Monday, May 19, 2014

Courage

Wild wind sweeps across the landscape, rays of warm golden sunshine peek through pockets of blue sky that dot the grey and white swaths of clouds that have overtaken the sky.  Snowflakes fall gently out one window, out another they whiz by in a torrent of wind.  The temperature earlier today was a full 30 degrees colder than it was on Saturday, hovering in the upper 30’s.  The trees have leafed out and spring green dots the landscape in every direction.  The weather is as confused as my mood has been and I struggle to determine how I am doing now that I have come out on the other side of this major manic-depressive episode.  Activities that usually fill me with delight now seem abstract.  Photography, running, writing, reading, cooking...existing.  


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” 
E.E. Cummings


The other night we were standing in the bathroom brushing our teeth gazing out the window at the lonesome stretch of highway that runs by The Moose Lodge, I told Parke I have another name for my memoir “Better Than Yesterday”; which is to say my life theme currently is: Hope and each day has delivered another notch of healing.  

"Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage"
-George Patton

I am holding a vigil for hope for healing on the deepest levels of the spirit.  Healing that reaches down to the core and radiates through my being and washes over those that love and support me through my struggle.  My husband, parents and close friends banded together in such a way that could really only be described as miraculous and were able to help me see the light and take action to help myself.  My in-laws stepped in to care for our children in my absence and our world stayed in tact because of love.  I always knew that love was what made the world go round, now I have proof.  

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” 
Lao Tzu

Slowing down is hard and reminding myself I don’t have to multi-task everything is a task in and of itself.  Learning to break tasks down into baby steps is a big part of the process I am in now.  Forever doing it all, all the time, I am used to taking armloads of stuff in every which direction in a perpetual buzz of motion and productivity.  Slowing down and really being a “being” not a “doing” isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. It’s that old be careful of what you wish for, it might come true. 

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” 
Nora Ephron

Lost inside myself - tears, sadness, heavy motionless looking out at the wild world of Wrangell wondering how I came to be and why I am and what this means and wondering what the future will bring.  I’m trying not to “go there” with my thoughts, because “there” has proven to be a dangerous place where my feelings get tied up in knots and threaten to strangle the life out of me.  This is when I remind myself to breathe, just breathe.  

All it takes is all you got.
--Marc Davis



“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without 
courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.” 
Maya Angelou

Time is experienced in ultra slow motion and my days stretch out before me and I find it hard to do much of anything when five minutes feels like an hour any activity seems daunting.  I’m used to going full-speed in life, I’ve had to with the combination of raising two young children, moving three times between March 2011-August 2014, being a full-time student, wife, daughter, friend, and marathoner-triathlete.


“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” 
Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

On the other side of my breakdown I have found Me, and “Me” doesn’t need to do everything because I can’t. It’s not sustainable as I have discovered, so now I am learning how to live life in a slower paced fashion because I want to be Me more than anything in the world.  Being Me means being a wife and mother, a daughter and friend.  Being Me.  Breathe.


“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them 
with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle 
with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” 

August Wilson

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Edge of Reason

Imagine for a moment what it’s like to be in that state of “happy” drunkenness.  Everyone is a friend, conversation comes easy and you can sing karaoke all night long without fear.  Now take away the alcohol and you can get a sense of what it’s like to be “manic” for a bi-polar person.  

I spent 6 weeks this spring in such a state and am 2 weeks into the opposite stage: depression.  Two weeks into the mania I was admitted to an inpatient facility where I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and I began my journey to rediscovering my true self.   It hasn’t been easy, in fact it’s been the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, other than survive being born with a life threatening congenital heart condition.  Without the love and support of my family and friends I would not be okay. Because of their unfailing love and understanding I am getting the help I need on my journey to finding balance in my life.  

In the present moment reality seems obscure and my life feels abstract.  I feel like I should come with a label “some contents may have shifted during shipping” because I am the same person I was, but not entirely.  I finally got treatment I have needed, but was somehow able to put off because I channeled my mania into something productive: school and the depressive episodes I experienced were generally productive as well, with the help of an anti-depressant I started taking after George weaned from breastfeeding three years ago.  

The combination of several back to back to back household moves drew me into a frenzy and I became a human doing of the highest degree.  Once I graduated from school I had this thing called “time” to think and no outlet to channel the mania.  I drew deeper into myself and when my husband returned to work at the end of January the stage was set for me to have my own private breakdown.  I could feel it mounting for a while but didn’t realize what lay ahead, nor did I understand the seriousness of what I was on the cusp of, instead I did what most of us do, I dismissed the alarms and kept on trucking right into a web of total mental meltdown.  


I haven’t felt like writing, reading, or even being anywhere near my laptop which is unusual for me, but depression does what it can to take away any and all enjoyment from life.  I am doing my best to ride this wave out and work my treatment plan.  I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to my friends and family for everything. I am truly blessed beyond measure.  Your encouragement, prayers, and kind words have helped me crawl back out of the hole mania left me in and I am forever thankful for your love and support. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April

I took April on as if it were my personal play thing, a yo-yo on a string.  It doesn’t help that on its own, April, is respectively the most foolish month of the year.  Day 1 says it all, doesn’t it?  

I rode the waves of bi-polar mania on a heady mix of euphoria.  The other day when the psychiatrist asked if I felt euphoric, I said honestly “No.”, but the truth was I wasn’t feeling euphoria, because I was “euphoria” incarnate. 

Places like the inpatient behavioral health wing are a strange place to meet life long connections, but if my research and my life has taught me anything that is exactly where you meet your fate.  On the road you took to avoid it.  

You may find yourself in the dark corners of The Universe and when you’re ready to show up for your life, the path reveals itself to you step by step.  The long and winding road brings us together once more.  

Surrender of control isn’t the process of surrendering ALL control, just as positive psychology, as a profession, isn’t all about the positives, but rather how we make light of the more meaning less moments of our life, the dark days.  Making the most of what we are given and embracing “the suck” when those days come is part of living a full, rich and meaningful life.  

Just remember when you’re having one of those days: 

 “Honey Mama said there will be days like this!”

Our consciousness creates a space in our worlds that allows us to explore deep intellectual conversation and debate within the confines of the mind.  In the final scene of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe we are reminded that you can’t go in to Narnia all the time, but a reminder or two hangs around as calm pacification for the mind, to remind us of where we came from and where we are going in life.  

I read a quote the other day that said something to the effect of the mere meaninglessness of life requires we assign meaning to it.  It’s truth.  We all deny reality as it smacks us in the face, if we didn’t we wouldn’t survive. Our ability to survive and thrive requires we bypass some of the fine print and sign on the line:  I choose to live.  What do you choose? 

I’ve been two steps ahead of my life since before I took my first breaths, I had to be, if I had not been so intrepid in my entry to the world, I would have died.  Two-step.  Always two steps ahead.  

This is why my connections with society can feel sorted, because I was rarely living in the Now.  I’d drifted into the confines of my mind in search of becoming a writer and I wrote my way through the darkest and scariest moments of my early life, which created severe stress and lack of mental health services available in our rural community. 


I am to be the voice of mental health services and community healing for rural communities, I know, because I’ve been there.  Life at The Moose Lodge was paradoxically the Dickens nature of life on the North edge of Wrangell-Saint Elias NP/P, “it was a best of times, worst of times” scenario.  

An abundance of activities our family loves to do paired with isolation that felt peaceful, but the positives masked the crushing isolation.  Our neighbors are friends, and the community has embraced us, but I just could not let myself into that life, not fully.  I knew I was meant to be someplace else, so I couldn’t get comfortable.  

I knew because I am one of those People who NEEDS people.  I love people.  I love that Barbara Streisand song “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”.  The irony of it is that I have severe social anxiety, which may come as a surprise to my family and friends, but I do.  I’ve been suffering from crushing anxiety for YEARS. Not anymore.  I have nothing to hide.  Here I am.  I choose to live in the Now. 

My drive to create was born out of a desire to leave my fingerprints on something real, honest, pure and good.  Words and stories is how I assign the mere meaningless moments of life meaning which allows me to live life to the fullest.  I’ve turned the volume down and am heading out into this day filled with Possibility and hope.  This month started off as April Fool’s but settled on the last day in April is Honesty Day.  Life is Good. Happy May Day!