THINGS and SITUATIONS: How to Have Healthy Relationships

This has been a difficult post to write, since most of my post are spastic and spur-of-the-moment, but this topic is very important to me.

What is your relationship with exercise? With food? With alcohol? With TV? With shopping? I doubt most people have willingly reflected on these questions.

What do you mean “what is my relationship”? I mean what are your emotional associations and habits that go with this activity or thing?

For example, I will share about my relationship with exercise. Exercise has never been a constant in my life until recently. I ran cross country and played softball in high school, but just barely tolerated the vigorous running schedule and the sprinting drills. I got to college and I did not work out. Ever. Luckily I have a fast metabolism and danced (a LOT) every time I went out. The rest of college pretty much went the same way. I felt a lot of pressure to be fit, but I could never commit to a lifestyle change or even a steady schedule. This was due to my relationship with exercise.

My relationship before August: I felt a lot of guilt whenever I thought I should be more fit or exercising. I though it was something that people forced themselves to do. I thought it would be a huge adjustment to make my life more active. Every time I went I thought I was not doing enough, or that people in the gym who were regulars were judging me. Therefore I had a terrible abusive relationship with exercise.

My progression towards a healthy relationship with exercise started when I  moved to Washington in August and was surrounded by my housemates who were all active people. We would go to the gym together, and there was no pressure from them. I also did not know anyone in my gym (it is really important for me to remain anonymous in that place because it’s a vulnerable place for me), so did not feel judged. Hell, for all they knew I was already a marathon runner :P. I adopted a new attitude. Simply showing up at the gym for me was enough. The act of going to the gym was where I derived my satisfaction, not based on how much I accomplished. BUT surprisingly, whenever I would go to they gym I really would try hard and accomplish more than I expected. This is because the only expectations I had was that I would go there and do something. I did not expect to run 20 miles a week or go to the gym everyday.

My relationship now: Tada! My relationship has evolved. I have accepted that being active is something my body needs (just like your dog needs to be taken on walks…my legs need to be taken to run/bike!). I hold myself to low standards, and my only expectation is that my life continues to be an active one. I love going to the gym….it’s a place where my mind has no place and my body takes over (which is a very welcome relief). I feel like I belong there.

Now that I have moved the relationship to a positive one; Where do I think my relationship can take me next? I think that the longer my life is an active one, the more I can elevate my standards. I can start to train for a half-marathon and be confident I will not let myself down. Even if I miss a day of training, I will be kind to myself, and be more ready to get back at it the next day.

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Dear Brain: Shut the F*ck Up

Oh how I wish I could have a few couple of grey goose screwdrivers right about now!!! This photo is interesting and probably explains why a lot of bipolar people end up abusing alcohol. It makes your brain shut up and gives you peace from the constant bombardment or pointless/obsessive thoughts.

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I am in a very interesting but torturous place. It is definitely a mixed state that will not go away. I am sitting at work right now completely ignoring my Outlook To do list and the reminders window that keeps popping up every 10 min. I am completely obsessed with thoughts of thrifting and fashion. I desperately need a black trench coat. Like right this fucking minute and I can’t stop thinking about it. ARGH.

On top of it, I’m sedated from the Seroquel. It’s not doing anything but sedating me! This makes hypomania even worse because the thoughts are the same, but I have no energy to do anything productive, so it ends up just being thoughts without action good or bad.

Also….I have started doing a very very bad thing…I have started to bid on ebay items. I cut up my credit card last week, but my pay pal still has it stored……..goddamnit I thought my spending was put on hold.

WHY CAN’T I STOP?!? I know what I should do in about 40 minutes when work ends…I SHOULD go to the gym and deal with this energy in a healthy way. But what I really WANT to do is drive to my favorite thrift store. I keep telling myself that I’ll go straight to the coats and if they don’t have it then leave and go to the gym, but I KNOW this will not happen. I’ll keep looking until I spend another $75….did I mention I’ve done this twice in the last two months? These have not been my only trips, butseriously how do you spend $75?

FUCK. And I also try to convince myself once I give in, I will be satisfied and wont want anymore. That’s a lie, a very big lie.

A St. Patty’s Day Intervention

ImageWhat a lucky day for an intervention. We had a lot of people over on Saturday night. To give you an idea, 27 people (not including me and my housemates) crashed at our house afterwards.My housemate Kara and I had been fighting about where to put the speakers. I had spent a lot of time that day making the basement festive with black lights and themed decorations, but Kara thought the speakers should be upstairs where everyone was (naturally). So when I think it’s time for a dance party I move the speakers downstairs and she get’s mad and makes a sarcastic comment about how she wished the speakers were still upstairs since “there’s so many people in the basement.” I, of course, counteract that by telling her her music sucks and that’s why I moved the speakers. Immediately after this, I know I shouldn’t have done it and that I didn’t even really mean it.

So then I go outside to cool down and sit on the porch drinking a Rolling Rock (green cans….duh). I start to realize that I am trying to force the party to go the way I imagined it to be, instead of just letting people figure it out. I had been hypo manic all day in my party preparation, and the controlling side of it was coming out. I didn’t know what to do at this point, so I keep drinking. (Oh…by the way…not doing so great avoiding said “crutch“)

Kara finally finds me and we have a heart-to-heart and I apologize for trying to control the party and tell her that her music doesn’t really suck, I was just being bitchy. During the conversation, it comes out that she and my other 3 housemates have been meaning to have a meeting about what has been going on with me. I used to tell them everything, but I started to get the sense it was too much and I was freaking them out, so I stopped. Apparently they actually really do want to know what’s going on (which is awesome!). Anyways, I’ll leave out the specifics of the conversation, but the result is that Kara and Jenn (my other housemate)  are coming with me to my counseling appointment tonight. And all of us are going to have a long conversation tomorrow night about everything. Hopefully this will help them understand and help me in a positive way! I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

Goodbye Crutches! Hello new stable self!

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Dealing with undiagnosed Bipolar II for several years has left me with a “toolbox” full of things or behaviors that keep me keeping on, but take a toll on my mental health. I have shaped my actions and habits around my jagged-edged life and used many unhealthy things as crutches to hide or “help” myself. The following is a list of my “crutches.” Since I started taking an atypical anti-psychotic last night, these are also things I am giving up long term.

1. Alcohol: I love greyhounds, I love tequila shots, and there is nothing like a Stella in one of those fancy glasses straight from the tap. But to be truthful with myself, I have to admit that I love these things for much more than the taste.

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Drinking has helped me many times to act “normal” when I feel anything but normal. When I was can’t-get-out-of-bed depressed as a freshman in college, my only other activity was partying. It was definitely a contributing factor for my depressed state, but in the moment, it always made me feel like a normal college freshman. It created a sense of solidarity between my dorm-mates and myself when, in reality, I was have an atypical year filled with failure and depression. It also made me happy, or at least numb.

I still use alcohol in this way. Whenever I’m a little too hyped up after work (hypomania) and can’t stop doing things (if I do I’ll be boring or lame), I am in the habit oftrying to calm myself down with a beer or screwdriver. This typically stops me from becoming hyperactive in activity, but just makes me obnoxious, loud, and overly talkative.

Using alcohol during Mania is another thing entirely. But when I get the urge to drink heavily (it’s almost like a need), it is almost always a sign of mania. The other night when I was feeling particularly rebellious and hell-bent of getting fucked up I ended up walking around downtown by myself, dodging my roommates phone calls (we had gone out together and I had flat out disappeared), and went to the sketchiest bar in town by myself. This might not seem too serious of an issue to you, BUT I live in a very bad part of town.

2. Coffee: I F*CKING LOVE SOY AMERICANOS! Giving up this one is going to be tough. But then again….I really have to admit to myself that it’s not just the taste. It’s the “happy” and warmness that comes 4 sips in.

My friend Frank actually made this photo when I was at my worst in caffeine addiction.

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It got to the point in college that I could drink a Venti Starbucks coffee and fall asleep. Oh, and then I moved on to the anhydrous caffeine pills. I am very thankful that I did not have any heart problems during this period.

3. Late-Night Adventures: The Seroquel is definitely going to make this and easy one to follow due to the extreme drowsiness.

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In college my friends and I would frequent the 24 hour doughnut shop and make spur-of-the-moment 3am trips to the beach to bonfire. I would also use staying up late to trigger adrenaline to do last-minute papers and projects. Now that I’m in the “real-world” my sleep schedule is 90% more stable than it was in college. Still, now and again I’ll stay up until 3am reading a novel when I have to go to work the next morning.