I have three things going on in my life that are all stressing me out to the max: I’m losing my job tomorrow, my mom, and something personal.
I’m in tears at this point. It sucks. I don’t know what to do. It’s been so long since it’s been this bad. I need to cry. I was doing so good before, and now I’m broken AGAIN! WHY?! What did I fucking do to deserve all of this? Why can’t life just go smoothly? I haven’t stopped crying, bawling my soul out. It’s taken me over 5 minutes to write this paragraph.
After crying so hard, I feel oddly okay. After processing in my journal, things are much better. I think I just needed to do both. More of both lay ahead of me, however. Sometimes, you can’t stand strong or stand tall. Time to meditate.
You may expect the typical responses – the problem of pain, organized religion, God doesn’t exist – but that’s not why I try to forget about God (or the higher power if you will).
To me, God encompasses more than any religion cares to touch on, both our universe and beyond its mysterious origins. God manifests deeper than every subatomic particle to beyond every supercluster of galaxies in our universe. The perspective God has is mind-boggling, but not beyond our capacity to always understand more of it. This God has a deeply personal nature as well, and I find at some points in my life, God’s voice is silent while during others it’s very present.
The tendency I had when I thought about God a lot is to try to interpret every little thing that happens as something divine. When I do that, I start to go crazy. Little details here and there begin to form conversations and possible predictions in my head and I start to believe them to be straight from God. Maybe some were, maybe they weren’t at the time, but it’s something I do not live my every day life in. Seeing God in everything has its place, and it’s not in the present.
My advice is to forget about God when you live your every day life. Instead, focus on you and other needs around you. Thank God and experience his voice during that time you set aside in prayer and meditation. If something truly urgent comes up, you will know. Don’t try to force God’s hand in everything like I did.
I went to a group this evening that surrounds the theme of “Love and Forgiveness.” It’s a very open group, and someone shared part of herself that describes many men and women and what they struggle with today. She just got out of a relationship a few weeks ago and *all* she wants is another one. She can’t stand being by herself because she wants the affection and emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship. Everyone has told her and she knows in her mind that she needs to be single for a while and get to know herself, but her heart refuses and seems out of control, in need of a relationship. What do you do about this?
The surface of this proposal is simple: don’t get in a relationship, but stay single! Easier said than done – how exactly can someone DO that? The common saying is in order to change the world (say, your behavior – stop dating for a while), you gotta change yourself first (change in heart). After all, things are how you perceive them, and most of your perceptions come from yourself through your heart and mind. However, the heart and the mind are not yourself, but extensions of yourself.
However, the first step is to change your mind (decide you want to be single) and be aware of the need to change your heart. If you haven’t decided this, then your mind will do whatever it wants to do, with the deception your broken heart to support it, and there will be no change in behavior. Also, perceptions largely determine what things are. Since you perceive things through your mind and heart, changing them can change your world and your behavior.
Practicing meditation gets me in touch with my essence that drives everything else, and helps with the process of a change in heart. While meditating, I recognize what it feels like for my heart to start to run away with something, which pulls on my mind and tries to convince me to do things I don’t truly want to do. Regular meditation leads to greater understanding of the self, mind, heart, and how they feel and relate to each other. It also brings the heart and mind closer to the self, and keeps them from going awry with time.
I’ve learned more about what drives me, what my passions are, and my place in this world after finding myself and getting to know myself. It may sound selfish, but it’s a necessary and beautiful thing to do for the sake of myself and other people.
After a change in heart, be ready to practice civil disobedience with your old ways. Civil disobedience is the idea from Thoreau in that revolutions start with very small, subtle changes. Specifically, an idea in someone’s head that goes completely against the system that needs to happen, which he or she talks about with the next, then spreads till it actually happens.
The idea of needing to remain single, say, has been planted in her mind and it needs nurturing to grow. It may grow in the easier parts of her life (though difficult in and of themselves), such as simply saying, “No,” to guys when they want to start a romantic thing. This requires a small change in heart. As time goes on and the heart becomes stronger, more independent, and healthier, the seed will sprout and grow roots in her heart from the mind. The heart begins to cooperate more with the idea in the mind.
She will start to feel less desperate to be in a relationship, and the seed will begin to grow further and produce fruit in her behavior, thoughts, deeds, and feelings. Hopefully, she will reach the point where she loves who she is, and though perhaps a little sad to be on her own, she will be able to do it on her own and live as a single for a while. This change in heart is traumatic, as is any big change. The first step is always the hardest.
I’m working on a chart purging project, and there are old charts in the downstairs cage that need to be sent to storage, along with sorting through 10+ years’ worth of old billing records. Upstairs, there are newer charts that need to go where the old charts are now downstairs, so they can add something new to the office where the new charts are currently. The cage is an absolute disaster, and change needs to happen. It’s inevitable. I had to take apart everything, and the mess was of epic proportions – there were boxes, papers, shredding bins, charts, boxes everywhere, even in the hallways! I had a hard time figuring out where to put everything when I started this project.
However, slowly but surely, things get sorted out, put away, carted away, and organized and catalogued. Now, it’s looking much more manageable, instead of an insurmountable mess. I believe change in heart is like this, too. Through meditation and exploring your heart, you can find a starting point to work from. After the starting point, a rhythm begins and it’s easier to move forward. You will know what to do from there.
A parting thought: Things will happen the way they should, not the way you want. I believe life has a way of working things out, sometimes in the harshest and most beautiful of ways. It also teaches me lessons I need to learn, when I need them most. Looking back, I am now thankful for the atrocities and their impeccable timing.
Amidst the storm surrounding my diagnosis, my grandpa said, “realistic expectations” to everyone. I didn’t know what it meant but tried to follow that advice anyways, and later I understood. It is an important concept to have when one is going through hard times, and when one needs to grow and get his or her act together. Other parts of the storm included difficult relationship problems, work, school, interests, taking care of myself, figuring out this bipolar problem, and moving on. Realistic expectations are healthy expectations. Not great expectations or low expectations. If you have one of those, you may end up dying instead of growing.
When I mention a growth spurt, I don’t mean the nine inches I grew in eighth grade. I’m talking about my life’s current season, growing from within and seizing every opportunity to branch out. Bipolar put my life on hold for seven years from age 17 to 24. The vital truths I learned then were that I am not my illness but have it, and becoming familiar with my “strain” of bipolar. During the following three years since age 24, I found myself.
Reflecting on the past four months, I now realize I inadvertently decided to make some life changes. Such changes were impossible for me before, until I learned that change comes from within. In order to make new friends and form new relationships, I must silently call out to people from within. When I did, people came, both new faces and people I’ve known for a while, and I followed my intuitions.
Writing became a much higher priority, as my inner desire is to speak out about bipolar, mental illness, and share my experiences. Much of this is in keeping journals and keeping this blog when I can. Meditation taught me I have more control over my body, and I can lose weight because I want to. I’ve now lost over 30 pounds in 2 1/2 months! My career opportunities may be expanding as well, as I desire to have greater responsibility for my life.
With all of this being said, I mentioned in a recent post that I’m planning on telling my parents I’m not a Christian. That was my idea, and I know it to be the wrong thing to do. Why? It’s out of context. I don’t want to ruin this growth by nipping it in the bud before it blooms. I’m enjoying the season, every day of it, and I shall see it through. No one knows how my parents will react, and I’m still dependent on them financially. Also, it would cause them and my extended family great pain to hear this news. Anguish would be wrought upon me in dealing with their feelings myself. I cannot stress enough how deep the Christian convictions run in my family. As much as I want to come clean with my faith to everyone, now is not the right time or place.
To those who are suffering right now from bipolar, I feel your pain. I encourage you to press on and never do it alone. I hope this might be some encouragement for you in that there is hope of not only becoming a normally functioning human being, but that your trials indeed turn to gold. Your pain is the price you pay to be extraordinary later on. I assure you it’s worth the cost.
Thank you, everyone who has read part of my blog, and especially to those who have followed or given feedback and support! I appreciate it. Seize the day!
Journal Entry 7/6/08, 22 years old, 4.5 years after diagnosis.
Right now I’m normal headed towards mania because I haven’t taken my meds properly and it’s that time of year for my mood to swing up.
I feel oddly not liberated, but snuffed, decomposed, old, frail, lost, worthless. My drive I always knew is gone, I despise it, loathe it. My only source of creativity is what I write here perhaps these entire past few months; this year if it weren’t for that manic spurt I had earlier. I fail at finding work and jobs on my own. I work for dad’s office now, and I’m even slacking at that. I grow fat on fat food, and non stop video game sessions. My computer is now broken so I watch TV in the meantime.
I feel people take sympathy for me; worry that my roommates talk about me behind their backs about my laziness, poor hygiene, room cleanliness, eating habits, wearing the same clothes every day, day after day.
Where does drive come from? Success? Hard work? I’m “normal” now for me. I used to be able to live, touch, and taste these things. But now, they are out there, irreducibly complex. Routines scream at me and I can’t get up and keep up with them.
Then comes my future. How could I possibly understand what I want if I’ve been bipolar since early childhood? I’ve proven how clever and deceitful I can be with hiding my symptoms when I want to, bordering on if not becoming a criminal mind. I’ve dropped that now, it seems – it’s all lost to me, exhausting to even try to start to think about and in that mindset. But I have been doing that my whole life. I’m 22 years old, and truly a complete loser – parents pay everything, I’m slow, outdated, dry, lack interests, perverted, I smoke… At least I don’t drink much, have sex, or do drugs…
The point is I feel dead without those loopy chemicals. Perhaps the way I handle it now, I really am dead. How do I get past this? I sense that will be the under-attended direction that keeps popping up in my thoughts in the future. Will I ever figure out the miracles of normalcy, in work, routines? I’m scared I never will.
I come from a devout Christian family. I grew up as a devout Christian. Now, I’m not – and they don’t know that. I feel like I would rather tell them I’m gay than to tell them I’m not a believer according to their standards of what a believer is. At least they’d understand the concept of hate the sin, not the sinner.
If I don’t agree with the Apostles Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Nicene Creed, or see Jesus as the only way to heaven, my soul is going to hell forever in their eyes. They will not hate me, but they will not understand my path, they will impose beliefs on me, and there will be a rift between us. To them, Christ is the only way. I believe there is power in Christ, but that is not what you follow. The focus should not be following, but being. In the next age, we’ll all be there, universe and all.
If anyone has any advice about coming out to devout Christian parents that I’m not a Christian, I’m desperate for insight. I’m at a loss. If I don’t tell them, it will cause all kinds of problems in the future. I plan to do it by e-mail, or I’ll end up walking out on them and they’ve handled such matters better in the past via e-mail.
Where is my inner joy? This question posed strongly at the end of my meditation this morning, and I felt the strong need to reflect and gather my thoughts on that question. I feel too dependent on other people and on material things to give me joy. It scares me. What I am wondering, is how I generate my inner joy on my own? Where do I turn?
Other material things? This is not an option because they are a dead end. I’ve relied on material things and it’s just another addiction process.
What about religion? Even when I was at the height of my Christian self, I still was not finding inner joy. It was more like anesthesia for the pain in my soul I had. Not until I went through my first break and was cut off from God for a long time was I able to effectively begin to find myself, and my inner joy. However, God came back and fixed my heart in my second break. That was a beautiful experience that is a strong rope holding me to my Christian beliefs and principles somewhat. I recognize a higher power, but not within the confines of traditional religion.
What about pursuing knowledge and wisdom? Doing just this is important, but does not bring inner joy to the surface by itself.
Romantic love? This is a double edged sword. I’m a romantic, to the max. But this is not the inner joy I seek, even though it’s a very big part of it. Never rely on one person to make you happy.
Jesus? I know I mentioned religion. I mean him in a spiritual sense. There is power in his name, the reference to his blood, and to the cross. Jesus was in touch with what kind of world this is, and he was in touch with whatever is out there. He did what he had to do to fulfill whatever purpose he had, and his spirit is present everywhere now. Is Jesus a source of joy in the strictly religious sense? For me, no. But he is in a spiritual sense.
All things considered, something tells me there is no joy without the presence or memories of other people and things. Everything helps with finding inner joy, as long as you don’t overdo anything. Everything must be pursued in moderation, with balance. We are wired like our Maker, and the universe; we can’t be alone with nothing, or there is no inner joy to be had.
I live in finding my purpose and living it in love with other people, in all things big and small. That is my true inner joy.
One side of my extended family and my immediate family experienced severe drama shortly after I was diagnosed 10 years ago. It ended with my immediate family deciding to cut off contact indefinitely, and ten years later it’s still in full force. The oddest part about this fiasco is that everyone had their own good (never malicious) intentions about the entire situation.
My psychotic episode acted as a catalyst to enable a series of events to unfold, which brought up old pains and perceptions about family dating back to before I was born. My parents did the best they could to keep me out of the middle of it, and they did a good job save for what was pertinent to our immediate family and to me. I had enough trauma to deal with at the time, and I had to fight tooth and nail to keep my head above water. My parents were taking care of me, so it was in my best interest to side with them on everything. As a result, people got burned.
At the time of this whole fiasco, each party had its own agenda to try and remedy someone or something or another. I had many agendas in that I wanted counseling for a separate personal problem as well as counseling for my immediate family as there seemed in my mind to be issues there. My aunt shared many of the same beliefs that I did and wanted to help me bring those ideas forward. She offered whatever support she could give in the process, including an open offer for my sisters and I to stay the night if we needed to while everything was being processed. My grandparents wanted everyone to stop fighting, to fix the problem and move on.
In everything, no one was in a position to own up to anything, myself included, and that put gasoline on the fire. I wasn’t able to stand up for what I believed, either, partly because the truth may have destroyed my immediate family at the time. My immediate family was treading water, too, after the stress I put forward. I ended up turning on my aunt in the interest of self preservation and keeping my family together. In hindsight, I believe it was the right thing to do, but it is still a band aid, and that just may have to do.
What ultimately did our extended family in is that we decided against getting a professional third party involved. As a result, everything blew up in our faces. I believe that two things need to happen if there is any hope of reconciliation. One is that both parties (my family and everyone else) need to get to a point where they want to resolve the situation. The other is finding an appropriate third party to mediate. The second part is in place, as my therapist knows the situation very well, understands the complex dynamics involved, and she knows me as well, the catalyst. She does house calls and I have her cell phone number for after hours.
While finding the third party is the easier of the two, at least it is in place in case the miracle happens when everyone wants to give things another go.