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

 

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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.

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!

It’s a Process – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 05

good-luck

Oh Geez, you guys, it’s been a doozy lately. Work has been a mess, packing up to move (maybe?) in two weeks has been a mess, closing on a house when my realtor is a mess and the seller is a mess has been. . . a MESS, working on a business plan for a dream I’ve been doubting for over a decade has been a mess, and my eating habits have been a mess. All of this leads to my life feeling like I’m constantly worrying about a tornado that could come at any time, then in the worrying I cause a tornado myself somehow.

I’ve been talking to Ms. Therapist about a combination of this MESS and my childhood a lot lately. It’s brought up a LOT of shit and while we’ve worked through some of it together, there’s a lot of it left that I’ll be working on for a good, long while.

Mental health isn’t something you can just slap a band-aid on and call yourself cured – despite how much I’m sure we all wish it was. Though I’m happy to have started on this journey I’m sometimes overwhelmed with the viewpoint I’ve got from here. It’s like being stuck on the top of a hill in a traffic jam and you can see below you that there’s at least another 20 miles of bumper to bumper traffic between you and your destination. If you’re doing well your gas gauge is reading at least half-full, your AC is in good working order, and you’ve got some good jams or podcasts to keep you company (or an actual person/furry friend in the copilot seat). If things are a mess, everyone’s horns are blaring, your windows are down for any relief from the heat, and the only thing that works on your stereo is the tape player which has had Hanson’s MMM Bop single stuck in there since the 90’s – it’s ALL you can listen to. I’m somewhere in between those two traffic jam rides right now. I’m hopeful that this house will go through and within 3 weeks I’ll be cruising at a moderate speed with some uplifting episode of “Modern Love” playing and I dunno, if I’m dreaming big, getting a text from a cute new boo.

Anyway, times are stressful right now and I’m incredibly thankful to have a therapist there to remind me that I’m ok. I’m working on myself and my life – this is a PROCESS and I need to give myself credit and patience to work through it all.

Sometimes I just gotta tell myself to hug it out. With my cat. Ellie. (for now!)

Your Mom – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 4

I didn’t really know how to title this post and I figured “your mom” jokes were still in from the 90’s, yeah? 

No? 

Oh, alright. 

This week’s therapy session inadvertently centered on my mom. She and I (her and I? I’m not sure) had a very strained relationship for a very long time – up until my early 20’s. In my freshman year of high school I attempted suicide and ended up in a psych facility because I had thoughts that I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about, especially my mom. She’s always been a “suck it up, buttercup” parental figure and I resented that. 

Today during therapy I said something aloud that I’ve never really allowed myself to before. I know my mom means well and I believe that she believes she’s doing the best she can so I’ve never told this to any exes because I didn’t want them to judge my mom based on a history that’s nearly two decades old. But today I was talking to Ms. Therapist who will never meet my mom and is paid to listen to this kind of thing and help me work through it so out it came. 

When I attempted suicide at the age of 14 I felt that ceasing to exist was the only way to get the painful/confusing/sad thoughts I was having to stop. Looking back I realize that really, I wanted to do something that made my mom listen, that would hopefully make her realize I was in so much pain that she couldn’t ignore me. I ended up being Baker Acted (a mandatory 72 hour hold on someone who presents a threat to themselves or others in the state of Florida) and stayed in an adolescent psych facility. 

I don’t remember a lot about my time at that place – random snippets here and there but one thing that’s seared into my memory is a visit from my parents. My mom brought me a nice bath robe (they removed the belt) and some books to read which was a very nice gesture. But (there’s always a “but”!) on her way out she said something about how my stay there was “costing her a fortune”. Ya know, paying for my own health insurance now, I understand that sentiment but I will NEVER understand how those words came out of her mouth at me in that situation. I wanted to SCREAM at her at that moment. I wanted to rage at her with a rant about how I felt like nothing but a burden to her, how she probably wanted to have babies and NOT actual children who would grow up, how I was so hurt that she never cared about how my day was at the dinner table every night, how hard it was to be a teenager, and how much I just wanted a parent to TALK to, how much it was killing me inside to have to quiet my feelings because our family didn’t do emotions.  

As I got older I started forgetting a lot of the bad bits of my childhood. As I dated and made friends with people who had abusive or entirely absent parents I began to replace my resentment with gratitude for my emotionally stunted but overall supportive parents. Sure my mom didn’t dote on me but she didn’t beat me either. 

Saying that story aloud in therapy today felt freeing. Ms. Therapist helped me work through it a bit but mostly I explained that I’ve moved on and accepted my mom for who she is. I can’t change her; she’s in her 60’s and I’ve only got a handful of family left so it’s much easier to move on than dig up the past and try to explain something I don’t think she’ll ever fully understand. In her mind she did an excellent job because in comparison to how her parents raised her, I had a cakewalk. 

So there ya have it. The classic “mother issues” therapy session. No, I don’t blame all of my woes on my mom. I do believe my unease with letting people past my defenses can be traced back to how I was raised. I’m sure you can see how being the “baby” of the stoic family that doesn’t talk about emotions or ever cry could potentially cause one to shut people out. . . But I’m working on that! For reals.