Blogger Recognition Award

Thanks so very much to  writingblissfully for the nomination for the Blogger Recognition Award.  My blog started out just as a place to put my hodge podge of artistic endeavors, however it has turned into a place to document my evolution and give voice to those with mental illness.  I am working to be more consistent here but the aforementioned mental illness tends to get in the way but I forgive myself and keep doing the best I can.  I would advise new bloggers to just keep at it and write what’s in your heart and have fun with it.   I am truly grateful to writingblissfully for the nomination.

The rules for accepting this award:

  1. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you
  2. Tell how your blog got started
  3. Give advice to new bloggers
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers and their blogs for the award

I would like to nominate the  following blogs for  this recognition:

PIRAN CAFÉ

King Of States!

Cease, Cows

a funny thing happened when I was learning myself

Miss Kris

manicartist89

Clintington on Film

Sundragonlady’s Cavern of Lost Words

J. T. Carlton

FROM STRUGGLE TO STRENGTH

Gotta Find a Home

annamosca

 

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My Fight with Anxiety

I have been in a constant state of anxiety for several days now.  My heart and thoughts are racing, I’m grinding my teeth, my sleep has been broken, I’m irritable and I can’t stop catastrophizing every situation I think about.  The most worrisome part of my anxiety is that my hallucinations are working overtime.  Not only am I hearing my ‘people’ (voices) again; I am also dealing with moderate visual hallucinations.  All I want to do is escape and find a quiet place where the world can’t touch me and I can curl up in a ball and be left alone.  I don’t want to deal with anything right now and I don’t want to face any of my fears.

The voices I experience have been with me as far back as I can remember.  The best way I can describe them is that one is a male and one is a female and they sit at the base of my brain just waiting to make life difficult for me.  They don’t have faces or anything like that; the way I see them is as silhouetted heads something like this…

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They are always there facing one another but I never see their lips move when they talk however I can always tell whether it’s the male or female communicating with me.  My voices never tell me to harm myself or others or do things that I normally wouldn’t do; they just like to have an input into my thought pattern when I’m stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.  We do have two-way conversations but no one would ever know this just to look at me.  The dialogue only goes on inside my head and my lips only actually move from time to time.  It sounds funny but that’s how our relationship is.  No, I am not psychotic nor do I suffer from any sort of schizophrenia.  I just experience these voices because of my bipolar disorder and my anxiety.

My visual hallucinations are not as significant as my voices.  Basically I see things move and run across the floor or dart across my field of vision.  I see things with my peripheral vision that aren’t there but I still turn to look as though they are as a knee-jerk reaction.  I have trouble with my visions, too, when I’m stressed and overwhelmed or when I’m overstimulated like I tend to be in the grocery store or large department stores.  All the colors and images and different sounds and smells make it a chore for me and it becomes nearly impossible for me to concentrate in this type of environment.

I can start feeling anxious out of the blue, however I have learned over the course of my mental illnesses to identify certain situations that may make me anxious.  I don’t like to be around a large group of people whether I know them or not.  It’s not so much the people but the barrage of images and movements that make me anxious when I’m around a lot of people.  I can also be anxious in a small group of people if I don’t know the people in the group.  Unlike a large group, I can get to a point where I’m relatively OK in a small group once I get to know the other people though I still experience some anxiety.  New situations or how I perceive a new situation might go are two more times when I will experience a lot of anxiety.  I have to use a lot of self-talk when I’m going into a new situation so that I can get to a point where I can still function.  This is a fairly common situation for me seeing as new experiences are a part of daily life but because of this I’m often preoccupied and inside my own head.  I get anxious when I have to make a phone call I’ve never made before, opening new mail, driving to a destination I’ve never been to, watching the news on television and even praying.  I know right; yes, praying can cause me a great deal of anxiety.

It would seem that it would be easy to combat my anxiety if I know when I might be anxious or I can identify it when it comes but it’s not that easy.  Having anxiety and being aware of it doesn’t make it that easy to deal with.  Life would be so sweet if I could just identify the anxiety, label the source of it and then take the necessary steps to make it go away.  NOT!  It doesn’t work anything like that.  For some years I was on Xanax to help combat my anxiety however that was the worst thing that a not medicated, bipolar alcoholic/addict with borderline personality disorder could possibly do.  When I made the serious decision to get sober and deal with my mental illness I had to make the decision to go at my anxiety from a different direction.  Now I use both CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) tools to combat my bouts of anxiety.

The tools that I have been taught are not foolproof however they do help me to get a better hold on my anxiety when it comes.  I still shy away from many people and situations because of my anxiety but, at least now, I know that I can get passed it when I’m ready to.  I say ready because no matter how hard I may try to combat anxiety in any of its many forms, unless I’m ready to face whatever situation is giving me anxiety that anxiety will still be there.  Anxiety keeps me from experiencing many things in life that I’m positive are probably pretty amazing and I want to be a part of any number of them however my battle with anxiety will be ongoing and on my terms.  I just have to be patient with myself and that’s the best I can do.

 

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Running In Place

My bipolar disorder causes me to experience something called racing thoughts.  Actually, racing doesn’t even begin to define what my brain is doing every waking moment of every day of my life.  Even when I say I’m going to lie down for a bit and rest or take a nap my mind is still racing.  I have racing thoughts while I’m showering, while I’m cleaning, when I’m feeding the dogs even when I’m talking on the phone.  My mind and thoughts are always racing and it gets to be pretty damned exhausting.

My racing thoughts make it hard for me to complete tasks despite how sincere my intentions are to finish them.  I can’t even begin to count the number of projects and personal commitments I have on my plate right now that are only half done because of my racing thoughts.  It doesn’t help that there are some things that I must do every day no matter what; record blood glucose readings, record what I eat, complete DBT diary cards, take my medication, I could go on but that’s enough to get an idea of what my day is like and to see how all of this contributes to my racing thought issues.  Just having to do these things daily is enough to send me into a tailspin of racing thoughts and it would seem that this would be enough for me but it never is.  In addition to the things I do daily I am always taking on more and more tasks to do, sadly many of them go unfinished.   Right now I have a half-finished blanket I’ve crocheted, I have my first novel that I started editing sitting unfinished, without finishing my first novel I’ve already started on my second one, I’ve been working on a book of short stories that consists of two undone novellas, and so on and so on.  I really do want to finish all of these things unfortunately my racing thoughts and mind only let me get to a certain point and then it seems that I just run out of steam.

It’s funny; you would think that a racing mind would be conducive to finishing things but, quite the opposite.  My mind races so much and so often that when I try to do something the myriad of musings that bombard me constantly has me throwing up my hands in frustration rather than crossing the finish line over and over on a regular basis.  Sometimes I just sit looking around in a stupor because I don’t know where to begin trying to tame and satisfy the constant buzzing in my brain.  Now everyone gets a little overwhelmed from time to time having things to do but nothing compares to true racing thoughts.  I have even tried using daily planners, hourly planners and setting alarms on my cell phone to try and make some sense and put some order to my racing thoughts but, often, this tends to have the opposite effect.  I get so worked up trying to stay on task or being on edge knowing that one of my many alarms may be going off at any moment that I find myself abandoning one thing after another out of sheer anxiety.  This just makes my racing thoughts move that much faster.

Racing thoughts are frustrating to me because they make me that much more distracted in general.  Already battling against myself to stay focused, racing thoughts make staying on point a Herculean task.  I have a hard time watching a movie or television program, reading, writing, holding a conversation to name only a few things that my racing thoughts interfere with.  Life is hard enough with all that we are told to like, buy, do, see, acquire, listen to and such but pair this with chronic racing thoughts and the world is a rambling chasm of constant overstimulation.  A lot of the time I wish I could just put my hands over my ears and close my eyes and make it all go away, unfortunately that wouldn’t help to calm my racing mind.  I’ve only found a couple of things to help me with this; medication and working on mindfulness.

Since I take medication for my bipolar disorder I already have a tool available to me to help quell my racing mind.  Another tool that I’ve learned I can have at my disposal, if I work at it, is mindfulness.  Mindfulness includes a lot of different things such as meditation, focusing on the moment, experiencing my feelings without judgement and, most importantly, working with one thought at a time.  This is not something that is a quick fix; I have to constantly work on being mindful so that I can gain some sort of control over my racing thoughts.  Under my breath I’m constantly telling myself to focus, sit still, do one thing at a time, finish this first, stop moving around and the list goes on.  At this moment, I’m trying to write, listen to a program on the National Geographic channel, absorb the smell coming from a fragrant candle, get ready for a visit from a longtime friend, drink a cup of hot chocolate and watch the birds eating bread outside my window; all this going on as a result of my racing thoughts.  Needless to say my focus level is on the negative side right now but I’m pushing on ahead like I do all the time.

It has taken me a matter of hours to write a measly thousand words all because of my racing thoughts and what they do to me.  Popping up and down like a jack-in-the-box and moving from one thing to another several times over these few hours has made getting this done pretty hard.  Though my goal the whole time was to complete this I’ve been unable to just sit in one place and work from start to finish.  Now that I can look back and see the progress I’m capable of it lets me see that even with this handicap I’m still quite a peach!

 

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Grateful for Gratitude

A few weeks ago I decided to start a gratitude journal.  Instead of getting caught up in the highs and lows of my bipolar disorder I figured I’d redirect my focus and look at the good things working for me in life.  There was just one problem; I didn’t count on something getting in the way.  That something is borderline personality disorder.

In addition to my bipolar disorder I have a daily struggle to keep myself balanced because of my BPD.   In short, having borderline personality disorder means that I have a hard time living a life of balance.  It is my disorder inside a disorder and it can make life very complicated for me.  BPD is the reason I often overreact to any given situation and have ongoing unhealthy relationships and thought patterns.  I typically only see life in terms of black and white not realizing that life is full of areas of gray.  I tend to fly off the handle at seemingly benign situations and my interactions with people are often based on pure emotion which, in and of itself, is quite detrimental to living life on an even keel.  Borderline personality disorder can also make it hard for me to balance my emotions and react appropriately to them.  For instance, I can get happy about something good happening to me and instead of just being content with the situation; I may go out and spend money that I really can’t spare as a reaction to it.  If something upsets me I may go into a deep depression and start toying with thoughts of self-harm or even suicide.  Often when a relationship is unhealthy or toxic I may still try to keep the relationship going because; in my thought process, some relationship is better than no relationship.

Earlier I said that this is my disorder inside of a disorder; let me explain.  Bipolar disorder is characterized by intense highs and lows, mania and depression, light and dark.  Well borderline personality makes these instances even more intense. I often suffer from extended periods of anxiety and I have trouble with major bouts of low self-esteem and overall self-loathing.  The mania and depression of my bipolar disorder are made more intense as a result of my BPD.  Already being overly stimulated, borderline personality disorder can make me appear like the Incredible Hulk when it comes to emotions.  One minute I’m fine and the next minute, after seeing a disturbing story on the evening news, I’m a wasted pile of tears and despair.  I know, this may sound extreme but that’s the nature of borderline personality disorder.  BPD is a constant struggle to maintain emotional equilibrium and avoid unhealthy situations and relationships.

I say all of this to make the point that starting a gratitude journal was more of a challenge than I ever thought it would be.  Because my view of reality is often skewed, it’s hard for me to be mindful and find things to be grateful for since I’m always in an extreme emotional state.  This being true, I was even more determined to be able to use mindfulness and find things in life to be grateful for no matter how small or mundane.  Even though mentally I tend to be in a state of flux, I have to realize that if I can compose myself and focus I’ll be able to see that there is just plain good in life.  I’ve decided that I will be grateful despite my diagnosis and I’m going to start that journal no matter what.

 

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Back At It

Bipolar disorder can be a bitch, thus the reason I haven’t posted anything to my blog since last July.  I was doing great and the ideas were flowing and I loved seeing the results of my productivity and focus and then, BAM, without warning; nothing.  It was like all the potential and creativity that I had in me just dried up and flew south.  Frustrating does not begin to describe the feeling of sitting down in front of the computer all set to peck out my next great revelation only to find that all the thoughts in my head were a garbled mess of nothingness.  I wanted to write, really I did, but nothing would happen.  I would wake up in the morning with the mindset that today would be the day and, just as quickly as it came; it was gone, back to the endless chasm of emptiness.   I ranted, I screamed, I cried, I did it all from one end of up to the dark side of down but nothing would make the ideas or expression come to fruition before my eyes.  I couldn’t understand what was happening.  I had been on a roll and I was so proud of myself.  I had endless reserves of gumption and I enjoyed what I was doing, I had the upper hand against my mental illness.  I had ‘mastered’ bipolar disorder and I vowed bipolar disorder would never again keep me paralyzed and confused and lost in a sea of uncertainty.  Hell, just looking at my blog I knew that I could beat this beast.  Surprise, surprise I couldn’t have been further from the truth.  That’s not the nature of bipolar disorder and that’s really not the way it works.  Even with all my reading and researching I didn’t want to realize that I would forever battle with bipolar disorder.  For a minute I believed that maybe it had gone away to the furthest recesses of my mind to be stored as an afterthought.  No.  Bipolar disorder will forever be my Achilles heel and I’m going to have to get to a place where I’m OK with that.  Having bipolar disorder doesn’t make me any less of a person than anyone else and the pitfalls that come with it don’t make me a failure.  I just have to work a little bit harder at life than some people and, actually, that’s OK.  That just strengthens my character and enhances my already engaging personality.  All I have to remember is that I have bipolar disorder, it doesn’t have me.

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Just Perfect

(This post is for Day Nine of Blogging 101.  It was inspired by my visit to the blog miss-kris.com.  She’s such a beautiful woman)

I have struggled with my weight and my body image all my life.  I can remember being in grammar school crying in the department store when it was time to buy new clothes.  I was so hurt that my clothes were always purchased from the ‘husky’ rack; these were not the most attractive clothes.  When I wanted to look like a little girl all sweet and cute I had to settle for clothes that looked, for the most part, androgynous.  The only saving grace for me was that they couldn’t make dresses for boys.  Every day I envied my petite, girly- girl playmates as I tried to come to terms with the chunky frame I had to carry.

Things didn’t get any better when I entered the middle school years.  My classmates were getting taller and thinner and I was just getting taller.  I still had to deal with my not-so-thin body and it became very apparent to me that this was something to be abhorred.  Once again in my life I knew what it was like to be on the outside when it was time to shop for new school clothes.  Instead of this being a fun occasion it was filled with more angst and tears when, as a pre-teen, I was forced to move over to the misses’ section of the stores my mom and I visited.  I would sit behind my desk day after day wishing and praying that the body that had betrayed me would show some mercy and get rid of my unwanted pounds.  This never happened.

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High school was no less a nightmare than my previous academic career.  My height had finally plateaued but my body and my body image was still a major source of sadness for me.  It seemed like all the girls I looked at were ‘perfect’.  They didn’t seem to have to worry about hiding a bit of a muffin top or robust breasts.  They were the ones who had no hang-ups getting dressed in front of one another for physical education and who didn’t cringe from the thought of wearing a bathing suit when it was time for the mandatory two-week stint of swimming.  Outside of school they could wear the short shorts and bikinis that I could only dream of putting on.  I would spend hours in the mirror at home dissecting my body trying on one thing after another looking for something that would hide my thickness and make me look more like my female classmates.

At this time I also got hip to fad diets and so-called counting calories.  What this was exactly was me starving myself and then going through a period where I was bulimic.  I loved this because I was finally seeing results to what I was doing.  Binging and purging was paying off in my waist line but it was adversely affecting me in other ways.  My gums were bleeding, my throat hurt, my ribs were always sore from throwing up and I was generally in poor health; but I kept doing what I was doing because my body was getting, and staying, smaller…finally.

Throughout my college years I started feeling better about myself as I kept on starving my body in pursuit of the perfect frame.  I was often tired and consumed with how many calories I was taking in and worrying about being caught throwing up in the bathroom in order to maintain the body I’d been dreaming of all my life.  This routine lasted for the better part of my college years but after graduating my body began to betray me again.  All the years of doing the wrong thing to stay ‘thin’ and lose weight had caused my body to rebound to the other end of the spectrum; I started gaining all the lost weight back.

This was the worst period of my life.  Not only was I gaining weight I was officially plus-sized.  I had to actually shop in the ‘big girls’ department and I was internally mortified.  Oh I kept a good face and I would smile when I got compliments on my outfits; from women twice my age mind you, but I was just not happy with my body and this was affecting how I felt about myself overall.  Instead of loving myself and my body and reveling in my uniqueness I went to the opposite end of the spectrum.  Not only was I dressing from the plus-size department, I was over dressing.  Instead of figure and body flattering clothes I would wear clothes two and three sizes bigger in order to try and hide my assets.  Then I started losing weight again. Joy and rapture!  Ironically, this gaining and losing, losing and gaining would go on for a number of years.

All of this had finally gotten to me and a vowed that it could not go on.  About six or seven years ago I finally decided that I was going to embrace the body I’d been given.  I was tired of depriving myself of the foods and drinks I like, wearing too-big clothes that hid my true shape, hating what I saw in the mirror and hating myself.  I embarked on a journey to love myself at whatever size I might be.plus girl

Though it was slow in coming I began to see women like myself in magazines and on television.  I began to really look around me and see all the beautiful women who had actual shapes and filled out their clothes sexily.  Most importantly I gave myself permission to love me in all my glory and splendor; I would not hide behind bulky clothes and shapeless shifts. plus girl 2            plus girl 3

Don’t get me wrong, I still have those moments when I wish I could lose a few pounds for any number of reasons but I refuse to get caught up in this and slide back into the loop of self-loathing.  I’m perfect just the way I am.

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It Comes From Inside

I went to see my therapist yesterday and I have to say that, quite frankly, she pissed me off!  I sat in the waiting room with my chest out and my shoulders back and a quiet smile on my face.  For reasons outside of my control it had been quite some time since I’d seen my therapist and I was so excited to tell her that I’d been winning the battle with my bipolar disorder daily, posting to my blog; I’d started it in 2013 but hadn’t done much with it until this year, and I was still celebrating having a year clean and sober.  I was all bubbles and sunshine inside while I waited to see that door open and her pop her head out and call me into her office.  For the first time in forever I was really ready for therapy.  Then it happened.  She did call me back and on the way to her office she asked, “How’s it going?”  I was beside myself with glee waiting to get started on how good life was going for me and how happy I’d been lately and then…she blew it.

I’d decided to downplay the sobriety thing and start with my mood.  I told her that things had been quite good for me where my mood is concerned.  I’d been able to use my CBT and DBT skills to keep me grounded and I’d been more positive than I’d been in a very long time.  She looked at me with a blank stare, shook her head and that was it.  Really?  Maybe she didn’t hear me.  Maybe her mind was someplace else, I don’t know.  This wasn’t what I expected or what I’d planned on.  This was supposed to just floor her and instead she just looked at me.  Fine. Okay. I decided to talk about my blogging.

I went into detail about how I’d been putting my feelings into the blogosphere about my bipolar disorder and treatment and my recovery from drugs and alcohol.  I knew she’d be impressed with me because I’d been in a horrible slump for so long not able to do much of anything and this was monumental for me.  I kept looking at her face waiting for the big smile to open up and let me know she was proud of me.  Nothing.  She just shook her head and turned around to her computer and began making notes.  Are you fucking kidding me!  What the hell is her problem; clearly she did have a problem.  Well, the last thing I had in my arsenal was my sober birthday and I knew this was going to get her.

After no response to my rambling about my good mood and my blog I was jumping up and down inside to tell my therapist I’d finally reached my first year of sobriety.  And I was right, that got a response.  “How did you feel about that?”  That’s what I got; a question.  As far as I was concerned it was a stupid question.  Wasn’t sobriety like this the goal of hours of therapy and training?  Anyway, I decided to bring attention to my blogging again and explain how I’d blogged about the bittersweet feeling of my year being sober.  I went into detail and made a very important point; at least I thought it was, about mourning my addiction like a good friend.  I thought this was really big and I thought that being able to verbalize it in such a way would surely impress her.  Nope.  What did she do?  I’ll tell you what she did.  She took the wind out of my sail like her certification gave her the right to just cut me down at the knees.  How dare she!  “Well, you’ve been mourning this for months, what makes it any different now?”  That was it; I needed to do some quick mental checking because I was on the verge of losing my cool.

In my head this woman was every name in the book but a child of god.  I thought about getting up and just telling her never mind for the session and walking out, she’d touched something in me that I knew wasn’t good.  My inner demon was coming to life and that never ends well.  In an instant I had to jerk myself back to a happy place because I was quickly going down the wrong road.  I could envision her calling security just like the social worker did in the ER when I came to the defense of my partner; I just hoped my eyes hadn’t turned the least bit red.  This just wasn’t going the way I’d envisioned and I was totally thrown off by her nonchalance.  Right then I had to decide whether to take the high road or to just show my ass.  Trust me, it was a hard decision.  All of this took place in a split second.

And then I came to the realization that, as much as I wanted my therapist to be happy for me and give me some sort of accolade, the most important thing is how I feel about what I’ve done and how far I’ve come.  My therapist’s job is to guide me down the road to being able to manage my mental illness and staying sober.  She’s not responsible for giving me my self-worth; that’s my job.

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So after I had this internal dialogue with myself I decided to let my therapist off the hook and go on with our session.  I reminded myself that I was there for therapy not ego stroking and, surprisingly, I was okay with that.

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Coming Clean on Getting Clean

Today I reached a milestone; I have one year sober.  I’m sure I should feel some kind of way but, surprisingly, I don’t.  Instead of feeling totally celebratory I feel quite introspective on this day.  I’ve spent the entire week leading up to this day thinking about the journey I’ve been on to get to this point.  I remember when it all started.

I was active in my addiction to alcohol and powder cocaine and not taking any medication for my bipolar disorder.  I was a walking train wreck and a health hazard to myself to the nth degree but I refused to believe or accept it.  I didn’t know whether I was coming or going and my body was beginning to cry out that something was wrong but I just kept abusing alcohol and drugs; I’d added pain killers to my repertoire of addiction at this point.  I was staying up days on end, playing my music louder than I would normally be able to stand, rambling on with my grandiose ideas, going from one thing to another never finishing anything, etc., etc., etc.  I was a classic bipolar addict mess and I’d been that way for several months.  I thought I was living the good life being drunk and high and all over the place but I couldn’t have been further from the truth.  I was on a fast track to destruction.  I’d chosen to deceive myself into believing that I had it all under control.

When I’m active in my addiction I’m what I like to call ‘functional’.  I’m still able to do normal things without much difficulty.  I fool myself into believing that I’m not some run-of-the-mill addict; I tell myself that I’m better than other  addicts who use alcohol and drugs and neglect life altogether.  How ignorant does that sound?  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  An addict is an addict regardless of how the addiction may manifest itself in a person.  One day something hit me and I realized that I was living a life of complete insanity.  I knew that I was out of control in my addiction and my mental health was at an all-time low and my health was truly suffering.

I don’t know exactly what happened but something deep inside of me wanted a change.  I was ready to get help and, truthfully, as much as I loved my addiction I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I sat down and made the call to a local mental health facility and went for an intake interview.  That same day began my journey down the road to healing.  I remember the seven days I spent at an in-patient hospital detoxing and starting the process of getting regulated and back on my bipolar medications.

The beginning was hell.  I had trouble sleeping, I had the shakes; I was hot then cold then back again, I was extremely irritable and my skin felt like it was crawling with bugs.  I felt like I was losing my mind.  These things are a normal part of getting clean but I’d forgotten about them and I didn’t like it one bit.  I spent most of those seven days thinking I must have been crazy to have wanted to clean up my act but I was determined to stick it out.  Getting sober isn’t easy and don’t let anyone tell you it is.  It’s hard and it requires a lot of will and determination.  I had to constantly remind myself why it would benefit me to be sober and why I needed to have my bipolar disorder under control.  Trust and believe addiction wreaks havoc on mental illness.  As much as I kept telling myself I was okay, I was not okay.

At first I would count my sober time by the days, then I was elated to be able to count the weeks but the real victory started to show when I could start counting months.  Still, I had to put in work.  I was in therapy several days a week and I had to learn to change how I thought about addiction and mental illness.  I had to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis and I had to stay committed to staying sober.  That is the hardest part of the journey; commitment.  Today I’m committed to staying committed about staying sober.

When I got to six months sober I began to see so many positive changes in my life.  My complexion was better, I was learning to eat healthier, my mental faculties were getting back into alignment and my sleep was more productive.  My favorite part of being sober was, and is, the fact that I was regaining my artistic self.  I used to believe that I had to be under the influence and off medication to be creative. Wrong!  Addiction is a full time job and a jealous lover and it robs you of everything, even who you really are.  I learned this the hard way and I’m glad I know better now.

As I got more together I started looking forward to my sober anniversaries; nine months, ten months, eleven months, until finally today’s big event…one year sober.

sobriety

Like I said to start, I’m not quite sure how I feel today.  I am happy and proud of myself and I feel so very accomplished but the day is a bittersweet one for good reason; I’m also mourning the loss of my addiction.  This may sound strange but it is a very real part of getting sober.  My addiction was such a big part of my life and letting it go was hard, my addiction was my friend.  Who wants to let go of a faithful friend who’s been there throughout the years, through thick and thin and good or bad?  Certainly not me but I had to come to the realization that sometimes we have to let things go out of our lives so that we can grow.

These are the struggles and triumphs that got me where I am, and for it all I can say I’m truly grateful.

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Her Fantasy

[This is the beginning of a short story/novella that I plan to finish.  It also came about as a result of the Blogging 101 assignment for day 4]

She had to belong to someone.  Her perfectly coiffed hair and fresh manicure confirmed that she was well taken care of.  Trying on shoes in the upscale boutique, Uma couldn’t help but look at her shapely legs and the way she softly placed each foot in a shoe when trying on each pair that was brought to her.  Uma was sure she smelled of some exotic perfume that probably would have cost her a week’s wages but really none of that mattered because in her fantasies that woman deserved all the best things in life.

The first time she’d seen her was in the grocery store one evening after work.  She was leisurely shopping and Uma could tell by the contents of her cart that she took care of her body.  She had fruits and vegetables, all sorts of natural juices and organic supplements and very lean cuts of meat.  Uma imagined she’d be in her kitchen blending all of her cart’s contents while she danced to music in her panties and a t-shirt.  Her shoulder-length hair would be damp from her shower and she’d have it pinned in a messy bun with small pieces of curly hair framing her face.  In her mind Uma could smell the food cooking and she could feel her in her arms as they stood back to front in her kitchen.

As always, Uma stood in the shadows waiting and wondering who she was getting dressed for and making plans for.  She’d been watching her for several weeks now and she’d only seen her go out with friends or with business associates; she’d never seen her go out with anyone one on one.  But that really didn’t matter because she couldn’t watch her all the time.  When she looked down at the green illuminated face of her watch and saw that it was past six o’clock she knew it was time to go.   In the warmth of her car she hugged herself and started the engine thinking about the day.  This was the first time she’d been able to look at her for so long and she had a smug feeling of satisfaction in her gut as she pulled away from the curb and headed back to her apartment.

fantasy girls

Back at home she headed for the bedroom.  She took off her clothes and went into the bathroom to run herself a hot bath.  The steam from the water covered the mirror as Uma eased herself into the tub and leaned back to relax and think about her day.  This mystery woman had consumed her heart and thoughts and she wondered how she was going to approach her.  She was ready to make all her fantasies a reality for good.

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Perseverance in Doubt

All of a sudden, out of the blue, as a seriously messed up thing I woke up with no desire to write or create.  Really, I woke up yesterday morning and it was like a horrible grey cloud had descended upon me taking all of my artistic vibes and creative juices with it.  I have to admit that more than being frustrated, I was afraid.  For a moment I was scared to death that who I am at the core was fading away.  I thought to myself, this can’t be happening to me, I’m an artist.  I was absolutely distraught and beside myself the entire day well into the night.

At around 10:15PM I was still thinking about my plight and it hit me; WRITE.  Yes, I didn’t feel like writing and it finally hit me that this was the exact opportunity to write.  As I sat watching ‘Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip’ trying to figure out what I had a taste for as a late-night snack, I found my inspiration.  As I wrote I tried to figure out the reason for not wanting to write or do anything creative.  The first thought I had was that my bipolar disorder was getting ready to take me down into a bit of a depression.  I did a quick self-evaluation and realized that my bipolar disorder had nothing to do with it.  As much as I wanted to be able to blame my slump on something, I couldn’t blame it on my mental illness.

Image result for images of clocks

Well, crap, I thought, what the hell is the problem?  I still couldn’t figure it out.  I’d write then pause, write then pause, write then pause; I did this for nearly an hour.  Then it hit me.  My drive hadn’t gone anywhere, I’d just overwhelmed myself.  I realized that I had been overthinking the Blogging 101 assignment for day four as to a target audience for my blog.  I’d never thought about a specific target audience for my blog.  I write because that’s what I do and I enjoy sharing my life and my art and poetry with other people.  Now I may target a specific audience based on a certain blog post but I just consider my target audience anyone who likes poetry, short stories, relating to my struggles with bipolar disorder and the like.

Something else that I realized in the brief time I thought I couldn’t write was that I have an issue with people judging me.  I was worried about what other people might think about me when I talked about my target audience or what they might think of what I do as a whole.  I had to get past this and not worry about what anyone may say about me or think about my blog.  I had to stand up for myself and realize that my blog is my blog and what I do should not be dictated based on what I think someone else might or might not think about it.  I had to realize that I can’t please everyone and if my blog or blog posts are liked by a certain audience; fine, if not that is also okay.  All I’m required to do is write and share.

Once I got around all of this self-doubt and apprehension I was able to go ahead and finish the assignment without a problem.  I’m proud of what came out of this hiccup and if my story helps someone else I’m happy.  If no one reads it that, too, is fine.  Whatever audience I touch through my art is a plus regardless of what audience it may be.  This is who I am and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.

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