannot believe that it’s been that long. In fact, I had to double check to make sure there weren’t any draft posts I accidentally missed, NOPE! It’s actually been almost a year. And here I am… trying to find my space here, trying to write out how I’m honestly feeling, while simultaneously creating a space where others can also relate to the ins and outs of the chaos that is sometimes my mind.
Today I want to tell you something- life isn’t perfect, but it is beautiful and can be wonderful. I have four amazing children – ages 14, 11, 6 & 4- my eldest has serious special needs. I have an amazing husband ( not to mistaken for a perfect husband or perfect relationship ). I have a thriving business that I own. I live in my dream home (mostly). I also have a traumatic past (very much so). And I also have Bipolar 1 Disorder. You may be asking why am I saying all of this? Well, because mental illness doesn’t exclude anyone, and I mean ANYONE. I’ve known about my Bipolar since I was a teenage, however, I until recently (I mean the last couple of years) refused to stay medicated for any period of time. I also didn’t have a full understanding of what Bipolar 1 was or how it effected me truly. All I can say without fully diving into this right now, because that’s an entire other post, is that gosh it’s so worth it to know your diagnosis…. Research it, study it, talk about it. But what I can tell you is that no matter who you are mental illness does not leave anyone out.
I’m currently teetering a very fine line… you guys know (or maybe you don’t) that fine line of possibly becoming manic. You aren’t quite there yet, but you know it could be on the horizon. It’s a line that I HATE walking, I line I dread and pray endlessly to not walk or to simply put be able to walk backwards… or somehow make it to the other side without flying high first. I recently had several triggers that happened that just BAM! Hit me. That dreaded feeling of Oh shit. I may be in trouble. The racing thoughts, the lack of sleep, the missing a dose of medication, the -for me at least- creativity, and there’s a few other things I won’t divulge. But you’re likely starting to understand. I’m not there, but could get there. I’m still taking my meds, I’m still using my coping strategies, but a few things have just been oh, this isn’t right. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband, group of close friends and group of doctors who are all aware of what’s going on. And hopefully we will be able to keep this at bay. This is partially why I’m coming here- as a release. A way to find a space, any space, my space. A way to release the thoughts and a way to relate to others, a way to cope. So I leave this space tonight feeling just the tiniest bit better, the tiniest bit closer to normalcy, to sanity.
Self Care : the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health;
Sounds simple enough right? Why is it though that the most basic of self care seems to be so hard for most people? I find that we live in a society where self care means so many different things to people. Where parents think self care is going to the grocery after putting all the kids to bed, at 9 P.M., tired, hungry, BUT alone. Where people think staying up until midnight working and trudging along is self care because you’ll get to sleep until 6:15 A.M. instead of 5:45 A.M. When did this become the ‘norm’ for people? Self care means taking time and actions that help ME or YOU. It means really carving out that time for something constructive and good for you!
So. That brings me to this week. I’m currently in California visiting my mama and a friend or two. And I’m by myself. No kids, no hubby. Just so self care, relaxing, time for me. Something my husband and I decided we will do each year at least once is take a few days to ourselves for self care. Because mental health (all health) is that important. As someone living with Bipolar 1 self care is something I absolutely have to be diligent about. So while I ache to see my little ones I know that this time is good, SO good. And I know that it will help me be the best version of me. It also means that I must, even on vacation, be diligent about (yep! you guessed it!) self care. I still need to go to bed on time. I still need sleep, I still need to take my medications, I still need to work out like I normally do (mostly) and I need to be gentle with myself.
This brings me to self care at home. What does that look like for me? It looks like getting plenty of sleep every night. It means checking in with my therapist and my doctors. It means checking in with my support network. It means having some time to myself, doing what I want to do. Be it writing, reading, eating out with a girlfriend, hiking, climbing, my business and photography. It means working out regularly. It means listening to my body and my mind.
Now I ask you to challenge yourself. Are you practicing self care? In constructive way.
‘Owning your story is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.’ – Brene Brown
This. This is so true. Owning your story is healing in so many ways. But also terrifying. As I sit here typing this out (I haven’t blogged here in years) I am thinking about how much has changed. Within my family, my business (surprise I own a business now) and with my health and awareness. Let me start by also saying that I am only one and a half weeks out of a severe manic/manic psychosis episode. Things are incredibly raw right now, though I am healing. And I’m so grateful for that. I want to start with some basics…
First, Bipolar type 1 (the type I have) does NOT discriminate, in fact no mental illness does. I am a mama to four beautiful children, I live in my dream home in Northern VA, I’m blessed with a supportive and loving husband and family and I generally have a life that I love and have worked hard for. And yet, I still have Bipolar. I was first diagnosed as a teenager and have been hospitalized more than once for mania (four times). This is something I struggle with…. Recently I swung into a manic episode that lasted abut 2.5 weeks, thank God my mother came into town and helped and that my husband was aware of what was going on. I am currently on correct dosages of medications and plan to stay on them, though I also know that that doesn’t mean another manic episode or depressive episode will happen again. I guess I’m saying all of this to say, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. Which is maybe something I really need to hear right now.
So. Where does that leave me and my family now? Well, we are navigating these waters the best we can. We are picking up the broken pieces and gluing them back together. I am seeing my doctors regularly, including therapy, and I am practicing self care. This means early bedtimes, take my medications and NOT missing a dose. This means being loving and kind and trying to heal wounds caused by my words and actions while I was manic. It means that things just seem really, raw and scary right now. This means being gentle with myself and showing up the best I can. It means loving on my littles and feeling grateful. It means practicing self care. It means taking a step back from things and it means talking to friends I trust and being open about what’s going. And I’m ok with that.
I will be back soon with more thoughts and what this life is like. Today, I am grateful!