We are Warriors

So often we become the ones “suffering” from mental illness. I have found that our triumphs sometimes get lost. We have fought many battles to live with our ails. Its possible that we have been hospitalized (repeatedly), participated in intensive group therapies, workshops, medwashes and the list can go on forever. Let us not forget what we have SURVIVED AND WON.

We have been guinea pigs for medication (all kinds of them!) and believed that with time one of them would help us stabilize. We have fought dissociation, depression, anxiety, alternate reality and universes because we WANT MORE from our lives. It took patience and faith for us to regulate. It took trust in our providers, ourselves, our bodies, our higher power that we would find what works for us. We didn’t get a certificate at the end but we most certainly accomplished an immense feat.

We sought out therapy either on our own or because of an episode that took us completely by surprise. We told a stranger our deepest darkest fears, secrets, insecurities in hope for a better quality of life. This requires so much bravery. We invested our health in another human being to help us navigate these illnesses. That required blind faith. We had to be honest with ourselves about hard things, admit things to ourselves we might not want to and hear things that changed the course of our lives. None of those things happen for the faint at heart.

We have recognized our limitations and at every turn laughed at them. We keep fighting to have normal, regulated lives. We try new nutrition plans, meditations, meet ups, groups, individual therapies, medications, holistic therapy and personally develop. How many people without illness actively work on themselves? I don’t think its the norm to work as hard as we do to increase our quality of life. WE FIGHT because we want more than these illnesses. WE REFUSE to let their names define us.

Healthy and happy are the new rich and I for one am so glad that they are. I hope all of us afflicted and not continue to enrich our lives physically and mentally. Most importantly I want to convey this: YOU ARE A WARRIOR! You have fought battles no one will ever know unless you choose to divulge it. You persist to maintain your normal when it gets hard, tiring, meds stop working, crisis hits, an episode hits, life changes and more. Celebrate your victory today and everyday. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of good things.

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The Pain Game

There are so many stigmas. I find myself asking why don’t we talk about the pain and sometimes grief that comes with the diagnoses we have? I have gone through many stages of grief after learning my true ails. These affective and personality disorders rob us of things, we should feel free to acknowledge that. Now, that’s not the same as dwelling on it or living stuck in it but the pain associated is very real. We should advocate for ourselves to those without mental illness that this hurts.

Its possible we have lost relationships, in my case LOTS of them. Friendships, significant others, family strain there isn’t a section that’s immune. We don’t isolate ourselves because we want to be alone. If we have anxiety and are chronically in fear we are sometimes incapable of getting out of our own way. If we have a personality disorder sometimes we don’t recognize our own behavior. Illness comes at a COST. I believe these aren’t costs any of us have been willing to pay. So mourn those losses. They meant something to you and you lost them. The second part of that is be willing to learn WHY you lost them so that you aren’t caught in the cycle. I am worthy of love, I am worthy of good things.

I have missed out on adult experiences from childhood trauma and a behavioral disorder. I didn’t always realize that I was being paranoid, irrational and reading the minds of others. My fears and pain were very real in my mind. I never knew that I was blowing things out of proportion or catastrophizing situations that really weren’t so bad. Those behaviors COST me experiences. Sometimes I am angry that my disorder “happened” to me. I ask myself why me? Later I remember this thinking won’t help me move forward. I HAVE an illness IM NOT an illness. I manage my illness and I know now that I’m properly treated and diagnosed I can get better. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.

I haven’t always been my best self. So many effects of this illness have held back my potential. Not only do I enjoy writing, I love all things art including painting, singing, music, symphonies and reading. I still have a hard time concentrating on my hobbies. It is a struggle for me to be consistent with self care including doing things that I LIKE. For the longest time I wasn’t sure WHAT I REALLY liked. I continue to explore this aspect of my life because I feel like I’ve been deprived of it. Having a distorted view or reality really affects how you see yourself, others, prioritize and have fun. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.

I refuse to dwell on the past. I recognize it sometimes in a way not to repeat a pattern, and sometimes as painful memories. I have carried so much anger for learning that some of what has happened “isn’t my fault.” We are responsible for our behavior and actions. We are responsible for managing our illnesses. I do however want to remember and extend the invitation to feel the pain of your mistakes. Your feelings may not always be correct but they are always valid and worth working through. You are perfectly imperfect and have the chance to make tomorrow better than any of the days before. The sun always shines after the rain. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of GOOD THINGS.

 

Ive got no strings to hold me down

I have come to realize I used to have some seriously flawed thinking. I used to think if it was a “special occasion” the WHOLE DAY had to be 100% perfect. I believed that if I had stress something was wrong with me. I was convinced if I did not handle all things perfectly, I was a failure. Look at all of the pressure I was putting on myself! I had completely unrealistic expectations of myself as a person.  Now that I am reaching a balance I have had some major light bulb moments. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of good things.

I am completely spread thin, sore all over, tired, and sometimes don’t want to do things. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? I used to believe that these feelings were signs of weakness or failure. Now I know that a majority of people LIVE this way; stressed, spread thin, tired and sore. What’s the difference between now and then? I ACCEPT and ACKNOWLEDGE that not always feeling blissful is OKAY! Look at your feelings for what they are and say them out loud. Its okay to say to yourself, I feel overwhelmed today. When we avoid how we are actually feeling, or more importantly invalidate it, we create more confusion within our minds. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of good things.

I make mistakes all the time. This doesn’t make ME a failure. It means I made some not so great choices. Our choices and behavior do not have to define us. Does that sometimes happen? UH YEA. In my experience my Bipolar Disorder created a behavior pattern that  I have had to learn to undo. Now I can differentiate between what I’ve done/said and who I am. I still do not always have the best behavior under stressful situations and I do not beat myself up. I tell myself well I could have handled that better. Then guess what? The next time I usually do handle it better! DO NOT allow what you’ve done define who you are. You are a person separate from what you accomplish, don’t accomplish, feel and don’t feel. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of good things.

There have been times that I didn’t know what I was actually feeling. Anyone else felt that way? The correct feeling is sometimes hard to identify. Did you know anger is a secondary emotion? I am working hard to understand why am I actually angry? Usually I’m ACTUALLY scared, my feelings are hurt, I feel left out, sad or a plethora of other things that I didn’t acknowledge first. I keep working on finding that primary emotion. If I don’t understand how I’m feeling I table the thought and come back to it when I have more clarity. We CAN and SHOULD be more than our emotions. I use psychotherapy, journaling, cognitive behavior therapy and group therapy to continue learning emotional intelligence. We are worthy of love we are worthy of good things.

I continue sharing this blog for my own reflection. I also hope to reach someone where I was just starting out this journey unsure where to go for help or how to sort out what was going on. I hope as you read each week you learn with me about all kinds of things including emotional intelligence, thinking patterns, speaking affirmations, the value of cognitive behavior therapy and mostly acceptance of mental illness. I want to end the stigma and empower people with a mental illness. Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Borderline Personality, Schizophrenia are not dirty words.  WE ARE worthy of love. We are worthy of good things.

I am whatever I say I am

I am doing it again. The I should be better…stuff. I should be as put together as her. I should be losing more weight. I should be healthier. I should be able to do more. Yuck.

None of those should statements feel good and in honesty they set us back. They affect our self worth and motivation. How am I going to do more when I feel like I am already behind? How do we change our limiting beliefs and negative mindset?

I AM ME. I’m no one else and I don’t want to be. We fall victim so often to comparisons. We have to remind ourselves we are exactly where we should be in our own time. I have my own obstacles to overcome with different challenges and levels of stress than the next person. Even more humbling, I might see something that is a complete farce. I cannot see into other people’s lives. I only have a perception of what theirs is and what mine should be. Just STOP Karri. You are just you, and you are enough.

I AM HUMAN. I am not bipolar I have bipolar. I am also fortunately no longer manic and running like a crazy person. This change leaves me with new limitations to overcome and some that I even have to accept. Do I sometimes miss my old hyper energy level? HELL YES. Like so many other things it came at a price, and it was a price I’m no longer willing to pay. I accept that I am regulated and with that my energy is different right now. I am not superwoman she is a fictional character. I am spread thin, a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and woman. There are some super things that come with that.

I AM LEARNING. I am still new in my journey of regulation, moderation, and cognitive behavior therapy. I have learned skills and started to apply them, but I have barely scratched the surface. Beyond the fact that I have an illness I am always changing. Life is not meant to be stagnant we must continue to grow. If we don’t grow as people where would we find ourselves? I am willing to grow and learn. I am committed to tell myself it’s okay I haven’t mastered that yet. I believe all of the goals I’m trying to reach come in their own time with practice and diligence.

Our words and thoughts are so powerful. Medication and therapy can certainly be tools in our health journey, but the buck begins with us. We have to put in the work. We have to affirm what we believe everyday. So tonight I am done with the should statements. Instead I’m going to go lay down next to a little boy and a strong man to be a wife and mom. I’ll start over with MY expectations again tomorrow. “I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.”

The Great Race

Sometimes in life we feel like it’s a race, for a myriad of reasons. My writing helps me express all types of emotions. I wrote this at a time where I felt confused on my journey and I hope it will help you connect to that struggle. “I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.”

She runs on a road that is long and wide, straining to see the end.

Her lungs burn as she pushes on, she huffs refusing to bend.

She sprints through rain and elements weary to see the fog.

The road is uncertain and winding, but she treks while the journey is long.

Her feet hit the pavement in rhythm, a voice says this is the way.

So she laces her shoes, takes a breath and resolves to keep going today.

She longs to see a familiar path a reassurance for an end with a trace.

She sees no signs as the sweat and tears mix falling down her face.

This is a trip in to the unknown, bewildering and humbling.

She knows the end will come no faster refusing pain and grumbling.

She runs a little faster now, hearing just persevere.

She prays today Lord let me be close, let the end of the race be near.

The Cost of Loneliness

I am not alone. I have a husband, 4 children, a large extended family and some incredible friends. Even so I’ve told myself I’m alone. Solitary. Isolated. Dejected. Lonely. These words affect not only my self worth but they serve no purpose to my manic or depressive states.

We often lie to ourselves about being alone. “She has it all in life, she can’t understand my loneliness.” “He has never felt the type of physical pain I’m in.” We intentionally isolate ourselves in times of vulnerability out of fear of pain. We believe the lies. Brene Brown often says the key to humanity is vulnerability and I am starting to see her point. If we continue to believe we are in fact alone in our mental health, we should start asking ourselves at what cost?

  • SELF WORTH: The belief that there is not another human being in the world who can understand or support us most certainly affects our belief in our worth. Our worth of love, friendship, success, happiness, the list could go on extensively. If we do not believe we have anyone we can relate to or confide in, we lose the belief that we are worthy of things. If we have no self worth, we have no self esteem. If we have no self esteem we can create zero connections with others. The cycle continues to repeat itself. We are worthy of all things despite any of our limitations. If self worth is a struggle for you I want you to say the following words. ” I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.”
  • RELATIONSHIPS: Some of us are single people, maybe we have little family. Not everyone has a large network or friends circle. I can only speak for myself but I would like to believe we all know someone. That someone gives us connection to the human condition, and can improve our mental health. If we feel alone we avoid interaction with our people. We shut them out at times we desperately need support. This causes a greater divide and leads us back to that nasty self worth cycle. Humans NEED relationships to survive. We were never meant to be solitary. If you are struggling with relationships I want you to try and reach out to someone old or new. ” I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.”
  • PHYSICAL HEALTH: Feeling alone physically hurts. We do not want to care for ourselves or others, what is the point? We ache from the depression that comes. Its possible we do not take our medication or eat the way we should. Sometimes we sleep too much or too little. Loneliness seems like such a common word that we forget the devastating affects it can have on our minds and bodies. If we truly believe we are alone do we think clearly? Are we able to make sound decisions for ourselves or those we care for? If you are feeling the physical effects of loneliness or depression please see a professional. Consider psychotherapy or group therapy. “I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.”

Loneliness is common in the world in which we live. There are many more complexities that accompany modern life. We are meant for companionship. Think back to a trip or experience you had that was fun. Think also about one person you wish had been there. Everything we do in life is more enjoyable and healthy when we experience it with those around us. I know it is easier said than done. We have so many obligations to our families, friends and jobs it is easy to forget our own life vests on the journey.  I’ll ask you again, if we continue to feed our loneliness, what cost are we paying? “I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things.”