Well since my 30 Days of Truth is completed, I am going to keep using this blog to challenge myself and document those challenges. Challenges may include art, diet, exercise, deep thought, writing, cooking, experimenting, adventures, trying new things, goal setting etc. So I am going to start giving it a shot and keep up from there.
My second challenge starting sunday December 9, 2012 is going to be 7 days of art. For seven days I have to create something or work on creating something artistically every day and document it in my blog. This will keep my creative juices flowing and relieve stress even though I have several stressful appointments this week and will be preoccupied. It will be healthy for me. Projects don’t have to be finished each day but they have to be worked on and documented. Let the fun Begin.
I think it’s not so much about compliments that this question brings up but more about recognition or even simple acknowledgement about what I have to do daily to live with my illness/disability. It takes a lot of energy, a huge amount of energy for me to sometimes just to get up in the morning. I’m not saying I deserve “poor you’s” or “Atta boy’s”, just some acknowledgement of the fact that it takes a lot for me to keep going every day. I work really hard to get better. I go to therapy every week and work on coping skills, symptom management, and processing stressors. I also have a lot of trauma in my past that I work on each week to better improve my PTSD symptoms. In order to facilitate the process, I keep a therapy planner where I can keep track of what I want to discuss or work on because my memory isn’t very good. I have to keep in continual contact with my psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, and PA to adjust my meds as I am on 10 different medications and it is a constant balancing act. I have to keep track of the actual medications, when to take them, what to watch out for, remember to take them at all, and deal with the many different side effects and the ups and downs from the constant adjustments. I have to deal with the actual symptoms which are not easy. Constant anxiety, nightmares, agoraphobia, up and down mood swings, fatigue, racing thoughts, and just general chaos. And In order to combat and those symptoms and keep getting well I have to practice my DBT skills, work on therapeutic art projects, journal, make sure to go out every day, exercise, eat right, and try to remain social, all the while being a good wife and good mom. It’s a balancing act and it’s exhausting. And just once in awhile I’d like someone to acknowledge that I am working really hard to get better and doing all of the right things and still keeping afloat and being the best mom that I can be. It’s hard to ask for that. But sometimes that’s what I need. Or someone to acknowledge that living with a mental illness is hard but that it’s okay and it’s okay to be me and as long as I keep trying and don’t give up, it’s going to keep getting better. Some days I would give anything to hear that that. But even though I don’t, it doesn’t mean that I will stop trying or stop working at it or stop fighting.
I have to forgive myself for not being who I wanted to be at this point in my life. I envisioned this prosperous career nurse with a higher degree of education, possibly even teaching, a house of her own, a perfect marriage, a perfect family life, perfect self-sufficiency, no debt, no self-doubt. Just being the bomb diggity at this age. I had so much potential and I feel like I blew it all. I know my life isn’t over, not by a long shot. But every time I have these big dreams, I set these huge goals, I try and I fail. I never follow through. I never succeed. I think part of the problem is my goals. When I was in the acute partial program, a very smart therapist named Dale English taught me that goals should be reachable, attainable, and measurable. In the words of Yoda, “there can be no try, there must only be do.” Dale and Yoda are pretty smart guys and I didn’t listen to either of them. I’ve taken Dales classes three times and I still haven’t listened. He says to break the goals up into the smallest possible goals so that each time you attain a goal your self-esteem grows and you gain mastery. Yes, thank you Marsha Linehan, PhD. Those of you who have ever taken DBT will be going “marsha, marsha, marsha.” Those who haven’t, won’t get the joke. But even before I knew of these rules, I set these huge goals and had these huge dreams and fantasies, and instead of being proud of the people in my life who have met those goals, I have been envious and jealous. I have thought, “why not me? Why can’t that be me?” Why? Because I was made differently. I have different challenges. I have gone through different things and my body and brain have been designed and taught to adapt to these challenges in different ways. Whether you believe in the genetic component of mental illness, the situational/ historical components of mental illness, or the chemical side, or a combination of all three, either way I’m here. And you what? It really doesn’t matter why I am here. If you look at it from a Cognitive Behavioral approach, it doesn’t necessarily matter even how I got here. It matter how I go on from here. It matters how I treat it. It matters how I deal with it. Statistics, whether you believe the studies, show that the majority of Bipolar women will have a spontaneous remission of their illness symptoms in their 40’s. Researchers don’t all agree on why or how but the point is that no matter what, there is hope for me regardless. And until then, I will keep learning how to manage and grow and I will find a way to get around each obstacle. So I can’t work as a nurse. Why can’t I go to school to be something else? So I can’t handle the pressure of going to school full time. Why can’t I go part time? So I can’t handle a normal school schedule. Why can’t I pick a degree where the coursework is online? It’s all a matter of how you look at things. I need to take it one day at a time and one minute at time. One little goal and one little step at a time. Maybe I won’t ever be able to work a conventional job. But as we all see on tv, there are plenty of unconventional jobs out there too. I just need to find something for me.