Being Bipolar isn't EASY

and the Art of Slowing it Down

Call ME Cliff

modscape-cliff-house-concept-victoria-australia-designboom-01

Pippi not working for you? So, Call ME Cliff!

When I met my husband on Match.com my ID was “Call ME Cliff”. What his was doesn’t matter it wasn’t nearly as… foretelling. (Note to reader: Today I just call him Roadblock!?!?) The nickname was coined by one of my previous boyfriends on a day that my patience wore thin with grocery store or fast food restaurant clerks behind cash registers.

For me it was a red flag; i.e. “you don’t want to mess with this one” – I wasn’t looking for love, I was just looking to get out of my parents house but my now husband, and gratefully only third (3rd) Match.com date, was totally fooled by the fitted pink dress that I wore to our first date. It’s actually a very funny story that I may someday find an avenue to share here but for now, let’s do what I love to do here in this blog, and back up the message in this post with support from the Huffington Post! Kindly read:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

I didn’t just stumble upon this but a ‘friend’ posted it on Facebook recently and I really found it so very thought provoking that I too wanted to SHARE somewhere where it mattered. I read it in the morning but by nightfall it had me thinking a lot about the nurture side of my “bipolar” issues.

Note to reader: You may have to do some brain crunches & twists to catch up with me but in my minds eye the article could easily have been written about people with mental illnesses. As I couldn’t agree more that AA is so very helpful for alcoholic souls as I believe it is in AA that they get the connection/ attention they have/ had been missing.

By the grace of God I got my connection/ attention at birth! Compared to other stories that I have heard, especially stories from the mentally ill in Psychiatric Wards, I really had an idyllic childhood. My Mom was a stay-at-home-mum (SAHM) and my Dad took each of us girls out on Daddy-daughter dates as often as his job could afford. Some of my favorite memories are of the magic environment that my Mom created in our home at Christmas through her incessant obsession with decorating our home around the holidays. Another is getting fresh bagel’s with my Dad on Sunday mornings, can’t recall if that was before or after church…

That said, my parents may have uprooted our family a great deal and really upset my primary school education by moving from place to place but I think that I turned out all right. Even my older sister turned out all right and she went to five (5) high schools.

I may have lost best friend after best friend during those formative years and started retaliating by smoking cigarettes at twelve (12) behind the roller rink but I finally found one (1) best friend that has stuck through all my relocations for the last twenty-six (26) years and I have much healthier ways to cope with stress today; screw the yoga if I am honest at any given moment I just reach for Facebook instead of a cigarette. Lol; I should carry my mat around town with me and practice more yoga!

But back to my family & the environment that my parents afforded ME.

Moving may have been disruptive but in retrospect I see that as a result from bouncing place to place I became independent and self-reliant because I had a safe haven at home, wherever my home was. My family was always extremely supportive and caring behind the scenes. They were never in my business, nor in my face. They allowed me to take chances and make mistakes and were always there to help pick up the pieces when I dropped the ball or better found an ice pack when I fell on my face.

After I graduated Architecture School, I was not shy about uprooting myself and moving across the country in order to enable my career. These expanded experiences further contributed to being the individual that I am today. I may be acutely idiosyncratic and hyper sensitive, all characteristics which came before my bipolar diagnosis, but I learned that I need not follow the crowd and routinely made/ make my own decisions that are in keeping with being true to ME. All because my upbringing gave me confidence that that was okay; I was always encouraged to aim high and follow my dreams.

And so after graduating with distinction from DAAP, in 1998, I aligned myself with award winning design firms and learned to approach my career with the same grace that my parents raised me. When I was employed as a Project Architect I was sensitive to the client and project demands. In many ways I see that I managed my projects, as I would have a child – with the client’s & their projects best interest not as per my agenda.

But I don’t know if any of this would have made much sense as I grew without my foundation, my faith in God. At a young age I found Jesus, thanks to my Mom dragging me to church every week. My friends and I often went to 7am mass, before school, when we could drive. And as a consequence my Father later converted to Catholicism in small part due to the faith that he saw that I possessed.

If you have been following ME here, you know today my religion is rather nebulous. We have a non-denominational altar at home and I am teaching my son about all the different gods and deities. I am teaching him how to center himself for a few moments, take a few deep breaths and be respectful and grateful to the powers that be. Hell, I am even teaching him how to pray and I am not sure that I really know how to pray anymore. We are making it up as we go along.

My heart goes out to all the mentally ill that weren’t as lucky as I growing up. God knows that I wish that they had it as well as I had it and continue to do so. Further, I so hope that the Huffington Post article gets people started thinking. I hope people: parents, educators, architects and interior designers alike become increasingly more mindful about the environments that they are creating for the generations to come!

If you have not read the Huffington Post article above; please don’t close this window yet but take a minute read it now!!

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