DBT Workbook – Part 02 – Healthy ways to distract from emotional situations.

This is a series that I am writing on Dialectical Behavior Therapy – DBT has changed my life. The workbook states that this “strengthens a person’s ability to handle distress without losing control or acting destructively” by building “skills in four key areas – distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.” DBT is a huge part of the foundation of my centeredness as well as my ability to “live in the moment” and find gratitude – needed ingredients (I believe) in spirituality and humility.
I would like to share some of my insights as I work through the workbook for my second time. I encourage anybody and everybody to take a look at DBT – as parts of this can help anyone that is looking to find more peace, joy, love, and self-love in their life.

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Today, I was reading and working through the section on distracting yourself from negative emotions or self-destructive behaviors.

I’ve never engaged is self mutilation, but I belonged to a few dual-diagnosis outpatient treatment groups that had individuals that did. There were many ways that I have acted out in some very dangerous behaviors. Street racing, dangerously perching on roof-tops, drug addiction, alcoholism, the list goes on…

This chapter looks at some distractions that people can use when faced with “overwhelming emotions”. I use these techniques when I become very angry, depressed, can’t sleep, or I feel overwhelmed.
The first list are things that we enjoy. It sounds so simple, but I keep a written list so that when I am in the middle of an emotional situation or feeling halted by a depression rolling in, I can pull that list out and pick something that interests me in the moment. I checked off some of the activities that the book lists, but what I have found is that I just need to try things and see what I really enjoy. If it is an activity that builds esteem, is healthy, and makes me feel accomplished – it goes on the list. If I don’t find a love for something, then I don’t add it.
The second section of this chapter discusses ways to distract oneself by paying attention to someone else. Not in a co-dependant way, but by volunteering, helping others, even riding with a friend while they are knocking off a list of their errands. Sometimes, when I feel a depression rolling in, I will just think about my family and friends that support me. The love we have for each other. This always puts a smile on my face.
The next section says to “distract your thoughts”. There are a lot of ways I do this. Nature is the best way to get out of my head and find some gratitude. The book lists a few that include “keep a copy of your favorite prayer or favorite saying with you”, “imagine yourself as a hero or heroine”, or to think about good things from the past.
Next, is to use chores or tasks to keep distracted (not my favorite, but many get a lot of pleasure from dishes or doing laundry).
Also, counting is a good way to momentarily distract oneself. I use this a lot… I’ll stop for a moment and take some deep breaths and count them. It doesn’t take but a few to recenter on the fly and deal with a situation. Sometimes I need to repeat. Then repeat again. lol
Lastly, my favorite is to find things that soothe. Take a pause in life and focus on the senses. Touch, taste, sounds around you, feeling things or the wind on your face, or look at something beautiful. There are times where I will stop my mind to look at the shape of an object and trail my fingers along it to feel the texture. Perhaps a unique rock. Feel the heat coming off of it from the sun. Or after it rains, I’ll take a deep breath of the clean air and smell the wild sage brush that we have all over the desert. Maybe look at a single fluffy cloud just hanging out over the horizon – thank Mother Nature for the gifts of beauty that we have been given.
At the end of the chapter, there is an area to create your own action plan. My first time through the workbook, I was pretty obstinate about doing this. I felt like a little kid being made to “pickle papers” or a silly exercise. What I have realized, is that by writing these things down – they are reinforced in my mind. They go from ideas to tangible tools. Also, when my mood shifts, from my disorder, I sometimes loose the capability of fully rational thought. I need it in black and white and in my hands to know that it is true. Think about it, how many times have you become so angry that your mind twists things around a bit. Later you look back and say, “why did I get so angry about that?” Because sometimes, we take a build up of emotions from all over the place and channel them into something undeserving. For me, this happens if I am not dealing with things (day to day) in a healthy way. So for me, It is best when I write these things down and pull them out when I feel a little off. I then reconnect with all the good work that I have been doing and center quickly. Take the power out of the situation and see things for what they are.

Below is one page of activities that are suggest as self-distractions. What are some of your favorite ways to distract when you are upset or feeling down?

DBT Workbook – Part 01 – Distress Tolerance

Dialectical Behavior Therapy – DBT has changes my life.  The workbook states that this “stengthens a person’s ability to handle destress without losing control or acting destructively” by building “skills in four key areas – distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.”  DBT is a huge part of the foundation of my centereness as well as my ability to “live in the moment” and find gratitude – needed ingredients (I believe) in spirituality and humility.

I would like to share some of my insights as I work through the workbook for my second time.  I encourage anybody and everybody to take a look at DBT – as parts of this can help anyone that is looking to find more peace, joy, love, and self-love in their life.

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When reading about DBT, I have often seen it written that people with “overwhelming emotions” can benefit the most.  True.  But I also believe that DBT can help anyone that has trouble quieting their mind, taking moments to find gratitude, or overreacts to situations or people.

The first chapter is about distress tolerance – finding healthy ways to deal with stessful situations.  The workbook lists several unhealthy ways that people react to bad situations or when someone has hurt them.  To name a few from the workbook, that stand out to me:

  • “You spend a great deal of time thinking about past pain, mistakes, and problems.
  • “You isolate yourself to avoid possible pain.”
  • “You use alcohol or drugs to numb yourself”
  • “You take painful feelings out on others”
  • “You engage in dagergerous behaviors…”
  • “…unsafe sexual activity…”
  • “…avoid dealing with he causes of your problems…”
  • “You surrender to your pain and live an unfufilling life.”

These are a few of the ways I once handled stess and emotions.  All of them and many more.  As I work through this chapter (now 2 years later) I can see how most of these are behaviors of the past.  But there are still a few that stick out.  I do still avoid some situations instead of dealing with them head on.  Some of it is to avoid confrontation, fear of failure, or I think they will be too difficult.  I’ll work through them, as I work through the chapter, so you can see the process in action.

Find your Peace from within.

I made a timelaps of the sunrise, this morning. It was beautiful.

While it was filming, one of my daily meditations really hit me in the right spot. I took an excerpt from it and made this short video. The full daily is below, from the book Jesus Calling. As I have said many times, I am not a religious person. But I am very spriritual and belive it all comes from the same Devine source. With that, I am able to connect spiritually through many people, sources, and nature. ❤❤❤

“LEARN TO LIVE from your true Center in Me. I reside in the deepest depths of your being, in eternal union with your spirit. It is at this deep level that My Peace reigns continually. You will not find lasting peace in the world around you, in circumstances, or in human relationships. The external world is always in flux – under the curse of death and decay. But there is a gold mine of Peace deep within you, waiting to be tapped. Take time to delve into the riches of My resideing Presence. I want you to live increasingly from your real Center, where My Love has an eternal grip on you…”

I still can allow people or circumstances to throw off my peace and centeredness. But I am getting much better in staying connected to that true self, within, and hold tight to my faith. There are several tool I use to do this. I believe it is possible for anyone that is struggling and wants to put in the work.

Part of this, is to remind myself that I cannot change or control others, I usually can’t control my circumstances, but I can control how I let them effect me. If I continue to do the right things for the right reasons (and hold on to my faith) then I will end up where I need to be. 😊❤

I must be aware of my own feelings, the way I watch the weather.

I

caught the first signs of a depression moving in. Just a cycle of my bipolar, like the seasons rolling in and out.

Battling depression or mood swings is a similar thing, to being aware of the seasons and weather. If I am watching the reports, grateful of my family and friends giving me a heads up, and staying aware… then I know a cold front is coming in and the weather is changing. If I know, then I can do some things: dress warm, have emergency supplies ready to go, and be prepared instead of stepping out into the unknown. I might still feel the chill of the air, but with a little work up front I can be sure to keep the cold from making my hands ache and getting chilled to the bone.

Moving beyond the stormy weather.

As the storms, here, clear… I looked out over the mountains and just felt the sun warming my face. The air was so sweet. There is a calm cool breeze… as compared to the hammering, yesterday, that ripped pieces of siding off the place. Serene silence replacing the unrelenting howl and pounding rain.

Mother Nature is capable of unleashing beastly amounts of power that can destroy and wipe a landscape down to nothing. Yet, here she is, offering me a world of peace, warmth, and serenity. As if to say:

“I’m sorry that you had to witness and push through such turbulence, but I had to do my thing to keep my earth healthy and balanced. Thank you for your patience, understanding, preserverance, and unconditional love; we will have some amazing days ahead.” 🌄🌎❤

A reflection of my personal message to my family and friends, after I go through stormy periods in my own life.

Break the mold, and just be you. Whatever that may be.

There is something, about myself, that I am coming to understand and accept. I have a deep sensitivity to others and their emotions.

Some may call this empathy. It could be that I have felt pain in so many areas, that I can connect and truly understand other’s pain. I have been told, by some, that it ould be something greater than that – people who believe themselves to be gifted or Empaths. Perhaps every human has this sensitivity but chooses to numb it out – as I did for most of my life.

This, I don’t have an answer for.

What I do know, is that for most all of my life, one of my greatest joys has been to go on backpacking retreats for days at a time. To isolate and be with nature. I didn’t understand why, at the time, but it was a way for me to center myself and hit the “reset button”on my own emotional state.

It took (over) a year on the road – isolated much of the time – to plant the seed on this personal revelation. When I stayed with a friend in New York City for a few months, I could only be in the city a few days at a time. I was so overwhelmed with stimulation, that I was almost rendered useless. I didn’t feel like I could conentrate long enough to accomplish anything. After a week, I went camping in upstate New York and stayed in my tent for a month and a half. Some of the most peaceful moments in my life, there, at the edge of a farm property at the entrance to hiking trails. I only visited my friend, in the city, a few times.

Currently, I stay at my workshop for most the time in the middle of the desert. Completely isolated. I flourish here. I make progress. Make leaps and bounds in personal and spiritual growth. It is home. The only reminder that I have, that I am attached to civilization, are a few houselights twinkling in the distance, the glow of Las Vegas on a hazy night, or the line of cars driving out of the mountains towards Pharump.

It will be a while before I am ready to co-habitate with a mate, as I enjoy my solitude greatly. I value and need my time alone. When I do reach that point, that person will need to give me vast amounts of personal space – as I need it to function as a human.

I say all of this because I have so many friends that are unhappy in thier life. I think we are conditioned, beginning at an early age, that there is a certain way that we should live our lives. A particular format for relationsips. We see this mimicked in our friends and family. On TV. Magazines. Everywhere.

I have some fortunate friends, though, who have broken out of this mold.

I have so much respect for how they balance an 8 – 5 corporate job and handle responsibilies during the week. On the weekend, they deviate from the normal and travel, have adventures, and do the things they love to do. Or, friends that are in relationships where the two of them have trust and respect for eachother and encourage eachother to go do their separte hobbies and ventures. Learn from eachoher. Love that they have different interests and needs. Find a way to accept and compromise to find a balance.

If you are unhappy, in your life, then I challenge you to do something different. Don’t be held back by “what would… think” or “people would think I’m crazy…”

Find your joy. Discover your talents. Step out of the box.

No more excuses. Love the monent, find yourself, and just be you.

I may not be great at it (yet), but doing something that makes me feel good is all that really matters.

I’m mixing yoga back into my routine. Wow, I suck, after a few years off. 😂😂

Doesn’t matter. 😊 I walked the walk, instead of talking the talk – and complaining about my back aching and how flexible used to be. Took the action. That is part if my living healthy, now. That I do things differently and take action. That is part of self-love, to me.

I took 20 minutes this morning. I feel stretched, connected spiritually, relaxed, fulfilled, confident, and ready for my day.

How do you love yourself. What is something you’ve been saying to yourself, “I’m going to…”?

Today is a good day. Go do it. No more excuses, go love the moment. Find yourself and BE YOU!!

It happens so quickly – when I stop for a moment, connect to my senses, and open my soul.

Even when frustrated. A little irritated.

I look at something like this. I say “Thank you Mother Nature. Thank you, God, for making the laws of physics that make up Mother Nature and giving us the ability to recognize such beauty.”

All the sudden, my problems become so small against such grandeur. My frustration and irritation dissipate. I smile. I feel fulfilled.

I have just connected spiritually – talked to God. I have been humbled. I have been filled with gratitude. My faith has been renewed.

It happens so quickly, when I stop my mind, connect with my senses, and open my soul.

As I stay connected – the fog quickly clears and I am filled with thanks and gratitude.

There was a time, when a depression cycle hit, that I would hide from friends and family. I would disconnect and isolate. I would let the darkness take hold, and burry myself into a sadness and pain that lasted for weeks.

I was alone in the desert when it hit. I was beginning on a project that I found SO EXCITING! But the blueprint, in my head, disappeared completely. I couldn’t get any of the electronics to work. I couldn’t accomplish anything. Growing in frustration – I knew where this path would lead.

Instead I surrounded myself with people who have become like family. Understanding of my illness, and that this is taking 3 times as long as it should, Ms. Cindy has helped me where I got stuck in simple places. Given me space to collect myself when I’ve needed it. Supported my healing with natural remedies and support. I pushed through, but not alone. I received support from my mother, friends, and @yonasdebesai. I can’t live healthy and stay centered without a support network. Even kind messages from friends on social media, that I have never met. I am so thankful to them and the faith that has been growing within me. Thank you all.

Today the fog is lifting. The aches are leaving my body. I can listen to music and let my soul sing. I can create again. I feel connected again.

As the tide rolls it, I only let me feet touch the water and keep walking.

The difference within me will never cease to amaze me. Depressions used to full blown stop and take control of my life. I don’t allow that anymore, but when they do come to visit, I am astonished at the changes.

Easy tasks seem daunting. My creative mind shifts from creating and problem solving to writing. My mind almost shuts down. I am constantly exhausted. I ache all over. Hours disappear with little results. I don’t find joy in much of anything. I want to isolate and I have no desire to talk to anyone.

That is okay. I know this is temporary. I push forward with a realistic set of expectations. I used to get quite upset with myself and shame myself for not being able get things done. Now I have learned to accept that I have different skill sets when different moods roll in and out – and adjust my to do lists. Or just veg and relax a few hours. 🙂

My mood disorder is part of who I am. I let my guard down this time, as I had a lot of changes and triggers going on. I’ll learn and push forward. 🙂

#bipolar #bipolardisorder #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #depression #healthylifestyle #pushforward #speakthetruth

Take a moment to connect – to people and the beauty that surrounds us. It’s a beautiful place to be.

I hate using the word “client,” because the people that have come into my life become so much more. I would say they become family.

Maybe part of that is because I have learned to slow down and connect with people. Listen to their stories and grow from them. I think part of that is because I have to understand them and connect to them to create their functional art. What I create can be very custom across several mediums and materials; I have found that there is a huge emotional component to their vision. I must feel that to see it.

But, we were at a salvage place looking at materials for the 20 foot by 25 foot wall mural that I’m preparing to build and found this table. Solid wood and just beautiful.

She haggled then down to 25 dollars and bought it for me – to see what what it would become. It’s so beautiful on so many levels. 🙂

I say this often, but when we slow down, and live in the moment, then we become open to all the beauty that exists around us.

My vape is now another bad habit that I am changing, just a vapor tail floating out of existence.

We can change the things we don’t like about ourselves.

We don’t have to be defined from anything. I am changing through the work I am doing on myself. Anybody can. I am not defined by past, the way my brain is wired, my fear, other’s ideas of how I need to live my life, society, media, my addiction recovery, or bipolar.

Now, when I don’t like something about myself or lifestyle – no more excuses – I change it. It takes time and hard work, but that work is so damn worth it. Part of building the path to my happiness.

In this case, it’s a habit I have been slave to. I had my final stand, today. It was either a sign from above or my body rejecting it. I had finally replaced the glass on my vape the other night, and today the damn top popped off and my glass broke again. Before that, it made me so nauseous that I almost vomited with car sickness. So I’ve taken it apart and put it away.

I have been taking about giving up my vape, for a while. I began stepping down from 24 nic.

Few reasons: 1. I feel like I need it, at times. I stopped caffeine after noon, but I’m phasing out any mood altering substance. 2. I leave it everywhere and break it often. It’s becoming an expense that I don’t want. 3. It dries my mouth

out. Last thing you need in the desert. Dry mouth. 😂😂

I wouldn’t mind getting some good cherry and vanilla pipe tobacco, though. Pulling out my grandpa’s pipes, here and there, for a relaxing puff while reading a book. 🙂

After this, I tackle time management. Those who know my #wtfibtime know that this will be my ultimate challenge. Lifetime of rationalizing this bad behavior, is coming to an end.

Fighting a war, winning battles. My new workshop is a big win. 🙂

We all are fighting a war of some kind. Our own battles are the hardest we have had to fight. So my failures, wins, pain, and joy can’t be compared to others. But, we can unite through being open about where we have been and what we have done to win our individual battles.

Those who know me, know that I’ve made a choice to be happy. I am at war with my past, my unhealthy cycles, my mental disorder, my fears, and my addiction. But today, I win more battles than ever and stay trained – so I’m not caught off guard.

Part of that is exploring myself, and I’ve found that I have some amazing abilities. We all do. Mine have led me to a point where I need a place to find peace, be able to create, and work.

I am so excited that I have found such a spot.

I’m equally excited that you are all here with me. We are never alone and if you feel stuck, you can make it through. It can be hard work at times, but happiness is there to be found.

My first interview, on DevTalks – it was a great experience.

I had my first interview. A chance to tell parts of my story that led me into life challenges and ultimately to building my path to hope and happiness.

The entire episode is fantastic. My part starts at just after 27 minutes. Check it out, and don’t forget to support Dev’s show with a “like” or a comment.

I had so much fun before, after, and during the interview. A few times, I said,”I wish we were recording THIS!” As I giggled uncontrollably.

Thanks Dev for an amazing experience and putting my story out there. It was an honor and privilege.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/officialtdr/dev-talks-ep1

Would you like some Happy Dust? Welcome to my world.

I was told by one friend, that it’s “like you carry happy dust around and sprinkle it on people. Make things better.”

Another recently told me that it feels like I pull him into my world. When he is visiting this place, he feels “more creative, inspired, and better about himself.”

I think the equation is simple. I no longer focus on the negatives of people. I don’t try and control them or shame them for being who they are. I don’t react to their anger, when it’s directed at me, realizing that my actions could not possibly cause such a reaction – instead, I try to understand what is happening in their world.

I look for other people’s value, skills, and talent and try to elevate them. Sometimes, they don’t see it yet, at all. That’s okay.

When I approach people in this way, then I can learn from them. I can grow, develop new skills, learn new ways to cope and let my belief system evolve. Maybe I do see the world differently, or have imaginary happy dust… I’m not sure about that. But I do know that when I feel respected and valued, it raises my esteem, allowing me to reach my potential even further. I believe a friendship should be a two-way street, in that matter.

However, there are times where people come into my life that are stuck where I used to be. Negativity, blocked by self-doubt, or stuck in unhealthy cycles. I can show them a taste of the hope and happiness that I have found; how I am doing it. But, I’m not able to make it up the mountain with someone piggybacking on my shoulders. I can’t carry that much weight. We all need to walk that path on our own. I can share a path with someone or have hope that those paths will intersect again. However, I had to find my sense of direction within – it has taken A LOT of hard work, pain, challenges, and a continued daily regimen. This isn’t something that could have been handed to me, I had to want it and work for it. I can’t give what I have to someone else. They have to put the work in, themselves.

I wrote an article on my Litmus Test for relationships. It’s sad, but occasionally I meet someone spectacular, that can’t see it. They suck the energy from those around them, instead of radiating positive energy – like most all the people in my life, today. I don’t shame them. I don’t hurt their feelings. I don’t even tell them I’ve made a decision to separate unless I’m confronted. Then I am honest, as tactfully as possible.

I step back and give them space to walk their own path. To discover the things that I have seen – and someday they will. I’ve already shared my path with them, as well as tools in my mental toolbox. Now it’s up to them to gather their own tools and find their path to hope and happiness.

Years later, I have some amazing friendships with people that I have had to separate from. I also have some amazing friendships, now, with people who had to separate from me for the same reason.

**This picture is from a year ago. But looking back, I teared up a bit. There is a mystical connection between the three of us. We are three people all on a path to our peace and happiness. Came into each other’s lives in a random way, about the same time. Kade took a chance with a stranger (me) and embarked on a 4000 mile adventure, crisscrossing the country on the road. My aunt, whom I had not seen in SO many years, took a chance of having a lost nephew find his way to her with a mysterious friend. We all boded in ways that I can’t describe – and reconnect in ways that cannot be random. Always there when we need each other. Love you guys.

Science or Religion? Whichever, I find gratitude and celebrate the small moments on a path to happiness and self-love.

God created humans to be self-critical, but also curious and inflective. God also created us to recognize the gifts of beauty that are everywhere, to find gratitude, humility, spirituality, being centered, at peace, and finding self-love. I have never believed that God is an angry punishing God – I’m sure he has a lot to do and no time to micromanage us – but instead created a system that manages itself. Ways to find ourselves back to our path when we are open to his spirit.

I say this often: I am not religious. One of the gifts of bipolar is that we are able to use both sides of our brain. I am both immensely creative and can live in science and the abstract. So I understand the science, physics, and chemistry of how things work, grow and thrive on a biological and chemical level. BUT, I believe that a Higher Power MUST have created this universe, spun the laws of nature into motion, and spawned the energy that cannot be created nor destroyed. We, as humans, can change it, we can bend it, we can transfer it, we can send it to the moon – but, that I know of, we cannot create it.

As a curious person, I have been to the church of every denomination of Christianity, meditated with Buddhist Monks, and been to Mosque and Temple. I have found a way to connect spiritually through all of them. I have had conversations of deep growth, that have changed my belief system, through my faith-filled friends -when I am in a place of peace, understanding, and love.

So I say this: It doesn’t matter to me if you are Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Athiest, or just like to stand on tree stumps doing Yoga poses… Take a moment, as often as possible, to stop, take a deep breath, look at a beautiful fluffy cloud or smell the flowers that are for sale in the grocery store – and find a place of gratitude for that moment. Find a piece of joy and LOVE at that moment.

Karma points – an old belief. Now I do good JUST to do good.

I realized, tonight, that I had lost my organizer/billfold. I had just gotten paid on a job and it was filled with cash. Also, my idea book filled with contraptions from my mind with the math, diagrams, and research to build them, was in there. I was most upset about that.

With this looming storm cloud of mood shift depression, hanging over me, my mind is like jelly at times. I had been jotting notes in my idea book, while walking to the car, and left it on the baby seat of the shopping cart at Walmart in a bad part of town.

I’ve said the following before, in my writings, that I am not a religious person. I just wasn’t raised with it. But, I have become a very spiritual person. I believe that God’s energy and power are in every living thing. I have thus found a way to connect, spiritually, through religious conversations with my friends who are religious. That said, in the past I used to live by a system of “Karma Points.” When I had done bad, I did good to make up for it. If I had accidentally done a lot of good, then I had a reserve set aside to do bad. The nice thing about beliefs is that they can change or be completely scrapped as we grow, have experiences, or share ideas with other people. I’ve long scrapped this “Karma Point” system, as my spirituality has grown. Now, I do good for the sake of doing good and how it builds my esteem and identity. I can’t be spiritually connected if I am doing things that I know to be wrong or against my moral code. Period. It creates a paradox in my mind, then a wall goes up, and I begin compartmentalizing parts of myself. When I do that, I’m not fully connected to myself, others, or God.

For example, a few weeks ago a friend found a new iPhone under the seat of his car. Could have been a service technician’s – as he had gotten new tires and had work done on his car. I said I’d be happy to drop it to Sprint. I didn’t think they would give me information on the owner – I didn’t care. I wanted to have it returned without needing validation from the owner that I had done the right thing. I thought, in that case, I would probably say “thank you God” and carry around the wonderment that there are still good people left in this world. It might even influence my actions, pushing me to go out of my way to do the right thing for someone else. Like a rock skipped across the calm water, creating ripples each time it bounces off the surface. I like to wonder how many times that rock will touch the surface and how many lives are touched along the way. It always brings a smile to my face.

No. I’ve long let go of “Karma Points.” I carry my faith, and am more connected to it as my gratitude and good will expand.

I called Walmart. Calm. Ready to accept my responsibility in whatever the response was.

“Are you Brennan Lollar?”

“I am.” I smiled so wide it hurt.

“We have your organizer here at customer service. Oh, looks like there is a lot of cash in there. Just come on up and we will have it ready for you.”

Then she says the words that sum it all up, when I told her how grateful I was: “God is good, hun. God is good.”

Tools in the toolbag: when the storm blows in with dark clouds of depression.

I have a severe down cycle trying to push in. I won’t say “depressive episode” because I refuse to give it that much power.

I am pulling all the tools out of my toolbag, and am managing my mood pretty well.

My body aches from it. The energy has been zapped out. I haven’t had a desire to work on my creative projects, the last few days. I snooze my alarm, that is on the other side of the room, for an hour or so. My mind wants to shut down. My fuel tank is empty, my alternator fried, the battery is dead, and my gauges are all flashing at me.

This is a positive post, I promise. 😂😂

I’m not shoving down on the gas peddle and forcing the last few miles out of my tank. Instead, I’m slowing the speed and gliding until this passes, and I reach a fuel station.

I won’t allow the negative thought pattern to continue telling me that everything is overwhelming. I stop it dead and replace it with my gratitude list. My family, my friends, Mother Nature, the things I love about myself. I stop when I need a break and take a moment to meditate or just be in the moment and feel the breeze. I don’t think about all thing I need to do. Just what I need to accomplish NOW, and how easily I can push through it.

I think about this: What is my permanent foundation. What won’t change? My self-love, my skills, my abilities – they will all be fresh and renewed again. My ability to center myself and my happiness – nothing on earth can take that away. What is temporary? The anxiety that tries to creep up. Sence of overwhelmingness. Irritability. Exhaustion. These things are temporary. They will pass. ☺

Then, I visualize these things – this negative energy. I recognize them. Talk to them. “you can stay, for now. I allow it. But you won’t take my power away and you won’t rule me.” They subside.

When I feel weak, I tell myself that I am not weak. I am strong, and I lift or carry what needs carried.

I don’t stop moving. I may be moving slow, but I don’t give into it.

I know, that in a few days, this will pass.

If you have to fight battles, like this, I would love to hear how you battle them. What works for you?

Even a broken finger can be inspiration – a chance to take the power out of pain.

This will be a short piece. Typing with a broken finger isn’t all that easy.

I’ve always had an ability to block out pain. For much of my life, my bad behaviors and out of control mental illness had wrecked my life and relationships, completely. I would box people and feelings up, in my mind, and stick them in dark shelves in the corners of my mind. A master at compartmentalizing, so I thought. Eventually, all the lids blew off as I had a series of anxiety attacks that stopped me from functioning, completely.

I finally seeked help. I was terrified to face all the things hiding in the dark places of my mind – and for good reason. It was a hard walk that took a lot of work. I’m still walking that walk, but the moon shines bright in those dark places, now, and the monsters aren’t as scary as I thought they would be.

As I talk about it and share – and others share their experiences – the power of these things continue to dissipate and monsters are reduced to mice.

Let go of shame, guilt, and doubt. It’s time to learn lessons and move forward.

As I stood on the top of that mountain, in the midst of the most remarkable spiritual experience of my life, I cried.

My tears washed away the guilt, shame, and self-doubt of my past as I watched the sky turn from fiery blazing red to orange then yellow.

I am not a religious person, but I have become deeply spiritually connected as I have walked through some dark forests and met rocky paths into the deepest trenches. It wasn’t until I turned my will over to God (Higher Power, Jesus, the Spirit, Mother Nature, or whatever you believe) and began showing constant gratitude for the gifts all around me, that I was able to develop a deep faith – a faith that has turned my life around for the best and a critical part of my choice to find happiness.

As I saw the sun beginning to crest the mountains, my soul told me to stop and wander into the desert.  I climbed to the top of a ridge, in the middle of nowhere, and meditate. What unfolded was an awesome adventure that drove me deeper into my growing faith and has allowed my spirit to fly free of heavy baggage.

Even after all the work I have done, towards the path of self-love and happiness, there was still a dark blight on my soul. A touch of shame, guilt, and doubt trailed with my shadow. It caused me to under value myself, doubt my worthiness, and feel insecure about my choices. Although, against the advice of friends and family, my new-found faith kept me on the path that I felt that I belonged. Yes, I fell a few times. Yes, I stumbled. I made some bad choices and took (what I believed) was the easier path to avoid the hard climb of dealing with self. But, for the most part, I was learning from these challenges and no longer fell to the bottom of the mountain. I simply brushed myself and continued from where I fell.

But, on this mountain top – after a short meditation – I looked up at the fire in the sky. I felt more connected to Mother Nature than ever – the energy of my Higher Power running through everything. I usually say the same prayer; showing gratitude for my life and asking for my friends and family to find happiness. This time, in a place of sincere deep humility,

I asked for forgiveness.

I asked for forgiveness for the times that I was lost in my bad behaviors. I asked for forgiveness for not having faith. I asked for forgiveness for trying to end my life.

What happened was a new thought – not my usual negative thought pattern – a thought floated into my mind that I didn’t need to do that. I didn’t need to ask for forgiveness for those things, as I was on the right path. I was facing my challenges and helping others through my failures. That was enough. It was time to let go of the shame and guilt and move forward.

I don’t know if that thought was from the divine Spirit or just a mix of the research and reading, I’ve done, on shame and recover that finally spun together in my brain – or both – but I laid back, watched the fire wash out of the sky as the yellow and orange washed in. I felt the warm rays of light on my face, and let the tears wash away the weight of my shame and guilt.

I felt a peace wash over me and my confidence in my abilities rise to an all time high. I no longer feel the need to hide the gifts that I’ve been given, but use them as a conduit to do good.

As I smile each morning, excited about projects on the books, I now tell myself: It’s time let go of the past. Let go of failures. It’s time to move forward, now.

For me, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

I am 10 minutes from my destination. I’m so glad that my aunt Mikki is also a believer that it’s more the journey, than the destination. 😊

This short (yet rain prolonged) trip has given me so much beauty

and insight. It would be such a shame to rush and have missed it.

Love the moment, and try and enjoy a piece of beauty in your life.

For me, in stopping to enjoy the moment, I find gratitude. Gratitude leads to humbleness and staying spiritually connected. Those lead to peace and centeredness. There are other tools in my mental tool bag, but those mentioned are daily, for me. All part of my path to happiness.

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

If you suffer (emotionally) in silence, there is a path to hope and happiness. You are not alone.

I was shooting some time lapse while bored last night (this morning) and had an idea to throw this video together. Well, I had an hour to really reflect on how alone I felt, in my push through life, before getting diagnosed and taking full steps towards managing my bipolar disorder.

I wrote this and then made the video. There is a lot more I would have liked to have done with it, and it might become a future project. But at least I got my thoughts down, before I took a nap and rested a bit. Long drive, made much longer by constant storms.

For most of my life, I was sure that happiness would never be achievable. I did not want to live and tried to end my life

I knew, from the depths of my soul, that I was different. There was something wrong with me. I was sick.

When I reached out to friends and family, I was told that everyone feels the way I do.

I watched people closely. Observed human behavior. Mimicked other’s reactions. Wore a very heavy mask of happiness.

My bipolar disorder was repeatedly destroying my life, relationships, successes, spirituality, and joy.

I didn’t know how to talk about it. How to describe my silent suffering. Physical pain of depression and out of control mania.

Today, I have made a choice to be happy. Understand my illness. Use its strengths. We can find a path to happiness.

If you are in pain, as I was… Know this:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Even in the thick darkness, I see the light. Where my mind drifts on long dark drives through the desert.

As I pull off into the utter thick darkness of the desert, to capture the looking thunderstorms, I had a thought that swirled into a short piece. Here it is below. 🙂

On this stormy desert night, I drive through darkness that is thick like dark tar. The light of my brights seems to be swallowed by it. Traffic is sparce, at best. If not for the flash bursts of lightning behind the mountains, I would swear that I was falling through a black hole.

But, I drive forward through the night filled with faith, full of love, and charged an enthusiasm for life. The cockpit of my car is filled with the harmony of my music and the sweet crisp wind is blowing across my face.

I smile. The chill from the cool air dissipates. I believe it with all my heart and soul; as long as I am connected – mind, body, spirit, and to the people I love – that I can face any challenges ahead. From flat tire to test of virtues, I will end up where I need to be.

I find joy, even in the mundane. Staying in the moment is part of finding my way to happiness.

It’s kind of a joke (no, definitely is a joke) with people I work with: I can be very slow.

It’s true. I can be be fast; but choose to make a little less, in my choice to find a little more joy in my work. I’m okay with that and I give full disclosure to clients. Even though contractors may poke fun, they call me in for the tough and technically detailed parts that they are struggling with. They know, in the end, the job will be done right and with pride.

The reason I am able to consistently put out quality work, is largely due to one of the tools in my mental health tool-bag.

Stay in the moment.

Even in the mundane tasks, I put in effort to clear my head, feel the materials, listen to the sounds they make or some good music, let my head and soul drift, and find my place of Zen. I am at peace with self and don’t easily get frustrated. Instead, as problems arise, I am able to look at them from different angles and tackle them – one by one. Even on a long day, I get so much enjoyment from doing the job well that I don’t even notice that I’ve been working for hours.

I stand back, smile, and am grateful that I have met the challenges in front of me.

Even in a horrible mood, I’ve got to assess the issue and not infect others (as much as possible 😂😂)

I woke up in such a bad mood yesterday. It was infectious. No “happy dust,” as my buddy James would say.

Was a little snippy on the way down to seal the grout at this last job.

Being bipolar, I have a kind of mental checklist, when my mood is off.

Is this an episode? No

Am I angry or resentful at someone? Not yet.

Have I been taking care of my health….? 😳🙄 No

Bingo. Before even recovering from a total mental and physical collapse,Im back at it. Worked till 10 on last night and all day today.

I have worked over 140 hours in the past 2 some weeks. Too much. I’ll write more about that later.

I ended up going through my toolbag of mental tools and finding a few things to have gratitude about. Then the neighbor brought me a bag of candy. Out of the blue. That made my day. 😋😀😀

This time, I didn’t give in to my desire to drop obligations and isolate. I had to recognize that I put myself in this situation, took on too much, and didn’t take care of myself; others shouldn’t have to clean up behind me. Tonight is the last push. 🙂

I can’t control what other people do. I can control my reaction.

Gotta watch the whole video. Ends in a positive silly me kind of way. 😂😂

This project, for many reasons, led to me loosing my mind. I let go of healthy habits and pushed too hard. I had to take a day or two away and get recentered.

I’ll post about that later, after I’ve processed a bit more.

But, I was SO CLOSE to being done. Watch and see the surprise I was left. I can’t control what others do, but I can control my reaction.

I have to remember, a lot of people show up to get a check. I make a lot of messes in my life, but try and clean them up and have pride in my work. Almost done. Few days behind. But almost done. 😉☺️

Work work work… RELAX. Then work work work.

Even when I’m up on a deadline and working crazy hours, I have begun to listen to my body and mind. When one of the two aches or becomes drained, I’ve found that if I keep pushing my productivity drops and I make stupid mistakes that take time to fix.

Nope. Tortoise wins the race. Good pace and keep refreshed.

I pull out my camping matress, kick off my shoes, do some yoga poses to stretch out, then lay back on a comfy pile of tile and just stop for 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe catch a 20 minute nap.

If I don’t, I’m like a battery that drains and drains till the light is so dim that you can’t see anything. When I do, I come back with full energy and clarity and kick ass. Frustration levels stay low and joy levels stay high.

My litmus test for human relationships: there is no acceptable amount of disrespect or abuse.

I don’t grade people on scales, anymore.  I used to ask myself, “what is an acceptable percentage of this relationship for negativity, abuse, stress, or anxiety?  They are really awsome most the time, but when they get mad… they really go off on me…”

No, not anymore.  For me, it’s more like a two-part litmus test.

Part A: Is this person actively working on themselves?  Are they on a path, like mine, to become a better person and more spiritually connected?  I can be extremely patient, if the answer is yes to this part, and share my experience and hope; in hope of helping and walking beside them on their path.

Part B: Does this person have a positive energy and positive nature, to them.  Do they look for the beauty in things or do they use their past as an excuse to create drama, anger, anxiety, and negativity?  Do they boost my energy and help me reach my goals, or does being around them drain me?

If the answer is yes, to either part of these, than this is someone I can consider as a friend.  Of course, there have to be other connecting factors or commonalities in there.  But, in the past, I would allow anyone in my life.  Especially, if I thought I could squeeze some benefit out of it.  Usually, there was a sexual component to the relationship.  Others were there to listen when I wanted to rant and rave – a one way street, for sure.  The rest were family, and I would only surface when I was able to put on my “everything is great” mask.

I no longer create versions of myself or change to avoid someone’s wrath.  I don’t force friendships or worry about what they want me to be.   I don’t try to be something that I’m not.

I have chosen happiness, joy, self-discovery and self-love.  I pour my energy into that.  When I am practicing this, and I am with someone who is working for the same thing, the friendship is effortless.  Full of understand, acceptance, and love.

In the past, there were a few very very good people who I let in.  They were whole and happy.  I wanted what they had, but couldn’t figure out what made them that way.  I was intrigued.  I studied them.  I tried to mimic.  But after a period of time, they would just disappear from my life.

I thought, “most of the time I have been the BEST friend (or boyfriend) that you could ever hope for!”  MOST of the time, is the key to that statement.

But, I was confused, felt rejected, and was angry.  I then went off to take it out on someone else.

“How dare they!?”

I understand why, now… I had not passed their litmus test.

 

Just a little gratitude goes a LONG way – in feeding my spirituality and happiness.

For most of my life – nose deep in addiction – I was anti-religion.  At that time, I thought “God must hate me,” or, “I’m being punished and this is my hell.”

I still don’t have a religious affiliation, but today I am deeply deeply spiritual and am filled with gratitude.  I feel God’s power (Fate, the Universe, Higher Power, whatever you want to call it) in everything and everyone.  It is my belief that the Higher Power of the universe is like the internet.  I’m not trying to connect spiritually to the source of God; like the internet isn’t a single object that we connect to…  But, God’s power and energy IS IN EVERY LIVING THING and is all energy; as the internet is made up of all computers, millions of miles of wire to connect them, and the frequencies that travel through satellites, space, and time.  When I connect to other people, Mother Nature, and my gratitude – I am connected spiritually.  I am aware.  I am guided.  I am provided for.  I am awake.

This was one of the first steps in my recovery program.  One of the cornerstones is turning our will over to our Higher Power.  I am a curious person.  So I have experienced almost ever religion you can think of.  Church on Sundays and Wednesdays, when I am invited – any denomination.  I’ve meditated with Buddhist Monks in their beautifully manicured gardens, after a variety of delectable Thai foods and flavors.  I have even visited an Islamic Temple – a very small temple that is rooted in the true belief that we must walk the path that God has laid out.  They believed that we must never criticize when someone falls off their path to righteousness, but be there to help guide their brother/sisters back.  A beautiful belief.

At every place of worship that I have been part of, I have found a way to connect in my beliefs.  A way to connect to my spirituality.  A large part of that, for me, is gratitude.  It’s such an easy and quick thing to do, in my daily life, but is one of the quickest and most influential ways to center myself.

Every morning, after my morning prayer and daily meditation, I list 5 things that I have gratitude for.  Try to write it down, but I’m not perfect and it doesn’t always happen.  When I do, I carry it with me.  I try to not repeat things, but that is pretty hard to do.  Did I mention I’m not perfect?  and THAT’S OKAY.

I start my day off in a place of humbleness and thankfulness.  Centered and ready to head into my battles with a level and understanding mind.  Able to have empathy and solve problems without anger and frustration.  There are times, throughout the day, when I feel myself coming out of this place.  Off center, getting agitated, or a growing frustration.  I think everyone has their moments – but I know where mine lead.

This is when I look over (or reflect) on my gratitude list.

There are times that I pull off to the side of the road, climb a nearby hill or wander a short distance off into the landscape, to watch an amazing sunset.  Just sit.  Just breath.  Just be.  I have a link at the bottom of the page to the full collection of photographs from such an adventure. The feature photo of this post came from that collection.

Or, I take a few moments for me.  Two to five minutes is all I need – to find SOMETHING beautiful to look at.  It can be fluffy cloud in the sky, a flower, or piece of art.  It can even be as simple as the way the light reflects off a spoon.  I think about the laws of nature and science, that were spun into action by our Higher Power – giving me something joyful to experience. It’s all connected, to me.

Sometimes, I will simply clear my head and open my senses in whatever I’m doing.  Love the moment.  If I’m writing a work order – I feel the pen in my hand and the thick ink trail slightly drag across the paper.  Look at the ink trail that is drying behind me.  Listen to the whisk whisk whisk noise as I write and think about the electrical power of my brain that is creating these words.  Marvel in the complexity of the human body.

When I am done, I say “Thank you.”  I mean it wholly and with deep gratitude – that I am here to experience all that the world has, and equipped to meet my daily challenges.

I am centered.  I am at peace.  I have found a little piece of joy and happiness and connected with my creator.

To see the full collection of pictures, that were used in the feature image, please click the link below:

https://findingbeazzy.com/portfolio/green-river-utah/

Tears of sadness turn to pure joy – as I connect to my gratitude and spirituality, in the flash of a sunrise.

I think I was driving through Louisiana.  I was tired.  I was alone.  I was wallowing in sadness.

After a short visit with the folks, I had driven all night leaving behind my family, what was no longer my home, and my dear friend Kade.  Kade was my ‘ride or die’ whom I had shared months of spectacular adventures with, on the road.  Anyone, weary and lonely, could travel into the rabbit hole of sadness under these conditions.  I knew that I was treading on seriously dangerous territory, having bipolar disorder.  A trip down that rabbit hole, for me, means violent mood swings – a wild pendulum flinging from high to low, that has repeatedly wrecked my life and almost taken it.

I have worked through Dialectal Behavior Therapy workbook, identifying my triggers and creating an action plan to prevent a deep slide.  Action, early on, is necessary.  If I let my mood swings take hold of me, stopping it is like grabbing on the rear bumper of a car in neutral rolling down a steep hill.  I MIGHT slow it down, but I’m going to get hurt and banged up along the way.

So I pull off the highway, and search for a lake in google maps – found one.  Looks big.  “Great!” I say.  I can catch the sunrise and meditate next to the shore.  Use some tools in my tool bag to rewire my thought process and center myself.  As I meditated next to the lake, one of the most spectacular spiritual awakenings happened.  My tears of sadness that I arrived with, quickly turned to tears of joy, love, and gratitude.  I was centered, I set up my hammock and slept a bit, I continued my 1800 mile road trip that changed my life.  I’ll write more about that as we continue this journey together.

After my meditation, I was inspired to write.  I’ll include that below:

He checks in with his ‘ride or die’ as he had hundreds of times before – over the past 7 months.

A chilling shadow of sadness begins to set over him, as the new idea washes in – this is a complete solo adventure. His dear friend is on his own path, now.

He no longer has someone to keep him grounded, share mystical adventures, senseless laughter, silly jokes, breathtaking scenery, and endless adventure .

Then a smile returns. He looks up as the sky crests with yellow and orange, from the rising sun. Feels the warmth of the first rays of light. He feels the fulfilling sence that he is never alone. God, the Universe, Fate… whatever one calls it… never leaves our side. Even when we have ventured off our path, the road signs are always there to guide us back.

True as it is: there is fear in the unknown, the unknown is part of the adventure, and life is a series of adventures. But, he has faith. Faith that he is on the right path. Faith that he will be provided for. Faith that this is where he needs to be. Faith that the challenges, ahead, are for him to learn and grow and move forward.

The smile stretches across his face, the shadow of sadness is replaced with excitement. The sun continues to rise and light the way, as he sits in awe of the gifts of Mother Nature.

He is now ready to drive forward – into the unknown.

 

To see the full collection of photography, used in this feature image, please click the link below:

https://findingbeazzy.com/portfolio/shreveport-louisiana/

 

 

 

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.

 

IMG_9387

Work interrupted: Deep breaths and just laugh. Be silly. Have fun.

I was trying to make a short clip for Mandy. 😂😂 Turned into an ordeal. 😳🙄😂😂 Love my buddy. 🙂

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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Sometimes I have to shut my mouth and open my ears – to connect and open my heart.

 

I love asking someone what their story is. Then shutting my mouth and listening.

That wasn’t always the case. I only wanted to talk. Lol. But when I hear someone’s story, typically my level of respect goes up as I hear the things they have battled, childhood challenges that I couldn’t image, or life tragedies they have faced.

Its not a contest anymore, but a learning experience; and helps me to realize that although the battles are fought in different places and times and the details are different, most of us have fought (or are fighting) a war.

Our own war is the toughest war we have had (or have to) ever face and fight.

But, by listening to and understanding others, I learn a lot of stretigic tactics that make my wins a little less strengent – and build a level of trust with someone that I can share victories, with.