Does anyone else remember twenty questions? With Grace starting Kindergarten, I knew I wanted to do something to document this age. So I thought, why not play it with Grace? It could be interesting, haha. She has come into her personality so much in the past year. She is smart, talented, funny, kind, and so much more. As we get older, we start to forget what it’s like to view the world through the eyes of a child. Are you ready to see the world from Grace’s eyes? I know I am.
How old are you? “I’m Five Mom, you know this.”
What’s your full name? “Well, it’s Grace Melinda”
What is love to you? “Umm…love is hugs and kisses. A lot of them.”
How old is Mommy? Daddy? “Uh, Mommy. I think you’re sixteen. And Daddy too, Daddy is sixteen too.”
What do you want to be when you grow up? “A police officer. Definitely a police officer.”
What’s your favorite thing you own? “My Hatchimals. They’re so tiny and cute.”
What animal would you like to be? Why? “A Cheetah. Oh! Actually, a flying Cheetah with angel wings. I want to be fast.”
What makes you feel loved? “Kisses and hugs. And when people throw their trash away. It’s the right thing to do.”
Where would you go if you could fly? “The waterpark. I love the waterpark. Can we go now?”
What makes you sad? Happy? “It makes me sad when I’m by myself. Hatchimals, birds, and stuffed animals make me happy.”
What’s your favorite memory? “Fishing with Mommy and Coco.”
How tall is Daddy? “Taller than you, Mom.”
What’s your favorite thing about yourself? “That I’m like you Mommy.”
What do you dream about? “Sharkboy and Lava Girl.”
Do you have a best friend? “Phoenix. She’s a girl. She’s very nice and pretty. Just like you Mommy.”
How does it feel to be a Kindergartener? “Good. It’s so much fun.”
What’s your superhero name? “Super G.”
What would your powers be? “Ice, fire, water, Earth, and winter.”
Who’s your favorite dog? “Um…sometimes Sofa, and sometimes Major. I like white dogs.”
If you could do anything, what would it be? “Go to the waterpark. I love the waterpark Mommy. Please can we go?”
That was fun to do. It’s humbling to see how your kids view things. It’s always so pure. Grace is the best, and I feel lucky that she is mine. This year is going to be so good for her. I’m excited to watch her grow and learn. She’s a beautiful, smart little girl. I’m so proud to call myself her Mom. Time goes by so fast, so make sure you cherish every moment. Take pictures. Videos. Save those memories…I promise you won’t regret it. I’m excited to come back to these questions in the future and see how she viewed the world. Grace Melinda, you are a star. I love you so much.
I’ll be twenty-five in three days. When I think back to seven years ago when I graduated high school, I feel many different things. Mostly, I’m just glad I’m not that person anymore. My mental health growing up wasn’t the best, and I was very self-destructive. I had Grace when I was nineteen. Life, school, friends, everything got put on the back burner. At some point, I stopped dreaming and wanting things. My daughter just turned five, and when I look at her I can’t help but hope that she never stops dreaming. This past year has been life-changing for me. I got my medication back on track, and I’ve started to make myself a priority. Growing up has always terrified me, but it’s time to embrace it. Sometimes I forget that I am still young, and I can still have dreams. So…it’s time to dream again.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I stopped going to school a few years ago, and never found the right time to return. I couldn’t commit to it because I knew I wasn’t all in. So, I’ve bounced around jobs over the years. Mostly bartending, I’ve gotten quite good at it. Haha. I spent the last year thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. At first, I thought Vet Tech would be pretty cool. I even started paying for a course, but I’m so busy. I quickly learned I wasn’t passionate enough about it. When I quit this one job back in 2017 and got sober, I started working at a yoga studio. I had just had a year off to recuperate, and I threw myself into those free classes they gave me. I had been searching for a safe place for so long. Somewhere where I could be in tune with my mind and body, and I had finally found it. I don’t work there anymore, but I never let go of it. Yoga and meditation have become a crucial part of my daily routine.
So, I’m proud to announce that I am about to start that journey. Not only have I been trying to figure out what to do in life, but I’ve also been learning how to love myself more. Younger Madison had no sense of self-worth, and that makes me so sad. I’ve spent my whole life putting everyone else first. That ends this year. I deserve to be number one. My dreams no longer need to stand on the sidelines. I’m so much more than just a mom. I’m a sister, girlfriend (soon to be fiancé maybe?), daughter, and I have dreams. I have dreams that I have to follow. Dreams that I need to pursue, and now is the perfect time for that.
Self-love doesn’t come easy to all of us. I still don’t really know how it works, haha. I’ve spent years hating myself, and I’m starting to think that maybe I fed into my issues a little bit. Body dysmorphia peered its ugly head when I was in middle school. I remember taking the shoelaces off of my shoes and measuring the width of my thighs. For some reason, I’ve never viewed myself as beautiful. Almost twenty-five years of life, and I have yet to look at myself and think I’m beautiful. That’s no way to live. Makeup has never really been my thing and in a world full of it, I kind of stick out sometimes. When I wear makeup, I feel even more insecure. Does that make sense? I don’t want to portray myself as anything less than who I am. With that being said, there is nothing wrong with a good makeup look. I will doll up from time to time. It’s just my personal choice to not wear it except for special occasions.
2021 is MY year. I promised myself that I’d start thinking of myself more. Shit, I’m only twenty-five years old. I have DREAMS. I have aspirations. I want to do something with my life. It doesn’t matter if my dreams aren’t enough for other people, all that matters is that I love what I do. This year was a game-changer. I have begun my journey into loving myself again. Grace started Kindergarten. My brother started a new journey at a new school. And me? I’m embracing my birthday this year. There’s nothing wrong with getting older. Life only gets better from here. I’m beautiful, smart, talented, and I deserve nothing less than the best.
I became a mom while my friends were attending frat parties. I was nineteen when Grace was born and turned twenty a month later. I wasn’t diagnosed with Bipolar until a few years after she was born. Post-partum hit me like a train and lasted for months. My parents are divorced, so I had an idea already of what kind of parent I wanted to be. I am also the oldest of three. Riley wasn’t old enough to see much of my struggles after high school, but Will was. I knew I wanted to shield Grace from seeing times like that. All moms struggle, even the ones without a mental illness. Being Bipolar doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent–I believe it makes me a better one.
People tend to forget that Bipolar Disorder is an illness, just like diabetes. It disrupts your everyday life, and it’s a lifestyle change for sure. When I first got diagnosed, I’ll admit I went off the rails. I was young, and I didn’t understand what was going on. Medication was something I wasn’t interested in at first. They always made me feel foggy or sick. I was throwing up all the time. As the years have gone by, I’ve gained more of an understanding of what is best for me. During the first year, Tristan’s parents were such lifesavers (although they’ve always been). I knew I didn’t want Grace to have to experience the bad episodes, and they understood. Whenever I knew I was not well, she was always welcome at their house. I have so much gratitude for Tristan’s parents. Their support over the years means so much to me.
Stable is not a word you think of when it comes to the word Bipolar. When you become a mom, stability is something that HAS to be in your vocabulary. Children require a stable home environment. My parents are divorced, and it was something I didn’t handle well as a kid. It was also something I didn’t handle well at twenty either. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had a pretty good idea about what kind of life I wanted for my kid. Little did I know I’d be pregnant two years later, haha. It came fast. I like to think we did well with Grace. She has so much love in her heart, and she’s going to do big things. I promise.
To be honest with everyone, there have been very few times that Grace has seen one of my episodes. We moved into Tristan’s parents shortly after she was born, so she’s always felt comfortable at both places. I’ve shielded Grace from most of it, but one day we’ll have to have a conversation about it. She hasn’t seen an episode since she was a baby and we couldn’t talk about it. I’m not naïve, I know I can’t hide it forever. I’ve spent so much time thinking about the day we talk about it. I want to be as open and honest with Grace as much as I can be.
I know that I will never lose perspective when it comes to how my illness affects her. It’s so important to me that she knows that my symptoms are not her fault, they’re parts of an illness. Our line of communication will always be honest. I want her to feel comfortable coming to me with questions, and I want to be able to answer as best as I can. Counseling is something that could also be helpful. My biggest fear is Grace ending up like me (not that I’m awful), but I want her to be happy forever. Unrealistic, I know. I’m going to do my best to make sure she has the best life. Grace Melinda deserves the world.
There isn’t a handbook when it comes to parenting. You take life as it comes, and you cherish every moment of it. It goes by too fast. Even if you don’t have an illness, motherhood can still be challenging. For all you moms out there, you’re not alone. Becoming a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me. Grace is amazing. We got so lucky. Kindergarten is in less than a month, and I know she is going to do so well. My little genius (she’ll tell you this herself).
There are a few things I like to keep in mind being a parent with Bipolar Disorder. Here you go 🙂
Consider your loved ones feelings always.
Show love as much as you can.
Listen to them.
Don’t feel shame. Your illness is not you or your family’s fault.
Learn how to become more aware when an episode is coming on, and how better to handle it.
TWO MORE DAYS until Manic Mama’s OFFICIAL launch. So far, this blog has proved to be just what I needed. I had so many ideas when I first started. I have spent months planning and brainstorming what I want this to be. One thing that has stayed the same is that I refuse to limit my voice to just one topic. Manic Mama is everything. Haha.
I wanted to give a little insight as to what’s in store. What better way to do that then just list it out?
Here we go guys.
New blog post every two weeks.
I have a podcast plan in the works (hehe).
Monthly newsletters, if you choose to subscribe. These will be sent out on the first of every month.
A forum column, where you guys can ask me anything you’d like! I’d love to hear from some of you. Even if it’s not a question, write whatever you’d like.
I am updating my “Feels” page, and will be sure to keep it updated with pictures.
My social media (Tik Tok, Twitter, Instagram) will all be much more active!
Plus, a few surprises that I’m not ready to share yet. 🙂
Thank you for following me this far. The support I’ve gotten means so much to me. I’ve felt alone most of my life. It was always hard to explain to people what was going on in my head. Who would want to be friends with me then? Now that I’m older, I feel more secure in my skin. I’m rebuilding my self-esteem one day at a time. Even if Manic Mama amounts to nothing, at least it has helped me love myself again. I will never stand down again. I’m Bipolar, and that’s okay. I will never let myself be ashamed of who I am ever again.
About a month ago, I woke up for work and had this pit in my stomach. It had been a rough couple of days, and I was already on edge. By the time I got dressed, I knew the day was going to be a shit show. I couldn’t seem to slow down that morning. I was all over the place. I popped my daily Prozac, and then I ran out the door. My insides were in a knot. Driving has not been the easiest thing for me lately, and I could feel myself getting tense. I rolled the windows down and opened the sunroof. I put on some country music and pulled out the driveway.
I made it to the highway before things went sideways. Sweat began pouring down my forehead, and then my legs locked up. They were up under my steering wheel, and I could hardly press the pedals. People started to honk at me, and I realized I was swerving. My chest was so tight. I felt like I was flexing my entire body, ya know? Like when you are trying to flex your abs. LOL. Now, I’ve had panic attacks before but never like this. There was no way I was going to stop on the highway, so I became frantic. All the looking around made my eyes start to dart back and forth. My vision was so blurry. I knew I had to get somewhere fast.
So there I was…hardly able to move my feet, swerving into this Billiard’s store parking lot. I quickly put my car in park and just let it out. I screamed. I cried. I freaked out. It took me awhile to come out of that state. I called Tristan’s parents, and they quickly came to take me home. I called in that day, and took off a few days to recover.
Ever since the lockdown in 2020, I haven’t been able to escape it. I’ve been talking more to my friends about their experiences, and it’s been amazing. It’s nice to find those people who understand you. If you google anxiety symptoms, there’s so much shit. LOL. Everyone’s different. It makes me feel a little crazy when I talk about my symptoms regarding anxiety and Bipolar. But that’s why I started this blog, to be more open and to show people it’s okay to talk about these things.
My mind is constantly spinning. It can get to be so much sometimes that I want it to shut off. Growing up, I feel like my anxiety was only related to when something significant happened. Nowadays, it’s rare that I can find out what triggered me. Sometimes I get this feeling deep in my stomach like it is curling itself into a ball. I start to worry about everything under the sun…for absolutely no reason. It’s a real thing when people say anxiety can be debilitating. That day Mike picked me up; I know something could have happened to me if I had kept driving. That’s a scary thought. Even now, just typing this. My legs are starting to tighten thinking about it.
Now, anxiety can also be just a normal feeling. It’s right to feel anxiety or fear. But for some, it becomes more than that. I know it can be hard to help someone who’s having a panic attack; I’m not sure Tristan has quite mastered it yet. Haha. I know how scary it is when you are climbing to the peak of your anxiety…but know that it is the PEAK. Once you reach the top, the only place to go is down. For me, it can feel never-ending. I try (still working on it) to try to think of things that make me happy. I also like to find something to put in my hands. Shout out Mimi for knitting a yarn lion. Anxiety and fear can come like waves. They come, and they go. Never avoid it. EMBRACE IT. Avoidance is a friend of anxiety. Everything you avoid eventually comes back as more anxiety.
There’s so much you can do for help. Seeing a therapist or psychiatrist is always something I recommend. But, I’ve been going to therapy since I was little. So I’m ALL for it. Don’t ignore the way you’re feeling. I promise that does more harm than good. Lately, I’ve been trying to push myself to do things that make me uncomfortable. Like driving in the middle lane. I always keep my anxiety medication on me, and I always look for things that I know can ground me if needed. Figure out a game plan with your loved ones. Let them know the best way they can help you.
I don’t know why I’ve been on such an honesty kick, but I’m enjoying getting my voice out there. Manic Mama is my outlet, and I’m so happy with its progress. I’m almost twenty-five, and I think I have finally decided what I want to do with my life. I finally am feeling like there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Don’t let anxiety hold you back, get up and conquer it. I believe in me, and I believe in you.
It’s no secret that relationships take work. For those like me, it might take a little more. There are three types of relationships that I am going to discuss–Family, friends, and significant others. When you think of relationships, you think of stability. When you pair a relationship with Mental Illness (in my case, Bipolar 1), it’s hard to have that. Sometimes your relationships will fail, and that’s okay. I have learned that I am not for everyone, but so what? The people who matter will stay. It takes both people to make a relationship work, especially when your loved one suffers from a disorder.
Growing up, I didn’t have the best luck with guys. I remember when my first boyfriend left my mom a note in our mailbox about my virginity. Yes, you read that right. Lol. After that ended, I stayed in a relationship from sophomore to the beginning of Senior year, and it didn’t end well. I don’t enjoy talking about my trauma from before Tristan very much; it’s just always been something I’ve put away in a box. Senior year was a roller coaster. I was all over the place, and I went through things that I’ll cover another time. I met Tristan when we were young, he was this little thing with long-ass hair. We got together a few months before I left for Mississippi State. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years. No relationship is perfect, and I don’t always make things easy.
I did a little research when I decided to do a post about relationships. Ever since I got diagnosed, I’ve had this internal struggle about Tristan having to deal with me for the rest of our lives. Is it fair to him? His life with me will never be “normal”, and that makes me sad. Tristan doesn’t have the best understanding of mental health, but he’s made such an effort with all of it. Having Bipolar Disorder can make simple things turn into absolute turmoil. My biggest problem when I am Manic is that I start to put myself in bad situations, and Tristan is always the one who has to pick up the pieces of my wreckage. When the depression comes, I withdraw. I shut myself down. It’s unfair to the people who love me…but it isn’t their fault. I hope they know that.
When I asked Tristan what it was like living with me, he said it’s something he can’t describe. That sounds about right, LOL. When you look at Bipolar Disorder, you see that 90% of marriages fail. Yep. They fucking fail. Now, I come from a family where divorce is not insane. I know that it happens, but 90%? I mean, come on. For a relationship to work, BOTH partners have to be actively involved. If you are dating someone who has a Mental Illness, do your research. The more you learn, the better role you can play in your partner’s life. If your significant other is open to it, I suggest therapy. Speaking to your partner and learning when you should help or when you should leave them be. Having a relationship with a Mental Illness isn’t impossible. It’s an ongoing effort on both sides. I believe that with the right person, it will all work out anyways. Now, my relationship is far from perfect. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that I’m going to marry Tristan. PERIOD. If you haven’t found your person yet, I promise you will. Don’t ever give up hope. You deserve to be loved.
Jeez. Time to talk about friendships. I assume it’s hard being my friend, but I also feel like I can be a good friend to have. Although, manic me tends to be shitty. I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years. Not all of them were my fault, but some were. For friendships to work, they can’t be one-sided. For the one who has the disorder, you have to remember that they struggle as well. In the past couple of months, I have learned what kind of friends I need and why some friendships ended. We all need someone to lean on. Learning how to maintain friendships while being Bipolar is key. But, not every friendship will last. You have to accept that. You have to let them go.
I said above how I’m not for everyone, and that sucks sometimes. I can see how I can be too much for some people. In the past six months, I lost a friend who meant a lot to me. Before I got on my new medication, I was shitty to her. That friendship is one I will always cherish and miss. Much love to her. Although there seem to be a lot of downfalls, there are some good parts to being my friend. My experiences have made me more empathetic. I’m an extremely good listener–probably because I know what it feels like to not be heard. I also know what it’s like to not fit in. In high school, I had very few girl friends. Girls never seemed to like me, I always bonded better with guys. That could have been why the girls seemed to hate me. LOL. I also think I was misunderstood by many. It takes a special person to stick around through all my shit.
If you have a friend who is Bipolar, the first thing you can do is RESEARCH. I say that a lot, but it’s for real one of the quickest ways to learn. Remember that medication doesn’t remove their disorder. I went through so many different meds before picking the right ones, and I’m still making changes. Maybe one day your friend decides they can stop their meds…I am proof that this is never a good idea. A friendship with someone who is Bipolar is all about rolling with the punches. Your friend experiences the highs and lows to more of an extreme than others. Keep this in mind when a minor thing sets them over the edge. There are so many people in the world who have loved ones with a disorder. Find a support group!! Go to therapy. If you are committed to your friendship, you will learn how to handle it. Although, some people can’t handle being friends with someone who is Bipolar. This is something I don’t hold against any of my old friends. I know it can be rough at times. Don’t be ashamed of that either. But if you commit, full send it. Go all the way in for your friendship. It’s the only way it will work.
I suffered a lot growing up. My mental health problems started in middle school. In sixth grade, I started cutting myself. In seventh grade, my mom caught me. Can you imagine? My teenage years were a mess, lol. I did not make it easy on my mom. I was the BEST liar, and I got away with so much. I was extremely depressed in high school. I withdrew from my family, especially my dad. He reminds me so much of me that it scares me sometimes. I started going to therapy after that one night in the kitchen. My mom called my dad over that night, and we sat outside on the patio and talked for hours. They were scared, and rightfully so. It was only the beginning of my long struggle with mental health.
Bipolar Disorder can affect your family members in many ways. They can feel guilty or worried about what you are going through. It disrupts everyone’s routines and throws everyone for a loop. It can be stressful. I know there have been many times that my parents felt like there was nothing they could do. You have to be able to come to terms with their diagnosis. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, but you have to learn how to handle your feelings. Some people feel like they have lost the person they once knew, or like they have to grieve their thought of how it was going to be. Your siblings may feel like they have to help manage you. My brother was a godsend when I was growing up. He was always there when I needed anything. My little sister is only eight, and I’ve tried my best to shield her from the hard things. One day she’ll be old enough and ready to hear about it. There are so many ways to help deal with having a loved one who is Bipolar. You just have to be open to taking that step.
Again, start by EDUCATING yourself. Order some books. Go online. Get some gosh darn KNOWLEDGE. Learn how you can best support them. You can start by getting with your family member and asking them how they feel you can help. There are some times when I don’t want help. I don’t need people to see me when I am in some states, especially my younger sister. Things can get dark, and they can get rough. Just be there, and let them know that you love them no matter what. Love them in their darkest (Romans 5:8). There are also so many support groups out there. I promise there are others out there dealing with the same thing. There are groups for people who are Bipolar, and there are groups for people who love someone who’s Bipolar. Go to one of them! I promise you they help. One of the things that came up recently in therapy was the option of making a “game plan”. You can get together and figure out the best ways to help them when things aren’t going well. Lastly, remember to come at it with NO judgment. You can’t help someone that you are too busy judging. I promise you can get through it. My family and I have made great strides in rebuilding our relationship. I’m so thankful for the way it is now.
To sum it up, it can be work to be in a relationship with someone who is Bipolar. To all my friends and family, I love you guys. Thank y’all for all the support. I truly don’t know what I would do without you guys. For the friends I’ve lost along the way, I’m sorry. There are many days that you cross my mind. I know I was a lot to handle. I wish you guys nothing but the best (you know who you are). I will continue to watch y’all grow and cheer you on from afar. To Tristan, I love you. Your unwavering support is incredible. You love me despite everything, and you have no idea how much that means to me. You are my absolute best friend. I have enjoyed these past seven years so much, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us. And lastly, to my readers. Thank you guys for coming back to my blog. I had no idea how much support I would get when I started this. I also never thought I could reach people. I’m so happy that I can be a voice for those who haven’t found theirs yet. I hope that I am helping in some way. See you next time.
When you finally get the correct diagnosis…you can feel so many different things. For me, it changed everything. I was able to do my research and find patterns from the past that I had never noticed to be warning signs. Once you are diagnosed, you have the chance to help yourself and others around you. Yes, it is so final. It can be scary. What I ask people is…would you rather know what is wrong or forever guess? When I was first told I was Bipolar, I didn’t tell anyone. I was scared of how people would react. It’s no secret that Mental Illness is viewed as a completely negative thing. I mean, growing up I can’t even count how many times I heard people say “she is so bipolar I swear”. So I began to think, should I even tell people? Should I just deal with it alone? Will the people who love me accept me? Will my significant other leave me because I am “messed up”?
These are all valid feelings. What I will say is that the people who love you will surprise you. I have spent years keeping things from my mom and dad to keep them safe from some of the pain. When I think back to my teenage years I can’t help but wonder how my Mom must have been feeling. Now that I have Grace, I am terrified to see her struggle. It’s been years since that night she came into the kitchen, but we still struggle. For some, this is harder to comprehend. I truly believed that keeping them as much in the dark as possible was the right answer. It wasn’t. I am so grateful that now I can be more open and honest with them. This did not happen overnight…I promise. It’s an everyday thing, but we work on it together. That’s all you can do.
Getting diagnosed is a process. I started seeing a therapist after that one dreadful night. She diagnosed me with Unipolar Depression (obviously not my freaking issue). Now that I am older and have become more aware; I know now that teenagers are extremely hard to diagnose properly. This is why so many people get re-evaluated once they enter adulthood. My mental health drastically declined once I hit twenty. Here I was–out of my fucking mind. Sorry, excuse the language. I was so confused. I got in to see a psychiatrist and started explaining to her what was going on. There I sat, in this cute little office…and she told me I was Bipolar. NOT ONLY BIPOLAR…BIPOLAR ONE. Like, have you ever read about that? It’s freaking scary when you read about it on google. LOL. But I know firsthand how awful it is to not understand your mind. It felt somewhat good to have an answer.
Mental illness (to me), is a problem that never goes away. There’s no clear answer. No clear solution. There are those people who believe it can go away…eh, don’t think so. Would be nice though. This is life, but there’s so much you can do to come to terms with your diagnosis. I truly believe that once you accept your diagnosis, it is easier for you to let others be involved in your journey. I shielded Tristan from a lot when we first started dating, and I feel bad about that. Maybe if I would have been more honest from the beginning, there would have been more understanding on his end. He has been such a huge part of my recovery and I am so thankful for how accepting he is of me. I believe that it’s time for everyone to be more understanding of mental illness. If people were more accepting, the world would be a better place. The stigma surrounding mental illness is idiotic. If I should be ashamed, how am I ever going to get help?
Coping with a diagnosis is hard enough…but now you have to start focusing on how to cope for the rest of your life. I wanted to share some techniques that I have found helpful, and some that I am still trying to master myself. Hopefully this gives some people some guidance.
Total acceptance. Radically accepting your illness. There is nothing you can do about it. This is a situation you cannot change…accept that. Accept that you can’t stop the storm from coming, but you can prepare yourself for it. Once you come to terms with your illness, it no longer controls you. It no longer holds the reins. Acceptance kept me safe. When I was able to understand that it isn’t MY fault…everything changed.
Triangle Breathing: Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 3, then breathe out for 3.
Star Breathing: This is in the shape of a star. Breathe in, hold, then breathe out.
Square Breathing: Breathe in for 4, hold for 4, Breathe out for 4.
These are a few techniques that I have learned over the past few years. The diagrams you can find anywhere. With my anxiety as bad as it has been, controlling my breathing has really helped keep me grounded. If I am ever feeling overwhelmed I take a break and focus on just my breathing. It is peaceful.
I want to focus on my absolute favorite grounding exercise. The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique. This involves all of your senses, and it has helped me so much with my anxiety. You need to ask your self these five things…
What five things can you see around you?
What four things can you physically touch and feel?
What three things can you hear around you?
What two things can you smell?
What can you taste?
By putting your focus on your surroundings, you take away the need to think the bad thoughts. You can take your mind away from the feeling, even just for a little bit. This has greatly helped me when I feel a panic attack coming. My Mimi knitted a lion that hangs on my keys…it has become my stress ball. The texture of it helps keep me there.
Opposite to Emotion Thinking.
This is one of my newer techniques that I am trying. It’s exactly what it sounds like…the opposite of everything your feeling. You want to isolate? No, go out instead and call your friends. Anxious? Go meditate. Manic? Find something to bring you down and stabilize you (for me, that’s yoga). This is something I am still working on, but I think it is something that would be amazing for me. Being able to battle the negative feelings and turn them into something good…well, that’s amazing in itself.
Living with Bipolar Disorder is hard. Every day it’s something. There are so many things you can do to help yourself get by. It is so important that you find healthy outlets…I know how easy it is to get into the wrong things while trying to deal. I want y’all to know that it is okay to be scared. If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, be a friend. Be there for them. Things get better as the days go by. Don’t EVER be ashamed of who you are. Your struggles make you stronger. You got this shit.
Please feel free to go to my contact page and shoot me an email. I am always here for ANYONE who needs someone. Thank you.
When I was diagnosed, I had no idea what Bipolar Disorder was. When I was able to know what was wrong and learn about it, my healing began. Becoming more aware saved my life. There’s so much that I wish I would have known at twelve years old, or at least my parents would have known when it comes to the world of Mental Health. I want to shed some insight on what I have learned, as well as what I have experienced living with Bipolar Type 1. Let’s start with the basics. There are three types:
Bipolar Type 1
Bipolar Type 2
I remember being terrified when I was told that I was Bipolar. I had stopped taking my depression medication and went off the rails. I turned into a person no one recognized. My Manic episodes started to happen more often as time went on. I went back to my self-destructive ways and ended up destroying my life for a little over a year. I apologize to my family for everything that happened back then. I was struggling with something I had no idea about. The long periods of being Manic and then switching to such an extreme low…it was such a shit show. For lack of better words.
Bipolar 1 is when someone experiences Manic Symptoms for a week or more. You get to be Manic, but you also get to be depressed. The depressive episodes typically last two weeks. Before medication, my low points were bad. It felt like they lasted for months. Before doing my research, I had no idea how to cope with my depression. Healthy coping mechanisms haven’t always been my strong suit. Then there are the times when you experience both Manic and depressive symptoms at the same time…how fun. There’s no handbook. It doesn’t just go away; you can’t be cured. This is a lifelong thing. Terrifying, right?
At first, I wasn’t a big fan of medication. Now that I’ve found the right help, I have learned just how much it helps me. For some people, it might not be the answer and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter how you go about it, it’s just important to get the help you need. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the answer to all my problems. Therapy and medication are stepping stools into your recovery. At least for me, they have helped me come to terms with my new normal. Keeping my demons at bay, ya know? It is nothing to be ashamed of. I have learned how to handle the nasty comments over the past few years. “Are you off your meds?”, is not something I haven’t heard before. You learn to accept that some people will just never understand…and that’s okay.
I like to think I am very high functioning. For instance, I have never been hospitalized. I also tend to do very well in a high-stress work environment; which I was told was “not a good idea”. Look at me, bartending and dealing with people all day. Hell yeah! Not without some kinks though. Lately, I have developed a problem with my car. The windows HAVE to be down or I feel claustrophobic. Social anxiety has also become a thing. My social life has drastically declined since I was diagnosed. This illness–for me, is all about going with the flow. Life is a rollercoaster anyway. At least now I know why mine is such a twisty one.
According to The World Health Organization, Bipolar Disorder affects about forty-five million people around the world. It is expected to shave NINE years off your life span. One in five commit suicide; most people end up having to go to the hospital or spend time in an institution. Oh, the fun things you learn while researching your disease. It was scary when I first started learning about it. I wasn’t sure how to handle it. How do I explain this to someone? If I didn’t have the support system I have now I don’t think I would get by.
When experiencing a Manic episode, one can feel very irritable. I always tend to feel super wired. Everything bugs me when I’m Manic (I can hear Tristan chewing sunflower seeds now). You tend to sleep less; lose your appetite and your mind won’t slow down. You can make poor decisions; which is my specialty. In my opinion, depressive episodes are much harder. These just get so low for me. You can feel hopeless, “slowed-down”, lose your memory. There are feelings of worthlessness…I struggle with this a lot when I am depressed. Then there are the episodes where it’s a little of both. Those suck. That’s when the “highs” and “lows” you hear about really come into play.
I spent a day once driving around Houston deciding on whether or not I was going to check myself into the hospital. My highs were so high, and my lows were so low that I was becoming scared. I honestly think my symptoms got worse when I got in my twenties. I didn’t know how to handle it. So there I sat. In some random parking garage downtown, sobbing and dodging my mom’s phone calls. I must have sat there for two hours. Ignoring calls left and right. Once the tears had gone and I could sit and think; I wiped my eyes and decided to go home. It was time to make a real change.
I went out and found a psychiatrist and started my new journey. I got on medication (seven at first), and I started doing my research. A diagnosis is a crucial part of leading a healthy life. You can’t do anything about something you know nothing about. My diagnosis saved my life. A lot of things come with this illness; for instance, I have extreme anxiety. People with Bipolar Disorder are more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol. They should try to work in low-stress environments. It starts to feel like you will be held back all your life, but that’s not true.
Sometimes it’s more than just a rough patch. Sometimes there’s something more going on. You find ways to deal with it. What’s that famous saying? Oh yeah, life’s a bitch. Then you die. Seems probable. But really, treatment and coping strategies are the way to go. I’ve gotten better at my coping strategies with age. When I was younger I didn’t know how to cope properly. I have always tended to cope through self-destruction. Becoming aware isn’t something only someone diagnosed should do though. Anyone who has a relationship with someone who has a mental illness should do their research.
When I asked Tristan just now, he said he can’t explain what it is like living with me. Honestly, it’s hard for me to explain and I’m the one going through it. It helped when I was diagnosed, at least we knew what was going on. When a manic episode happens and everything is thrown upside down, it can be scary. Never knowing what is gonna happen. Before I got on meds, my Manic episodes were killer. Then the craziness subsides and all is calm again, but everyone stays on guard…waiting for the next whirlwind. A whirlwind you know is going to come back again and again.
One of the best things my psychiatrist ever said to me was to let the people who care for you know that it is the illness they should be mad at. I’m sure the people who love me sometimes feel helpless, not in control. And the truth is, they aren’t in control. Neither am I. No one can control it. What you can do is support them. Keep them on the right track (without being overbearing). Do your research. LEARN ABOUT IT. It’s the best thing you can do. Learning how to handle the highs and lows is key.
It’s a process. It’s not impossible. Things get better with time. You learn how to handle the up and down. Your loved ones grow more of an understanding of what you are going through. Yes, life is rough but life is also beautiful. Everyone deserves to experience the beautiful part of life. Hardships are inevitable, but the good times…those are the times you truly come to appreciate. I am thankful for the life I am living now. Awareness brings growth. Growth is always good.
As someone who is diagnosed with Bipolar and has struggled my entire life, I know how hard it can be to feel like someone gets you. I know it can feel as though you aren’t understood. I want me and everyone else to be HEARD. Looking back at my childhood, I know my parents were hurting. Now that I am a mother, I can’t imagine seeing my Grace go through the things I was going through. There is so much I wish my mom didn’t know. Growing up, I feared the way she viewed me. She is one of the most important people in my life; her opinion means so much.
Right before I got pregnant, I was diagnosed with chronic depression (this was a misdiagnosis). Now…most of you know that when you get pregnant, you can’t take certain medication anymore. When I found out I was pregnant, I quit ALL my medications. Cold turkey. It was rough. My pregnancy really made me realize that there was something more going on. Then Grace was born, and post-partum set in. It took a year and half for me to get a proper diagnosis. Bipolar, type one. Life; as I knew it, was over.
I feel like there are so many moms (and non-moms) out there who struggle with mental illness who feel alone. I also know how hard it can be for a significant other or family member when they see you struggling. There are things Tristan has seen that just tears me down to the core. People who love you don’t always know or understand what is going on. I believe this world is in dire need of a wake-up call when it comes to mental health. I don’t want to say I want to narrow my voice to one specific topic though because I feel like I have a lot to say. I’m just here to help.
I’m in my twenty’s. I’m a mom to three–1 human and 2 fur babies. Let’s see; I’m also a daughter, sister, and girlfriend. I hail from the great state of Texas. H-Town to be exact. I have two wonderful siblings. Will is in college now, playing baseball and I am so proud. Riley…well, Riley is just Riley. LOL. If anyone reading this knows her, you know that statement is 100% accurate. She’s eight. She was born when I was sixteen; my mom started over. Riley prepared me for motherhood. She also was a bright star in my life. When she was born I was a junior in high school who struggled with something I didn’t understand. In one way, she kept me above water.
Some would say I come from a broken home, but now that I am older I don’t like to call it that. My dad, Finish Ray, is wise and funny. My mother, Julie Elizabeth, is beautiful and strong. I am who I am because of them, and I commend them for putting up with me all these years. I know I was (and am) a mess. College wasn’t really for me. I wouldn’t say it was too hard. I think I just was not interested in spending my life that way. Then I got pregnant, and things just got put to the side without ever being brought up again. Currently, I am bartending my way through life, trying to figure out what it is I want to do. This blog is going to make things brighter, for sure.