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. . .)

 

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  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

 

The Danger of Perceived Security

During my business conference an instructor quoted Helen Keller and it struck a chord.

There truly is no such thing as security. My life right now is about trying to build myself up to be as solid as possible – independent from codependency, debt, possessions, and the need for approval. During this time I’m also prepping for that big jump, whatever it may be, so that I’m completely ready to face my fears. I’m open to any and all opportunities because, like Helen Keller alludes to, there is no such thing as a safe bet.

I hope you can find courage in this quote rather than fear. Embrace the fact that in the end, there’s only you and you’ve got to make the most out of that.

 

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Swearwords as motivation

If you’ve read my blog in the last couple of weeks you may recall this post here:  It’s a Process – try, fail, succeed

In that post I shared a lovely graphic that I made in the hopes of inspiring you to embrace failure.

Well, after asking a representative at Canva if I could use swearwords in a non-defamatory way with their site to make my graphics, I got just the answer I was looking for: yes.

I bring to you, my motivation through swearwords version of that graphic.  This one should not be displayed on cubical walls.  But definitely text it to your bestie if they’re having a hard time at work.  They’ll appreciate it.

Copy of When you repeat the cycle of is sitting on the other side of fear. (1)

Super Sage Relationship Wisdom – Before the Beginning

So maybe I don’t know a WHOLE lot about SUCCESSFUL relationships/dating, but I’ve been doing it for a while now and I’ve learned some things so. . . here they are.

 

Before you even decide to BEGIN a new relationship there are a few key ingredients you should be looking for before you make the leap.

Start with the Self-Love

Before you even consider entering into a romantic partnership with another human being, you should be pretty well comfortable with who YOU are as a human being FIRST.  Ain’t nobody got time to be fixing you up, honey!  That’s your own job!  If you’ve got any lingering “issues”, please, for the sanity of yourself and your soon-to-be sweetie, DEAL with them!  Of course, I understand that we all have our issues and the mountain of minor ones will never ALL be resolved, but I’m talking about the big ones here.  Sort out those skeletons in the closet so that when those little minor issues come up in the relationship, they just seem like adorable little quirks for you and your partner to figure out together.

If you notice a trend of going from one relationship to the next, pause for a minute next time to give yourself time to reflect.  It’s very easy to fall into the ebb and flow of “serial monogamy” but if your last relationship dredged up anything that might need some processing, you should consider taking a step back and focus on yourself for a bit.  Work on who you are outside of the “relationship equation” so that you can be even more solid the next go around.

My point is, you’ve got to do this hard work to be able to begin a relationship as a whole person.  If you don’t absolutely LOVE who you are, how will anyone else?  This doesn’t have to be an unconditional 24-7 kind of love, I don’t even think Oprah’s capable of that, but if you can’t look at where you are in your life and be happy with the person you are and the path you’re on, perhaps YOU should be your top priority for now – not someone else.

 

Que sera, sera

“What will be, will be” I swear this is my mom’s favorite piece of relationship advice to me on any given day.  I will admit that this broken record approach of hers might be merited. . .  If you find yourself being impatient, always acting as “the first”, or perhaps your friends have told you to chill out over a person a few times – you may need this sound bit of advice.  Yes, there is a time to act, and no, I can’t say with certainty WHEN that is, but if the potential for a relationship is starting to break ground – give it room (and TIME) to grow.  According to my mom, if something is meant to come of a connection between two people, it will happen inevitably.  This is easy for her to say, having been married to my dad for 42 years at the time he died in 2011, because she’s had that ONE partner, nearly her entire life – but I’m trying to apply it to my own life as well (easier said than done!).  I don’t know about the concept of fate, but somehow I can reconcile the belief that things happen for a reason – and I apply that here.

So if you’ve got a potential partner, or maybe some missed connection, just wait it out.  Keep yourself busy with activities/people/places that make you happy.  Don’t just wait around.  Now, if you’ve given the relationship in question a good amount of time, space, whatever, and there’s still inaction – I don’t know what to tell you then.  You can try to “act first” but beware that you may get hurt (this has been my M.O. most of the time, and it does hurt when the answer is “no”, but then you’re not left wondering “what if” – I HATE being left in the “wondering” way more than I dislike dealing with the “no”).  Keep in mind that once you receive a “no” in any way, shape, or form, you had best respect that and move on.

 

Know Your Non-Negotiables

A friend of mine once pointed out that with each newly ended relationship, we come out with at least 1-2 more “non-negotiables” which we can use to more easily sort through potential partners.  A “non-negotiable” is something like “they’re voting for Trump and that’s not cool” or “they have to be ok with two babies, three cats, and 5 goldfish” – whatever those MUST HAVES (or absolutely cannot haves) are to you.  From the 2.5 year relationship I learned the non-negotiable of “trust without thinking” (see below) and “must be a feminist” – these things may change definitions over time and from person to person, but if there is something that REALLY matters to you, you should not give that up for someone.  If it’s something like “must have a nice car”, well now, perhaps you could look at their other attributes and see how much that single one really does matter to you.  If it still REALLY matters, then put it on your list!

I’ll admit here that there’s some grey area with this.  Ok, A LOT of grey area, read my post on Negotiating the Non-Negotiable here.  As I said, these can be flexible and they can change over time.  If you want someone who doesn’t smoke for instance, perhaps you’ll consider someone on the premise that “one day they’ll quit” – that’s all your call.  Maybe use some of the point above and give the new relationship a little “que sera, sera” treatment to see how things shake out those first few months.  You may just find out that your own non-negotiable is in fact, 100% opposite of what you thought!

 

Trust without Thinking

DO NOT ignore your gut!  So many times I have seen friends ignore their initial instincts “Yeah, they seem a little off, but they’re super cute so it’s cool, yeah?” only to have it bite them in the ass shortly after (and by friends I mean myself included).  Use your own initial reaction, as well as that of your friends (TRUST THEM! They’re thinking way more clearly than you are!), to gauge potential partners.  If you get the sense of “red flags” please for the love of your heart, pay attention.

The best relationships I’ve had are the ones that came from either friendships or the “refer a friend” method.  Either way, these partners were vetted – I knew they were legit GOOD people.  That’s part of the reason I dislike the idea of online dating so much, you have NO IDEA who this person really is, and even your gut can lie when it tells you to trust someone implicitly.  But when you’ve been referred by a friend, that potential partner usually comes with some recommendation and at least a little backstory.

With any new relationship it’s important that you are able to trust that person outright.  If there is any cause at all for you to doubt that person, what’s the point of letting yourself open up to them?  That’s why I call it the “trust without thinking”, it’s on some subconscious level that you instinctively know you can trust this person with your personal stories, and eventually your heart.

 

Obviously that list isn’t exhaustive, just a brief collection of my most recent lessons.  What have been your most valuable lessons in relationships recently?

-The Flutter-

BONUS to look for:  “The Flutter”

My mom’s pretty adorable sometimes and recently she outdid herself.  We were talking about relationships (in which she gave me the que sera, sera speech) when she asked me if I felt “the flutter” with someone.  I asked her to clarify, thinking I pretty well understood what she meant but I really wanted to hear the “mom” explanation.  She went on to describe how she felt every time she saw my dad (and then any time she sees someone who resembles him from afar now after he died – which is heart-breaking) when she would get this feeling like a breath caught in her chest from excitement.  Or when you smile just thinking about someone.  The heart skipping a beat feeling.  I think it’s a universal feeling, maybe all just a little different from person to person, but for my mom it’s that breath of excitement caught in her chest for just a moment.

Of course, it’s very easy to start a relationship this way – there’s almost always an initially exciting attraction that causes your heart to race when you think about that person.  But my mom’s point was that her feeling STAYED, through 42 years – 2 kids, countless arguments, deaths, moves, 9/11, and into the aging process when your metabolism slows and your wrinkles get deeper.  So if you’ve found someone, dated them for a bit, found out that maybe they snore or quote cartoons more than most people, and you still feel “the flutter”, then you might have someone worth keeping around for a while.

 

I see what you did there, life

That right there is one of the 9 intentions that I wrote down for myself back at the new moon (no, it doesn’t actually look that cool in person, I just happened to do some filter stuff post-production).

They say you should put your intentions out there and accept them as they come to you. Looking at my 9 scraps of paper last night I realized that this one is coming to fruition in a slightly different way, for the good of my own personal development I believe.

The big 2-and-a-half year relationship that ended a few months ago hurt me. I had never felt so betrayed in love and I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d be able to separate the feeling from whatever relationship came next. After a few weeks of dating a genuine good guy though, I began to see the difference between the two and started to feel safer (still a bit guarded, but safer). I was in fact capable of dropping that baggage off at the train station and just sending it off to the other coast.  This is awesome news.

I wrote that intention after being with someone who had, without my conscious awareness, fostered the building of a fortress within me.  I’m not proud to admit that I let that happen but I am proud to admit that I came out of that relationship determined to figure out who I am.

Looking back at this scrap of paper, I can see what I was trying to go for: rather than finding (notice how I changed it from “find” to “attract”? sometimes I just have to have a laugh at myself) someone who would either encourage the wall-building or just allow me to go about my life with the wall intact, I wanted someone to actively help me challenge myself to be happier and healthier in my habits.

It took a tough discussion, a panic-and-run, some continually feeling awful, and a lot of contemplation to figure out something which has broken down a Wall of China-sized wall for me.  This level of deconstructing should NOT happen in a relationship (at least not a newly starting one), at least not for me.  I have some shit to figure out and building myself (mySELF, not my wall) back up as the sole brick layer is the best thing I can do right now.  Yes, I do still want to find that ultimate partner in crime to join me on the roller coaster ride of life, but for once I realize that I have some work to do on my own for a bit.

Thanks to a paid plane ticket to Baltimore for work, a friend who lives in DC with his girlfriend (so a free place to crash), and cheap public transit between the two, I am officially taking a 5 day vacation by myself to tour DC.  SOLO.  I am SO FREAKING EXCITED.  I have never in my life traveled solo.  I’ll be there on a Saturday-Wednesday, probably hanging out with the couple on Saturday and Sunday (ummmmm I found an EIGHTIES party at a club that Saturday night, costumes encouraged, so YEAH we’re going to that) but they work weekdays 8-5 so I will be on my own then.  I’ve already started planning my sites to see and I can’t tell you in words how excited I am to do this.  Traveling solo probably isn’t a big deal to a lot of people, but this is something new and exciting for me.  On my list so far is the American Indian museum, 80’s party, the Holocaust museum, drag queen brunch, the Museum of Natural History, M Monday at the Duplex Diner, the Washington Monument, karaoke at an awesome gay club, I even requested a pass to tour the White House from my Congress woman, and the Smithsonian Zoo (because: baby red pandas).  That list is not exhaustive by any means – I’m sure it will only get longer.  The whole trip will be an excellent time to just let myself think and breathe the different air without a concern in the world.  SO EXCITED.

So you see, world, I’m on to your little game.  I get it.  I shouldn’t need someone to break down my walls (though there certainly was a catalyst in this) and I shouldn’t be relying on anyone but myself (and perhaps the assistance of a qualified mental health professional) to figure out my true core and build it out from the ground up to be more whole, happy, healthy, loving, accepting, and empowering.  I think I can play by those rules.