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.

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.

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.

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.

IMG_8416