I eat a lot of candy – but stick to Mother Nature’s candy.

I LOVE to eat.  Have I said that before?  I have a very a sweet tooth, that is rotten to the core.

Sour Patch Kids.  Sweet Tarts.  Gummie Bears.  Life Saver’s Gummies.  Candy bars.  SKITTLES!!  One of the hardest habits to kick.  For me, that is saying a lot.

But if I must, and sometimes I do, I have switched out the processed sweets with the delectable joys that Mother Nature provides.  By far my favorite (ask my mother, I go through pounds) are dried cranberries.  A sweet and tart healthy alternative for my beloved sour skittles and sour Life Saver’s Gummie yummys.

Sure, people have said, dried fruit can still have high sugar.  But there is a difference.  According to Everyday Health, the sugars that Mother Nature provides bread down slower – preventing dangerous sugar spikes.  Processed sugars lead “to problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more.”

Also, there are several added health benefits, that processed candy doesn’t provide, says Medical New Daily.  For example, cranberries can help blood pressure, can reduce inflammation (I did just break a toe),  reduce cancer risks, help stop gum disease, have fiber, several vitamins, and the list goes on…

Moderation is the key.  I have a problem here.  No secrets.  I have to create a system of checks and balances, or pre-planned self-control, in several areas of my life.  For food, I drink a glass of water when I feel hungry and this helps fill my stomach and curve my appetite.  I live in one of the hottest climates on earth – so I can always use a glass of water anyhow.  I’m a doer, not a planner.  I haven’t looked into the risks of that, but has helped me loose and keep off a lot of extra weight.

Don’t like cranberries?  No more excuses to step out of your box and try something new.  Most grocery stores have an awesome selection of organic dried self-serve bins full of delicious treats.  I love mango, banana chips, apricot – well, I haven’t met a fruit I didn’t like, yet.

You will almost never hear me tell anyone what they should do – but it’s fun to pick out a few things and always good for me to have some healthy snacks around.  I’ve even found a few fruits that I’ve never heard of and really stepped out of my box to treat myself to a little joy.

I believe that mind, body, and soul are all connected, and I need to feed my body good food before I can fee the rest.

https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/diet/which-sugars-are-good-you-which-ones-avoid/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269142.php

 

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Explode now? Explode later? Implode in silent misery? Not today – I’ll choose healthy boundries, instead, thank you very much…

  1. I immediately explode on the person in front of me.
  2. I explode on the sweet little old lady cashier that is moving too slow.
  3. I stuff negative energy deep into my soul and sit in silent miserable anger for hours or days.
  4. Have a crippling panick attack, that hits like a corner slot machine – random, but usually after a lot of bills are stuffed into it.
  5. Get on social media and viciously trash that person, or someone who reminds me of them.

These were my usual choices to deal with my anger, when I felt like someone was running over me or not listening to me.  When I weakly set a boundary, and let them run all over it, it effected me deeply – no matter where I stuffed it.

This is an old cycle.  I am learning how to tell someone what my needs are, to set healthy boundaries.  In the past, I would accept someone stepping all over my boundaries – putting their needs or wants over mine.  On the outside I was a people pleaser – so much of my self-worth was rooted in it.  But it left me an emotional powder-keg; I was ready to explode at any time.  I’m still practicing my boundary setting skills, but I’m getting better at the word “no” or calmly and respectfully putting my foot down.  I believe that we all have a right to live our lives the way we want – as long as it isn’t breaking the law or disrupting someone elses peace and happiness.

I had the idea for this post, because recently I had to stand my ground.  I was painting on a job site, and I told someone repeatedly that painting is a great joy of mine.  I LOVE to put on some music, clear my head (maybe let it drift a bit), feel the thickness of the paint as I dip my brush, hear the noise as it rolls on the wall or the brush cuts across the surface, and guide the brush with eyes.  Just find a place of zen and find a piece of joy and happiness.

There were several interruptions.  Every time I got a flow going and hit that sweet spot, here it came.  “Hey Brennan….”  “Do you think we can…”  “Can I grab you for second to help me…”  All of it; things that could wait.

In the past, I would smile and say, “No problem!  What’s up?”  On the inside, I would be furious, angry, resentful, be texting friends complaining, making angry posts about something closely related, and screaming in my head, “what is wrong with you??  I TOLD YOU THAT I DON’T LIKE BEING INTERRUPTED WHEN PAINTING!”

I can’t do that any more.  When I allow my emotions to boil up and the kettle to whistle with an explosion of steam – and try to swallow it – it burns me up from the inside out.  All of that energy comes out somehow someway.  I lash out at someone who doesn’t deserve it, drive like a jerk, or have a panick attack.  My panick attacks are what first got me into therapy.  Years and years of swallowing boiling hot emotions caused me to melt down, because my mind could only handle so much.

instead, I took a very deep breath.  I smiles.  I was calm.  I was respectful.

“It really is important to me to not be interrupted when I’m painting.  I don’t multitask well, I’ve accepted that, and every time you stop me, it takes me a long time to get back in my flow.  I need to get this done so we can move forward on the project.  I need for you to respect that, and while I’m painting, work on other things or go relax.”

That didn’t work.  When you have a friend or family member that doesn’t have many boundaries, I have found, it can take a few times of standing my ground.  I uses to fail, here.  Give in.  Submit.  The unhealthy cycle, for me, continued.

I just can’t do that anymore.  I must take care of myself, or I can’t be an effective person.  I know this.

So after a few times on repeat, I said this,”If you can’t respect my needs, I will immediately put down my brush and I will do NO painting while you are on the site.  Period.  This project will drag out for weeks or months.  This is your decision.”

Response: “I’m going to upstairs now.  You won’t see me the rest of the night.”

I finished the job on schedule, proud and satisfied in every way; and they couldn’t be happier with the work that was done.

 

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No more excuses. I MUST re-train my brain and make a CHOICE for happiness.

Everyone has mood shifts – it’s part of human nature – but living with a mental illness means that for the rest of my existence, my mood will be like a beautiful (yet potentially dangerous and deadly) wild animal. I do more work than anyone in my life can imagine, to tame the beast and manage my mood. I felt, for a lot of my life, that I had demons within.  No.  I was battling bipolar disorder and had no idea.
I have made the choice to find joy, love, healthy connections with others, and happiness.
I have friends who are stuck where I was, for years – after I was diagnosed (my handful of diagnosis). I was relieved while feeling stuck in it; this was just who I was and used them as an excuse and rationalization for my bad behavior in past, present, and future.
I would be telling a sick tale to my friend Kat, and she would give her usual “Oh Geez!” In delight I would respond, “I’m bipolar, it’s okay.” On the other side of the pendulum, I would stay in bed for weeks crippled with suffocating anxiety and deep black depression and say, “I can hide here under the covers as long as I like because I’m cursed with this mental disorder.”
If you aren’t aware of mental illness, I would recommend you do a little research. Bipolar and depression are interesting animals, and a lot more of us suffer constant attacks, than you can image. We don’t just get sad or energetic – but we have a shift in our brain chemistry and science still doesn’t fully understand it.
Someone with true depression has an almost complete shut off of the chemicals that produce happiness. It’s not just a matter of saying “cheer up.” Our brains have cut off happiness at a chemical level. It’s like telling someone who is out of gas to speed the car up as it sputters to a dead stop and all electrical functions of the car die out with a dead battery.
Someone who is manic is flooded, according to mentalhealth.net, in the core of the brain with several neuron transmitters – including dopamine, serotonin, and MDMA. The same chemicals released from a handful of illegal drugs (that coincidentally were my choice of drugs. Not a coincidence, as I continue to research).
I am high as a kite. I feel as though I have taken small hits of meth, cocaine, and ecstasy at once. For days or weeks or a month at a time. When I used to induce mania – I was relapsing in my addiction recovery – because I knew mania made me high. This typically led to a full relapse, because another one the beasts I battle is addiction and alcoholism.
At the end of the article, there are actual brain scans of someone who is “normal,” manic, and clinically depressed – to show what happens to brain activity.
Then I thought I just needed meds to set me right. I JUST had to get the meds right. But we learned in the (several dual-diagnosis treatment centers that I have been to) that meds are a small piece of the pie. That we must work to manage our illness. I did not. I took the meds and suffered horribly for a few more years. I had no joy and did not want to live. I tried in a number of ways to make that happen.
NO MORE EXCUSES
I believe that anyone that has identified traits and cycles, that are unhealthy, can change them. The brain can be rewired and our thought patterns can be changed. It takes time and work, but is happening for a once hopeless and dreamless case like me. I believe that almost everybody can make the choice to find joy and happiness, and find it from within.
Now, I work to stay spiritually connected.  I also am constantly reading books, online articles, and belong to several support groups – to see what works for others. I experiment, I read books on co-dependency, shame, recovery, and being healthy. I exercise, I’ve done a lot of Yoga, and guided meditations. I am working through my Dialectal Behavioral Therapy workbook, a second time, to be sure I keep my tools and weapons sharp.
When the beast emerges from the dark haunted woods, I am ready to fight. For me, It’s a fight for my life. I’ve almost died in my drug use – and mania leads to using. I’ve tried to take my own life, in depressions. Last attempt, years ago, landed me in the hospital in a locked facility for a bit.
So this morning I woke up with a deep deep sadness. In the past, I would watch old videos and pictures and romanticize about the times of my life that were good – no – great. I would fully submit, and chase the rabbit deep into the rabbit hole and it would take me weeks to climb out and see the light of the sun, again.
Not any more. I watch those same videos and look at those same pictures with a retrained mind. I don’t wish or want to go back to the past. I smile, and today it was through tears, because through the sadness shines gratitude and love. This lifts me so much stronger, now in my daily life, than the sick shifting emotion’s gravitational pull. I feel gratitude to have those memories. Gratitude to have experienced those relationships. Honored to have walked, even if it was a short walk up a very steep hill, with such amazing people who have changed my life; and, I think about the ways that my life has improved from  the changes I made (to become the person that I am becoming) from the pain of that hurt or separation.

Besides, as my Auntie Mikki says… “We don’t say goodbye. We say see you later.” I am often surprised and delighted as I end up reconnecting with these people and get closure – as they see me battling my beasts and emerging from a warrior into the person they knew I could be.

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Call me Dr. Doolittle

In my usual style of silliness, I enlist total strangers to help make (not so) gentle animal noises at some large Mule Deer Elk(ish) beasts that were blocking the road.  Take a look.