Easier Said than Done

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With a headache that’s been riding me for days, there really wasn’t anything I felt like doing after making dinner and cleaning up the house. Only on the rarest of occasions have I actually went to sleep when the sun was still up, and I decided tonight would be one of those times.

I gave my husband a kiss before leaving him in his office and trailing off into our bedroom with our girls (a husky and beagle). But as soon as I closed the door behind me, it was as if this heavy, bone-crushing awkwardness filled the room.

You know that excruciating discomfort you feel when you’re stuck alone with the one person you’ve betrayed time and time again and cruelly abused mentally, physically, and emotionally?

It was crazy, really. As I brushed my teeth and set out my clothes for the next day, I avoided making eye contact with myself in the mirror.

With myself.

After coming to the realization of how dysfunctional of an internal relationship I have, I knew that the probability of gently gliding into dreamland was highly unlikely. So, like every other time I have some aching I don’t know exactly how to process, I pulled out my laptop.

 

And that is what led me here. It’s no secret that my bipolar has gotten the best of me lately. When that happens, I feel nearly every emotion under the sun, to the extreme. After the manic dust settles and the waves of depression have calmed, I’m left with the painstaking task of sorting through all of the debris. I have to distinguish legitimate thoughts and feelings from those that were fabricated symptoms of my illness. In order to do this, I must resist my urges to give up. After all, what’s the point of rebuilding everything, if I’m just going to tear myself back down again?

One helpful step in recovering from detrimental episodes (and I believe this goes for people without bipolar as well) is allowing yourself to grieve and fully process the pain, to forgive yourself, and to actively practice self-love and kindness.

I don’t doubt the merits of those steps for a minute. It all makes complete sense, and deep down, I know that’s what I need.

But I’m finding it nearly impossible to give that monster in the mirror who betrayed my body, my morals, and my principles the time of day.

Granted, it takes time to heal….but there’s only so much time left to give.

I’m reading books, exploring my thoughts, and attempting to reconnect with the essence of who I once was (I’m pretty sure she’s still there). Though, it feels like I’m trying to climb Mt. Everest in flip flops- I’m totally overwhelmed and fear that every shaky step forward is in vain.

Being kind to yourself is a necessity. It is a process, a daily practice. And this applies whether you’ve been consistently giving yourself the love and respect you’ve deserved for years, or if (like me), you find yourself back at ground zero.

There is no sufficient alternative to self-kindness. Filling your closets with expensive clothes and drowning yourself in doughnuts won’t do the trick.

Though it seems like being kind to yourself should be the easiest, most natural feeling thing to do, it often isn’t. A large part of that is due to our misguided evaluations of our self-worth and comparing ourselves to artificial standards.

I struggled with loving myself long before I accumulated a hefty collection of mistakes and shameful embarrassments. I inherited my family’s faulty thinking that all of the “touchy-feely” stuff was a disguise for unhealthy narcissism and dependence. Despite all that I know now, it’s still difficult to shake that ignorance and misconception.

While I’d love to finish this off with a list of five ways you can be kind to yourself, I believe you deserve more than hypocritical advice. Instead, I’ll leave you with what I’m sure of, right now.

You know the idea that the best things in life are worth the effort? Well, being kind to yourself is one of them. Sure, you might have a chance at attaining your goals while in a state of self-loathing, just getting by to prove your self-worth to everybody but yourself…

But imagine how much more enjoyable and effective it would be if you followed your dreams because you really believed in yourself? Because you knew that you deserved to be happy?

Well, my friend, you absolutely deserve to achieve your wildest aspirations and to live a life full of passion, happiness, and peace.

And whether I want to admit it or not, maybe I do too.

 

Be kind to yourself,

Adelie

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How to be Happy

 

This week’s writing challenge is to share something you’ve learned with your readers. I’ve noticed that if I’m present enough in each moment, I’m always learning. Unfortunately, my self-awareness isn’t a regular ritual of mine. More so, it comes and goes in binges. I strongly believe, and know, that my life would be better if I could be more present in every breath I take. I’ve found the best way to return to that essential place of knowing is to slow my breathing and to listen to my heart. I know, it’s so cliché, but there’s a reason why that line is used as advice in virtually every circumstance. At risk of sounding even more cliché, I’m going to say that my heart has proven time and time again to be my greatest teacher. So, I want to share the lesson it taught me a few days back.

***A note to readers: In case you aren’t one of my earlier followers, you might not know I have bipolar disorder. Not that it should matter, but I’ve decided to discuss this aspect of myself in this post. I sincerely believe this piece is relevant to everyone, even those without bipolar disorder. However, if you’re not interested in reading about the bipolar aspects, feel free to skip the italicized segments.

I’m assuming I’m not the only person who lives in cycles. I mean, with the changing seasons and tides, it’s only natural, right?

Well, being bipolar has a whole other world of cycles, which can be much less predictable than when the leaves are going to fall. Typically, I’m depressed and dormant from roughly November to March. But once spring comes, something hits me, and I’m inspired, ecstatic, and confident- in a healthy, non-manic way.

When you’re bipolar, there’s a blurry line between being genuinely happy and falling into the rip-roaring tides of mania. Ever since I’ve had some very destructive episodes, I’m always on red-alert for signs of mania. Thus, I’m apprehensive whenever I feel happy. In fact, I’m almost terrified to be happy because it’s nearly impossible to distinguish it from the earliest symptoms of mania. By the way, mania is awesome. You feel invincible and everything in life is absolutely perfect, including yourself! Not to mention, your productivity skyrockets. It’s so awesome that you don’t realize how poorly skewed your perception of reality is. No matter what your friends and family tell you, you’re fine. The problem is with everyone else, those pessimistic party poopers you call your loved ones. In fact, you don’t need them. You’d be better without them, and you’ll find someone who will treat you better. After all, you’re such a stellar person, everyone loves you, so basically, the ball is in your court. Oh, and if you finally come to the realization that you’re manic, it’s not just something you can pull out of, and it’s usually too late.

Anyway, it seems that nearly every spring, I come to some *non-bipolar* epiphany that empowers me to believe in myself and gives me the fuel to work toward my goals. Kind of like a pep-talk from my soul that lasts for a few months.

So, the snow finally disappeared a couple of weeks ago, and every day I’d look at the sunrise and think, Ok, epiphany…I’m ready for you….anytime now!

Heck, I even subscribed to O Magazine this year to really boost my aha-moment potential!

However, I got nothing. No inspiration, no sudden recognition of my soul’s infinite power… Nope.

So last Sunday, I sat down to meditate, and I asked my soul something like, “When the hell are you going to enlighten me?!” I sat in silence for a while, when it finally came to me: I’ve been waiting and expecting happiness to just come to me… but that’s not how it works.

Things happen.

Life happens.

Sometimes it’s easy to be happy. Sometimes it’s impossible not to be happy. But sometimes, you have to choose to be happy.

So instead of moping around and waiting for an epiphany to turn my attitude into flowers, hearts, and unicorns, I have to make my own happiness. After all, our souls have the infinite power to do anything, and that includes choosing happiness.

Happiness isn’t something to find. It’s something to be.

Oh, and by the way, my soul reminded me that happiness ≠ mania. I need to be happy, and I can allow myself to be happy while being aware of any triggers or onsets of mania. It’s possible to be happy without tailspinning into reckless behavior.

So today, I’m going to be happy. I do hope you’ll join me. If you need some extra inspiration besides that which your heart may provide, take a look at some more quotes about happiness!

With happiness and gratitude,

Adelie