Sitting in the darkness eager for the light my heart beating a syncopated rhythm desire to fly overcomes my soul the shackles of fear keep me tied down struggling against the status quo my mind, my heart, my soul cry out LET ME GO and I wonder sitting in the darkness is there even light or just a mirage heaviness envelopes me flying seems like it’s a lie a fantasy sold to me by charlatans and yet my inner voice screams LET ME GO thoughts rattle in the darkness fears scrape in the shadows hope, faith, trust cower in the corners reaching out they try to shine pain, mistakes, recrimination lurk my dreams and desires and designs call out LET ME GO Trapped inside my head anxiety begets depression begets anxiety begets depression …. the cycle never ending the only form of flow I know inside I’m crying out, trying to break free LET ME GO
Woke up feeling trapped, and just majorly stuck in a cycle of physical and mental health dilemmas and I just want a major change, a way to break free. It feels good to express that feeling with poetry, oddly that feels like at least some progress.
For those that don’t know #oneshotpoetry I write free flow and do not edit what you see is what comes out raw. I do that so that I don’t overthink it or destroy it’s original intent. It’s one way to silence the inner critic and get to the heart of any true feeling.
More importantly most of us have been taught our feelings are wrong, inappropriate, inconsequential and our pain is not “enough”, …
Feelings. Emotions. They are the cornerstone of how we interpret, interact, and react to the world. And so many of us simply don’t know what our feelings are or what they mean. More importantly most of us have been taught our feelings are wrong, inappropriate, inconsequential and our pain is not “enough”, others have it worse, others are less sensitive, others have more control. etc etc etc. And we are subsequently taught we are fundamentally “wrong”. At least that’s been my life experience so far. And this makes sharing very very difficult. I was reminded of a story about someone’s reaction to the book “Eat Pray Love” during my morning pages and I think it exemplifies why so many people struggle with being emotionally honest. The world is pretty judgy.
Now however you feel about “Eat Pray Love” for a lot of people it resonated and for a lot it was a dream to be able to deal with emotional hurt in such a tangible and relaxed way. But that’s where I got the biggest kick from someone I thought of us a friend (this is where I remind you what you say about others can absolutely harm people you care about if they see themselves in you recriminations, food for thought) I was reading the book at work and was really enjoying some of what Elizabeth had to say, I was especially moved by her pain when to an outsider her life “looked great’ that more than anything struck me. We can have “things” that might seem like we have it all but we can still be hurting and feeling hollow and alone. And a woman at work went on a TIRADE. “I hated that book what a whiny b*tch”. I was taken aback… Me: “Surely you can see that people can hurt deeply no matter what their outside life looks like and no matter what they have”? Her — “are you kidding she is just a selfish person who wants too much” …. this went back and forth for awhile until my relationship with this person was forever changed. I was never ever going to tell her again anything that I felt. Because I had felt that from so many people my whole life and here was more proof that people judged our pain and anguish and compared it. Did I realize that my loveless marriage was not the same as someone in a war torn country? yes OF COURSE but yet it doesn’t’ take away my feelings of emptiness, failure, and loneliness. But I was just shown that this was not a safe person to open up to and honestly I approach most people like they are just judgemental time bombs waiting to go off. I’m super sensitive and have an almost outsized sense of injustice and want everyone to be happy and be treated well. But that means I can’t compare people’s suffering. I do not ever want to belittle someone’s pain. But it happens so much how are any of us to ever be able to be honest. But I suppose that is what finding the right people is all about – finding the place where you can be real even if you to some your pain seems trivial or inconsequential, we don’t get to determine that for others.
But doesn’t it all start in childhood. Did anyone else here the phrase “I’ll give you something to cry about” — has it ever hit you as much as it did me recently how belittling that is to your feelings? Have you ever thought how much our faith in ourselves was beat (for some of us literally) out of us? How the hell are we supposed to understand our feelings when we are always told they are not the right ones. When our honest reactions to life are questioned and weighed. When tears are see has warfare? I may not have the same trauma as the next person, objectively what some people experience is far worse than the next person, HOWEVER that does not diminish or negate the pain one person feels. This is why I am starting with self compassion. Because I want to store up enough compassion to understand that everyone is struggling and until we let them freely express their pain they will simply continue to lash out. Violence, depressions, anxiety, addiction, cultism all are the voices of the unheard, the misunderstood. If we want to change the world we have to start listening without judgment and hearing what people’s fears, hurts, and desires truly are. Start with yourself and go from there. No one’s pain or shame needs to be ridiculed it needs to be healed. As #brenebrown reminds us about the “Gifts of Imperfection” to be honest and to feel brings us #courage #compassion #connection and that is how we heal the world. I have something to cry about everyday and that is the suffering of the unheard.
… Man this is where I wish I knew if you have seen “Doom Patrol” (and if not why NOT??) because it would be so much easier to understand if you knew Jane, if you understood the underground. ANYWHOOOOOO….
This morning my Inner Voice Exploration Practice (AKA modified #morningpages) spat up a deep dark core belief that I have joked about but honestly didn’t realize the actual depth of this feeling and wow it really gets to the meat of my bipolar dilemma. These are the words that came out of my head, “… I’m kookoo bananas and inconsistent and no one can rely on me, not even myself”.
and boy am I mad about it, because it’s not WRONG perse. But I want to kick and scream it’s not ME. I – ME – MY personality is so very disparately reliable but it’s buried under all this. *gestures vaguely* . And then I stop and ask, but is that true as I look out on ….all this…. I realize you can’t really separate me from the brain chemistry. You can’t just pretend I don’t have terrifying mood swings. We can’t just laugh away my grown ass meltdowns. We can’t whistle while I weep uncontrollably because I’m just so happy. We can’t just pretend nothing is wrong and that I’m stable and can get shit done.
I will cancel plans. I will be late. I will forget. I will panic. I will get sick. I will have to back out sometimes. All of these things are real. And yet I’m a ride or die bitch in my heart.
See, it’s like the main me, the real me is trapped inside this meat puppet and there are a few different puppeteers… Man this is where I wish I knew if you have seen “Doom Patrol” (and if not why NOT??) because it would be so much easier to understand if you knew Jane, if you understood the underground. ANYWHOOOOOO….the point being there are these factors these parts of me that interfere with being the person I want to be.
ENEMY NUMBER ONE IS FATIGUE. I feel like if I wasn’t so exhausted maybe I’d have more resilience to ride the waves. But as it is I feel less surfer and more fearful white knuckled passenger.
It’s endlessly tiring to constantly be fighting yourself and your #neurotransmitters #moodswings and #meltdowns OH MY. And let me be clear I’m still just talking about dealing with the bipolar issues we haven’t even glanced at the ADHD, OCD, and smattering of part time phobias that lurk about.
UGH it still all sounds like excuses and that my friends is where we come to our crossroads. Where half of me wants to embrace the bipolar and learn to work with it and not be so exhausted fighting and the other half wants to be “normal” (whatever the bleep that is) and do things when I want without having to form a committee of barely functioning parts of myself who, honestly don’t agree on a lot of things. Having some “Crazy Alice” vibes right now.
It’s really REALLY hard to know thyself when that “self” is interrupted by mental struggles that you often have no control over. Want to visit friends today? OH no we will have a panic attack instead. Want to write today? OH no you will lose all focus and concentration. Sure it gets done eventually but a girl can’t make a living like this.
Dear employer can you hire me to work sporadically when my brain is functioning? When and how often will that be? Well that is definitely the million dollar question.
You see therapist I have so much proof that I’m unreliable. It’s hard to build self-love and self-worth on such a basic tenet. Today I’m smart and charming, tomorrow I may be recalcitrant, or perhaps just a titch agoraphobic. I may want to be around 100 people or I may wake up the Grinch. I’ll be so productive you’ll wonder where I’ve been all your life and then it will dry up, whither and turn to dust. Teeter Totter Teeter Totter.
and maybe one day will discuss what all that has done to my physical system….
But for now this is your warning. Healing is messy, it hurts, and you gotta face some shit my friend. I’m a little hurt with myself. She’s not being very compassionate. But I’m pretty impressed she was able to admit such an icky truth. Maybe now that it’s out of the shadows we can work on making it a little less ick and figure how to build a life that has room for the waves. Don’t need a new ocean, or a new rider, maybe I just need some new moves and maybe a new board. (Surfing is too easy to use as a metaphor it should be illegal like a writing cheat code, but hey it fit) OH maybe I DO need to find different waves…..
As we say around here #BeYou #BeReal #BeExtra. Only when we are allowed to fully be ourselves can we find peace.
There are so many things that I have joked about in this lifetime that are turning out to be core truths about who I am and how I relate to the world. from “like all things I swing both ways” (hello bipolar/bisexuality) To “I’m a delicate f*cking flower” (Hello sensory processing sensitivity) It has also come into my understanding that the very things I feel shame over and have been ridiculed for are part of the very nature of my being. (OH wow self-worth much?) This is the basis for so many of our anxieties, for our depression, and certainly our unhealthy coping mechanisms. In the world of neurodiversity we refer to hiding our traits as masking (or camouflaging) . Coming to recognize that the stranger, the very things we are hiding away from others and ourselves, that is our inner truth, our inner voice. We’ve silenced so much of ourselves for so long, sometimes not on purpose but out of trauma, that we don’t even know ourselves, that is the feeling of unrest and discomfort that too many of us feel.
For me specifically this is my sensory/sensitivty levels. We didn’t have words for Sensory Processing issues when I was a child, heck we barely talked about ADHD or even spectrums of autism. Being born in the late 60’s I was in elementary school in the 70’s and to top it off I was in Catholic school – there was definitely no room for individuality in those halls. What I do remember more than anything is being bullied and teased for being shy, withdrawn, and SO SENSITIVE. It was said to me like a curse – you are just so sensitive. Too sensitive. And I learned to see it as a moral failing, a weakness, an assassination of my character. My mother gave to me a love of musical theatre and she introduced me to the fairy tale of the “princess and the pea” via “Once Upon a Mattress” and would call me Winnifred, later in life we have come to refer to me as a “delicate f*cking flower” because I can feel things, hear things, and definitely smell things that others can’t yet I’m tough and loud and brash. (spoiler alert I LEARNED to be those things to mask my too sensitive self.) Life has been, if nothing else, an assault to my senses from day one. It’s exhausting. Gee I wonder why I have chronic fatigue (my “shocked” face)
These days we also refer to my nose as the “super sniffer” (thanks Gus from Psych) but it’s not always cute in my life. It means when you use bounce on your clothes and I’m near you I get a headache and sometimes sick to my stomach. I am overpowered and smell things that others can’t,I’m like a canary in a coal mine all day every day, and honestly I thought I was losing my mind until an episode of castle taught me that hyperosmia is a real thing. (played by the ever glorious Stephnie Weir) Yeah I have genuinely lived my life presuming I was a bit crazy because no one else seemed to be troubled by the smells (sights, sounds, touch, emotions of others). I even inadvertenly self medicated as a smoker for years because that killed my smell and sometimes I still miss that part. Although once I got smoke free and could smell the smoke it is one of the most hated smells and I can smell it from 100 paces on you and everything you own – even if you have washed, breath minted, and spritzed. Sure the average person can smell strong smells, but I smell the faded ones and they effect me greatly. But the problem isn’t really the smelling or hearing that the TV is on, or the buzz of lights, or the way that lights hurt, or the fact that I can read a facial expression that no one else even saw – no it’s how people treat those of us who are more sensitive, that’s the real problem. Like we are making it up, or we need to “toughen” up. Knowing now that I literally feel different from other people is helping me get in touch with my true nature and rather than suppressing my feelings and reactions I’m learning to process them. (If you want to know more learn about HSP or SPS this person’s story is very similar to mine) I used to believe I was an “empath” but I now see that was just part of my sensitivity combined with hyper vigilance born of trauma. (spoiler alert a lot people are dishonest and think they are hiding their true feelings but some of us see that shit)
Trying to fit in is literally killing people. Want to understand the rise of auto-immunity, chronic fatigue, mental health issues? Take a look at how a faster, louder, brighter world is effecting 15-20% of us. It’s a evolutionary gift in the right circumstances but in a modern world it can be a real curse. Finding your place has to consider what works for you! Everyone has a sensitivity, I truly believe this and we beat it out of our children (especially our AMAB children), we cookie cutter it out of us in schools, we lose our super powers by seeing them as inconvenience or as wrong and “not normal”. But it’s our sensitivities, our uniqueness that guides us that makes us, well US. So the next time you feel you have to hide who you really are ask if that person, place, or activity is worth it. As we say around here #BeYou #BeReal #BeExtra. Only when we are allowed to fully be ourselves can we find peace. We are killing the very things that are our gifts. The world needs your love of your special interest (Hello Greta Thunberg) it needs your sensitivity. When we get in touch with that Inner Voice we can change the world and find happiness. Let’s stop chasing other people’s happiness and find our own. (spoiler alert you may need to unlearn some BS and you may need help, but that’s OK, listen. you know your truth. We just have to find a way to accept it and embrace it) End the epidemic of self-loathing that fuels so much hatred.
Just some rambling thoughts as I navigate the ups and downs of treating my bipolar moods.
I have found myself feeling dried up again. Once again engaged in the never-ending battle of swell and recede. I’m like the tide. Endlessly waxing and waning – I guess that makes sense the tide and the moon being inexorably connected and they mirror my moods. Mercurial. Capricious. Inconstant. Why does nature get to ebb and flow and be called beautiful, powerful, mysterious…and I am fickle, a flibbertigibbet, a flake. Chasing my tail wanting nothing more than to find some consistency, some peace…yet my mind swings so intensely from one state of being to the next. It’s exhausting sleeping alone and still not knowing who you are going to wake up with. I have dredged up so many things and the emotions weigh me down. I feel stuck again. Chocked on the memories. I can feel the walls in my spirit slamming into place. And the same old fears start to rise up – there is no hope. You can’t be stable. You aren’t bipolar you just need to focus more, you just need to be more motivated…The voices of childhood haunt me, chasing me down not letting me feel hope, not letting me believe… I ride the waves that are my moods and never know where I will land. I’m trying to find the truth, the real me w/in the shifting tides. In the liminal spaces, I know the true me waits, hoping to be freed at last. I keep pressing forward. This note a testament to how my brain shifts and changes, how my whole way of being transforms. It’s like living with a stranger. Distracted. Dissociative. Divided.
And I was so enjoying the ability to write for a bit – it feels lost. But Julia Cameron tells me to “fill in the form” So I’m writing, not so it will be good, but so I can practice. I’m writing to create, not to impress, or to gain anything other than the practice. I’m writing because I need to write. My thoughts spilling out onto the page for no other purpose than to exist.
I fight the fears, the shame, the pesky perfectionist voice that says I’m embarrassing myself. Because shame is a prison. Fear a coping mechanism. I fight the urge to give up because I know the tide will come in again. The mood will change. I will wish I hadn’t given up when the brain shifte. Never give up, never surrender.
I’ll live to write more of the story another day. My bipolar warriors we can ride the waves, we can survive the full moons, we can keep going during the darkness. Life is an ebb and flow our work then is to learn to surf it better. We learn by practicing. Today I beat back the demons. No day but today.
I know I’ve been writing mostly back story, my origin story if you will. But I read this piece on The Mighty today that really reminded me of my experience and I feel compelled to write about the good that is happening for me in the here and now, and how much privilege is involved in being able to get the proper help and why we, as a society, are actually really really awful to anyone who isn’t “normal” enough. I mean we are terrible and awful. But I digress. Let’s start with me.
I am currently not working. Between my mental health, physical health, and taking on the caregiving of my mother with dementia it has been impossible. I’ve been unemployed for 3 years now. The first year was all about hospital visits and surgery recovery with my mom. I wasn’t even home but living with her and that whole saga is another post altogether LOL…but, after awhile, we moved her back to California and bought a house with her divorce settlement so we could have some security and I could take care of her properly. That was about 2 years ago. It took some time to settle in and I started to think about going back to work but needed something flexible, and at home so I started building my own Voice Over business. I found I have a talent for it, I love it, BUT sadly I did not have the stamina or stability to run my own business successfully. Sure I was making strides yet I could see how I would struggle to be available for sessions, I had to cancel so many things because sometimes even my voice will change depending on where I was physically. I simply wasn’t ready. Additionally having to be there for mom and her medical care was time-consuming. It was too much for me to handle. Yet I was determined. First, I thought it was just me being scared and lazy. So I started and ran sessions of The Artist’s Way for a year – which led me to even create my own process The Way of Your Inner Voice and that helped me move past a lot of mental/artistic blocks. I was opening up creatively, I was starting to feel again, I even started to have hope. But that’s when I hit wall after wall mentally and physically. So 9 months ago I made the decision to go all-in on making myself better. Facing my demons and my past and truly building a sustainable future. And 6 weeks ago it all finally came together where I could really dig in.
Here is where the privilege comes in. See, I live with my grown children and they help me. I have a support system. I live in California and I have Medi-Cal, Medicaid for indigent Californians. It has, quite simply, saved my life. It took nearly 16 months since getting on this insurance but I now have a TEAM of people that I am starting to trust. It was a process I started about the same time I started doing “The Artist’s Way”. At first, it was just all about my thyroid and fatigue etc, etc, but then I realized it was so much more (that was the 9 months ago mark when I knew I needed to face my mental health issues) It took months of PCP appointments, MONTHS of waiting for referrals, and then longer to get the appointments with specialists, and it took months of struggles on the phones and people driving me to said appointments. Hours in lines at pharmacies. It has taken a team, consistent insurance, and a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears… And that was just to get started about 6 weeks ago to try out medication and start with my therapists (mental, physical, speech). None of that would have, nor has it ever been, possible to do while working full time. We expect too much of people already struggling. I think it’s why I’m so dedicated to working on myself right now. Because I absolutely understand and appreciate the mega shite tonne of luck and privilege I have right now to be able to do this work. I stopped everything else. I am dedicated to my morning pages. My meditation. My walks. but most importantly I am dedicated to riding out getting on medication and changing doses and all the side effects that process entails. Dedicated to fully communicating with my doctors and therapist about my progress. Faithful to my routines. Devoted to full honesty and transparency. And most importantly feeling all the feelings I haven’t had the time or energy to face before.
So yes there are sleepless nights, Yes we are poor AF as I have been denied disability and SSI several times (I don’t honestly understand) yes the medication has side effects and the therapy is painfully slow. But by hook or by crook I’m riding this particular wave to the end because it’s the best one I’ve seen in a long time. And although I won’t be able to cure anything or become a superhero, I know that this will set me up for success in a way that I have never had the chance to even hope for. I’ve been swimming against the tide and ignoring how the undertow has sucked me under time and time again so I’m learning to surf and building a better board (that metaphor took on a life of its own but I’ll allow it)
Because I’m done being ashamed of my struggles and I’m recognizing the absolute badassery of what I have managed with shackles and weights tied to my feet – imagine what I can do with just a little bit of support and time to recuperate. We all need time to heal. Hustle culture is deadly. Breathe deep. Find the spaces to heal. And if you see someone who can’t? express nothing but empathy. There are no damn bootstraps, hell there are barely boots for most people. Compassion begins with yourself.
This concept is so embedded in my life that I named my future dream punk band Faulty Earth Suits of FESS for short LOL I even share my blog there because this whole mental health journey is about this FES 😛
“I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
― Marilyn Monroe
We often leave the first part of this quote off. It feels better to just be empowered, doesn’t it? To scream “accept me”. To cry “love me”. Yet by ignoring the first half we only put the burden on others w/o turning an understanding eye on ourselves. When we partake in the #toxicpositivity of ignoring the shadow side we don’t have a full picture. And honestly, this is a recipe for unhappiness. It is only in embracing and loving and forgiving and working WITH our darker less perfect nature can we expect anyone else to do the same. And how many humans have pasted this quote and have not given that same unconditional acceptance to someone else. Personally, I might not want someone’s “best” if their worst makes me miserable. Come to think of it I’ve done that with many many (MANY) co-dependant miserable relationships. I don’t want that for me and I sure as heck don’t want to foist it on someone else
Because that’s the thing, we don’t have healthy boundaries so we don’t understand what that means. We can have our reasons for our less pleasant side but that in no way makes anyone else beholden to putting up with them. Each of us gets to choose what is acceptable. What is tenable w/in the context of relationships? And relationships are not quid pro quo, end sum equations. We don’t get to, or should I say it’s not healthy, to keep a balance sheet that says I get to be this if you want this. That’s simply not how it works. When we learn that each person has their limits, their triggers, their abilities we stop thinking of them as accepting or rejecting us and come to understand that it’s always been about what they can handle and accept for themselves. Telling them they don’t “deserve” your best because of what they can and cannot handle shows a lack of compassion. And my friends, compassion starts at home.
What we think about ourselves, how we treat ourselves, that is how we treat others. And that’s what I’m here to unravel. The most important relationship in our whole lives. Ourselves. We spend so much energy and time seeking out love and acceptance outside of ourselves that we forget we get to have both right here. Right now. And when we give that gift to ourselves it’s easier to share it with others, and it’s easier to understand that someone else’s journey doesn’t have to reflect on our worth or value or lovability. #aswithinsowithout And don’t others deserve happiness as well?
And so it begins for me. I’m reclaiming my power. I’m learning to love, accept, treasure, and understand myself. It doesn’t mean I’m not already lovable. I’ve got a lot of great qualities and I’m very generous and caring, all of that is true. Yet that can all be true as well as understanding – I’m volatile, controlling, suspicious, and really hard to love because of my fears. My walls are high and fortified and I’m done asking other people to do the work to tear them down. I’m done putting all my worth and happiness on someone else’s shoulders. self-love is not ego it’s germane to our very existence, the foundation of all things. And when we learn to love ourselves exactly as we are then we can begin to allow others to do the same. I’m not asking anyone to fix me anymore or to complete me. I am complete. And when I truly embody that, maybe then I’ll be willing to share that fully with others. #breakingdownthewalls