Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

I Thought I could Not – Then I Did

Is there something you want done but are sure you can not do? You might be surprised if you decided to do it yourself. I have been many times. When I was forty, I was sure I could not buy a Christmas tree, unload it, saw off the bottom, bring it into the house, and get it into a stand relatively straight. Tonight at seventy-five, I did all the above. I am not advocating you become self-reliant – just do not be quick to think you can not do what you want. Perhaps you can not, but perhaps you can.

It is no wonder I did not realize all the things I can do. I have a sister three years older than I and a brother a year and a half older. Of course, they could do more things than I could because they were older, but I did not consider that when I was growing up. I just thought I could not do anything. My mother was impatient and often told me to just get out of the way and she would do it. Then at eighteen I married a man who did everything.

In the twenty-five years I have been alone, I have done many things I thought I could not. Some were out of stubborness. My ex-husband is a pipefitter. When I needed a new faucet I was determined to do it myself without his help. I accomplished it with the help of a very kind plumber who answered his phone late in the evening and talked me though it. Some were because I did not have the money to hire it done. My brother believed in my abilities before I did. Often when I had no money to hire help, he convinced me I could do it myself. He has talked me through many DYI projects.The more I did, the more confidence I gained.

I no longer think of myself as someone who always needs help. Before I say I can not do something, I think it through. I do not just assume I can not. Now because I am older and not as broke, I usually call someone, even for some projects I know I can do. I have learned to ask myself even if I could, why would I. The things I did tonight I did because I am self-isolated so did not want anyone else in my house. I feel good knowing instead of agonizing over how I would get a tree up, I just did it.

If this inspires you, use some common sense. Do not try to do things physically harder than you can handle. The importatnt thing is do not let voices from the past or present limit you.

Disclaimer: I do not always use common sense. Do not try this at home.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

If Struggle I Must

Struggle I will. Being dramatic helps me during hard bipolar times like now. So if struggle I must, struggle I will. I laugh and say I am the poster child for  bipolar disorder. Twenty-five years after being diagnosed, I faithfully take meds, sleep, and eat. I am healthy; I am happy; I have a good life. I am  too old to be a poster child but old enough to be a voice. Each person’s journey is different. One thing we all share is we struggle. Others either think we could help ourselves if we tried, or that they can help us. Both have a bit of truth. 

I share my journey because bipolar disorder is still an awkward discussion. Some people are not informed at all; some are misinformed. That is not the main reason I share. I share not as a poster child but as an example of one who has bipolar disorder and a good life. I want people to know that is possible. I share for the ones who are affected. That includes the ones who have bipolar disorder and the ones who love them. I share my struggle so bipolar disorder will not be minimized.

Last month I was on a natural high of beginning this blog and beginning a book. I was getting up early and going to bed early. I had energy. I felt good.I Zoomed two or three times a week with my cowriters. My input was creative. I thought all the songs were wonderful.

This month, not so much. I will share a journal entry. My handwriting is better on good days

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I do not want to go to bed at night. I do not want to to get up in the morning. I know I can breath, but it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. I work my strategies. I make myself get up. I make sure I take my meds, that I eat, that I sleep enough. I go outside some every day. I journal. I work in the yard. I am still Zooming. In fact, when I am with people, I seem fine. Some days my best strategy is to be still. I consider that I am maintaining. I am not too low or too high. I am operating on top of. I will keep eating, sleeping, taking meds and working every strategy I can. The overwhelming clutter in my house as I sit still is another part of the struggle as is feeling incredibly sad like I am hurting for the whole world. I told you – thinking dramatically is part of it, too. This is not too extreme. Mostly I am frustrated. Coming back to low energy after a long period of positive, productive energy is discouraging. I know a slump is not failure, but it feels like it is.

One morning I will wake up feeling like a burden has been lifted. I will be okay. did not know that years ago. If you have bipolar disorder and do not have that assurance, get professional help. Even if you do have that assurance, get professional help. Your friends can not help you. You can not help yourself by yourself. If someone you love has bipolar disorder, do not tell them they could do better if they tried. Do not think you can be their savior. Help them get professional help. See them as a person not as a bipolar person. Forgive them for the mistakes they have made. If they are bipolar, I can almost promise you they have done things that hurt them and/or others. Love them. My family and friends love and accept me. They are my safety net. We all need one.

If you read this and worry about me, don’t. Trust me like I trust myself. If you do not know me, think of my other posts. If you know me, look at my life.

Please, educate yourself. Go to http://Bipolar disorder – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

The Secret To Obsessing

How can a person stop being obsessive? I have a one track mind. I do not multi-task well. If you know me, you have seen it. Working in my yard, quilting, building this block (which was a lot easier than maintaining it), writing my book, writing songs, working puzzles, and probably others I am not thinking of right now. Having an obsessive personality is generally viewed as a bad thing. Like a lot of other things, it is all in how you look at.

I am seventy-five and finally comfortable with my obsessive personality. I accept going into a project or coming back to it that I might not stay interested in it and that I might walk away from it. I am okay with that. In the past, I listened when people reminded me I was good at starting something new but not good at finishing anything. That made me doubt myself and ask myself what was the use of starting or going back to something because I was not going to finish it anyway. It certainly took away from that rush of energy starting a project. I do not think that way anymore.

What works for me is having more than one good obsession so when I am bored or discouraged with one or am obsesssing on one that is not good for me, I can switch off to another one. This does not mean that I walk away from a project everytime I am frustrated or stalled. Sometimes I grit my teeth and refuse to give up. I trust myself to stick with or come back to the ones that matter, even the hard ones. That is where I am with the book. I am not to the walking away point. I accept that I am not making leaps and bounds, so I have to keep my feet on the ground and butt in the chair and put the time in. As long as I do that, I allow myself to obsess with another obsession to free my mind. Tonight it is going to be Doctor Who. Next week it might be quilting.

The answer to the question is you do not stop being obsessive. The secret is you have multiple obsessions.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it

Bipolar Disorder – a Blessing and a Curse

Edited with correct link: 3:36 PM 10/24/2020

I have been struggling with writing this post about the blessing and the curse of having bipolar disorder for over two hours. I have written and deleted, written and deleted. Then I googled and found all of my search words in Inga Stünzner‘s Bipolar disorder ‘a blessing and a curse’: How Ian Higgins sees life through a creative lens. This article is everything I was trying to write. If you want a better understanding of a person with bipolar disorder, read it. If you have bipolar disorder, read it. If someone one you know has bipolar disorder, read it. Please, for me, read it.

Perhaps later I will edit and add more of my own words, but for now someone else’s words say it all.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it

Up down All Around

Do you know anyone who struggles with bipolar disorder? If so, I promise you they struggle. If the person is close to you, chances are you have tried to help. I can not speak for them because we are all different. I can tell you what helps me as a person with bipolar disorder.

Nothing frustrates me more than someone who thinks they know what I should do unless they are someone close to me, a psychiatrist, or a therapist or counselor who has had some training or experience with bipolar disorder. The good ones have treated me as an individual and not as a stereotyped bipolar person. That distinction deserves a complete post. Do not think of that person as a bipolar person anymore than you would think of someone with cancer as a cancer person. I still work on not letting bipolar disorder define me. That is why I avoid saying I am bipolar.

If you want to support a person with bipolar disorder, educate yourself on bipolar disorder. Understand it as a medical condition. Talk to your friend or family member when they are not in the middle of or edging toward mania or depression. Encourage them to get professional help. This is important. They will not listen any other time. Even when in good place, they are likely to be defensive. They are unlikely to listen to logic. Hopefully your family member or friend will not have to be hospitalized or pose a threat to themselves or others. At that point, you do have to intervene by getting them to professionals. Do not make light of or be unaware of the statistics. Again, that deserves another post.

I have a group of family and friends who have my daughter’s and my brother’s contact numbers. They are my safety net. They are the ones I will likely listen to when I am edging toward a hypo-manic episode although I usually argue with them. I was diagnosed twenty-six years ago. I did not always trust them or anyone. You may ask why manic and even hypo-manic states are dangerous. Those are the times I may make rash decisions with long range effects, spend money impulsively, get into bad relationships, burn bridges I later wish I had not, think I am right about everything, and talk over everyone. I understand when people judge me based on those times and not normal times, but I wish they would not.

I am not ashamed that I got professional help, was hospitalized, am medicated, and still trust only a psychiatrist to prescribe. I am often told meds are not good. I know how wrong they are and how much they are putting their friend or family member in danger if they tell them that, but I do not try to educate them. Sometimes someone tells me they to do not think I have bipolar disorder. I take it as a compliment unless they actually think they know more than my psychiatrist, my family, close friends, and I. I do as well as I do because I stick to meds and take care of myself even when I am in a good place. I never think I no longer have bipolar disorder. I have tried and true strategies that usually work for me. My mantra is eat, sleep, take meds. Sometimes no matter how hard I try I go too high or too low and then rock back and forth between the two until I come back to center. Over so many years of coping I know I will get my balance again. I did not always know that. I am writing this because I am struggling a bit. Lately I have been full of energy and motivated but not so much now.

Do not expect to understand. Just let your friend or family member who is quietly struggling know to you they are an individual not a bipolar person. Do not think they could behave differently if they tired. Do not dismiss them or their disorder. If you are tempted to, research the statistics. Statistics

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

Discovery and Recovery

Has your past ever blindsighted you? Memories you had buried or pushed aside appear front and center. That happened to me this week while working on my book that is not all my story but parts of my story. To determine what I want to include and what I do not, I have revisited my past more than I intended. The section I am working on is Claiming the Past. I intended general advice from the other six songwriters and me. Since I am the author, more of what I have claimed from my past needs to be included than from the other six.

Claiming involves an honest inventory of any memory that makes you uncomfortable. I am not advising on how to deal with that discomfort beyond acknowledging it. Some memories touched sorrow I did realize I was holding on to. I do not want to erase those memories or deny the sorrow; I want to see them for what were and are. In a first draft, an author writes quickly knowing she will leave out and add in the next edits. The book is complex. I do not think I would ever finish it by logically and rationally chosing what to include and what to include. In attempting to write about some years and some experiences, I have stopped and moved on to something else because one memory triggered other memories.

I have written over 10,000 words in twelve days. I am claiming my past. I do not know how much of it I will share. Perhaps not even half of what I have written. Once a memory is shared to more than the people involved, it is not longer personal. Some of mine are precious to me. Some are painful. As I write, I am remembering more of both.

My projected published date was late May. I think my rough draft will be finished by projected time od January 10, but the edits will take longer than anticipated. I am okay with that as long as I write every day and meet my weekly word count goal.

Do not attempt this at home without supervision, especially if you have bipolar disorder and have a hard time with timelines.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

INERTIA AND MOMENTUM

We have all been there. We have found the initiative and motivation to begin something. We are excited; we have energy. Then we lose that momentum. What then?

I once heard Rick Hall, father of Muscle Shoals music, talk about a time when his professional life as a producer and studio owner had come to halt. I wish I remembered the details of this story, but I do not. As I remember it, he said he was off the wave of his first successes as a producer. He was in a slump. Phones weren’t ringing. He had no production deals. One day he picked up a rubber ball which was on his desk. He threw it against the wall; it bounced back. That was a light bulb moment for him. He knew to get moving he had to do something. He picked up the phone and called people he had worked with in the past and reached out to others. His phones started ringing again. He was back in the game. He quit waiting for other people’s actions, he acted. (I think I have read other accounts by other people of throwing a red ball against the wall as an example of momentum, but I heard it first from Rick Hall.)

I have momentum developing this blog and writing a book. I guess the ball is bouncing back to me. I am in the middle of two Jeff Goins online classes: Intentional Blog and Write a Bestseller. I was motivated to take the classes because of desire; I want to develop this blog and I want to write a book. The classes are giving me confidence and thus more motivation and momentum.

In reading in facebook groups for people in the classes, I see I am not the only one who begins, stops, begins, stops. The trick is to keep beginning again. Each stop makes it harder to begin again because your resistance to what you want to do builds. You begin to think and say, “What’s the use. I have tried this before but never followed through. Why will this time be any different?” Once you come to a standstill, to a state of inertia, only action can get you moving again.

In both groups, the question is being asked. People are asking how they can keep the momentum or even get moving again. Jeff Goins’s advice is somewhat similiar to Rick Hall’s. Do something. In answer to the question, he suggested as soon as the Q&A call was over for each of us to do something to move us toward the goal. The smart part was he limited the time to ten minutes. Do one small thing. Momentum builds, but you have to throw the ball. I suggest you go to goinswriter.com/ . He is a great writer with a lot of success.

I went from wanting to sleep most of the day to being ready to get up in the morning, go to my laptop, and begin writing. With me beginning something new, obsessing with it, and then losing interest is an old pattern. Some people call beginnings that stop, false starts. For me they are true starts put on hold. I have learned enough to know promising myself I will spend a short amount of time each day gets me going again. I may have to promise myself more than once before I do it. The important thing is not to give up.

We probably all have something we have given up on. If it is something you really want, revisit it. Do one small thing. Throw the ball.I would love feedback. Blogs are wonderful, but they are vacuums until the writer and the readers get conversations going. I think my settings allow anyone to comment. Please, do, or email me.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder - I have it, Journal

Life’s Complexity

I often tell people my life after retirement has been a Zen life, but that’s not true. If it were, focusing this blog would be easier. As is, my life is complex with a wide spectrum of interests, passions, obsessions, speculations, philosophy, and experiences. Although I refuse to let it define me, I think my having bipolar disorder with all the extreme highs and lows has influenced all of my life. The excessive creativity is worth the lows although I do envy others who have the creativity without the extreme lows.

Seventy-five has been a transition year for me although I am not sure what I am transitioning to. I feel the need to capture my life in words so others will know me. At first, I considered this blog as a way to share my legacy, but now I realize no one can know what their legacy will be, only what they hope it will be. In creating and organizing content, I have had to look closely at what I have done, what I am doing, and my ulterioral motives. I find myself making choices of what I do based on that introspection. Everyday I am contributing to my legacy.

Stephanie C Brown, the blog, and Stephanie C Brown, the person, are evolving. For ulterioral motives and shameless self-promotion, the blog falls in the category of self-branding. Self-branding feels so egotistical, but so be it for the long term goals.

Full circle, winding roads, side roads, and dead ends, the journey continues.