Fighting Dirty

For those who weren’t aware, I contribute for a popular mental health website called Bphope.com. It’s geared towards those with bipolar disorder but it’s also a great resource for anyone struggling with a mental illness or involved with someone who is diagnosed.

My piece Marriage Advice from a Bipolar Wife (https://www.bphope.com/caregivers/marriage-advice-from-a-bipolar-wife-relationship-tips-communication/), garnered a lot of attention. My editor emailed me and let me know that it was their “highest achieving” post on Facebook. The post will also be run in Bphope’s print magazine this summer. My first ever paid piece.

Waking up to the comments, emails, and new followers on Instagram who resonated with that piece was inspiring. It was so touching to me that my words help others. But behind the scenes, I also know that my words can hurt. My husband and I had actually got into a pretty intense argument the previous night.

I penned this post “Fighting Dirty.” When I am manic or triggered, I tend to take out my hurt or aggression to the person I love the most. It’s true when they say that hurt people hurt people. How can I stop myself from reacting in the most hurtful, explosive way when I’m upset?

I recently started an online therapy group where emotional regulation is the main focus. A few tips I wanted to share to prevent or deescalate anger when manic or triggered are described below…

Remain mindful

I’m not typically a mindful person. I let emotions sweep over me and take me away. It’s hard for me to be present and actively engaged in a task. Take my writing for example, it’s taken me a couple months to be motivated enough to even want to write another blog post.

How can I practice mindfulness? The easiest way I was taught was to just focus on breathing. By doing so I can regulate how I’m feeling rather than just getting hyped up with emotions and boil over.

Try to be flexible

I’m a creature of habit. I like routines, schedules, and laid out plans. But life has a way of throwing a wrench in our perfect plans and I’ve had to learn to cope with this. By increasing my tolerance to change I’ve been able to lessen my aggression and moodiness.

Practicing empathy

It used to be hard for me to see other people’s point of view. I would get so worked up in my own head and now I know this is a completely selfish behavior.

I think in the end it’s knowing that we are all trying our best. Some days our best is just getting out of bed. Some days my own personal best is just shutting my mouth before I say something I regret. This leads me to my final lesson I’ve learned to avoid “fighting dirty.”

Apologize when you know you’re wrong

I tend to be a prideful person. I don’t typically like waving the white flag in order to surrender or make peace. But I know my words are just as hurtful as physical violence.

Who am I to make someone feel less worthy? We can’t combat our hurt with even more hate.

So to my husband, I love you. I’m sorry. And I truly appreciate all that you do for me and our family. Please remember that I am still trying my best. We’re all a work in progress.

❤️

Lessons in Letting Go

I have always had trouble with letting go of emotions, people, things… the list can be endless. I tend to hold onto things that are beyond my control and it creeps into my mental health causing me to feel this weight of negativity and self-doubt.

I see myself as an empathetic person, meaning I can truly understand what’s causing certain behaviors or aspects within a person or situation. This leads me into hanging onto people who are probably not meant for me in my life. This attitude has creeped into my mental state wherein I cannot let go of self-deprecating notions about myself.

Finally, with self-care and mindful practice, I’ve learned a few lessons in letting go of what doesn’t serve you, appreciate you, or fully deserve your attention & love. Here are some lessons I’ve personally experienced that may help or at least give some insight on what we can do to fully let go of the negative aspects in our life & make room for all the abundance of love we deserve:

  • Remember that the only people you need in your life are the ones who PROVE they need you in theirs.

I’ve always loved this quote. Timelessly in my life I’ve tried to mold myself into the perfect person that people would like. Likability has always been extremely important to me. I would change aspects of my personality and even sometimes my appearance because I thought it better suited someone else needs.

I needed to let go of what of other people thought. This is still something that I constantly work on today, especially with my use of Social Media outlets. I find some people find my blog and expect me to be a certain way. Then they find my social media accounts and I perhaps appear different than what they assumed. I’ve lost followers on Instagram and it used to really bother me. Now I remember that I have to remain true to my authentic self and by exposing myself for who I really am- it will hopefully let in the people who prove they need me in their lives.

  • Never rely on codependency in a relationship

Growing up, I was very coddled. I say this with nothing but love & admiration for my parents who raised me. They doted on me as a child and I’ll forever love them for that. However, it has caused this shift in my relationships with people, including men, wherein I felt dependent on them for their love and support.

I needed to find this love within myself. My husband, my friends, and even my parents cannot make me into the person I need to be. Attaching yourself to a person will never fully make you happy. You cannot rely on someone else to fulfill the needs that need to be met within yourself.

  • Things are just things

I love stuff. The movie The Little Mermaid has always been my favorite because Ariel loved to collect stuff. In her words, “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collections complete?” I’ve always resonated with that song as childish as it may be. I have finally learned that material objects will never make me happy.

As a person who suffers with bipolar disorder I can get very manic. This mania can sometimes translate in shopping sprees wherein I impulse buy many unnecessary items. I think the temporary joy I feel comes from a place of also trying to find outside outlets to make me happy. However that short lived “high” I feel when I rush to purchase something typically dies moments after I buy it with thoughts of guilt shortly appearing.

Things are just things. I have a beautiful family of 3 boys (soon to be 4) and a husband who is devoted to me and adores me for who I am. They are happy when I am happy. My happiness cannot be derived from physical items.

  • Addiction is just an excuse to escape from reality.

I have an addictive personality. My mania & depression used to be soothed with the use of opiates & stimulants. I needed to learn to accept my reality for what it is and not run away from it. On the outside, my life appears to be full, rich, and rewarding. And it truly is. What more can I ask for?

I tried to explain to someone that while I know there are SO many things I need to be grateful for, my mind just processes things differently. I immediately go dark at times. I’ve learned to let go of negative addictions, especially while I am pregnant, which means cutting out nicotine completely and reducing my caffeine intake. I’ve noticed staying busy and keeping my mind occupied on outlets such as my family, my farm, and this blog has led me to lead a much more meaningful life.

I still have trouble letting go of things I cannot control. Life happens. My anxiety gets the best of me and I always fear the worst. But if we let go of what weighs us, hopefully we feel lighter and brighter. I know it hurts sometimes. But let it hurt. Then let it go.

Accepting Bipolar

I was recently asked to do a collaboration on another popular bipolar blog. She’s someone I met via a Facebook networking group primarily focused on mental health blogs. She had reached out to me last week but due to a depressive state, I wasn’t able to respond.

Luckily she reached out to me again to touch base & I immediately apologized for the delay. I explained that I was in a depressive state & wasn’t able to find the motivation to do more than my current obligations.

My life is full of obligations. Whose isn’t? But as someone with bipolar disorder I find myself getting very overwhelmed easily. I know I have responsibilities that NEED to get done. Priorities like feeding the animals, feeding everyone else, keeping the kids alive, etc.

It’s hard when you’re the person that everyone in the family depends on the most. As a mom I know I have to put my children’s needs above mine. It’s exhausting & leaves little time for myself.

This week has started off much better. I haven’t woken up with that empty feeling in my head. That empty feeling where I’m left feeling depleted, worn out, & vacant of any motivation.

My husband has said many times, “When you’re good- we’re good.” It’s true. The whole family can feel the shift in energy when I’m not in a depressive state. It does however make me feel horrible that my mood has such a big impact on my family.

This guilt is something that we need to let go of. We can’t help how we feel or even act sometimes. By accepting who we are, we can then take charge of our lives.

When I explained to my blogging collaborator my depressive state, she immediately sympathized. I almost started breaking down to a complete stranger because it felt so nice to be HEARD. To be heard that it’s okay. To know that she understands because she gets it & goes through it too.

I still don’t know how to properly take charge of my life. The first step I can do is accept my condition. I have bipolar disorder.

This woman’s words gave me so much hope. She told me, “I think we need to embrace that we are wired differently & modify our lifestyle. So we can have as ‘normal’ a life as possible.”

Embrace your differences. My difference between some people is that I have a mental illness that I sometimes feel like I have no control over. The only thing I can control is making sure I modify my lifestyle by taking my meds regularly, checking in with my therapist, & prioritizing the people I hold near & dear to my heart.

It’s amazing how someone’s words can change your perspective. I will probably never live a “normal” life. It will always have its ups & downs (literally). But I know if we accept ourselves & even our mental illness, it makes the fight so much easier.

Thank you Andrea for being the light in my day & giving me hope. Your words meant more to me than you’ll know.

Follow Andrea @ Mybigfatbipolarlife.com. You won’t regret it.