My Mental Story- Some Final Thoughts

By Linds B. 

I was determined. I had to push myself out of my shell. In my mind it was the only way I was going to move forward. So there I was, on my way to Portland to explore the west coast. Before my leaving, I had one final therapy appointment, to which I discussed my going to Oregon and I would be ringing in the new year without this job that had become my current hell, in a beautiful state with my amazing sister. I felt like I could take on the world, I had so much newfound confidence; I told myself as soon as I got home from my mini vacation I would instantly crack down and start looking for jobs, and for the time being, go back with my old job while I looked.

Before I knew it, I was on a plane to the other side of the country, which went surprisingly much smoother than I could have hoped for (with the exception of me being partially deaf upon arriving). My sister had picked me up, and I proceeded to have one of the best weeks of my life; I felt so free, everything was so new, and it was overall such an incredible experience. I finally wasn’t afraid to take risks, in my mind if I could do this, I could do anything. I had actually considered moving to Portland myself, starting over. At this point I find myself thinking about that a lot. The only downside would be leaving behind all of the people I love, but boy, a fresh start would be amazing.

Upon my return from Portland, I was sad, to say the least. I loved everything about being there, the atmosphere itself was generally more uplifting. However at this point, I needed to get my life sorted out in my current place of living before I went moving across the country. I still had so much work to do and I knew that. Balancing a relationship that I had indeed deemed myself ready for, I had to continue my journey forward in finding balance, which at this current time, I was getting a pretty good feel for. Is this what being a functional human felt like? Being able to do things without feeling nervous, or when you do get nervous, being able to talk yourself through it?  It was so liberating to know that I’ve come so far, and after my return from Portland, I have since made a therapy appointment and have been doing exceptionally well. I remained off medication and continued on with my methods of calming and coping, all of which work wonderfully for me.

Even until this day, I know I will never not struggle with all of my illnesses, which I accept and embrace, and where they are part of me they do not define who I am. Where I am still on a journey to positivity, healthy mindsets and beneficial self-care, I will always look back at my experiences and cherish them, as difficult as they were; they helped shape me into the human I am today, and I am still learning things about myself and growing every day. So, to those of you who take the time to read my story, those of you just starting your journey, or those who are in the midst of your travels, please know that things will improve if you keep at it. The odds may seem stacked against you at this time but just remember there is always an end to such trying struggles.

Be kind to yourself, love yourself. You only get one life and I encourage you to make the most of it.

 

My Mental Story- Part 3

This is the latest installment in a personal story by Linds B. A lot of people call her Rainbow. I’m grateful to call her my friend.

My therapist had asked me several times if I had wanted to consider medication, and every time I gave her the same answer, “I want to see how much ability I have to cope and figure this out on my own.” It was probably one of the best choices I could have made.

I wanted to know more, I looked into my illnesses much deeper, some suggestions on how to cope with them, how to really issue “self-care”. I came to realize it isn’t all about bath bombs, and relaxing music; (while those things do help a great deal) it’s about knowing how to be by yourself, not alone. In an effort to break my mental cycle I was stuck in, I started conquering one issue at a time, starting at the current root of the problem. Her, she had been living rent free in the back of my mind for too long and I was just too tired to let that continue. My initial idea was to become friends with her, be on good grounds. “If we’re civil, it’ll make things so much easier.”

No, no; bad idea. The more involved in her life I was, the more miserable I became. I’d see how “happy” she was with someone else, and truth be told, I did not want to see that; and yet, I all but forced myself into a “friendship” with her, for a good couple of months. While that was a stupid idea, again, it was one of those moments where something good came from it, like a flower blooming in a winter storm. I got to see her from another perspective, I had taken off those rose-colored goggles and saw everything. Let me tell you how incredibly satisfying that was, I felt like I could break those shackles she had on me. That was it, the first major step in my recovery process had been taken, but I was far from fixed, I still had so much work to do.

Again, coping methods are very important, so it was high time I figured that out. As I had said earlier, a major part of healing and growing is knowing how to be comfortable in your own company. Upon moving to my own place, I found exactly that. In spite of the fact I do indeed have roommates, I was still by myself. It felt natural, and oh-so comfortable. After a while I decided it would be time to reestablish the connections I had frayed so foolishly. To my surprise it went better than I expected, I slowly regained my ability to be social. I appreciated the company of my friends so much more, not only because I had been without them for such a long time, but because I can be by myself and be happy! That’s it, it was coming back to me. Happiness. I was taking so many steps I never fathomed I could ever have taken, that alone was enough to motivate me to continue, to carry on. Make no mistake, in the midst of all this development, I stumbled, I fell, I had several days a week where I couldn’t drive myself to get out of bed, so I called out of work.

“One day, my mind won’t be this chaotic.”

Behold, one of the positive things I told myself that I believed. Overcoming all of this madness was doable.

As time went on, I continued to become more miserable with my vendor job, something about it wasn’t fulfilling, my “bad days” started becoming more prevalent all over again. I knew I needed to get a new job, but once again I found myself in a comfortable spot and I was not mentally ready to start over yet again. As much as I wanted to be shocked by it, once again the universe decided it was not going to let me settle a second time for something that makes me miserable; on one of the many conference calls I had to endure for this job, my absolute bitch of a boss told all of us that the company we worked product for was dropping their contract with the company that hired me, thus eliminating my position. At first, I was terrified, as if there weren’t several other job opportunities out there. I took time to reflect on this. The saying “when opportunity knocks, open the door” or however it goes, yeah, I have to call bullshit, opportunity doesn’t just knock at the door, it kicks that bitch down. Upon knowing my time with this terrible company was coming to a close, I was already improving mentally and physically. I stopped feeling nauseous and waking up at the ass-crack of dawn. Some days I felt like I could take on anything. In lieu of that, I decided to get myself plane tickets to Portland Oregon to visit my sister. Let me start this off by saying the idea of flying by myself got my anxiety by the balls (metaphorically speaking of course). But life is all about taking risks, and stepping out of your comfort zone, right? I know people always say that, but I never actually imagined that I would be one of those people. If you would have told me maybe a year or more ago that I would be flying alone, all the way across the country (with a layover) I would have laughed in your face.

My Mental Story- Part 2

Hey kids, this is the second part of a three part series by my lovely and amazing friend, Linds B. 

Every second of my existence was plagued with thoughts of her.

“Why wasn’t I good enough?”

“Am I really that unlovable?”

“What did I do wrong?”

“It was all my fault.”

Relentless self-blame. All I could think about was how my life would never be complete again without her. I was so sure I would never get out of this rut until I had her back in my life. I would try everything to get her back. With what little energy I could muster up, I would spend it all on efforts to reclaim her; which of course only made things worse. My breakdowns and anxiety attacks were more severe, more constant, to the point where I was always in pain, almost always in tears, vomiting on a daily basis. I had reached my breaking point. My old coping methods began to surface, I cut myself, many times. When I looked at my reckless decision, I cried, I watched my tears mix with my blood. It got so tricky to not explain the inner workings of my mind at the time to my parents, as I had never been one to share anything with my parents in spite of the fact I love them dearly. I tried talking to my mom about something so small and broke down, a panic attack quickly followed, I had never had one in front of either of my parents before. Through my tears I told my own mother I had lost the will to live.

There’s not a single doubt in my mind it’s the most difficult thing for any parent to hear that your child wants to die. In that moment, I could see how hard she tried to keep it together, but she didn’t lose her mind, she didn’t break down, she hugged me tight and told me that everything would end up okay in the end. In perhaps one of the strangest ways, that breakdown brought us closer than ever before in my life. Later that evening, as I sat alone in my bed, to my surprise, my mother came knocking on my door with two cups of coffee. She sat on the bed with me, and just talked to me about, well, everything. She broke her habitual evening ritual with my father; having coffee and watching Jeopardy and whatever else may come on TV until they both fall asleep, just to be with me. The most beautiful part about it all was that she didn’t fill my head with sweet delusions of perfect scenarios. It was in this moment I decided I was going to do something, I didn’t want to feel sad anymore, I didn’t just want to exist, I wanted to live, and I wanted to live my best life!

While coming to that conclusion is a step, nothing will ever prepare you for what you must put up with in order to make it through all the things life will inevitably throw at you. At this time, I knew nothing of self-care, to be what always cured my moody-blues was surrounding myself with others. So, what do you do when there aren’t any “others”, I would think to myself. My brain wasted no time swiftly reminding me how lonely I was, and then, you guessed it, breakdown.

That repetitive cycle of lifting myself up and getting knocked back down progressed on for what felt like a lifetime. After another talk with my mother, I had come to the decision I was going to look into some therapy. I knew I was in far too deep to take all of this on by myself, which before I knew it was progress in itself to have a thought like that. Luckily, I had a connection through a work friend to a solid therapist. I wasted no time getting everything set up and before I knew it I was in for an appointment. No lie, I was skeptical of the whole thing for a moment, knowing perfectly well I have gone through plenty of therapists in my past and have gotten nothing from it; After my first appointment I was already feeling the progress, as small as it was. The second session rolled around, I spilled my guts about everything and anything I could think of that could contribute to my struggles. I also learned and accepted that there’s never a day in life where you stop learning about yourself; it was that day I was diagnosed with bipolar, on top of everything else that was going on in my brain. It was weirdly freeing to hear, as crazy as that may come off to others, to me it was an opportunity to further getting to know myself.