Explaining Bipolar Disorder in Two Easy Steps!

Were you recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and you’re not sure how to explain it to your friends and family? Or maybe you’ve been managing your bipolar disorder successfully for some time now but you find you’ve got to tell your new romantic partner why you’re bringing a bag full o’ prescription bottles on your first mini vacay together. Whatever your super fun circumstance, you’ve found yourself inadvertently in a “mental illness closet” and you need to get out! Help!

Don’t worry, I’ve been there and done that. I’ve got your back though, because explaining your bipolar disorder can be easy peasy with these two simple steps!

(please tell me the sarcasm is reading and y’all don’t think I’m just being a complete ass hole. . .)

 

single

 

  1. Tell your friends to do their own damn research online! It’s called Google! Yes, there’s tons of misinformation out there, but you can nudge them in the right direction. I recently asked my boo to check out the following because I felt they most accurately described my particular experiences with bipolar.

    – A helpful gathering of responses from people with bipolar disorder trying their best to explain it on themighty.com
    – A similar list from buzzfeed.com, yeah yeah, I know, it’s buzzfeed – but it really is helpful!
    – And this one I used personally to explain to the boo my occasional tendency to latch onto an irrational thought and convince myself that it’s true (see: this post, side note – we’re still going good!)

  2. Have a sit down chat with your friends after they’ve done their internet digging so they can ask you any and all questions about your bipolar – like a real, live FAQ page. Because your bipolar disorder is not like mine, or anyone else’s,

 

Ok, ok, I’m sorry to have used a very click-baity title for this post. And I’m sorry if I sound a little bitter / sarcastic but “coming out of the mental health closet” and worrying about losing peoples’ respect has gotten OLD. Going into a depressive spell and not having friends understand why you JUST CAN’T (like literally just can’t, not even the joke “can’t even”, the real “I’m staring at my phone trying to text you back but my brain chemistry won’t let me do anything other than stare right now” kind of even) is getting old. Having to explain that you don’t want to smile (when you’re usually the one who’s smiling and excited) simply because you feel nothing – and then watching as the person who asked quickly regrets ever talking to you.

Truly though, bipolar disorder is a health condition – there shouldn’t be shame associated. Friends and families of those with mental health conditions should do what they can to educate themselves, take the burden off of us. Then come to us with questions, help us break down assumptions and stigmas together.

 

Oh and ya know, sorry about not writing in forever, I promise I’m getting my poop in a group! But hey, that’s why this blog is Jessiedoeslife and not Jessiemasteredlifeandhasherpoopinagroup100percent. You get the behind-the-scenes hot-messery that is me dealing with my bipolar disorder and trying to take on the world!

Cheers,
Jessie

 

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not – Either Way, It’s All in My Head

I feel like those of us with mental health issues are constantly chasing normalcy – in whatever form comes quickest at times. Sometimes we really buckle in and do the hard work through therapists and psychiatrists – but sometimes we’re weak, or we get laid off and our health benefits expire. Ya know, fucking life.

I’ve chased “normalcy” through temporary fixes like drinking, “carving” (my version of “cutting”), eating disorders (usually binge eating), a weirdly satisfying addiction to the gym for a short bit (I was so happy with how I looked – but in an unhealthy fixation kind of way), and then there was always my natural state of mania that sent me into my typical two week high of insane self-esteem and destructive behaviors that can only come from a confidence that is completely unfounded.

I recently lost my job. I had already asked my boo to move in before that. It had been a roller coaster ride of depression and giving in on the low swings up to determination and being set on kicking ass when on the up swings. Now, he’s moved in.

On the outside it’s going relatively well. On the inside I cannot shut my brain off. It’s so infuriating. My thoughts are destructive and illogical. I KNOW this. These unfounded and ridiculous thoughts serve no purpose other than ruining something good while destroying my own self esteem. And yet I can’t stop them from popping up every few hours. And then I have to BATTLE them. It’s so fucking absurd! Knowing they’re illogical and having to fight my own brain to shut them out with facts and reasoning makes it feel like I’m an exhausted parent trying to tell a screaming child there is most certainly not a monster in the closet and to GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP. Ugh.

I don’t have a therapist any more – thanks to losing my health insurance and not wanting to pay out of pocket costs. Even if I did though, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to admit any of this to my therapist – I was doing so well!!! So here, on the internet of anonymity, I bare all. Here, where I know there are others like me, I feel safe.

I’m sad because I feel like it’s only a matter of time until he realizes how defective I am and decides I’m not worth it. It really should be clear that I’m a lot of work – I don’t know if I’m truly worth it.

I’m mad because he, and almost everyone else, seem so ok, so functional, and why can’t I just be that way?

I feel insecure because I’m not who I think/know I am all the time. And when I’m not feeling like myself, I ask for reassurance that “we’re ok” which I’m sure is exhausting to him. Because he’s not in my head – he doesn’t understand it’s just to shut up this little voice that I know has little validity – but it NAGS at me until I get that completely pointless confirmation. So it’s this stupid vicious cycle of obsessing over it. Maybe I should add OCD to my co-morbid diagnosis. I just cannot shut my brain off.

And the thing is, I’m 90% sure he absolutely loves me. My brain won’t even let me say 100% despite the fact that he fucking moved in, spends almost all of his free time with me, shows me affection, makes future plans with me, and is constantly making me laugh. That illogical part of my brain is debating every single one of those points with some stupid nonsensical point though! It’s like a tug-of-war over a daisy doing “he loves me, he loves me not” where both the number of flower petals and how he actually feels/acts toward me/makes me feel are COMPLETELY irrelevant! What in the actual fuck, brain???

Anyway, I just had to get this all out.

I’ve got a new job! And I’m painting again! So I’ve got to get back to painting before I leave for work.

Fuck this mental illness bullshit. I’m over it.

Edit:

Here’s the painting! It’s the one on the bottom. I did the one on the top last night.

Redirecting Negative Thinking – 10 Questions to Challenge Your Inner Negative Nancy

FRIDAY, FRIDAY, FRIDAY!!! The fight of the year! Negative Nancy vs Logical Linda!!!

You’ve been there, we’ve all been there, faced with a situation that truly could go any which way yet our brain immediately imagines the worst and off we go into the depths of despair. Now, how often has this situation ended up in that worst case scenario you imagined then brooded on for hours, maybe even days? Very rarely.

I know I’m guilty of letting my internal Negative Nancy take the wheel while Logical Linda and Positive Paula are pushed to the backseat (sometimes even locked in the trunk, that Nancy can be wicked). These negative thought patterns usually happen when a supervisor asks to speak with me (always at a LATER time. . . why???) or my partner is constantly texting someone else while we’re together one afternoon (it HAS to be another woman, it simply can’t be that they’re coordinating something with their family), or even when someone just compliments my new hair color (do they REALLY like it black, did they HATE it brown, or what are they really after here?). My Negative Nancy’s current internal monologue: I won’t be able to find another job, I’m under-qualified for the jobs I really want, over-qualified for the ones that I can get just to pay my mortgage, I won’t be able to “sell” myself as a valuable employee, SWEET BABY MOSES I WILL BE UNEMPLOYED FOREVER!!!

It’s toxic. It’s pointless. It’s a little embarrassing to be honest.

Let’s not dwell on that though (you shush it, Nancy, I’m busy channeling the good vibes right now), let’s get to work changing our mindset so we can deal with these thoughts productively. The next time you find yourself spiraling into a negative thought pattern try asking yourself these 10 questions to redirect your inner Negative Nancy and let logic (maybe even positivity!) have a go at the wheel.

 

10 Questions to Challenge Your Inner Negative Nancy

1. What am I saying to myself?

How am I evaluating the current situation? What story am I telling myself? Am I seeing it from all sides?

2.What unhelpful behaviors am I engaging in?

Recognize the actual behaviors. Are you doubting yourself, expressing low self esteem, worrying, acting differently in your personal relationships as a result of these thoughts?

3. What is the evidence FOR my evaluation?

Be sure to consider if the evidence is an actual fact, or opinion? If you’re making this a written exercise draw out two columns, one for the FOR and one for the AGAINST. Only include facts if you can. If you’re like me, however, I feel better after writing EVERYTHING out so be sure if you write out opinions you clearly mark them as such. You might even end up with a nice visual of 10 opinions in this column to 2 facts. . .

4. What is the evidence AGAINST my evaluation?

Just like your “Evidence For” column, be sure differentiate between facts and opinions. Don’t favor your Negative Nancy just because she’s your loudest voice right now, try to give Logical Linda some room to talk.

5. How much do I believe my evaluation of the situation (0-100%)?

Spend some time and really think about this one and assign a hard number. If you think you’re getting fired, what is the exact percentage of that likelihood? How did you come up with it? Do you think your beau is being unfaithful? Is that 75% likely or 95% likely? What makes the 20 point difference? Write it out in a sentence. If writing out “I am 95% certain that my partner is cheating” seems like a ridiculous thing to do, perhaps you aren’t 95% certain that thought is valid.

World Blood Donor Day 2017

6. How is it helpful for me to think this way?

What is your current thought process gaining you? Where is it getting you? How is it helping the situation?

7. How else could I view the situation? What other perspectives are there?

Think of all the different ways that you could interpret what’s going on. The boss wants to talk this afternoon. . . Maybe you’re getting a raise, you’re getting fired, the company is merging, you’re being given the opportunity to move up, the boss just wants to check in with you, you’re being given more responsibilities, the boss is leaving the company, you’re being reprimanded for never making more coffee, you’re hard work is being acknowledged. . . The list could go on. Whatever your situation, I’m guessing your list could be infinitely creative as well. Think about it and let your mind wander to possibilities on all sides of the + / – scale.

8. What advice would I give to a friend in the same situation?

This one is my favorite. I am constantly giving people advice, even when they don’t ask for it. So if my best friend came to me and said she thought her husband was cheating because he was texting a lot, or spending time away, I know a MILLION potential reasons why that might be because I know them both and I know her husband’s a good guy and she’s likely having a moment of doubt for an underlying reason. Now, if I was doubting my partner, wouldn’t it be easy to do the same after thinking like that? It’s easy to see the positive paths in other peoples’ lives when ours can be cloudy. Practice getting outside of your own head for a minute then reflect that back on your own thoughts.

9. What are healthier thoughts/behaviors I can respond with?

Be honest. Call yourself out on the negative thought patterns and then “treat yo self” by replacing those with healthier thought patterns. If you’ve been acting out because of perceived slights against you, think about how you can rectify that and move on with healthier behaviors. If the situation is with someone you’re close with, talk to them and bring them in to the solution stage for helpful input if you’re comfortable with it.

10. A healthier evaluation of the situation is:

And now we bring it full circle. Considering the previous 9 questions, what is a healthier thought pattern to follow in this situation? What is the most probable reality of the situation and how best should you react to it? Even if the “most probably reality” is a perceived negative one, like a massive company-wide lay off that’s been looming for months, the best reaction is probably not to fret over it for weeks and lose focus at work. Think and respond with a healthy dose of logic and positivity – if you’re facing a potential lay off you can clean up your resume, keep up the good work on the clock (having those references is important!), save up some money, and/or consider possible new career moves. Don’t just spend your time worrying, drinking, showing up late to work, neglecting to prepare for the worst case scenario – that will bite you in the butt.

Asking yourself these 10 questions when under the duress of a stressful situation can seem like a big ask, but if you practice and have patience with yourself you’ll find it gets easier and you can eventually learn to replace your instinctively negative thought patterns with more constructive ones. I’m not saying Positive Paula is going to take over and make you some giant ball of sunshine or anything, I’m just saying that training yourself to take the time to reflect is an invaluable skill that will save your (and probably your loved ones’) sanity!

 

*The infographic has my new (and not even remotely developed) website listed instead of this one. Jessiedoeslife will move into a more personal blog and Offbeat Endeavors will be my new foray into coaching! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Farewell, 2017, you were. . . you just were. (part II)

wishing you a very

Where did I leave off? Ahh yes. . . August. . . (part I)

August. . .
Nothing terribly exciting happened in August. I kept up with physical and mental health therapy. Thanks to the mental health therapy I was better able to navigate the hiccups of early relationships – or at least, the hiccups I seem to have (seem to create, maybe?). Therapy has given me a lot of room to think in my head – in the good way. I’ve always thought too much but now therapy has helped me pause and challenge those thought patterns. Though I just recently realized I could use some more work with negative thought patterns. . . I should look into that when I get health insurance again.

September. . .
September was more of the same with a work trip thrown in. We had corporate training where I expressed my fair share of common sense and equality-promoting ideas which didn’t seem to jive well. I had gotten to the point of being fed up with the injustices I was seeing across the company and couldn’t really bite my tongue any more.

October. . .
One of my fellowship fellows somehow managed to get a comped ticket to a local women’s conference and the caliber of the speakers was PHENOMENAL. It was an energizing experience and helped boost me back up to previous levels of excitement about my creative goals. I had been wavering since the end of the fellowship in June and being surrounded by these women was SO GOOD. The boo and I threw a Halloween party at my house! We had to postpone it from one weekend to another, which I think threw people off, so attendance was kind of low (only one of his friends showed up, and only a handful of mine) but we decorated the house TO THE NINES. It was SO GOOD. I’m super excited for next year’s party! Also, the boo said “I love you” – yay to that! We took a composting class together and though I haven’t set it all up yet, I’m excited to eventually get a little garden out back.

November. . .
Turkey day!!!! I hosted Thanksgiving at my house for the first time. The boo, my ma, and my brother all spent the day together. It was quite nice. I went to the boo’s Thanksgiving as well, his family did it on the weekend after. So I got to meet his family! It was fun, I like them.

December. . .
And now to today, the last day of December. I have to admit, I have a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth about December. Glass is half full: I’m travelling with the boo for New Years, currently beside a fireplace (because it’s freezing here and we’ve got Florida blood) and writing on my blog because I want to actually do something for myself this upcoming year as a potential career. I did 3 mind mapping sessions with facebook friends (so two I don’t really know at all, one I do know pretty well) to help them identify and plan out goals for the new year. It was a lot of fun – in a challenging and rewarding way. I gave them all homework and will be following up in two weeks. I’ve been painting a lot more and am working on another website to cater to selling to corporate clients (you can check out my attempt at a stop gap measure here!). Glass is half empty: I was “laid off” from the company and job I had been with for just a month shy of 5 years so I’m existing off of my paltry savings (remember when I bought a house 7 months ago, that was a lot of money down) and a meager “reemployment” contribution from the government. I interviewed with a dream job and am waiting to find out if I made it to round two of interviews. I’m applying left and right to other jobs – both potentially dream jobs and the “holy crap I have to pay a mortgage so I’ll take whatever I can get” jobs. This went down on the 8th so it’s been a shit-tastically tainted Christmas (thanks, bossman) but I’m hoping the new year will wash away bad vibes and I can start accumulating the good ones again. Fingers crossed!!! I’m terrified of not having health insurance, I’m trying to get over being mad about the “lay off”, I’m working on keeping my stress levels low about being unemployed, but I’m very grateful for my tribe – my family, friends, and boo – they’re all cheering me on and offering to help. I’m excited about the prospects of bigger and better things – even things like becoming a life coach or artist – OR BOTH!!! But that excitement is punctuated with moments of panic and depression – so, ya know, one day at a time.

2018 summary. . . bought a house, got a good boo, lost my job. Weeeeee!!!!!!!! Oh! I forgot that an old friend and I joined forces to challenge each other in losing weight – and we did really well for a while. I lost 15 pounds and looked and felt SO GOOD. But then, not so much. So I’m back up like 9 pounds but I know I can get to where I was before, and she does too, so yeah, we’re gonna be two more of those “New Years weight loss” people. But we did a trial run this last year!

If these wrap up posts sound a little robotic it’s likely because I feel a little robotic at the keyboard. I haven’t had the drive to write, to publish my feelings, in a very long time (obvs!) but part of having a blog and wanting to get better at writing is JUST WRITING – even when you think it’s crap or you’re dragging your feet to do it. If you read all of this, thank you for sticking with me. I’m hoping this year will bring more dynamic posts with life coaching and mental health posts meant to help the reader as much as they help me. I can’t tell you how good it felt when I got texts from the women I mind mapped with saying that I had helped them tremendously and was genuinely good at it (they’re my guinea pigs so I told them to give me honest feedback on how I do, the worksheets and homework I give them, and their experience overall). I love love love enabling, encouraging, and empowering others to be their best, happiest self.

I hope y’all have a great New Years Eve!!!!! 2018 should be. . . . (you fill in the blank with what YOU want it to be!). . . .

Farewell, 2017, you were. . . you just were. (part I)

Dear 2017. . .

Where do I even start with you?

You brought us number 45 which has been a dark circus of epic proportions.

wishing you a very

January. . .
I started mental health therapy because I wanted to try to start dating again and I had some baggage I needed to work through. I was also doing physical therapy after months of chiropractic care for a car accident in 2016 wasn’t helping. Physical therapy helped throughout the year but holy crap my back and neck will never be the same and realizing that SUCKS. I was looking to buy a house because my landlord sold my apartments at the end of 2016 and that woke me up then made me dream of owning my own place. I started the search – which was fun. . . at first. I went to the Women’s March in DC! It was a last minute opportunity so I hopped on a bus with a bunch of (admittedly predominantly white) women and sat for hours on end on a bus from Florida to the capitol to help tell the world to fuck off if they think we’re cool with a locker room talking pussy-grabber being the figure head of our country. It felt pretty good. I started a six month fellowship for young progressives – taking up one weekend of each month from January to June of 2017. Each weekend would teach me more about how to help change the world through leadership and policy change – while connecting me with my fellowship class (they are AMAZING people) and local leaders who have helped me SO MUCH this year. January was a weekend of opening up to 24 of my peers more than I’d opened up even to ex’s – within a 48 hour period. It was fantastic. It reignited my passion to launch an art studio/community space/creative incubator/store front for local creators. I saw Lala Land, which ok, yes, it’s like the most basic movie ever but I freaking love it. I admit it. I watched it a bunch (I had free movie coupons!) and now I own it on DVD. Judge away, you judgers!

February. . .
I had the weirdest encounter with my neighbors across the way where I intervened on a boyfriend treating a girlfriend super shitty while she was having a panic attack. I ended up on the floor of their apartment with her, telling him what to do (and not do) and talking to her parents on the phone to get them to come over. So surreal. I also ended up at a surrealist art exhibit later that day so ya know, fitting. I started going to local activism events for Black Lives Matter and local Muslim mosques thanks to my fellowship fellows. I signed papers on a house that fell through – this would be a recurring thing.

March. . .
I grew impatient with the house buying because something would come up then quickly fall through. I had been doing well in therapy and then was waiting on a house to go through so I could start dating but then. . . I got bored one night and signed up on some apps and then started swiping and one thing led to another and I just kind of started dating. Dating on apps is kind of terrible. Thanks to my fellowship I was meeting more helpful connections in my community and getting even more traction with my studio plotting.

April. . .
I started closing on the house of my dreams in the neighborhood I wanted and within my price range!!!! Then it dragged on. . . and on. . . and closing dates changed. . . and changed. . . and changed. . . I packed and lived in a half-packed apartment unsure of where I’d be living from day to day. I started going on actual real life dates! With real life people! In fact, I went on like 4 dates in one week! With 4 different people!!! GO ME! I ended up going on a date that would lead to a relationship that I’m still in today (also, go me!). I attended a women’s conference in Florida with my ma – it was pretty alright.

May. . .
After I was supposed to close on the 5th on my very own 1925 bungalow version of Barbie’s dream house. . . that day came and went. . . AGAIN. It wouldn’t be until the 17th that I would sign my life away and get the keys to my FREAKING HOUSE. MY HOUSE. I LIVE IN A HOUSE NOW WHERE I PAY A MORTGAGE AND NOT RENT. I also pay every time the AC craps out, so ya know, there’s that. I continued going to therapy weekly. I was dating a couple guys when a moment of “you’re not a ‘fuck yes’, are you?” with the current boo ended in me saying “If I’m not a fuck yes for you, you’re a no for me” and that was over – for almost a week. Then he texted and we talked and I cut things off with the other guys and now, he and I are doing well! *swoon!* Oh, and in May there was a super fun company picnic that I had the super fun task of planning and running and I ended up crying and having to call the cops because the people who took over the pavilion I reserved at a park wouldn’t leave. SUPER FUN.

June. . .
I learned that the company I had been working for was merging our Florida operations in July. That was stressful news but I figured I had been there longer than the other admin staff in my office so I’d be ok. I turned 33! Apparently that’s your “Jesus year” – you know, when he did all of his miracles and helping people and stuff. I don’t know. I “graduated” my fellowship program! I didn’t FINISH my business plan but I put together a good presentation and felt pretty good about it. I still don’t technically have a plan but I’m a work in progress. I’m ok with that.

July. . .
The month started off with my housewarming party. It was actually a lot of fun – I had stressed a lot about it leading up (surprise!). I pressured myself to have everything ready – which it definitely was NOT. I got a lot done and it looked good – including a PILLOW FORT ROOM. No lie. I’m a 33 year homeowner with a pillow fort room. My fellowship fellows showed up en masse as well as my new boo, AND! My mom and my brother were there! It was a bit awkward at first to have all of my groups collide but it ended up perfectly alright. Phew! I got to attend a political campaign bootcamp – it was an intense weekend-long shebang and I survived.

 

And that wraps up the part I of my not-really-epic saga of 2017. I’m hoping 2018 brings more friendships, successes, the kind of failures I can learn from, love, learning, and GOOD TIMES. And yeah, a dash of world domination would be rad too.

The Last 97 Days of Jessie Doing Life

Ohhhhh heeeyyyyy, guyyyyssss. . .

It’s been 97 days since my last post! That’s almost 1/4 of the entire year of 2017. A lot’s been going on and I definitely have tons to write about (and have been getting on myself for NOT posting about!) but ya know what? I’ve been living! And thanks to my weekly therapy with Ms. Therapist I learned and have been applying the super solid advice of not getting on myself about “should” or “need to” but instead emphasizing “want to” or “will”.

doinglife

Jessie buys a house

So. . . I bought a house (closed in March after 3 months of a soul-crushing back and forth with the seller – a seller who remained in the house until the morning of the close – cool, right??), obsessed over getting it as ready as possible for public viewing, then hosted a housewarming party where my different groups of friends came together, along with my mom and brother, AND new boyfriend. That was intense. My house is still unfinished and I’m trying not to let it make me twitchy (again, I WILL, not I should. . .).

 

Jessie does dating

I went on 3 first dates in the last week of April (I was supposed to have 4 but I bailed on one guy last minute). The first first date, on a Tuesday, ended with both of us ghosting each other afterward, oddly satisfying. The second first date was like meeting a friend at some chain restaurant and talking about weird things but feeling no chemistry. That ended in an exchange of texts where he asked how I thought it went (I put it gently that I had fun but didn’t feel a spark) and he proceeded to tell me “yeah, I didn’t feel a spark” – THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE??? Gah! But whatevs. Friday I had the traditional dinner and drink date with a guy who seemed super nervous but was funny and easy to talk to, I was pretty sure he was wearing bowling shoes though. He and I said we’d hang out again (no kiss on the first date). Then the following Sunday night I had a date with a guy I thought was the most promising out of the 4 eligible bachelors I had been texting (via Sideline, a single gal’s best friend for using fake digits while dating!). We got along fine, he was funny and nice and flattering, then as it turned out he was going to the same show I was the next night. I was going solo so we agreed to go together. He walked me to my car and we kissed, not too shabby! Anyway, this all was 3 months ago and fast forward to now, the nervous guy with bowling shoes from the Friday date and I are officially boyfriend/girlfriend and it’s super healthy and awesome. Legit, he’s fantastic. And legit, our relationship so far is my favorite. I may write more about it, or I might leave that entirely private, I’m not sure yet. But it’s a big component of my happiness for now so there’s that! Yay!

 

Jessie does her job. . . ish

I feel like my job/office is a disaster at this point in my career. It’s such a mess that I’ve permanently got this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ deal going on. I’ve adopted repeating the mantra “stress is the difference between expectation and reality” so I remind myself that by having no expectations, I don’t really get disappointed by reality! Woooooohooooo lowering expectations! I’m also doing more to work on my business plan for world domination. That’ll be a while and I’m not about to put that in my SHOULD pile, I WANT to and I WILL put that together and rock it.

 

Jessie does political stuffs

I’m super duper excited to be the Co-Curriculum Chair for my local chapter of the New Leaders Council for 2018. Training future progressive leaders and helping them make connections so that they can be the change in our community, that makes my heart so happy. I attended an intense bootcamp-type deal last weekend for campaign staff training, that was exhausting and neat. I learned that with my thin skin and desire to spread sparkles I could be best suited as a campaign candidate’s “Scheduler” – we’ll see if that career path is in my future. . .

 

Jessie does life. . . well. . .

I’ve battled with binge eating for 25 years. I use therapy to try to work on it currently but I haven’t found much help in talking about it. I considered going to a local overeaters anonymous group but that has yet to happen. However, I have been rather successfully sticking to tracking what I eat on an app called MyNetDiary and working on a 30 day exercise challenge (another app!) with my boyfriend and good friend as accountabilibuddies helping keep me on track. It’s been two weeks and I’m getting comments from friends, coworkers, and my family that I’m looking good (even Ms. Therapist commented before I told her what I was doing! – yaaassssssss!!). I only have one body and if I treat this one like crap I won’t be enjoying life very much except from a couch – and eff that jazz.

 

And there you have it! At least everything I can think of right now. . . Hopefully I’ll be posting more! I WANT to! But I won’t be telling myself I SHOULD!

The mighty meh

the mighty

I truly am doing my best to keep my head above water and not to succumb to this depression. According to Ms. Therapist I’m doing well at it but to me it feels like I’m putting up with a “pile of shit”, to borrow from the creative genius of Drop Dead Fred.

 

Sure I’m going to work, seeing friends, doing laundry, did my taxes, painting, eating, breathing, talking to humans like a normal human, and I even went to the gym with a personal trainer. . . but it all feels like a stupid charade. I think it’s the distance that being medicated for the past few years has given me that’s allowing me to see just how ridiculous it is.

I talked to Ms. Therapist about this depression and although I know a portion of my current status is chemically caused, she pointed out that it’s also likely environmentally seeing as how there are a lot of things in the “pile of shit” category right now. I brought up how I usually fell into a depression then because it’s easier to process something when there’s a reason I would ASSIGN reasons to what was genuinely just a brain chemistry thing. Already in my week or so of depression I’ve gone through the handy list of: my job is unfulfilling, I’m single, my BFFs live far away, there are too many things to do, my dad’s death, the current political climate, my house that may never actually go through, being overweight with an eating disorder, the mortality of loved ones, and just a laundry list of reasons that combined – yes, do contribute.

In short, I’m tired emotionally and physically because of the mighty meh. I want it to be gone. I have living to do and happiness to feel. If it could just kindly show itself the door and get lost, that would be swell.

Respond not React – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 01

Safe space honesty time. . . I’m a little defensive. Ok, super safe space real talk time. . . I’m super defensive. Like, all the time. I take things personally that have nothing to do with ME as a person. A recent example: I’m buying a house and it’s in a neighborhood that some people find uncomfortable – that’s a whole deal of its own – and I was explaining this to someone who was asking where I live. Rather than simply explaining where my house will be I started becoming defensive (this was via messenger) and my tone was combative as if where my house was WAS ME.

The person I was messaging didn’t respond for a bit and I had a chance to read back through what I had hastily written then wrote one more message: “not that I’m defensive or anything”

A lot of my recent efforts in my personal growth have been recognizing where I am being less than a stellar human being. My defensiveness is definitely off-putting which pushes people away and rightfully so. I believe it’s another one of my attempts at keeping myself behind a wall of self-preservation so that no one can hurt me. Not a good thing if I ever want to find my partner in crime.

I brought this up with Ms. Therapist yesterday and she had some wisdom to share that I’d like to pass on to you!

A few things. . .

 

Don’t Take it Personally

Seriously, if my group of friends decide to go to a restaurant other than the one I suggested, this has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME! That thought is paranoid and self-centered (my critique, not Ms. Therapist’s). If I’m talking to someone about my house, I am talking about my HOUSE and not me. These seem like super obvious statements but alas, not to my brain. I will be working on this. Within relationships I realize that I would take feedback from partners personally – when truly their feedback is on my BEHAVIOR and not on me. Really, that just feels like getting my head out my ass and being a grownup – which I believe I’ve been getting better at. (maybe?)

 

Respond NOT React

When I’m in a situation or a conversation that has the potential for me to take something personally I will try to respond to what comes up rather than react. A response is something that is thought out after a momentary pause. A reaction is an immediate kneejerk blurting out of whatever is coming out of my brain first. If I know that my brain is (for the time) wired to fire off a defensive reaction then I can put the effort in to retrain my brain to pause for a minute, ignore that defensive voice, and formulate an appropriate response.

 

Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.

I’m pretty sure there are elementary school teachers with this saying on a motivational poster hanging up in their classroom somewhere. I can be REALLY mean. When I REACT (rather than responding) I can go low which is something I am not proud of and aim to improve in myself. In the heat of an argument (which is all reaction and seldom ever response) mean things are said that cannot be un-said. In the last long-term relationship I was in I did VERY well with biting my tongue during arguments because for once it was my partner who had the loudest issues and they were the one reacting so I had to be the one responding so that it didn’t turn into a shouting match. This sentence of sage advice is a skill for sure though – I know we’re taught the Golden Rule and all but I think a lot of kids forget that once they hit middle school and it’s “bully or be bullied” (I was the one being bullied).

 

So there you have it. This week’s takeaways from therapy. And look, it didn’t even cost you a copay!

good-luck

2016 In Review – the Tumultuous First Half

I wanted to recap my year, for my own failing memory purposes, and figured I may as well share with you how it’s all gone down, the lovely as roses bits, the gory murder-y bits, and the sad rom-com bits where they never quite end up together. It ain’t all sunshine and daisies! But in the end, it does all lead to growth and getting to know yourself better. Plus, now there are only a very few ways that 2017 could be worse than this last year – so that’s a bonus!

January – at the end of December I moved back in with He Who Shall Not Be Named across the bridge in a lovely artsy town where I now reside (I reside in the town, NOT with him – eww no, never again). We joined the gym, were supposed to go to Chattanooga to feed red pandas (the flight was canceled due to a huge snow storm, which HWSNBN did NOT take well at all), and I started making crystal pendants with copper tape and solder – finally being creative again.

February – I made up business cards with my fancy DISC certified behavioral consultant jazz on them! I saw a new Rheumatologist who wasn’t much more helpful than the previous one – she still vaguely diagnosed me with lupus and prescribed me the same medication as the previous guy. Because HWSNBN wasn’t asking me to pay rent, I asked my job if I could go down to 32 hours a week – which they agreed to! I used my days off to unpack and start getting a little more creative (but mostly unpack and run errands those first few weeks). HWSNBN and I went to a hockey game with amazing seats. Then I went to a different hockey game with my job people, including the C suite execs and my admin team – I got drunk enough to where it wasn’t wise to drive home, so HWSNBN had to pick me up – this did not end well although I did apologize. That hockey game was on the same day that I got side swiped by another car on my way to work, he just merged into me – like I wasn’t there. HWSNBN and I went to Chattanooga finally to feed the red pandas! That part of the trip, as well as some other little parts, were enjoyable. However . . . a huge blowout occurred when I suspected he was messaging someone and trying to hide it, he then proceeded to “gas light” me and it escalated into how I was being paranoid. Not fun. I started to plot how the hell I could move out when we got back to Florida.

March – I competed in my local Toastmasters Table Topics where I got second place, out of two people! But, I did try and I was proud of that. I got to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary, which was super exciting. I still love that man. I had my first appointment with my new psychiatrist. On the 22nd, on the way home from work this time, I was rear-ended which then smooshed me into the car in front of me – my car was totaled and I could barely lift my head off of my pillow the next day. I’ve been getting various treatments for the neck and back injuries since, to no real resolution.

April – I was moved on to the second round of the Table Topics contest for my local Toastmasters where I got 3rd place . . . out of three people! I learned that I should make my topic universally accessible – as in don’t just talk about making the world a better place for little girls when the judges are mostly men. HWSNBN and I had a big fight, I don’t even remember what it was about, but he ended up sleeping on the couch, then the next day I discovered he wasn’t exactly faithful so it was time to move out. Rather than giving me time to find a place – I was told that I had a couple of days. Fortunately my brother just moved out of my mom’s house so in a matter of 2 days I moved all of my stuff out of HWSNBN’s place, into my storage unit and a suitcase of necessities into my ma’s, bought a new car (because mine was totaled the month before), and was again picking up pieces after a shit storm caused by trying to help the lost cause that is HWSNBN. Within a week I had found a new apartment in that artsy town! Within two weeks I moved into it (in May).

May – Moved into my new apartment. Had a “second chance” date with “Nice Guy” – someone I had had a crush on for like 3 years (I use crush for lack of a better word, it sounds creepy, but it wasn’t! I just always thought he was super cute and nice)  – that started “a thing”. So many quotation marks – all of which are code for “I dunno, man, it was a hot mess”. I started going out and doing things with people I didn’t actually know that well. Not in a scary stranger danger way, but in a “I don’t actually know anyone who’s going to this well enough to hang out with them, but I really want to go . . . so I’m just gonna go.” kind of way. That was the single best trend of 2016 that I plan to continue for years to come. It was the bravest activity I’ve forced myself into. Anyway – I went to a fun arcade place in another town with a crowd I don’t know that well and I had slightly awkward fun trying to make conversations with people my age. I hung out regularly with the Nice Guy and it was nice (I liked him). I launched an employee engagement effort at work where I talked to every employee one on one to get feedback – it was exhausting and fulfilling and I finally felt like I was contributing. I GOT A CAT!!!! Ellie, a Siberian kitty, needed to be rehomed and since it’s the only breed I’m not allergic to, I jumped at the chance. She’s three years old and the perfect combination of a total bitch and an adorable fuzzball of cuteness. I love her to pieces.

June – June was a whole lot of NOPE. A whole lot of it. I went to the beach with a new group of friends, one friend from roller derby and a bunch of her friends – which was fun. Then I got completely and unfairly overlooked for a raise at work. It was blatantly discriminatory and possibly even meant to get me to quit. Work took a serious turn for the worse – meaning, where I spent EIGHT HOURS A DAY, FIVE DAYS A WEEK became soul sucking more than I could have ever imagined. Nice Guy and I had spent May hanging out, then we learned that he wanted biological babies while I wanted to adopt – this turned out to be a deal breaker but for some reason we kept going. Well, June was the breaking point. He invited me to spend his birthday weekend at the beach with him and his friends, knowing that it would be “just for fun” – ok, sure, why not? Welp, during that stay the Pulse shooting happened. I found out in the morning from the news on the tele and I just started crying – I’m not good at processing things or letting things out/talking about them. Pulse was a place I called my own in college (I went to UCF). Going to that gorgeous club with its fun décor, bright lights, dancey music, complimentary patrons, and incredibly welcoming atmosphere was such a change of pace from the dude-bro clubs that lined Orange Ave. I never once worried about roofies or getting grabbed or hit on or even just annoyed. My friends and I would go to dance and be ourselves completely. And that morning, while staying at a hotel on the beach, I found out that more than 50 people were shot there, in a place that so many people called home. I shut down. I’m still shut down from it. The beach weekend continued – a lot more muted. Then the day after we were back, I went to his place to “break up” – that weekend showed me how much I could like him and if we were just going to break up eventually because I didn’t want to bring a bipolar baby into the world (and have to go through a bipolar pregnancy) I didn’t want to get more attached. Ugh, he said he called me his girlfriend for the first time to the maids (he’s an oddly adorable Nice Guy) and we agreed to postpone talking until I got back from my planned trip to visit my BFF in NC after I texted him. My trip to NC to visit my BFF was amazing – we just did leisure activities – hiking, tubing, dining, drinking, chilling in hammocks, and mostly talking. It was so so so needed after hearing about Pulse – it was one of our favorites. I discussed Nice Guy, she asked me what “my type” is and I realized I have no idea. It was a good trip. I came back and asked Nice Guy when he could meet up – he picked his birthday – that wasn’t my choice! I asked at the end, since we had planned to talk when I got back, and I thought that was the plan, if he still wanted a biological baby and I don’t think I ever got an answer other than it wasn’t really the right time to do that. Oh man – I’m really not the best with timing or patience or any of that. On MY actual BIRTHDAY (ok, the day before) it was the gay pride parade in my town and my friends (the roller derby girl and her crew) came over to my place to hang out before going to check it out. It was fun and loud and so colorful and full of love. They had a dedication to the Pulse victims at the beginning and you could tell that everyone had so much more appreciation for each other – or maybe that was just me. Then the next day on my REAL birthday, I went to Orlando with my ma to visit a couple of friends living there so I could see them for my birthday. I got to meet a friend’s brand new baby – he was adorable, and her toddler girl who is hilariously awesome. My other friend had her baby shower – zombie princess theme – and that was fun to bring my ma to. After that trip, I realized that I had done the same with having a baby that I had done with having a cat for my entire life. Ever since I learned I was allergic to cats as a kid I decided I hated them – you can’t miss out on having a cat when you hate them, right? Being bipolar, I assumed I shouldn’t actually produce a child – I should be on my medications and I shouldn’t be passing on my bipolar to a kid – so therefore, how can I regret wanting to adopt when I really shouldn’t be birthing a baby? Well I researched it and discovered that biological babies and bipolar are doable. And thus a whole new conundrum appeared.

And there you have it! The first tumultuous half of my 2016! It was a bit messy (a lotta messy) and I would probably skip some parts if I could, but the latter part of the year wasn’t as bad so I suppose it’s a wash in the end. I’ll be posting that wrap up later this week!

Opportunities for Storytelling

I’ve heard many people say “Oh, you don’t want to hear about me, I’m boring.”

That is a pet peeve of mine. NO ONE is boring. EVERYONE has a story to tell. Even if you’ve led the “typical life” and work the “typical job” and go home to the “typical family”, I know somewhere in there you have had something happen to you that’s an opportunity for storytelling.

Having joined Toastmasters, a great side effect from joining is that in groups of complete strangers at social events, I have something interesting to say now! I can recall some story or weird thing that happened lately that relates to whatever we’re talking about and thanks to my participation in Toastmasters, I can spin it into a compelling story – one that my newly made friends actually enjoy hearing. It’s a pretty neat trick and it certainly beats small talk. I get tired of the “Hi, my name’s Jessie and I so on and so forth and blah and what do you do?”

With that intro, I want to tell you a story about my morning last Wednesday – it was not “typical” or “boring” by any means. . .

I woke up early Wednesday because I had to drive an hour and a half north to go to our Ocala office that day to provide admin support to them.  At around 6:40AM I was brushing my teeth in my pajama shorts and a tank top – my hair was a mess, no makeup on, and I was drooling some toothpaste down the right side of my chin (hey, it was earlier than usual for me!). I heard a knock on my door. I NEVER hear knocks on my door unless I’ve ordered pizza, and even then they ring the doorbell. I have maybe 5 functioning brain cells at this time in the morning so I leave the toothbrush askew in my mouth, walk to the crafty porch area where there’s windows to the street below on the way to my door. I see. . . two cop cars below. Ah, crap. This can’t be good.

I figure it’s likely safe to open my door, it’s got to be a cop and I’m a white female (it’s awful that that checklist exists in my head and actually makes me feel safe) so I do indeed open my door. My apartment is on the second floor, above a garage, and a police officer is already downstairs so I look over the balcony – toothbrush still hanging from my mouth (classy, right?) – and he says “Excuse me miss, did you have a bicycle on your car last night?”

AH CRAP!!!!

“Ah crap!” I said rather garbled through the toothbrush, “I did! It’s been stolen??”

“Well, I have an awesome story for you when you can come down.”

Ok, so now I’m running on maybe 8 brain cells. I only think enough to spit out the toothpaste and wipe off my chin. I didn’t even put on a jacket or an actual shirt. I don’t remember if I even put on glasses, maybe?

 

I get downstairs in my pajamas still, because: 8 brain cells, and talk to an officer. He explains that he has a young guy in the back of his cruiser that he picked up because he was riding around on my bike with what looked like a lot of stolen goods along with another young guy. He was suspicious because my bike is a typical grey bike but with pastel pink, green, and blue straws covering every spoke of the front tire, rainbow beads on the spokes of the back tire, a pink bell on the handle bar, and a rainbow light on the front wheel. So, ok, there may have been some age/gender profiling going on, but. . . my bike is likely not going to belong to a 16 year old male (to be fair, it may not likely belong to a 32-year-old grown-ass adult woman – but hey, I never claimed to be a grown up).

There were two teenagers, riding around my neighborhood, with my bike and backpacks full of random items they stole from cars that had unlocked doors. I live in a “gayborhood” where crime is pretty minimal so I’m assuming people feel relatively safe. I ACCIDENTALLY left my bike on the rack on the back of my car that night after getting home from work. I usually take it down and lock it under my stairs – not that night though!!

The two officers apprehended the boys and the one who stole my bike apparently cooperated quite well, giving out the locations of where he stole several items – including where he stole my bike from! MY PLACE! So the officers and the kids drove around the neighborhood, returning stolen items when they could – eventually getting to my place.

As the officer was explaining this to me, he kept going on about how cool my bike was, this is a grown-ass man – IN A POLICE UNIFORM – telling me how awesome my spoke straws, pink bell, and rainbow light and beads were. Again, I was at maybe 10 brain cells by now. I was still out of it. I had brought my phone down with me, mostly so I could text my coworker that I would be late, this was taking a lot of time, and had I been running on my usual like 10,000 brain cells (I have no idea) I would have removed my standard phone case. I have a Samsung Galaxy J7 which is pretty giant. My phone case is a giant blue unicorn that encompasses the whole thing and then adds another 2 inches with a protruding horn – it’s made of silicone so it’s not a weapon or anything. It’s ridiculous and awesome and it makes me so happy. I forgot the case was on my phone. Mr. Police Officer noticed – suddenly a GIANT BRIGHT LIGHT was shining on my phone when he was exclaiming to the other officer here “HEY [OTHER OFFICER NAME]!!!! CHECK OUT THIS PHONE CASE!!!!!”. He had that giant standard issue cop flashlight shining directly on my giant unicorn phone case. And now, 20 more brain cells came to life.

Finally, the officer heard from another cruiser some blocks away that they had my bike. The officer had said repeatedly how cool my bike was during our 30 minutes together so I offered up that he could ride my bike back to me. I did not think that he would actually do that but – alas – he did. A grown-ass male police officer rode up on my pimped out bike – rainbow light in full effect. Welp, kids, I have now seen it all.

It was a very weird morning indeed.

The officer talking to me has the perpetrator in his cruiser and there’s another kid, the accomplice, in another officer’s cruiser just a few feet away. The officer speaking to me explains that the kid in his cruiser has been picked up and charged multiple times for different offences, he’s been through the system and the process before, and he is likely the product of drug-addicted or absent/neglectful parents. He asks if I want to prosecute. I asked the officer what happens when I say I want to prosecute – what happens to the kid? Does he get offered any sort of program like counseling or intervention? Does he go to juvenile jail? House arrest? What?

I explained to the officer that I used to work with kids on probation who tested positive for substance abuse. I wanted this kid to receive help, not just punishment. I have seen kids like him, not cared for by anyone – schools, parents, family, friends, the system, and they act out like this to get attention – what will be done with him? FOR him?

I have been contemplating what I want to do to help change the world – at least a little corner of it – and I’m taking this incident as a BIG OL’ SIGN that HERE! HELP YOUTHS! HELP AT-RISK TEENS WHO NEED TO BELONG!!!!!!!!!!!!

I decided to prosecute because that will get my words higher up the chain of command and I can change my mind at any time. I am writing a letter to everyone that I can think of, explaining that I’m prosecuting because what other choice is there? What options exist for this young man? What resources are he directed to? How can I as a citizen help?

I feel inspired to do something. I shall figure out the what and the how. I know the who and the why already.

 

This is my phone case, available on Amazon.

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