My Biggest Lie – to Myself

You know those times when some realization hits you like a quarterback from the side, completely out of nowhere?  It takes the wind out of your lungs and if it’s good it makes you light headed, if it’s bad, it makes you heavy-hearted.

After the past weekend I’ve had the wind knocked out of me really hard.  Like, “big deal life-changing” hard and it has left me very heavy-hearted.

I’m a woman.  I have bipolar brain chemistry (neurodiversity is my word of choice).  I have been suicidal before and I have lived without medication.  I am currently, and have been, medicated and I’m terrified (TERRIFIED) to go off of medications.  I absolutely love the feeling of control that I have when I’m successfully medicated.  When you’ve been unmedicated with bipolar for a large portion of your life and you finally exist for a full year as a relatively happy and productive person – with only “normal” hiccups like other “normal” people – I imagine it feels like someone who’s been struggling against a rip tide for that whole time finally being free of it and into calm waters – you DO NOT want to give that up.

I have a personal habit of pretending I’m fine with things.  I actually convince MYSELF I’m ok.  When my dad died five years ago I did zero processing for the first 3 years afterward and instead covered all of those feelings with what I call “hyper-appreciation”.  I still do this, seeing as how I’ve only really talked about his death once.  (side note, I really ought to find a therapist to call me out on this ish)  Another tactic I like to use is that I build walls to keep others out. It took my best friend many years to actually get to KNOW me.  That entire time I was sarcastic, mean at times, distant, and would only talk about surface things.  I remember when I realized that I had to convince her I was being genuine when I said nice things to her, because I had been so damn sarcastic all the time she thought I was just joking when I was being sincerely kind.  I act tough, but I’m really not – the weird thing is that I have lied to myself enough that most of the time, I believe the hard exterior is the true one.

All of this builds to perhaps the biggest lie that I have been telling myself.  I’ve never really been around little kids much.  I have a very small family, I never did the baby sitting thing, and I’m not really sure – it’s just not been a thing in my life.  My friends have had kids.  The oldest child is 3 now.  I held her once as a baby – it was awkward and scary.  I don’t know how to change diapers.  I’ve acted as though babies were completely foreign objects that I had no interest in learning about.  If I’m being honest now, babies DO scare me – they make me so nervous because they’re so fragile and tiny and they squirm and puke and poop and I have no idea what their needs are.  I’ve been acting too cool for kids because I’m scared of them.  When my friends talk about having kids I’m the one saying “I don’t even think I HAVE a biological clock! Hahahah!”

Which brings me to. . .

This. . . is my lie:  I have been convincing myself that I do not want to have (actually birth) children because of several reasons that I’ve created as a list in no particular order:

  • They ruin a marriage
  • They ruin your social life/happiness
  • I wouldn’t even know what to do with a baby
  • My partner wouldn’t be supportive enough to raise it successfully together
  • I would ruin its life
  • Just like the animal activists view of “adopt, don’t shop” – people should be adopting babies and not making them because there are kids already out there who don’t have homes and need them
  • Overpopulation
  • It’s a shitty world out there, why would I bring a tiny life into that?
  • And other reasons I’ve spouted out that have apparently been just the “tip of the iceberg” with the real reason hidden deep below

 

I very recently dated a guy very briefly but I’ve had a crush on him from a distance for like 3 years now.  That probably sounds creepy/high school-ish, but I promise it’s not (ok, high school-ish probably).  I didn’t actually talk to him much in those three years, because you know, I can talk to anyone EXCEPT the person I ACTUALLY like, but I ran into him all the time thanks to mutual friends and his place of employment.  Everyone who knows him, EVERYONE, when they hear his name says “Oh!  He’s such a good guy!”  That’s why I liked him.  The point of all of that is just to set up so you can try to understand how excited I was to finally be getting to know this dude.  I was super excited and it was fun and adorable and you know what?  He really IS such a GOOD GUY!  But. . . he wants to have biological kids.  This conversation came up randomly early on but then became a discussion because, well, we’re not in our 20’s anymore and why date someone if your endgame goals don’t align (unless it’s just for funsies, but I didn’t want that with him)?  My first response was the “adopt don’t shop” answer – I really, really do want to foster kids, having worked with kids from that system I know that I can do some good in that world.  But the more we talked I finally said “it”.  I said the truth.

I don’t feel safe actually birthing a baby while I have fucked up brain chemistry.  I don’t think I can handle the terror of the potential birth defects or miscarriages if I stay on medication.  I don’t think I can handle the awful, awful mood swings if I stop taking them.  I don’t think I could find a partner who would stay with me during that potential shit show.  Ugh, if you saw me in previous relationships while I wasn’t medicated – without factoring in the insane roller coaster that a woman’s bodily chemistry goes through with a tiny, unborn human in it – you would be telling any potential partner of mine to run for the hills.

I realized that this lie was something I was covering up during our discussion and it started a little rip in a seam of my heart.  I know that analogy sounds super-duper cheesy, but you just deal with it.  I pulled my typical “toughen up, buttercup” routine and decided to just break things off ASAP so that I didn’t develop further feelings for the guy.  That SUCKED.  Three years of crushing, one month of dating, and you know that feeling you get when you just start a relationship that you think is going to be around for a bit?  Yeah, I had all of that and rather than waiting it out (sounds like I could’ve used some Wu Wei, huh?  Hindsight’s 20/20, and even then I need glasses) I panicked and called it off – because that’s what I could handle.  All of the warm fuzzies got squashed down by my need to save emotional face with myself.  I didn’t want to confront myself on anything.

Now, I said I have friends with kids – I don’t actually see them that much.  It just so happens that this last weekend I went to a baby shower for one of the friends.  This will be her second baby, a girl, and it was a zombie princess theme (because I have awesome friends).  Later that same day I had dinner with another friend, her super awesome husband, and their two kids (ages 3 years and < 6 months).  The tiny baby slept the entire time and the 3-year-old was completely ridiculous and funny.  My mom was with me and the three year old liked my mom better, probably because I’m just awkward around kids – but I was still a little sad when she gave my mom a hug goodbye and not me.  I was ok after these two events – I pushed them back in the vaults to be suppressed with the rest.

Monday I texted the guy I broke things off with to clarify that the only reason I ended it was because I couldn’t give him what he wanted.  That sucks.

Later on Monday I went to dinner with my family at a restaurant where we were next to a table full of kids.  Some weird combination of overhearing the large family next to us and talking to my mom about when I was a kid and how she raised me, it just hit me.  I want that.

Today I am admitting that I am terrified of having children because I also have bipolar.  And fuck.  Today I am admitting that I think I might actually want to have one someday.  And shit.  That’s really fucking sad.

This whole time I’ve been running around, tough as nails, acting like I’m too cool for this.  And actually, I want all of it.

And there goes the quarterback, running away after he’s completely annihilated me, knocked me head-first onto the ground, any sign of air gone from my lungs.

 

This sucks.

The Tao of Jessie

Hello internets!

I started this blog on one of my war paths toward a forced life goal where I was determined to succeed at something I wasn’t even sure about.  I wanted to become a life coach.  I still kind of maybe do.  But I wrote posts under the guise of educating the masses on business, money, life, and mental health through the stumblings of my life.  I did that, it was cool, I tried to force content out of myself and I didn’t like it, and then I stopped writing – a lot of the time.

I recently read the book The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff and although I got lost at times while reading it, the book’s messages struck a chord with me.  My favorite concept was Wu Wei.  According to the first thing that pops up in my Google search, I found this on the term:

 

Wu Wei (Chinese, literally “non-doing”) is an important concept of Taoism and means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.

In the book, Benjamin uses water as a metaphor for explaining the concept by saying that water doesn’t try to push over rocks in a stream as it goes about its path, it simply flows around them.

I read that part of the book, while laying on a beach in the early morning, half distracted because I was also trying to figure out 5 different “life things” in my head at the same time, and I just had that moment of “Well, shit.  That’s a new concept I could probably use in my life.”  It’s completely obvious in hindsight, but having grown up stubborn, strong-willed, and often analytical to the point of either destruction or inaction, this was news to me.

This was about 3 weeks ago.  I’ve applied the shit out of it since then (after a minor ((read: major)) hiccup that I had to analyze into destruction) and it’s been really quite nice.  I have tried to shove nearly everything in my life into nice, neat boxes.  I have tried to put aspects of my life on planned-out trajectories that are often completely arbitrary but “I MUST know where I’m going!  How will I ever get to XYZ if I don’t know where/what/who that is??”  None of this has worked for me.

This Wu Wei concept in life is fantastic.  I now am keeping an open mind about EVERYTHING.  I actually had a titanic self-discovery yesterday that I’ll be writing about next (read: I use “titanic” because it’s actually not fun or good and involves a lot of bad acting on my part).

I’m writing now because I want to announce that as of today, the direction of this blog is in fact, directionless!  From here on out, I’m going to treat it like it’s just my medium to tell anyone on the internets that life is weird and this is how it plays out on MY adventure.  There might be business-y things, or mental health discussions, or postings of my own personal failures – who knows??  I don’t, yet!  I realized that there already are TONS of blogs on how to do business-y life things successfully.  Or stuff about this or that.  You know what’s NOT already on the internets???  MY take on life as I stumble through it, one adventure at a time.

There you have it, Jessie Does Life through Tao.  I hope you stick around!

The Allure of Awareness Months – May was Mental Health (sorry, it’s June now)

I feel silly admitting this, but a couple days ago, right after the month of May ended and the month of June began, I actually thought to myself “Geez, Jessie, you didn’t write about mental health OR lupus in May!”.  How arbitrary is that thought???  Just because the internet and some national associations decided that certain “causes” should be brought to the public attention as a reminder in assigned months each year, I somehow felt limited by that. . .

I understand that these months create an opportunity to start conversations and they perhaps do give sometimes under-recognized issues some space in the public forums, but maybe. . . just maybe. . . by giving them that finite space of time each year, we’re actually limiting them.

I think mental health should be a topic every damn day.  When I ask a friend how they’re doing, I want to know how their mental health is doing, their physical health, and their general life happenings.  I’ll often ask friends a few times in conversation how they are – because the first response is usually what everyone gives – the knee-jerk “I’m good” so that the conversation can stay at the surface level.  Eff that jazz.  I would absolutely love to see a world where people really spoke to each other about more than just the surface, step outside of our weird habits of isolation and self-inflicted loneliness and talk about mental health.  Open up about the highs and the lows.  My friend recently sent an email to a group of our close friends because she recently moved far away and she’s having a rough time and just needed to get it out.  This friend is tough as nails and stubborn to no end, I know how much it took her to write this email.  The thing is, her and I talk semi-regularly on the phone and via text and I would ask how things are – but this never came up.  Perhaps it’s guarding oneself, not wanting to be vulnerable, or the weird difference between how discussing physical health vs. mental health is perceived.

Why is it so uncomfortable for me to say that I’ve been hospitalized for attempted suicide?  But had I been hospitalized for pneumonia I wouldn’t think twice about saying that out loud?  Why are we more comfortable posting on Facebook asking for recommendations of dentists than we are for therapists?  Why is it gossiped about if a coworker goes off to substance abuse rehab, then the same gossipers treat that coworker differently when they return as if that coworker is somehow defective?

Receiving treatment for mental health – therapy, rehab, medication, alternative options (I don’t really know these options but I imagine there are some) – is the important part here.  Just like diabetics, no one shames them.  They have a condition that affects their health and so they treat it.  They know that if they don’t pay attention to their body there can be deadly consequences.  Same with anyone who has to monitor their mental health.  I know that if I don’t take my 6 pills a day (3 different Rxs) regularly, avoid drinking for the most part, and get out in the world, I can very easily fall into my cycle of depression and hypomania.  So. . . that’s why I DO take my medication!

It’s so upsetting to think that there are millions of people not talking about their mental health.  People with anxiety, loneliness, mania, psychosis, depression, eating disorders, fear of rejection, you name it – anything that has to do with our emotions – and they’re just not talking about it.  I never really had an emotionally supportive family growing up – we just sort of ignored that part of ourselves (which definitely contributed to the suicide attempt, not a blaming thing, just a statement).  I wasn’t abused and I knew I was loved, I felt safe.  But I didn’t ever feel like I could openly address my feelings.  I imagine this is how a lot of adults feel without significant others or close friends who they can share their deeper (not surface level) thoughts with.  Fortunately for me, I “came of age” in the time of live journal and myspace and oh man, I typed the sh*t outta my feelings!  I wrote (I don’t think there was the term “blog” yet) all of my angst out at my computer and it was the most cathartic thing any middle class teenager who didn’t drink or do drugs could experience.  I miss those days, when only your good friends cared enough to look at what you wrote (when you actually made it public) and employers had no idea what myspace was to do a pre-employment screen.  It now takes restraint to not turn this blog into a mere online diary (I feel as though this post borders on that line, though my goal is to help others more than get any chips off of my shoulders).

What avenues do we have now to address our mental health?  I’m incredibly fortunate to have awesome health benefits through my job.  I’ve got to get my act together and find a new therapist, but I do have a psychiatrist I like so I’m good there.  But for people without health insurance. .  I’ve been to free/low cost clinics and they can be depressing/scary places.  The good therapists cost money.  And most people don’t know that a lot of therapists offer their rates on a sliding scale for cash patients – I had no idea until I interned at counseling office in college.  Of course a therapist isn’t going to go shouting that out to everyone, “Hey!  If you ask, I’ll talk to you about a lower rate!” but it’s an option few people know of.  For people with substance abuse issues, there’s the AA/NA programs, I can’t speak from experience with those but I’ve heard good things.  The part that I like most about those (that I know of) is the sponsor – you have someone, SOMEONE, to talk to – someone who is in the same boat and can relate on a very human level.  There are other support groups as well however that’s intimidating as well.  Admitting you have a problem to a close friend is tough, but a group of strangers??  Or that may be more your comfort level – whatever works for you.  There are even online support groups these days!  Though I would be wary of online trolls. . .

Admitting the problem to others can be even more difficult if you’re one of those people who avoids recognizing that they themselves have a problem.  I just got out of a relationship where I recognized all the signs of mental health issues in my partner so I tried to help, I tried so incredibly hard.  This person even came around to recognize their mental health issue and admit that they wanted help.  However, it took months of instability to finally recognize, then several months more to decide they wanted to get help, and then many months more of continuing to say they were going to get help until finally that never happened and neither of us were going to be happy in the dynamic.  I can completely 100% relate though so although I’m hurt and not happy with them, I’ve been through it and I know it takes time.  I’ve been bipolar for something like 19 years, I didn’t actually get diagnosed until about 8 years ago, I didn’t start taking medication until about 5 years ago, and I haven’t perfected that “cocktail” of pills until about a year and a half ago.  It takes time.  The first step is recognizing there’s something that’s not working right.

I clearly remember when I told my good friend and college roommate that I was diagnosed bipolar some years after we had graduated and settled into adulthood.  I was sitting on her porch and this was something I felt I had to “admit”.  I said, “Hey, umm. . . so I’m bipolar.” and she said “Well yeah, I could have told you that.”  I just stared at her for a minute, she’s always been super blunt and just says whatever is in her mouth at the moment so I was hoping for some sort of follow up.  She explained that when we lived together it would make sense for me to be bipolar because I would spend a couple months napping every minute between classes and forced social activities then every so often there would be a couple weeks of intense activity and poor decision making.  I looked at her in silence for a minute longer then rather loudly said “WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY ANYTHING?????”  If she saw it, and I didn’t, why the hell didn’t she just say something like “Hey, Jess, I think you should see the school psychologist.  You know, just to talk.”  It could have saved me years of anguish.  But, that’s our society.  There’s stigma around mental health.  We can easily say “Hey, your cough doesn’t sound so good, you should get it checked.” but heaven forbid we tell a friend “Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve been really avoiding everything for a few months now, is everything ok? Can we talk about anything?  I’m here for you and will always listen.”  That’s nuts.

So though it’s June, I wanted to take a minute to address mental health, a few dates late of its assigned month.  If you haven’t checked in with yourself, take a few minutes to take stock of where your mental hygiene is.  Could you use some freshening up in the mental health department?  Maybe you could reach out to a friend and have a real conversation. Or check out one of those online support groups for whatever has you concerned.  Do you have a friend that you may be worried about?  Check in with them!  Let them know there’s no stigma with mental health for you and that you’re there to listen.  If we all start talking about mental health it won’t be so shrouded in secrets.

 

Contemplating the Chemicals of the Brain

The thing about neurodiversity is that sometimes, in treating it you lose a part of yourself. With regulation comes a certain quiet that you’re not used to, having struggled for so long to create stability then finding yourself in this serene existence you can forget who you are. Your chemicals become so regulated that somewhere on the trail of finding the perfect concoction, you forget that you’re alive. You forget how it feels to feel.  You become a machine performing your daily tasks and somehow you’re grateful because you’re not on the floor crying or yelling at your partner for no reason so that’s an improvement, right?

But is it? Bipolar disorder can be life-threatening and it has been for me. It has also ruined relationships, caused me to lose a job, contributed to bad choices, caused weight fluctuations throughout my life, and made me question who I was and why I existed in a way that no one should ever experience in their life. It’s a very serious chemical imbalance that can be treated.

I’ve had several fellow creative bipolar friends who choose not to medicate because the mania of bipolar can lend itself to creative bursts (as well as very negative things like insomnia, poor decision making abilities, and suicide) and they believe medication will dampen their creativity. I’ve been regularly medicated for the past 3 years now and just in the past few months have I realized that my creativity, as it once flourished, has disappeared. The creative energy that used to so readily flow through me has been absent, save for a few occurrences here and there.  I didn’t notice this until I decided that I want to start up my Etsy shop again and live my life creatively because I quickly came to the scary conclusion that I may not have that creative ability any more (or at least the access to it).

I considered my options and decided that I could try going off of my medication when my three month supply got to the end (in a month and a half) because I figured I’d be going to the gym regularly at that point so that should stave off potential depression. I think this sent the signal to my subconscious that taking my medications wasn’t that important because I forgot to take them more often than usual. I have three different pills I take twice a day and I would forget an AM or PM dosage of some combo of them. That brought upon a meltdown that came out of nowhere and for no reason – it felt so uncomfortably like “the old days”, before medication. I was back where I had taken 3 years to crawl away from. I DETESTED it. The boo was kind and patient even though he had no idea what was going on and eventually it passed but holy hot damn, it sucked. If there is one feeling in the world I think every human can agree is one of the worst, it’s not feeling in control – especially of YOURSELF.

So, I will not be going off of my medications any time soon. I miss my creativity dearly, I do not miss my instability and depression – if one wins here it’s the feeling of control unfortunately. I’ll be looking for a new doctor closer to my new place and maybe they can help me find a different mix of medication that doesn’t make me feel quite as serene, because you know, I like a little quiet disruption every once in a while.

FWB – The Sea of Self-Discovery

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Here I am, drowning in the sea of self-discovery.  My tired arms are desperately flailing to find THAT ONE life preserver that’s just screaming for me to dedicate my life to grasping it.

I NEED to help people.  I have been altruistic since childhood when I would gladly give up my “things” to children who wanted to share them.  I rummaged through my parents’ box of my old school things and found a stack of notes sent home from preschool, one after the other informing them that I had been bitten again that day.  Apparently if a kid needed to let out anger I was a willing target, repeatedly.  Some may see that as a pushover but I would retort that they were perhaps just not as willing to “take one for the team” as I was.  (ok, maybe I was a little bit of a pushover/ninny)

My major and I found each other in college when I suddenly decided to take 3 psychology courses in one semester just because – having never taken one before.  I fell in love with the subject – the human mind is a fascinating thing that I could dedicate my life to learning about.  I also felt this incredible enveloping sense of comfort when we studied disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar because inside I was screaming “OHMYGOD!  They’re talking about ME!!!”  But then there came the inevitable “psychology student syndrome” that every undergrad psych student experiences and I started to wonder if I would become a serial killer because yeah, sometimes I had dissociation, or maybe I was OCD because yeah, sometimes I have rituals and can’t stand disorder.  But there it was, psychology, a field where I could understand people and help them understand AND help themselves.  I was in love.

I graduated college with the BA in psych and double minors in women’s studies and sociology (overachiever!  and truly I would have loved to have double majored in women’s studies but alas that was not available at the time) and set out into the world to help people.  I started right out the gate working with juveniles on probation for substance abuse performing their intake evaluations as well as running group counseling for them.  I loved it for a while.  I was young enough to relate to these kids and try to reason with them rather than yell at them.  Then I met the horrible parents who could care less about their kids.  Some of the kids didn’t give any shits about my help and continued down the path of self-destruction.  One kid ended up collapsing his lung from an overdose.  I think my boss saw what the job was doing to my soul and he suggested that I try working on a preventative program.  He gave me complete free reign to create my own program to teach at the local EBD school (emotional behavioral disorder).  IT WAS AWESOME.  Holy crap.  I carefully crafted a six week program covering how the brain develops (because it’s important for teenagers to know that their frontal lobes which are responsible for reason are not fully developed until early-mid 20’s), nicotine addiction, alcohol and substance abuse, peer pressure, and how it’s awesome to be yourself and say no to those things.  I had so much fun going to that school once a week and teaching 3 classrooms of about 10 kids each.  I’m pretty sure only half of them listened but it felt amazing to even be trying to make a positive impact.

Since that job I have only had one other psych-related position – working at a residential facility for girls who had been removed from several other facilities due to misbehavior (meaning this place was almost the last resort before prison).  This one was tough.  I got bit.  I had to physically restrain girls.  I got to teach art therapy (yay!) only to have some of the girls throw their crayons at me (sad).  I got yelled at and called some very nasty things.  Yet again I saw parents that were worse than SCUM.  It was heart breaking.  There were a couple of girls that I connected with and happily saw them successfully leave the facility – but it wasn’t enough to make me feel like I made a difference.  Soul.  Crushed.

Fast forward today where I’m an office administrator not-so-sneakily trying to stack more HR responsibilities onto my plate because that’s what makes my soul feel more whole.  Yes, I mostly punch calculator buttons and stare at Excel sheets, but today I got to work on making up our employee review process including using SMART goals both given to the employee and that the employee makes for themselves that they truly want to accomplish.  My hope is to help our employees feel valued here and feel like they have a purpose – as well as educate their managers on how to give them SMART goals.  I’m pretty nerdily excited.

Now, do I want to be a paper pusher for the rest of my life?  Or the rest of my 30’s?  No way!  But this is paying my bills while I cook up my master scheme and continue to flail through the ocean of options that is realizing my purpose in life. . .

keepin it real – Jessie

FWB – Oops. . . I did it again. But this time, I learned something!

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Holy geez I did exactly what I promised myself I wouldn’t do.  I disappeared for far too long and got lost in the game of trying to maintain my mental normalcy while balancing all the life stuff.

A lot has happened in the time I’ve been gone.  I started lithium with AMAZING results!  Holy crap!  Is this how it feels to feel normal?  Where’s the lengthy depression, agitation, and pointless sadness?  Gone?  Alright, cool!  I feel 100% myself for the first time in a while – and thanks to the balance of medications I know it’s not just a manic swing disguised as happy times.  This is genuine happiness.  I still feel stress and anxiety and some restlessness, but none of that can stop me like it used to.  I simply pause to reflect on the feeling then move on.  I can’t tell you how great that feels.

I have a lot to write about but in order to prevent any readers out there from losing interest in this post I will say the one point that has me on my laptop instead of playing solitaire as per my usual weeknight tendencies (what?  solitaire is awesome!).

Ladies and gentleman. . . I have. . . a direction!  Now, I say “a” direction because I’ve never been at a lack for direction – quite the opposite – I’ve had a million directions all at once pulling me every which way and thus resulting in getting very little done toward any one single direction I wish to go.  But now!  Now there’s focus and clarity and I feel this urge deep within me to get this one thing started.

So I’m gonna do it!  I’ll be blogging regularly again (like, actually writing it in my planner!) (PS – have you seen this thing??  I’m totally getting one!  www.passionplanner.com) and I will be working on my upcoming website – www.fourthwavebiz.com – a place for girls, teens, young women, and women to find resources for deciding and navigating their own career paths.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this.

Definitely stay tuned!  I hope to be sharing with you all along the way and maybe asking for you to contribute your own advice – because it’s incredibly valuable, believe it or not!

See you soon!  (No, seriously.   SOON!)

FWB – Medication Roller Coasters

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Holy geez it’s been a while.  Sorry for the interruption of your regularly scheduled blog posts – I went on a bit of a depression hiatus.

Due to my inability to see my old psychiatrist (he’s back where I used to live – an hour away) and a really long wait to get in with my new psychiatrist, I had a week’s lapse of taking my mood stabilizing medication.  Unfortunately, said medication can cause severe rash in a minority of patients so as a precaution most psych doctors will prescribe a titration up to the full dose starting with a tiny dose.  Because I missed a week the titration had to start all over again.  When I usually take 200mg I was starting back at 25mg which caused one hell of a depressive swing.  (Yes, yes, I know I broke the ultimate rule of staying on my medication. . . trust me, it will NEVER happen again.)

Because of this, the past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions, mostly hovering over the lowest point.  Yes, I made it to work and got out of bed and ate food regularly (maybe too much?) but everything was a grey haze and I enjoyed very little.  I neglected this blog because I had nothing good to say – it would have been an awful negative mess of discouragement and nobody wants that!

But here I am, back on 200mg for the past couple of weeks and feeling so much better.  This whole bipolar thing is a lot of work and can cause a lot of grief when not properly cared for (yes, I know it’s my own damn fault).  Luckily my boo is an awesome support system and I have some great understanding friends.

Onward with the news updates!

I passed my two Masters of Entrepreneurship classes!  An A in Strategic Entrepreneurship and a B in New Venture Formation – pretty good for my first ever semester of a Masters program!  I plan on getting a blog post together summarizing what I learned – the juicy bits at least.  Strategic Entrepreneurship was painful.  A good chunk of my grade was based on this online simulation that was just awful and taught me very little.  New Venture Formation was great – the professor was blunt in his honesty of just how hard it is to start a business.  We had some great speakers and did some fun group activities that better explained and encouraged the creative process.

I was elected president for my chapter of ABWA (the American Business Women’s Association) for the 2014-2015 year.  Pretty exciting!  My group joined the local Chamber of Commerce as a recruiting tool which should be a lot of fun.  I’ve already attended one event – just to scope it out.  It’s going to be a challenge for me to reach out to strangers and actually talk to them. . . about adulty business things. . . without saying things like ‘adulty’. . .

I play recreational roller derby but had to miss it during the semester since my class fell on the same date as practice.  This weekend AND last weekend I skated 14 miles with the boo at a really great local park/trail.  I’m trying to get fit and lose the ‘depression/lack of derby’ weight that I seem to have accumulated.  Hopefully this will also help with keeping me motivated in other areas (*cough cough blog and Etsy!*).

Anyway. . . on to helping YOU, the reader. . .

I’ve got a lot of resources to comb through and pick out the best to share with you!  Now that I’m back up and running at an optimal level this shouldn’t take too long.  Stay tuned!

Also keep an eye out for my course synopses!

Hope you all have been productive in your own business adventures while I was gone!

FWB – The Business of Bipolar Disorder

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Hi, my name is Jessie and I’m bipolar.

True story.  I’m Type II with rapid cycling and hypomania.  I’ve been medicated for a little over a year now and let me tell you, medication and health insurance have saved my life.  I’ve spent the majority of my life in some depressive state.  I’ve avoided making friends, dealt with a rather extensive list of insecurities (beyond the ‘normal’ amount), ruined relationships, missed countless opportunities, and just existed for so long it’s an amazing change to be balanced out now.  I finally love life and appreciate the majority of my days (no one is perfect).  I still struggle with depression from time to time – even all the medication in the world can’t fix everything.  

Bipolar, in my own little explanation, is an instability in moods.  I can’t control my ups and downs which range from feeling on top of the world to contemplating what life would be like without me in it.  It’s serious business and not a fun thing to struggle with on a daily basis.  I firmly believe in chemical imbalances – I think that I was wired this way and I thank the heavens for medication that can help alleviate my most interruptive (I made up that word) symptoms.  I go through cycles of a couple months of normalcy, a couple weeks of hypomania (less intensive mania), and a couple weeks of depression – all interspersed at random intervals and timing.  Truly it’s really annoying and I feel like it hinders my success to a degree.

So what has this meant for my various business ventures?  I haven’t functioned steadily – with predictable moods – in quite some time.  I love the customer service aspect of my job most days; making people happy makes me happy in turn.  However, when I’m in a depressive mood it’s a huge burden to get up the strength (yes, it takes strength) to get my tone to the level that it is when I’m doing fine.  I turn into Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh – it’s just ridiculous.  Most of the time I’m super upbeat and positive almost to the point of annoying my friends but as soon as the depression kicks in I withdraw from everything I love and cower in my bed for a couple weeks.  I can’t concentrate at work, I’m nervous about everything, I doubt myself, I don’t see a point in doing anything and human interaction becomes a huge stressor.  When I’m in a hypomanic phase I’m writing and completing to-do lists, I’m emailing like a machine, I’m confident, I plan for a bright future and I’m overall a super happy person – it’s GREAT!  I wish I could be in that state all the time!  (Side note: full on mania is NOT a good thing, I’m not trying to make a case for it – I’m talking about my own personal version of hypomania.)  When I’m functioning normally it’s a nice balance of reality with a slightly elevated mood (I truly am a positive person at my core).

So there you have it.  It’s so weird to have something that you feel like you need to admit to other people.  I wish mental health issues didn’t have such a stigma to them in our society.  It’s like a diabetic dealing with their diabetes – I take care of myself, am knowledgeable about my condition, and I take my medication.  I don’t feel that I should be judged any differently from someone with a balanced brain chemistry – we’re all the same when it comes down to who we are as humans.

And that, my friends, is my personal explanation for the day.  I hope you can appreciate my openness and maybe go forward with a little more knowledge than before – the more you know and such.