Being Bipolar isn't EASY

and the Art of Slowing it Down

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stress I am crazy! I mean it; I must be REALLY crazy!! I have committed myself to 200 hours of Yoga Teacher Training with twenty-eight (28) twenty (20) something personal trainers, in Bali next month, and I can’t even touch my toes!? Okay… okay… so I can touch my toes & they are not all twenty (20) something & they are not all PTs but that’s how I think about ‘them’ when I read their stories, look at their FB pictures?! I try not to look at their FB pictures! Honestly, I can just barely touch my toes with my fingertips when my knees are straight of course and then sometimes, on a bad day, my legs tremble. After a good warm up it’s better, it always gets better but I cannot do the “advanced” postures like my fellow classmates can! For one, I can’t even do chaturanga off my knees anymore since I hurt my left deltoid earlier this year… I have good balance/ form and can often take a pose to an intermediate level but the fitness enthusiasts are going to erode my (asana’s) self worth!? And that’s just it as I prepare for this retreat – I know that my ego is going to get ME! I have read this article, http://www.gaiamtv.com/article/cut-comparison?cid=soc%3Afacebook%3Amyyoga, over and over again and I get it but I am preoccupied with fear that ‘they’ won’t get ME?! Gather I could always use the Bipolar card and tell ‘them’ that I am mentally ill! Maybe then they would make allowances for ME? Maybe then they would think: “Oh, it’s okay if she’s not a flexy – at least she’s doing yoga… she needs it more than me?!” But that’s small thinking. Isn’t it? You don’t have to answer that, I know it is SMALL thinking but I can’t help it! How will ‘they’, the twenty (20) somethings, see that I am calmer, nicer, happier, healthier and generally more successful if I cannot strike level 3? They have nothing to compare it to… they don’t know the younger ME, the ME that rolled out my mat every day! And I guess that’s just it. I guess that’s what I wanted to write about. If you have read any posts from my archives it’s evident that I am calmer, nicer, happier, healthier and generally more successful today than ever perhaps and for that I am very grateful! I am lucky if I “practice” three (3) times a week, today! When you get older your metabolism changes… mind you – for the worse, so I still have to get in some cardio but how are ‘they’, the twenty (20) somethings, going to understand that? Even my yoga teacher, here in Macau, he’s thirty (30) something and he thinks that I can get back into the shape that I was in in my early thirties (30’s) but I am highly skeptical! I have very grave doubts… Which brings me to this image. I feel like this cartoon?! He’s ME! I am trying to maintain my proverbial balance but I am sweating the SMALL stuff when the point is that there are eight (8) limbs of yoga!

  • Yama :  Universal morality
  • Niyama :  Personal observances
  • Asanas :  Body postures
  • Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  • Pratyahara :  Control of the senses
  • Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  • Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  • Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

…the real goal of ‘my yoga’ today is not to be a human pretzel anymore but samadhi. Imagine, a little girl from Akron Ohio of all places wants to reach Samadhi! Kindly, break now and read: http://yogainternational.com/article/view/meditation-is-not-what-you-think; in it Swami Rama argues that we can all reach Samadhi! Personally, I feel like I get the benefit of meditation from doing the asana’s so I am not sitting traditionally much lately but I wonder if that’s just an excuse for not doing the hard work! I highly doubt that I can reach Samadhi without the stillness that sitting affords.

I’ve got this

denial

Dearest Cici, the suicidal woman in denial that I recently posted about, you helped ME with a struggle of my own! So I just want to say THANK YOU CICI and share that I struggle with denial too!

If I am honest, I have always liked to drink since I started in my teens but for the past few years, namely two (2), I have been drinking more than usual. Being an expat and stay at home can be hard and in retrospect I gather I was moderately depressed… always reaching for a glass to cure my daily woes.

Typically, while starting dinner, I’d open a bottle of wine and have just two glasses of wine by dinner’s end. Problem is, that I was doing it whenever humanly possible! My husband was not pleased!! Basically it became the way to end the day, to shut down. Problem is that I would go to bed immediately after putting my son to bed and sadly before spending quality time with my husband?! My poor husband! As if the fact that I don’t shower every day wasn’t enough!

…I learned years ago that his dominant love language is “quality time” and I repeatedly selfishly disregarded it these past few years!? (Reader if you do not know, kindly see http://www.5lovelanguages.com. It has helped my husband and I make sense of one another’s needs over the years.)

Needless to say I thought I am/was fully aware of the potential dangers that Bipolars have with drug/alcohol abuse, I have been dealing with being bipolar for ten (10) years. So I’ve heard the stories, witnessed the struggles… but apparently I didn’t take them to heart, apparently I wasn’t really listening. Apparently I wasn’t ready to hear it. After all, it was often only 2 (two) glasses…

During this time I sought the help of our local AA, Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter; however they tried, they couldn’t help ME as I was unable to accept the severity of my drinking problem because I never hit rock bottom! I couldn’t connect to their stories; their real life nightmares. And I read Chopra’s “Freedom from Addiction”… he has great advice and talks about the great goal but I couldn’t manage to sit twice a day!

To my knowledge, my drinking didn’t impact other aspects of my life; only my marriage?! I gather I took it for granted; feeling very secure. It is dangerous to feel so secure!

I was not completely unaware that I lazily, sheepisly, reached for a glass to relax or cope with the stresses of daily life but I constantly minimized its consequences and was unable to face the addiction aspect of it!

When I married my ‘soul mate’ in 2009, I vowed “with all that I am and all that I am to become”… mind you, I had no intention of becoming an Alcoholic then and I still don’t now! The odds might be against ME but I have been fighting the battle squandering bottle after bottle down the drain! How very wasteful of me!

Today, I can comfortably share this with you because I am on the mend! I have been trying to address these daily 2 glasses since they reared their ugly head! I have learned a lot about myself in the process. Healed even… I am still drinking, now, but I learned that my “drinking problem” and “rock bottom” are relative. Gratefully, I no longer drink to escape but I drink because I like the taste!

It’s taken hard work, it’s been two (2) long years… not days, not weeks, nor months but years! Now I am drinking considerably less and making relative leaps and bounds with other constructive endeavors in my life! But I don’t want to get into all that now… What I want to share today about denial is what’s clearer to ME after working to reach Cici.

I am finally accepting* my denial and have come to the realization that I am no good to anybody if I cannot walk the talk. So thank you Cici. I’ve got this. Now, I’ve got a handle on this!! You made that message click for ME! Now I see that I can’t help anyone else if I can’t help myself. And I so want to do something positive in this world!

Clearer still is that I learned like the image above depicts, denial is a BIG waste of time… if any of you have advice on just how I can ever make up for the last two (2) years, I am all ears! But I trust that it’s not possible. All I can do now is try to make today all the more remarkable to make up for it!

Clearest of all, I love myself! I mean, I am really beginning to prove that love myself and unconditionally at that. i.e. It’s okay that I knew but didn’t KNOW that there was a better way, an easier way to ease release. Fortunately, for ME, I was never held accountable; rather I was repeatedly forgiven. I recognize that I might not be so lucky next time.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my dearest Husband now, at this very moment, for all of his listening and for all of his support. I feel guilty for not thanking him first… Gratefully he let my denial take it’s course, watched it closely, and did not force ME to seek treatment and quit drinking cold turkey. He understands as Gabby Bernstein does that “marriage is a holy relationship in which two people hold space for each other to grow, learn and heal”. I have grown. I have learned. I am healing… I just hope that I haven’t done too much damage in the process.

Many of my role models are recovering alcoholics – Adele, Brene Brown, Gabby (as mentioned above)… I admire their discipline but I cannot seem to wrap my head around a life devoid of alcohol! Pathetic, I agree, but it’s deeply engrained in ME that many a celebration, big & small, like a new job or your child’s first visit from the tooth fairy, go hand in hand with an alcoholic beverage. In my opinion, filet mignon most certainly does. I might not each much steak anymore but when I do I want a big rich cab(ernet) to accompany it…

As for the rest of you, I am grateful for the ability to put myself out there, to be honest and to share this with you today. If you sense that you are in denial about something. Do YOURSELF a favor. Sit quietly for as long as you need, it may be a week – it may be a month, and follow Lee Jampolsky’s advice to “ask yourself what is really important, and then have the wisdom and courage to build your life around the answer”.

Sat nam

*Kindly Note: I use the present tense of acceptance. It is, I am, a work in progress and my awareness of this weakness needs to remain present. My hope is that writing this post will help me keep my drinking in check, reinforce that I have any number of other tools to reach for first and that drinking should be a last resort to handle stress. Who knows, the next thing that you may hear is that I have given it up all together… at two (2) in the morning, it seems clear to me that I should take my abstinence a step further & just saving it for special occasions. I do not need to loose any more sleep on just an average dinner. #2glasses

Enter Feedback

offer it up

So I am no longer writing a Play. I am writing a Film, a Movie… a Screen Play. Trouble is I have never read a “Screen Play”. (Insert grave doubt.)

In the short span of twelve (12) pages I learned that painting the picture is more important to ME. My resident expert, my younger sister and actress, pointed that out and has helped me understand that Plays are driven through language and dialogue… Movies through images.

I am a visual person; I need images. I speak in images. And frankly, if it’s going to be an autobiography and therefore about being Bipolar, there was little dialogue, outside that with my therapist, about my neurosis’, my psychosis’… for years mind you I hid my conspiracy theories, delusional thoughts and paranoia to the best of my ability!

… I thought that I would write it backwards; from my current, some would argue, ‘perfect’ and stable life to the unforeseen calamities, sudden and serendipitous distress, that they Universe dropped on my doorstep ten (10) years ago this month. But then I woke in a fright a few days ago thinking “backwards is all wrong” and realized: “I need more feedback”! So I sent my logline & synopsis to my nearest and dearest soliciting their criticism.

My Mom, of all people, said “Well written kiddo” full stop.

That’s it?! I mean that’s all my MOM is going to share about these dedicated steps/adventure that I have begun to better understand myself? That’s’ it? I mean C’mon, really??

In the most unapologetic way possible, I have to say that she’s the deluded one! She is most certainly unaware of how cathartic telling one’s story is… my hope is the the act of writing my story, possibly producing it, will change ME, deeply… perhaps proFOUNDly?! Maybe, just maybe, this time I will find myself?

After some prodding and in reference to the title and synopsis of my, now, Screen Play she said: “I think that the title is a work in progress. You will need to work through whether or not people will “get it”. It may be perfect in the end-you don’t have to keep it if something better presents itself.”

And she’s right. I have only just begun. I need to bring my yoga practice into my writing and work at being flexible.

Before it turned into a movie, my older sister said: “That seems like a great starting perspective to begin to write. I just wonder whether by not simply writing but rather creating these artificial constraints (it’s a play, it has a summary, it has a title) that you will more easily get in the way of what you would like to accomplish – figuring out your story.”

A-ha! She is so very right! Much of the “how to write a play” books that i read last year, when this project started, directed ME to write a log line & synopsis to help ME get started. And I gather that I have to look at it just as that! It’s only a beginning. (Note to self. Archive that draft!) Already since her note I have realized that, although she lived part of it, she doesn’t know the whole story. She doesn’t know, nor really truly understand, my experiences from my perspective but more importantly nor do I. I need to allow the story to unfold. That’s a sure fire way to find something.

Then the resident expert, my younger sister, said: “Keep telling the story. That’s at the crux of it all, the storytelling you are trying to do. That’s why we, the audience, care…we’re intrigued by the story. I just read your blog post, Just stop it already, and what popped out to me was this: “Who’s gonna steal an idea about a crazy woman finding herself?” Specifically the “a crazy woman finding herself” Is this your story? It’s actually very compelling. I want read it, I want to go on that journey.”

Aha – she got it! Before I did. (Insert the wise words from my older sister.) That is what my story is about, today!! It is about being on this never ending path of finding myself; it is a spiritual journey… I am writing it, whatever it will become, as if to imply that each of our ‘beautiful’ lives are fated. And to do that I need to let go to see the message better. In his new book “Growing into Grace” Mastin Kipp, the founder of the dailylove.com, is trying to communicate: Life doesn’t happen to us. Life happens for us!

If I do nothing else; I am now on this journey, I am going to let this happen to ME!

This is supposed to be cathARTic

Cancer patients are encouraged to write; they are told that writing is cathartic! Bi-Polar patients are told to keep a diary to track their sleep and moods… it’s not quite the same thing; “writing” vs. keeping a chart and/or calendar. Further, it is common knowledge that, creative acts are liberation for the soul – hence I’d like bring attention to the word ART in the title; in case you missed it. I just noticed it myself.

ME, I write for the cathartic experience and if it’s an ART, it’s all the better… perhaps knowing that association will make me do it more?!?!

I have thought about being a little more deliberate with my writing, i.e. I have considered focusing on writing poetry &/or songs but herein I am finding that I really just want to rub out my thoughts and not obscure them with rhymes or superfluous associations. (No offense to those arts, but like painting, I probably wouldn’t be good at it.) It does feel good, writing, but it’s also a little stressful… I have to constantly edit and my ego wants it to be interesting and I feel like I just keep writing the same thing: “I was being watched.”

Which brings me to a thought: It hasn’t always been just about ME; there was a time when I thought that everyone I knew and loved was involved at some level. My parents; the guy I was dating, his friends; my best friend, a news reporter, who lived in NYC; my little sister and her boyfriend*, who was working for a government agency at the time; I thought my neighbor in DC was a secret agent, like Jennifer Gardner on Alias; and I thought that my yoga instructor was a drug dealer… but without my diaries (did I mention we are in the process of moving to Macau?) I cannot properly shed light on these events but I can admit that I was never completely honest with these people. i.e. I never told them that they were part of my conspiracies… nor did they ask. They all knew that I had a “Condition”. But as a result, I never told anybody when I was hypo-manic. I never thought I was. I thought everyone knew what was going on, that they saw the things that I did and I thought that ‘We’ had a “Don’t ask! Don’t tell!” policy and that that was the best way to keep our mission(s) lawful. (Then, as now, we all had our own missions.)

This isn’t the greatest example because what I imagined my Mom’s ‘mission’ supported mine BUT…

My Mom, a diligent and dutiful real estate agent in Las Vegas, told me that she had a client: a client that knew DC well and worked for the United States Government. I can’t remember exactly what he did but when I was first diagnosed, she asked him if it was possible if I was being followed. She said, he said, that it was highly unlikely… but, naturally, I never believed him and I don’t think she did either. (I wondered if he wasn’t planted in her life for just that opportunity.)

I imagined that because my Mom (of all people, my MOM!) involved him, that she then became a target (who we call/email and when we call/email them can be easily tracked) and thus she was caught up in her own triangle with people who had names like “Angel”.

I imagined that they were not “clients” but that they were feeding her information about the circles that we were caught up in, of or stemming from my experiences in DC. And I thought that she, a very smart woman, was working behind the scenes mediating a law suit. I thought that she and this “client” knew that we were being followed and the injustices that ensued and I thought that she was threatening to go to the reporters if ‘it’ weren’t handled properly. I thought she was betting on a large sum of money to keep our family quiet… I suspected that she knew that I was aware – we did after all rearrange the pantry together.

Similar to how I got my information… my Mom had to operate with a good deal of interpretation and imagination. I stayed with my parents one summer and I witnessed during this time, that my Mom, she too used her own code: she used a YELLLOW purse – she wanted to comunicate “proceed with caution” or she would use RED to say “Stop”! (Not unusual associations, no… I didn’t make up the code, I just tired to interpret it.)

Which brings me to my point… this is cathartic; now you know (Mom), now you know that some of the sh*t that I have been carrying around for years has been purged. I’ll try to get to the rest of you later.